An Irish Goodbye
"It's been so lonely without you here...like a bird without a song..."
- Sińead O'Connor. 1989
I lived in London all through my twenties. It was a total blast to live in such a massive, culturally diverse city, with complete anonymity and the freedom to be whoever I wanted to be. I tested out a lot of personas there, including being a wife. Yes, I was married once before – to a very kind and caring person – it was the perfect test-drive of the institution but let’s just say it wasn’t designed to last. Mostly because of me. I was too young to feel like making decisions with anyone else’s needs in mind (turns out that is not the same concept as self-care! It’s more like self-absorbed…I admit that) I was a free spirit and I wanted to keep it that way. Until I didn’t.
Many years later, after I had separated from my English husband, I felt big-citied out and well-traveled enough that I was craving the wide-open spaces and slower pace of life in North America. I moved to Vancouver and brought with me SO many beloved British traditions (a pack-a-day habit and a pretty solid cockney accent, to name a couple), great memories of distant lands and an impressive tolerance for booze! I was now very ready for the idea of teaming up with a new soul mate and tackling the next things on the life agenda.
Enter Darcy Wild. First of all, how could you resist that name? It sounds like the most charming character, right? Like one of Charlie’s Angels or a superhero alter-ego. So good. When the courtship was in full throttle I quickly realized that this guy was indeed rad, but maybe should have been named Darcy Mild, for his low-key quiet disposition. He wasn’t very wild but I liked the irony of that. He wasn’t a centre-of-attention, dancing on the tables kind of guy. He was more like the quietly hilarious, dry-humored guy in the corner of the kitchen at a house party making inappropriate jokes. You might miss him completely. But, if you were lucky, you might find him on your way to grab a beer from the fridge, and then you’d probably want stick around to hear what he had to say. That’s how I felt. That’s what I did. I stuck around long enough to find out that he was generous and kind and ready to build and populate his castle and before I knew it, I was along for the ride. Lucky me. The stars aligned and the timing was divine. I was ready to be part of Team Wild and we bought a house and got on with the business of adulting.
My husband was a film maker. Usually in the leadership role of Production Manager, he was a key player in the orchestration of whatever movie or show he was filming. He spent a lot of time at work and had a keen ability to stay organized, manage the long hours and almost never bring his stress home with him. He was great at his job and, for the most part, he liked it. He could hire his friends, earn a good living and I had done my time in film too so I was an understanding wife and accepted the good with the bad of being a film family.
The one part of his work that he really didn’t love was a WRAP party. The end of any show usually culminates in a gathering of the entire cast and crew after the final shoot day – there is food and music and drink tickets and plenty of that giddy, exhausted merry-making that is unique to people that all come together in an intense environment for 8-12 weeks to create something for the screen. It sounds like fun, but by the end of every job, Darcy was always ready to just be at home. No more socializing and small talk for him. By that point in the process he was more ready for bed than beers and the thought of spending more time with the people he'd just been with for 14 hours every day seemed a little redundant to him. Nonetheless, he often felt obliged and so I would throw on some heels and go along, too.
When he first admitted his disdain for wrap parties, I shared an old tradition I had brought back with me from my years in the United Kingdom. The concept of an “Irish Goodbye”. It is derived from the fact that, saying goodbye to the host before you leave an Irish kitchen party, pub or home will surely result in you being dragged into more lively conversations, another cuppa or just one more nip of whiskey! It's a slow process trying to get out of there, so sometimes you have to just slip out with no formalities. It's an Irish Goodbye.
I had used it constantly while living in London to get myself out of social situations, prematurely. Before it would have been deemed acceptable to make an exit. The idea is that instead of making the rounds to say goodnight to everyone before you leave a gathering, you simply slip out without a word and call it a night. For me, it helped me avoid unwanted, late-night advances from men in London bars, and it was my go-to strategy on nights that I wanted to steer clear of drinking too much and go to bed early. (Admittedly, those nights were rare!)
For Darcy, an Irish Goodbye from a wrap party was just perfect. No chance of getting sucked into “one more drink” (or three!), no chance of being hit up by a crew member for a role on his next show, no chance for any embarrassing interactions with a messy-drunk production assistant… all obligations to stay “just a little longer” are avoided and he could just kind of “quit while he was ahead”. He loved this plan! Every time we went to an event like this we both knew that just a simple, sly nod of the head from Darcy would signify to me that it was time… and off we’d go out the nearest exit. Like thieves in the night. It absolutely suited him.
When the world shut down on account of Covid-19 in March 2020, Darcy’s film did too. He was kind of thrilled. Who knew how long it would last, but it was a unique experience for him to be off work, with me and the kids at home, and not be thinking ahead to whatever his next project might be. He just got to be home. We just got to be together. For almost 6 months. This never happens! It wasn’t without its trials and tribulations. We had to navigate being together twenty-four seven like all the other families and we were not used to it. I had to stop micro-managing everyone and he had to stop online shopping! I had to learn the home-schooling technology and he had to learn how to sit still for a change.
A 2:2 parent to kid ratio was my kind of party! I finally had time to exercise and meditate AND work on my essential oil business, EFT tapping and parenting. Darcy had time to complete every project he wanted to do around our home and yard AND be with our kids non-stop with presence of mind, no stress and so much love in his heart. The memories we made were monumental. Thank God. We fell into some beautiful routines during this time and, no matter my feelings on this “pandemic” and the all the fear and collateral damage that has come from it, I will never begrudge the world for delivering the Wilds the best, most unexpected wrap party we ever could have wished for.
On September 24th, when Darcy unceremoniously headed out the back door with a fresh coffee and the intention to run an errand, get some air and be home soon, I had no idea it was going to be his final departure from our home and his exit from this earth. Neither did he. It was terrifying, devastating and absolutely unthinkable when he never returned and the pain we have endured has been excruciating. I wanted more time. I wanted a long beautiful life with that guy. We were the team I always wanted to be part of and I wanted my kids to have their devoted Dad for all time. Losing Darcy in this way has been especially hard on us because of the lack of traditional “closure”. His body has never been found and so, again, I have had to reframe this scenario for myself or else I’d be living as a hostage to something that is out of my control and a search that is long over. I still feel completely ripped off most days and this particular detail of my experience has perhaps been the toughest to find any lightness in. But guess what…
You guessed it! I dug deep and found some.
I will not minimize what a nightmare this has been for us and everyone who loved him…but I will say this. Although this exit strategy was not welcome or planned (he was the opposite of suicidal and NO, he is not living on the beach somewhere in Belize with his new family. That guy loved his life and simply lived for me and our kids), this was actually the perfect ending for him and who he was. In some ways it is merciful for us too. Everyone dies at some point. It’s the only thing we know for sure. There could have been an upsetting diagnosis, a long drawn out illness, a debilitating accident, dementia. The kids and I could have had to watch the man we knew change or disappear before our eyes – instead he just disappeared. I know so many people reading this will have been through painful experiences with terminally ill loved ones. That’s just as hard as a lack of closure. Worst case, I could have left this life before him. I would never want him to have to live through this pain or watch the kids endure these feelings every day. He loved us so much. That would have been the death of him.
It helps my heart to think of it this way. No death is a walk in the park and we don’t get to choose how we go, but I feel pretty sure that if he DID have a choice, he may have just chosen to quit while he was ahead like this. No long, drawn out, wordy farewells. Just like his early departures from those wrap parties.
It was an Irish Goodbye.
'Til Next Time
Heal & Be Healed.