I’ve never been good at saying goodbye. There’s always a lump in my throat, and tears seeping from the corners of my eyes. However, life is full of goodbyes. People move, change jobs, retire, sever relationships, and ultimately leave this world.
Saying goodbye to someone you love is heart breaking. My Mother looms the largest in my life, for it was she who had the longest and greatest influence upon me. I knew that Mama’s love was genuine and would never diminish or disappear. I could always and forever depend upon that love.
Remembering the milestone goodbyes we shared brings that lump to my throat again. There was the day in 1955, when, as hardly more than a child, I boarded a Greyhound Bus for Waxahachie, Texas and my first year in college, and the day in 1960, when I packed my car and headed for Anaheim, California and a new teaching position. August, 1975 was one of the hardest goodbyes, when I flew away to Brussels Belgium to begin Missionary Ministry. There was an avalanche of tears, both mine and my Moms, because I wouldn’t be home again for four years. Goodbye was almost impossible.
However, the night watch by my Mother’s hospital bed in 1989 was, up ‘till then, the saddest of times, for I knew that death was near. How do you say goodbye to someone who has colored so much of your life, someone who was always there, and someone who loved unconditionally? I didn’t! There was nothing to say. There were no right words. She hugged me, hugged my brothers and drew her last breath. How blessed I was to have a mother who made saying goodbye so hard!
Goodbyes make you think. They make you realize what you’ve had, what you’ve lost, and what you’ve taken for granted.
I have friends to whom I have said goodbye innumerable times as we have crisscrossed this nation, and traveled the world. We are all living, what some call, our “golden years. Because of physical limitations travel is curtailed. We talk on the phone, but we never know when the last call will come. And I think, whether I ever see them again or not, there are no ultimate goodbyes for us, for wherever my friends are, they will always be in my heart.
The hardest thing in life is to say “Goodbye” for the last time.
When Cecil and I married, in 2013, he was almost 80 and I was 77. To our knowledge, we were both healthy and raring to go. We had all kinds of exciting plans. We would travel the world, serve short term missionary assignments, spend time with friends across this country, and visit the “Great Wall of China.
We never did any of those things. After less than four months of married bliss, in a matter of moments, all those hopes and dreams evaporated into thin air. A frantic trip to emergency, an MRI, and the doctor’s solemn announcement brought everything to an agonizing halt. Cecil suffered an inoperable aortic aneurism. Death was certain. It was time to say goodbye.
At home, we tried to carry on life as usual, then back to the hospital and a week in a hospice facility, where they tried to teach me how to help Cecil die. I didn’t want to help him die. I wanted to help him live. Cecil thought it would be wonderful, if we could die together, but I didn’t think so. I didn’t want to die, and I didn’t want him to die. I didn’t want to say “goodbye.”
Seven weeks to the day, after the doctor diagnosed him, Cecil died here at home. He told me he was going to go to sleep, and he wasn’t going to wake up. That’s exactly what he did!
Saying that ultimate “Goodbye” is not a simple ‘So Long.’ It is a process by which one gradually lets go, day by day, of the one departed. That process may take agonizing months or even years.
Today, I am going to say “Goodbye” again. I have written this blog for about four years, and I have loved every moment of it. Now after much prayer and considerable thought, I have decided that it is time to lay it aside. I have so enjoyed sharing with you pieces of my life, and the truth of God’s Word. I’m not sure what I will do on Mondays now, and I will miss the struggle and the satisfaction of coming up with a meaningful truth, but I promise you I will be busy. AND, who knows, after a brief respite, I may one day blog again.
So, goodbye to faithful readers and friends I have never met, and let me remind you that to those who are believers, and followers of Christ, goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. It simply means, “I’ll miss you ‘till we meet again.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 tells us that one day, perhaps soon, when that trumpet sounds, whether dead or alive, we who are in Christ will rise to meet Him in the air. “And thus we shall always be with the Lord,” and with each other.
Think about it. No more sad farewells—no more tear dimmed eyes. “Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
“GOODBYE,” and God Bless ‘Till we meet again.
Just so you know. My puppy is home again, and I have decided I can keep the little mutt after all.
Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!