Hank and I are moving back to Tennessee, our home. We are excited about the new home we are building, reuniting with loved ones, being near family and old friends, making new friends, etc. God’s been leading and opening doors and this is the right move at the right time for us. But moves, especially across the country, are overwhelming physically. This particular move has proved that statement. We are not as young as we were when we moved here 26 years ago, so the work of preparing a home for sale, dealing with the open houses, overseeing items on the inspection list, sorting, cleaning, packing, shipping, etc. has overtaken our lives.
Today I came face to face with the one thing I’ve tried to avoid with all this busyness–the emotional part of our move–saying good-bye to our friends, the familiar and the history we have here. It took me totally by surprise. I knew it was going to come. . . some day; just not today. I would postpone that pain for later. Then the girls in my Bible study group surprised me with a little going away gift. The tears fell as I thought about not meeting with these precious sisters in Christ again until we meet on heaven’s shore. My heart broke because I love each of them and I love studying the Word with them.
Afterwards I bustled off to pick up some Panera soup to take to a former coworker who recently had a hip replacement. She lives in our old neighborhood. Somehow I missed her street and ended up right in front of the house we lived in so many years ago. The side porch drew my attention as it needed some repair. Suddenly my mind took a step back in time. I could see my mom helping my dad down those stairs–walking down that street hand in hand. I had sat on that porch as my second son left for college–all the way across the United States to El Paso, Texas. Would I see him again, would he ever return home again? My heart rejoiced for him and broke all at the same time. I placed my head in my lap and cried — much like the day I took him to kindergarten and then sat in my car crying my eyes out.
I circled the cul de sac and pulled up front where my son had gotten out of an airport limo so many years ago. I had run to meet him, and hug his sweet neck. Oh how good it felt to hold him again and to know he was safe. It had been so hard to let him go so far away–but he was growing up–way too fast. We stood right there in the yard and had a discussion about the ownership of his dog I’d been caring for over the past several months and he said, “I might have known you’d fall in love with that dog.” He knew I would never be able to say good-bye, even to the dog. That dog lays at my feet, snoring away–reminding me of my sweet son.
As I turned the corner I pulled next to the house and stopped. It was here my daughter was parked the night after her wedding. It had been a beautiful ceremony and reception, but she had not finished packing. Her new husband had gone on to the hotel as we sorted through things appropriate for her honeymoon. After loading her suitcases into the car, we had stood right there next to her car hugging and crying, knowing things would change from this night forward. She wouldn’t be coming home any more–she would have a new home with a wonderful man.
It was out that front door my son had left for overseas. As I looked at that front door I was so grateful for the memory of his surprise return home that Thanksgiving–my sweetest Thanksgiving memory ever.
It was in that upstairs room that my dad told me he felt sure he was experiencing the early stages of dementia and I had reassured him that we would always remember love. This conversation was the beginning of a long journey filled with goodbyes for both of us.
Those were precious days, tender memories of good-byes and reunions. Somehow I pulled myself back to the present, wiped my tears and arrived safely at my friend’s door. I knew she had physical therapy today so I was just going to drop the soup off and run. Maybe she wouldn’t notice my tear-stained eyes. She insisted I come in–she had a little going away gift for me. Even though she’s been through three months of physical trauma with two hip replacements, she had a gift for me. . .ME! How had she pulled that off? With all that is on her plate, she thought of me. Oh how I’ll miss my friend. She promises to come visit soon.
When I arrived home, I checked my emails. The girls from my S. S. class sent me an email about a little gift for me and Hank. I’ve taught this class for many, many years–at least a decade. They are all in their late 80’s/early 90’s. I love these gals so much–saying goodbye to them breaks my heart because I know I won’t see them until we are finally home.
I HATE GOOD-BYES!
Even as a little girl I hated good-byes and would cry when our missionaries or guest speakers would leave and it was even worse if it was a relative or dear friend. It was so hard when dad took a new pastorate and we had to leave those who had become like family. My mom always explained to everyone that “Carol has a hard time with good-byes.” Maybe that’s why God worked it out so I could say good-bye to her in a most special way. We had to have her funeral on a Sunday. In Tennessee it is not legal to bury anyone on Sunday, so the burial was scheduled for Monday morning. My sister and our out-of-town guests all had to leave Sunday evening after the funeral to return to their homes and jobs. I asked my husband to allow me to bury my mom alone. Since I was to be the only attendee, I told the funeral director a tent was not necessary. As I drove into the cemetery, her blue metal casket was sitting up on the hill. Suddenly the sun glinted off the metal and spread light shards across the sky. It was breathtaking. I knew my mom was telling me all was well. Though this goodbye may be tender it wasn’t forever–she had just stepped over onto heaven’s shore. Mom is buried next to my daughter–there are no words to explain the pain of that good-bye.
I thank God one day there will be no more good-byes. Just an eternity to spend at the greatest family reunion ever. There will be food, family, fun, music, dancing and rejoicing. . .lots of love and an eternity of stories to hear of each one’s journey home. The Holy Spirit reminded me there had been a a couple of most difficult good-byes in heaven.
- Heaven must have groaned when Lucifer defied God and left with his followers.
- It had no doubt broken the heart of the Father and the Son as Jesus prepared to leave glory to come to earth to make salvation possible for you and me. They knew the road that lay ahead, which no doubt made this parting even more difficult.
Somehow knowing He understands and knows all about difficult good-byes is a comfort. I know He’ll go before us and will lead us. Most of all, I’m glad I know He is going with me and we don’t have to say good-bye. And someday He’ll take me home where there will be no more good-byes. Praise God!