“I’m about done here. Gave my notice this week.”
My jazz-playing friend slipped the momentous news in between the discussion of his guitar amplifier’s deficiencies and a question about some sheet music.
I almost missed it.
“Let me check on that title and we’ll get it printed for… Wait! What?”
Ten years I’ve known the man. Ten years ago, he was temporarily relocated here with dozens of folks when Hurricane Katrina hit his little city in southern Louisiana. After a few months, most of the others went back home to New Orleans. He decided to stay.
Now, Atlanta calls. People like jazz there. Enough to pay a living wage to the musicians who love playing it.
He is leaving. By the end of the month. For good.
I didn’t take the news well. He wants me to be happy for him. I am.
It’s me I’m sad for.
I hate goodbye.
Funny. I knew his stay here was temporary from the start. We were always going to say goodbye.
Just not today. Or this week. Or even this month.
It’s easy to get carried away by the weight of a word. This one just has so much packed into it.
Goodbye is what we say when fathers and brothers (and not a few mothers and sisters) go off to war, many never to return. Goodbye is what we breathe as we watch the over-packed car pull out of the driveway with our child on his or her way to college. Goodbye is what we sob when the casket is closed on the face of someone we loved more than anyone else in this world.
As a child, I once thought if I didn’t actually say the word goodbye, the separation wouldn’t happen. Voila! Problem solved!
Except, it didn’t work.
I missed the departure of my grandparents one Fall day when I tested my theory. Knowing it was the morning they would pull out dragging their gleaming, space-age Airstream trailer behind the old 1965 Pontiac Catalina, I simply went out to the field and hid.
Funny. Goodbye happens whether we say the word, or not. They were gone, and I missed it. I missed them.
Goodbye happens. We’re only here temporarily. Every one of us. One day, I’ll say my final goodbye, too.
Final goodbye. The last one. For all of eternity.
If, like me, you believe there is more–and I’m sure there is–you’ll understand the impact of that statement.
Not one more goodbye. Not one.
All tears wiped away. No more death. No mourning, no crying, no pain.
But, not every person we know will be there. Unlike the pap being fed to this world by the deceiver, there is no hope that anyone could ever experience it without the grace our Savior purchased as He died for us. The free gift is offered, but it must be accepted.
I sometimes wonder if we’ll miss those who have chosen to follow a different path, rejecting the grace of a God who hates goodbyes just as much as we do. Perhaps those will be the tears–the last ones shed–He will wipe away from our eyes.
What a day! What a reunion. And what a multitude of hellos.
My friend is still leaving this month. I am still sad.
I hate goodbye.
…but if you have been – if you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you – you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing is ever going to happen again.
(from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe ~ C.S. Lewis ~ English author ~ 1898-1963)
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
(Revelation 21:4 ~ ESV)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.
Got an extra 3 minutes? You could do worse than to spend them listening to Selah’s version of God Be With You. Beautiful song with powerful imagery!