We weren’t made to say goodbye.
Goodbye always comes like a thief…unexpected, startling, jarring. And too soon. Always too soon.
Even when we know it’s coming, there’s no real way to be prepared.
I think of my friend Sarah, whose dad is too young to have cancer. She was just there for Christmas, and he was his usual cheerful self, playing endless games of pretend with his grandkids, fixing things around the house, eating his trademark bologna sandwich. She’s not ready to say goodbye.
I think of the parents in Newtown who sent their children off to school one December morning, with no way of knowing it would be the last hug, the last wave, the last goodbye.
I think of the city of Boston, all abuzz with the spirit of friendly competition earlier last week, never dreaming it would be a day for goodbyes.
I’m not typically someone who shirks reality, but lately I find myself flipping channels when the news comes on, skipping over the bad news stories, closing my ears to yet another tale of premature goodbyes.
It isn’t supposed to be this way. We weren’t made for goodbyes.
Over Easter my extended family made a road trip out east to see my brother and his family—a rare treat for all of us to be happily sardined in one place. When it was time to leave, we went through the long, ceremonial goodbyes, offering hugs and inside jokes and recaps of the trip and promises to get together again soon.
Then it came time for my mom to say goodbye to four-year-old Lyla, her only granddaughter. Mom stretched out her arms and wrapped the girl, pajamas and all, in one of those all-encompassing hugs only a grandma can pull off. I didn’t have to look at her face to know she was crying.
Lyla pulled back and looked intently into her grandma’s face.
“Grandma,” she said, her tone somber, grown-up. “I can make you cry.”
“You sure can!” My mom smiled at Lyla through her tears.
Without missing a beat, Lyla delivered her line: “Knock-knock.”
Mom looked surprised but played along. “Who’s there?”
“Boo.” A smug grin crept onto Lyla’s face.
With that, Lyla threw her arms around Grandma and giggled. The laughter was infectious, and before long, all of us were giggling like little girls.
It felt biblical, in a way. Tears into laughter. Mourning into joy.
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
I have no words to make sense of senseless tragedy or to explain when people have to say goodbye before their time.
But I do know that we were made for a different world. A world where there’s no crying or death or sorrow or pain. A world where, overnight, weeping morphs into joy.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Why love if losing hurts so much? We love to know that we are not alone.
—C. S. Lewis
Tim Hoekstra says
Well written! Thanks for such moving thoughts. Boston has been heavy on me since it happened – I was there just a couple years ago in the finish area. Pictures flooded my mind. And we are grandparents once and expecting through our oldest again. I know how precious your mom’s experience was and is. Blessings and love to you, Daniel and your other family members. I actually hate reading your blog because then I really miss you and Daniel again. Peace, Tim Hoekstra
Thanks, Tim! Those are nice words coming from a writer. Daniel and I miss you too…who knows–God may bring our paths to cross again.
Thank you Stephanie for the reminder that God sees us in our hurt, and longs to use it and change the hurt into joy that isn’t circumstantial! I missed you on Sunday but hope you had a great trip visiting your friends!!! Love you!! Aimee
Thanks, Aimee…you’re so right about a joy that’s deeper than circumstances. I forget that daily. See you soon!
Oh! Stephanie! Simply, simply beautiful! Thanks. . .
Stephanie Rische says
Thanks, dizzyhouse! You’re great.
lyla sounds like a cutie pie! great post 🙂
Stephanie Rische says
Yeah, I’m a little biased, but I think she’s pretty great. 🙂
Nancy Rische says
So sad and so joyful. Our God is amazing! Good job Stephanie. Nancy
Thanks, Nancy. You know what it’s like to say goodbye to a sweet grandson!
Thank you so much for a tear-jerking post. I long for the day when “Goodbye” will not be in our vocabulary!!
Stephanie Rische says
Amen! No more tears, no more goodbyes!
Kay Ahrens says
You are so right, Stephanie. Even knowing it is coming … no one can be prepared for goodbye.