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.
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