Goodbyes are especially hard for me. I just don’t handle them well — never have. It’s a part of me I don’t quite understand.
When I took early retirement from a job that I loved, I refused the customary appreciation reception; I simply couldn’t bear to think how emotionally hard it would be. I had poured heart and soul into my job. I knew it was a place that God had brought me to serve Him and letting go was necessary but not easy. Additionally, I asked my staff to treat it as if it were any other day and not say goodbye. I felt it was the only way I could get through it. I slipped out the side door of my office and quietly drove away.
When my 14-year-old kitty had to be put to sleep, I declined the private time at the Veterinary ER with her prior to the moment. I knew when I left home with Chloe that she would not be returning with me, so I had said the things that I wanted to say to her before we left and while we traveled to the point of goodbye. After she had entered heaven’s gates, the veterinarian told me I could have as long as I needed to stay and hold her, but I couldn’t stay. While I was still in control of my emotions, I had to get back home.
I was at my husband’s bedside when he died, when they unhooked him from life support, at the time of his last breath. Again, I was told to stay as long as I needed, but I could not extend that goodbye either. Richard wasn’t there anyway. I saw him go home to be with the Lord. I saw him healthy and happy. So did our friend who was with us. She said the presence of the Lord was so strong in the room that she would never again be afraid of dying.
My manner of goodbye seems to be through hurried escape. It’s my way of surviving the pain, I think. I need to distance myself and be alone. I need to move through the sea of grief and get back to shore where I feel safer. I really don’t think it’s the best way to handle goodbyes, but it’s my way and God understands. He understands because He created me just as I am. I have been told that when we love deeply, with total abandon, we hurt just as deeply. In all three of the events disclosed, I loved in total abandon.
When something ends that has been important to our life as we’ve known it, we lose a part of who we are. A layer of our being is permanently gone and can never be recaptured. What it was will forever be, but we can’t enhance or change any part of it.
A friend invited me to a ceremony of closure regarding the ending of her marriage. Just months after they were married, she learned her husband was still married to not one but two other women. Yet knowing this, she continued to love and mourn him. Her counselor suggested the shredding of their marriage certificate with her pastor, the counselor, and a close friend. We sat in our church sanctuary where she was given time to say anything she wanted to say. She did it without anger, just brief statements of her love, disappointment, and deep sadness. Then she tore into small pieces the paper that had officially bound them. She told me that the ceremony provided the closure she needed and afterward she was able to move on without looking back. That was powerful. I wish I could be like her: get help with grief, embrace it, take action, never look back. But we just aren’t all built the same way. I’ve tried to imagine handling differently the ending of things in my life and maybe I wouldn’t even if I could. So there’s so reason to look back with regret, is there?
There was a wise old sage that I used to quote in customer service training. He was filled with such good advice in the most uncomplicated of terms. His name was Winnie the Pooh. He said this about goodbyes: “How lucky I am to have had some things that make saying goodbye so hard.” So am I. Blessed, in fact. Thanks, Pooh, for making something that I’ve thought complex sound so very simple and clear.
I am so sorry I have confused many with this blog. I am not giving up my blog, not moving, not going anywhere. This was simply meant as a reflection on how I have handled permanent losses in my past.
~~The new masthead is a photograph by my son-in-law, Mark Hearn.~~