There are many things we do or are engaged in that we know when it's time to say
"Goodbye", "It's Finished", "Project Completed". Some of these activities are only hours
long, days in duration, sometimes years in the making, but surely we all have an idea
when the thing is done, over, finis, completed. And we know when to let go.
I can design, cut, grind, foil and finish a stained glass project in only a matter of hours if it
isn't too complex. Many times it may take several months to bring it to fruition, and the
results are beautiful whether the project is for me or for a commission customer. Even if it
is only a few hours long, we invested some of our time, talent, and heart into it.
My college education took me seven and a half years to accomplish from start to finish. It
was a journey of learning both of text book and lecture material as well as life learning
that I had no knowledge of before I enrolled. It was a journey of absolute necessity if I
was to survive in the coming years, and there was no question that it simply must be
completed! When I handed in my last final exam and received a final grade from the
professor, I knew that the arduous trip was finished, over, done!
But how do you know when its time to say "Goodbye" to a loved one whom you expect
will not be with us for long? How do you know when their life is going to be over?
My friend of almost fifty years died suddenly, or so it seemed sudden to me. She was a
loyal friend to me as a confidante, mentor, advisor, counselor, supporter, and sister not
born into my own family. My husband and I visited her for a short time on our way back
from a two-week's stay with our daughter in another city. What can you chat about with
such a friend in only a couple of hours? How can you cover all the things you would love
to say in just a few minutes? There is no way to sort out the most important things to
begin with so most are left unsaid hoping your dear friend will read your thoughts in your
eyes and tone of voice, in your gaze into her eyes trying to read her thoughts as well.
Then it was time for us to get back on our way home in distant Utah, and we were gone.
Only a few months later, a phone call one morning told me that my very dear friend had
passed away in a Lubbock hospital. They would only say she died of a lung disease, and
because of my age, I should not plan to attend the memorial service. That was not difficult
for me to accept as I had known for years she was battling emphysema. On that last visit
to her home I noticed with shock that she was carrying around a small oxygen tank and
was breathing from it as we visited. Even when I visited her and her husband before they
retired and while I was still a cigarette smoker, she would excuse the smoke inside her
home just to visit more without my going outside for my habit. Her door was always open
to me anytime day or night, and often I took advantage of the offer and spent many
weekends with them.
Her death came as a terrible shock to me. In my own desire to have her stay with us here
in our mortal world, I denied her impending death. I knew it was coming yet I refused to
even acknowledge the possibility, even when she wrote that she was so depressed at
many of her other friend's deaths she couldn't even bear to raise the blinds and dress for
the day. I chided her about that telling her that the ones who were left took joy and
pleasure from just seeing her always cheerful face and hearing her caring voice.
Now she was gone. She was gone and I didn't even get to tell her goodbye! I could never
tell her how much she meant to my life and how much I loved her. It was too late! Maybe
that is what grief is all about. Maybe we finally realize that it's too late to tell our loved
ones how much they meant to us, how much we loved them and how very much we will
miss them. But when DO you say â€œGoodbyeâ€�?
In the case of my dear friend whose encouragement sustained me through the death of
two of my children, a divorce, seven and one-half rigorous years of college and the
privation that went with them, there were no "Goodbyes", no confession of how much she
meant to me and how much I appreciated her for the lovely person she was for me. I think
that was what made the grief for her so deep and painful.
Then, I began to think rationally again and understood that through our last visit only a
few months before, she could have told me but chose not to. I believe she wanted me to
hold that optimistic glow I carried out of her home that day; and later, she would look back
upon it and feed on it in the time she had left.
She was always there for others in whatever way she could help them. She was a giant of
courage and encouragement until the very last breath she had. That is what I will
remember and love her for in the time I have left.
So how do you know when it's time to say your goodbyes? The time to say "Goodbye" is
every day! Every day that we live, we should tell those we love just how much we do love
them. We should tell them they are very special in our lives for being just who they are,
and because God allowed them to come into our lives. Christians accept that God orders
everything in our lives: our mates, our children, our families, our destinies. If we listen, He
also tells when we should say "Goodbye" to our loved one who will inevitably be called
home to Heaven and the home that Jesus told us He was going to prepare for us.
There is a saying in psychological circles of advice to married people experiencing
difficulty in the union: Do not let the sun set on anger between you and your mate. I will
enlarge that further: Do not let the sun go down on neglect between you and those who
are significant in your life, be they husband or wife, family, or friend, for we do not know
the hour when God will call any of us home. The time to tell them how much they mean to
us is everyday in some way, verbal or nonverbal. In doing so, we will never have to say
as I did, "It's too late! I never got to tell her goodbye!"
If you are grieving for a beloved friend who has been taken away, please remember they
are now at home with God the Father in heaven where there are no longer any
"Goodbyes". May you find peace and comfort in that wonderful knowledge. God promised
and He is always true to His word. ~ Betty
In Heaven, the phrase "Goodbye" is unknown ~
instead, what is most exclaimed is the phrase:
|No Time to Say Goodbye
© Betty Sue Eaton
|A Christian Grief Ministry