Monday, August 5, 2013

The Long Goodbye

Well, hello! 

See what I did there? Took the summer off and didn't even tell ya'll.

I guess I figured if I was too busy soaking up summer to write, you were probably too busy to read (at least that's what I've been telling myself. . .)

Between apartment sprucing, weekends away, and summer fun with friends, I decided not to stress the blogging.

A recent slew of goodbyes to friends headed on their next adventure has got me writing, again, however.

My friends, Hannah and Joanna, recently left Boston for the warmer streets of Nashville, after 2 education-minded years. Closer to home for them both, but just plain far away for their friends here in the North East.

These lovely women were the latest in a line of friends and acquaintances who've taken part in a mass exodus from Boston this year. Since May they've been trickling away in fits and starts leaving those who are staying behind to look around at the empty spaces. We are waiting to see who will be left when the dust settles (to be perfectly clich√©).  

These many goodbyes are not the first of my life and certainly will not be the last. While I know that, truthfully, we cannot all stay together forever, it hasn't stopped my compulsions to grab tight for hands around me as they go (or stay) and insist that we all be the lifetime sort of friends. No matter how often or familiar the sad task of saying goodbye comes around, each time I  feel that deep and throbbing pain in my chest at the thought being separated from another friends. And, truth be known, I feel a welling of self pity at the injustice of my having to say goodbye to someone when I just don't want to.

Wouldn't it be easier if we always could be close to the people we love most? If they were forever just up the hall, or down the street for a chat or a hug, and we didn't have to just suffice with Facetime or texting or phone calls (although, I'm mighty thankful for all of these means of communication!)

As often as I've been tempted to give in to that pity party these past few days, after this particular departure of my sweet friends, I've also been reminded that this sadness is really a byproduct; a longing in our hearts for something much deeper.

It reminds me that in the beginning, when Adam and Eve were new and full of wonder, and before they made other, more knowing decisions, there were no sad goodbyes. Only sunny day spent together and cool evenings strolling in the garden with their Father friend.

But then, without knowing really what they were doing, they chose, among other things, separation. From their Friend in the garden, from the garden itself, from each other, and their children and the list goes on. It was here that the jagged edge of "saying goodbye" must have been realized.  To begin to bridge this gap, there was another great separation, between a Father and his Son. The Son coming to earth as a man. Living among us, making friends, building relationships only to have to leave them behind. 

I imagine Jesus had more pressing matters on his mind those nights before He died. But I also wonder if He thought of his friends who had stuck close to him. If He thought of how He would no longer spend his days with them, joke with them on the road, or pray with them. I think, because he was fully man, that he did.

I know that when I call out to Jesus with sadness at the new distance from a friend, he doesn't just hear me. . .he knows intimately what I am feeling because he felt it too. And He knows that ultimately what I'm longing for is an end to separation from Him and His Father. 

For those of us in Boston who are not so transient, it seems a cruel decision we've made: To live in a city full of people always leaving. But for those who have chosen to believe what I do, let it be a reminder to us that the sorrow of parting will one day be erased. One day, we will be surrounded by all our precious friends on a cool, evening walk in the garden with our Father,  and there will never be another whisper of goodbye.

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