His soft, warm hand in mine, we sit together enjoying the birds. We exchange few words, reveling in the quiet and together-solitude these precious hours afford. He reminisces of his world travels and the profound impact they’ve had on his life. He shares both the beauty and sorrow of his childhood memories. Finally, as he speaks of his faith, the tears flow. Overcome with gratitude for God’s many blessings to him, he weeps. My mom comes out and as they exchanges hugs and kisses and words; he weeps again. She is his love. His true love. The mere thought of being without her seems unbearable to him. The thought is unbearable to all of us and we hold it –the idea of parting– at arms length lest we be lost in tears one more time.
How do you begin to say goodbye?
How do you entertain the thought of life without someone so cherished?
Separation immanent, our hearts and minds flounder.
He keeps saying he needs to find a new normal and that the new normal is always changing. Then you see the shift as he realizes that the new normal is a daily saying goodbye to this world and all it offers. His beloved books collect dust in his library. His bed remains made as he now spends days and nights in the comfort of his chair. His appetite suppressed, food no longer holds value or enjoyment for him. His once strong legs–the legs that raced over 3000 miles in his lifetime– now can no longer carry him across the room without the aid of a walker. But even as his body weakens, his spirit remains strong.
and our hearts break as we struggle to say goodbye.
and the tears flow as we imagine life without him.
and our hearts break at the thought of separation.
and the tears flow we watch his body weaken.
and our hearts break as we’re left useless to ease his suffering.
and the tears flow when we see his office–filled with books but empty of the forever student.
and our hearts break as his laughter and quirky humor and apt movie quotes fade.
and the tears flow knowing we can’t keep him here, healthy and well, with us a little longer.
and we wonder if it’s even possible to carry on without this strong-minded, kind-hearted, loving man.
and we cry as we question how much hurt our hearts can bear.
and we cling to him and each other and grasp at the hope we profess.
and somewhere deep in the recesses of our hearts, we don’t just know– but experience– that the end of this life is just the beginning.
and we know the truth of Ecclesiates 3:
I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
and we understand Paul’s words:
For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
and we say with the Paul:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
…But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
and look forward with John:
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 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.”