Just a year ago, my family and I suffered the worst experience of our lives. We lost my mom. Jesus gained her. But we really didn’t ever have her. He always did. I’m sad that she wouldn’t even return to us if she could. Yet, I’m glad she is with Him.
God knew when she’d leave this earth. The weekend before she died, our family had gotten together. My nephew who was very close to mom, but hadn’t been able to see her for so long was there. It was the first weekend she got to see him in months.
Since my brother had died four short months earlier, we’d always say goodbye with a hug and an “I love you.” Something we hadn’t done often enough before. It was busy and I thought I’d better slip out quickly so the others could visit.
Before I got to my car, she ran out of the house and asked me to wait. She walked up and we hugged. She said, “I love you.” I replied, “I love you too.”
None of us could have known that less than 24 hours later I would receive the horrific news of her accident. I was shocked in disbelief. I thought of the last time I saw her and wondered if God knew beforehand and ordained that weekend the way it happened. Of course, He knew.
None of us are prepared to say goodbye. There is always guilt as we wonder why we didn’t say we loved them before they died. Or it’s what we shouldn’t have said or did that tints our guilt even more.
As I already alluded to earlier, I experienced another unknown goodbye with my brother just a few months before. I had turned the TV on and the movie “The Thin Red Line” was on. John was a history buff especially about battles and wars. I called him and left a message on his answering machine saying hello and telling him I wanted to ask him some questions about the movie I had just seen.
I called a bit later and told him I was coming down and wanted to go to a movie or to dinner later that day. We hadn’t hung out in a while as things were a little tense between us a month or two before. We had patched things up, but it was time to just hang out with my little brother.
I never heard back from him, but I know he got the messages. He died later that evening. I was glad that he heard from me. He knew he was loved already, but it was good to know that.
There is guilt with times I didn’t give my mom or John my full attention. I wish I would have listened to my mom play the piano. Watch the History Channel and talk to John about his favorite subject. I tuned both of them out at times. I for sure didn’t hug them enough or tell them I love them enough. None of us ever do.
I miss them terribly. I wish they didn’t leave so abruptly. Oh how I long to see them and talk with them. How I want to give them a proper goodbye. I hate goodbyes. Even when I know I’m not going to see someone I met again, I always say, “See you later.”
I will see my mom and John later. There will be no goodbyes. There is a song entitled, “Heaven is a long Hello.” Heaven will be the conclusion of our earthly goodbyes. We will be able to tell them what we wanted to but didn’t. We’ll be able to apologize for how we wronged them although I doubt that will even be necessary.
Things have changed in my life. My family and I treasure the time we have together. We know more goodbyes will come. I worry even though I needn’t do so. John and my mom are definitely in a better place and with Someone they’d rather be with.
So, we’re left here to cherish the memories we have. Even our last goodbye no matter what the circumstances. It’s been a tough year and will likely continue to be hard on us as a family. I don’t understand why things have happened the way that they did. But Job said it best and most of the times it’s how I think and feel about it all. “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”
Jerry, this was beautiful and very moving. I've sent you an email about using it in FaithWriters' Magazine. Could you let me know if you don't receive it? With love, Deb (Editor, FaithWriters' Magazine and Challenge Coordinator)