Friday, December 20, 2013

Going, Going, Gone

A few stories from the lives of people I love.  People who are saying good-bye or wishing they had the chance...

~I helped a friend go through some of her belongings last night; Some were 50 years old or better.  I pulled stuff out from under her bed and went through her kitchen cabinets.  I boxed up what she didn't want and brought it home.  My friend is 95-years-old, and is moving away to her old hometown, where she can see the ocean from her living room. 

She moved several times within her retirement facility in the last couple of years, and each time, she has gotten rid of things she's held onto for most of her life.  The green dress she wore in Las Vegas once was not about to go, but that was an exception.  During this final purge, amongst boxes of jello, wine glasses, and an old sugar crock, I was fighting back the tears.  It didn't seem to be the least bit painful for her, but watching her have to let go of the simplest things because there will no longer be room nor need of them, were little deaths for me.

In the midst of a season, in a world, where acquiring is life, I know she's on the other side.  She will be moving mid-January.  God willing,  I will see her a couple more times after the Christmas Break, but that will probably be it, for good.  And that is a hard thing to know.

I hate good-byes.  I especially hate them when they are forever.  Although, fortunately, we can only move through life going forward, so I have rarely known these ahead of time.   A friendship made between rides to hair appointments and lunches at Whataburger is going, going,...

~Another friend celebrated her 60th wedding anniversary this year.  She and her husband split up a few months later.  But, only because they had to.  He left the retirement facility one-too-many times without signing out, and became a liability.  (Going to the donut shop is fine, but be careful if you are too young or too old).  His mental faculties are declining, and can no longer safely stay put, with his wife of 60 years.  He was moved to his own apartment in a nearby building, which his wife can reach by a short bus ride.  He calls her all day long.  Her voice is the only thing familiar.  Their marriage, as they know it, is going, going...

~One of my dearest friends over the past nine years lost her daughter on October 30th of this year.  She was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, who had been stalking her for months.  He killed her, set her house on fire, and shot himself.  She was 41-years-old.  A well-loved beauty who loved dogs, motorcycles, and life. 

I was helping my friend clean out her daughter's house a couple weeks ago.  Everything was just as she left it, except it was all covered in soot.  There was plenty of food in the pantry, dishes in the dishwasher, and cigarettes in the ashtray.  The days were marked off on the calendar up to the day before she died. 

On earth, all that is left of Tabitha is the incredible love her family and friends have for her, which will never be able to cover the excruciating pain they feel at having her ripped out of their lives.  From the outside looking in, it seems the only pain that comes close, is that of not getting to say good-bye. 

Sometimes, we get to prepare for the end.  The end of a relationship or the end of a life. 

And, sometimes, we don't.

Dear God, thank you for old and new friends.  Thank you for the way our lives get all tangled up, so that we can't help but be influenced by one another.  I know You hear the cries of anguish from Your beloved people.  Please comfort them, as only You can.  My hands are sweaty on the keyboard and I feel shaky inside, putting these stories together on one page, when each one has impacted me so deeply.  Please, please, please let their pain be fruitful for all who are touched by it - That we may love better and more - That we may forgive and make our forgiveness known - Like we don't have forever to get it right.  Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto Tabitha, O Lord, and let Perpetual Light shine upon her.  May she rest in peace.  Amen.

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