I have said goodbye to two precious friends this year because I knew they were dying. One was Darlene. She was hospitalized for kidney failure after learning that the chemotherapy she had been enduring for her cancer was no longer effective. As a Christian, a medical doctor and a psychologist, she applied what she knew to be true about having exhausted human effort.
On the day before Darlene died, she was given the gift of vitality that allowed her to bless her family and her close friends. Mine was not done in person. When I asked if she wanted me to come she said firmly, “Roselyn, no, we will do this by phone.” (She was in a hospital three hours away.) We both knew this was the last time we would talk on this earth. A take away from that day is Darlene quoting C S Lewis and announcing that she didn’t have a soul. She then explained that she was a soul and she had a body. Our goodbye was painful but it brought closure to this journey of friendship.
The other was Ron. Having been made Power of Attorney for his health care and his finances I was sorry I lived 2 hours away from his hospital. We had been friends from childhood and pretty much able to finish each other’s sentences. His hobby farm was a refuge for me from the rush of suburban life. I knew his health was failing but I didn’t expect the call from the ICU nurse that told me his heart rhythm was incompatible with life. I told her to tell him I loved him and I would see him in heaven. She answered, “Oh, honey, his heart just stopped.” Again, it was a painful goodbye but one I can remember as the end of our walking together in this life.
I have other friends where the time to say goodbye is not so easily defined. How do you process the loss when the enemy is dementia, mental illness or stroke? Where do you put the occasional breakthroughs where things seem as they used to be for a brief time? I don’t know much about heaven but I look forward to eternity where we will never have to be separated and never say goodbye.
I am interested in learning about your experiences with the pain of saying goodbye.