Earlier this evening, my son and I were talking over old times. Now, this is rare in our house. My son is usually safely ensconced in his cave, talking to virtual people, and I’m usually doing some kind of chore. It was so great to sit on the sofa after dinner, talking about the future and the past.
We started laughing over a household construction/demolition project that we did on our house in Georgia when some friends came to visit for a weekend and the husband helped David. It was one of those comedies of errors, discovering one setback after another, the type of thing that would make you crazy if it were not that it was shared with dear friends. Then it hit me that this old friend died late last year, and we’d never be able to add to our memories of him. We suddenly became very quiet.
I have come to a point in my life when I say good-bye and other people move on. In the first twenty or so years of our marriage, David and I moved to a new state about every five years. Even when I was growing up, we moved a few times. I was always saying good-bye to people I cared about, leaving them where they were and moving on to new adventures. The house we live in now is the house that I have lived in for the longest period in my whole life: eleven years. Now I stay put and watch people leave.
I’ve had co-workers, fellow church members, and friends move away or just leave. I’m so glad for Facebook, overwhelming as it can be, since I can keep in touch with my friends and family in six or more states so much better than anyone could just 20 years ago. Almost all of my parents’ movie stars and singers have died, and now mine are dying, too. Michael Jackson and I were born the same year. At lunchtime today, a co-worker was watching Inside Edition in the break room, and when they mentioned the stars’ names, I thought, “Who?” We are leaving, heading to the Western Lands.
The Lord has ways of preparing us for change, even when we’re oblivious. A nine-months-pregnant woman is so uncomfortable, never getting a decent night’s sleep, missing her pepperoni pizza without Tums, and wishing for a fabulous pedicure that she could actually see, that she is willing—no, eager—for labor to begin, even though she knows what’s coming. For all the tears shed by moms at college campuses when the baby bird leaves the nest, the Lord made teenagers so annoying that the ties that bind are fraying and ready to break. We love them, but the past few years have taught us that they need to be adults on their own. Our job is done, or at least has changed drastically.
My mom is a healthy, active woman in her eighties, but she is watching her friends from childhood get old and pass away. If I’m already seeing this now, what I will I feel like if I live into my eighties? I’ll miss everyone, I’m sure I will, and I’ll be ready to join them. If I did not have faith, I would despair. I know I’ll join Ed; I was there when he gave his life to the Lord. We may be sad, but they are eternally joyful. Sometimes life seems to be streaking past, but in the hollow places, the places in the heart where someone used to be, there is an ache.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
And come away,
For behold, the winter is past;
The rain is over and gone,
The flowers appear on the earth,
The time of singing has come….
(Song of Solomon 2:10-12)