I have been saying goodbye for 7 days. I’m at the dealer getting my oil changed and I even feel compelled to say goodbye to the nice guys who fix my car every three months.
I’ve said goodbye in a smile, a wave, a hug, a few hugs, a meal, and a two hour conversation. I’ve said goodbye to acquaintances, clients, professors, co-workers, roommates, people I’ve accompanied for 2 years, new friends, and friends I met on my first day of class 2 years ago. And there were some people I didn’t get to say goodbye to.
Social media changes everything. Facebook ensures that at least one thread of connection will remain intact. I didn’t have that 9 years ago when I graduated from college the first time.
Yet, there’s a sad omission of finality with this connection. Not that I ever want to completely cut ties with someone, but waving off the reality of geographical distance because “we’re Facebook friends” somehow diminishes the significance of the relationship and how it will never be the same. It’s almost as if we’re afraid to be vulnerable and say “you mean a lot to me and it’s going to be hard to not be able to see you in person whenever I want.” I’m absolutely guilty of this. There are a lot of people to whom I am indebted the past 2 years, people who have shaped my life. People who have seen me at my best and my worst. Yet again, God has been faithful in surrounding me with a community of friends and colleagues in this season of my life, something I was worried about and prayed about a lot when I first moved to Winchester. I need to honor that.
Curiously, saying all of these goodbyes may be the best preparation I could have for my internship. Every patient I will have will be saying goodbye. My whole ministry will be about helping people say goodbye to their loved ones. Holy cow.
I believe, somehow, God will teach me how to say goodbye. Hospice is goodbye pedagogy. And what a gift that will be, to learn how to say goodbye. I think that could help a lot of people, whether they are actively dying or not.
So, to my loved ones who I’m leaving tomorrow: I don’t care if we’re Facebook friends. You mean a lot to me and I’m going to miss you. Thank you for bringing me into your life.