The “good” in a “goodbye”

“Hallelujah, to saving grace. Hallelujah, to thee. Hallelujah, for death has lost its grip on me.” – Bellarive

I have always loved to be around people. I have never turned down an opportunity to spend time with people and develop relationships with them. Blame it on my love of performing arts. I have always been involved with some theater production, some live music performance, or even playing every Sunday on a worship team since I was twelve. One of my favorite parts of the week was coffee hour after church on Sunday. When it was all done, I couldn’t wait for the next Sunday to come around. After Sunday, I had Boy Scouts to look forward to, then Homeschool Co-op, and then theater group. One of the greatest joys in my life was to be with these various social groups. Sure, I had plenty of social time when not with these groups, but nothing quite hit the spot like being with them. I never wanted to leave these social places and people when the time came around….

In fact, if I’m honest with myself, there was something about leaving that made me sad….

The truth is….I have never liked goodbyes.

Some of my earliest memories after nearly losing my mother (see “Chaos/Order” part 1 for more)  involve trying to block the door at my grandparents house in hopes that my mother wouldn’t leave for work and would stay for just a few more moments. Some of my earliest preschool days were spent sobbing for a good portion of time because my mom had taken me to school and then had to go to work.

This is what is called “separation anxiety”.

This anxiety got so bad that my grandfather had to start taking me to preschool. This thing didn’t stop there. It continued for years. I would be lying to say that I don’t still have a bit of it that still dwells inside me. I remember the first time I stayed alone at my house. I was 13. I didn’t want to go to that week’s Boy Scout meeting for whatever reason, so my parents let me stay home. They were only about a half a mile away and were only going to be gone for a little over two hours, but I still felt this intense sense of dread looming over my head. This fear of not knowing if they were going to return to me in the same condition that they left me in.

As the years went on, it got better and I focused my attention on other things. If my mother was going to the store, I would either go with her, or distract myself by working on something. I was going to be home for a few hours by myself? I would walk over to my grandparents at the house next door and play guitar. Music, video games, art projects….these are all things that I would use to distract myself from the deep rooted fear I had inside of me. But, as I said, it calmed down for a few years. I thought I was doing pretty well! My mother was had taken time off of work to take care of my sick father, and she homeschooled me, so we were pretty much together all of the time. If my father was in the hospital, my mother and I were always there. I didn’t have to fear her not being there!

All of this changed on June 29, 2013.

My father had been in the critical care unit in the hospital for just over two and a half weeks. His doctor said that the hospital we were at was unable to support him for any longer and he needed to be transferred a little under two hours away to a larger hospital with more advanced facilities. I was in a play at the time and had two showings the same day that he was to be transferred. Right before he had to leave, I gave him a hug goodbye. He opened his eyes to look at me, and said “Goodbye buddy. I love you. Have fun tonight, I’ll see you later.”

These were the last words he ever said.

That was nearly two years ago, and in the time since, I’ve had this intense fear of loss, an anxiety of sorts, of losing people I care about. Leaving my family to go to college didn’t help this at all. I think about a day just two months ago. A friend and I were sitting down in the commons area of my college’s student center and I decided to go and get some lunch.

“Will you be here when I get back?” I asked.
“Yeah” they replied with a smile.
“Okay…” I said with a uncertainty about me..

The entire time I was gone, I had this sinking feeling in my stomach. I had this idea that when I walked back into the commons, my friend would be gone and out of sight.
Much to my relief, they were sitting right where I left them when I walked in. I mean, come on, this is an irrational fear….isn’t it?

It’s little events like this that have plagued me over the past few months with an overwhelming amount of unwanted anxiety.

But a few weeks ago, near the end of a conversation I was having (with the same friend from the lunch incident!), I had a realization…

Maybe there is good in a goodbye.

Perhaps, the “good” in the bye is knowing and trusting that I’ll see them again. We all intend to see one another after we have parted ways. I can’t live my life in fear that I won’t see them again. In fact, I can rest in the knowledge that I will see them again. The “good” part, to me, is the hope of the reunion after the “bye”.

Even if loved ones time on earth is done, I have the hope in front of me that we will be together again someday for eternity.

So, if you’ve recently lost someone, or you have a fear of losing someone, take rest in this – God has made a way for us to not have to be afraid of death and loved ones dying. He has given us a hope for tomorrow, that we all will one day be reunited together with Him forever. Hallelujah to that.

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8 thoughts on “The “good” in a “goodbye”

  1. I lost my father when I was 23, that was 36 years ago. I think about him every day, I miss him every day, that doesn’t change. But fear can be changed. Because fear can debilitate. Leave your fear in your music and embrace what you have now without clinging, without anxiety, and your heart will sing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s really hopeful that you’ve gotten this out in written form. Reflections like this help us to see how our psychological responses do and do not serve us. Meditation (or “reflection”) can help us to complete the process of separation – just replaying the experiences over and over in our heads and asking “Why am I afraid here? Look, everything worked out just fine?”

    I think that your father’s soul was looking in on you as he was dying, and it is really beautiful that he brought himself to consciousness in that moment to offer you words of encouragement. I hope that you feel him still. When we are joined to somebody in love, we never lose them completely.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jacob, this was an absolutely incredible post. So well-written and genuine, I thank you for being vulnerable to something so (often) vicious as the internet. You’re a great human being, and I love to think that I still have so much to learn from you. Hope your summer has been just dandy, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

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