Goodbyes – Guided and Imposed

Goodbye, Sun.

She was two years old, sitting on a bench with her grandmother. I will reference the incident; Jayson Greene will tell you all about it.

She is two years old and Mom and Dad have decided it is time for her to let go of the pacifier. They chose the day and agreed on a plan.

It was a beautiful day in Manhattan. I know what it is like to sit with a grandchild. I don’t know what the whether was like or what time of year it was when these two women – one small and just starting, the other older with lots of life experience under her belt – sat together. I have four grandchildren, and the simple fact of their existence sends joy deep into my soul and love soaring through my heart.

I wonder … Is that how that grandmother felt that day, her little granddaughter by her side? Was there deep joy and soaring love?

Childhood is so fleeting. It can be so fragile; and we start learning at a very young age what it is like to say “Goodbye“. Perhaps it was her age, the concern that at two years old it was time to leave the pacifier behind. Maybe it was concern for the formation of her gums and teeth. Whatever the rationale, the event – this “goodbye” was planned, choreographed; and the two year old was prepared in advance.

There was no preparation for the little girl and her grandmother sitting on the bench that day with regard to what was about to happen. Eight stories up a piece of masonry was loose on the side of a building. What should have been done or might have been done to repair it was left undone and in a strange twist of fate it fell the distance – eight stories. For all the places it could have landed, it landed atop the head of the two year old sitting on the bench with her grandmother.

Goodbye, Little One.

A trip was scheduled to Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. My two year old granddaughter would pick a teddy bear – her very own. This soft, furry, stuffed toy would become her nighttime companion. Rather than suck on her “paci”, should would cuddle with her “teddy”. The “goodbye” was gentle. She was prepared. So were her parents. How would the night go? Would the teddy bear be an acceptable replacement? Would the pain of this goodbye be mitigated by the joy of a new relationship?

Some “Goodbye’s” are written into the DNA of life itself. We don’t remain children forever. Some “Goodbye’s” are chosen, planned, choreographed. Some “Goodbye’s” are a blessing, a relief. But we all know there are “Goodbye’s” that are not only heart-breaking; they are gut-wrenching. They mark the momentary end of life as we know it. They tear hope from us, hurl us into a darkness so deep we think there is no way out.

Goodbye, Sun. Goodbye, Little One.

Beneath the roar of our lives there is this quiet, tenacious undercurrent of fear as we “wait for the other shoe to drop”. But honestly, how could anyone ever anticipate the drop of a stone from eight stories up! How is it possible that something so good, so glorious as this Shining Star of an idealistic two year old could be so suddenly taken from us? And how do you go on from such a place?

Mr. Greene tells us how … you give birth to another child. Riding the parallel track to your pain and to the reality that life seems at times to be waiting just around the corner to take you down, is the hope that ultimately enables you to start over again. It’s not that the pain is gone, or the uncertainty. You take all of that with you as you wrench the cords that threaten to deny you of breath from around your neck. As long as you are able you choreograph the “goodbye’s”; and when they suddenly land atop you, you hold on to whomever and whatever is left to you for some comfort.

Honestly, whether we know it or not, this is what Christianity has to offer the world. It’s not even Halloween and the stores have the Christmas decorations up. Maybe the reason the season seems to start earlier and earlier is because there is something inside us waiting, hoping, longing to believe – in spite of all the little ones taken from our world too soon, and in spite of the fear in some of us that we might lose our little ones – that unto us a child is born.

The pain we experience doesn’t only rob us of our hope; it gives birth to it.

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.