Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Till We Meet Again

It was a Friday in early November.  We were well on our way to a girls’ weekend when her cell phone rang with the news.  Two precious twin girls needed a temporary place to stay.  For my sweet friend and her husband, it marked the second time they opened their hearts and home to foster children.  Excitement filled the motor coach full of women as we continued west down the interstate to our Women of Faith weekend; many of us already smitten with these two sweet girls soon to become part of our lives.  The girls arrived a few days later, and immediately stole all our hearts.   Though they arrived in a whirlwind, we absorbed them into our lives as if they’d always been ours.  And, we loved them fiercely.

Three months passed, and the threads of their young lives wove deeper and deeper into the tapestry of our own.  Though we knew the day for goodbyes would come, the hope that it never would remained. 

“Our sweet girls are going home….
They have been greatly loved and will be greatly missed”, she said.

My heart sank.  I wouldn’t allow my mind to process the possibility of their leaving.  Emotions are easier to stuff when you don’t dwell or think on the inevitable. Besides, I didn’t want to feel the sting of loss either.  And, I knew digesting the information would only lead to heartbreak and tears. 

My eyes caught the girls from across the room.  One by one, members of my church family greeted their tiny faces and embraced their teensy frames.   I began to make my way toward them, but before I could get there, the girls toddled off to Sunday School.  

Oh well.  Wasn’t meant to be I guess.  It’s probably easier this way anyway. 
If I don’t tell them goodbye, then it won’t hurt so much.

Church service was about to start, and I sat on the front row of chairs waiting for the cue to approach the platform with the rest of the Praise Team.   Two little faces entered my field of vision. 

Oh, sweet girls. 

“I thought you might want to tell the girls goodbye”, she said.

My heart leapt and broke as I held each one on my lap, kissed their tiny, bronze faces, and hugged them goodbye.  Sometimes there just aren’t enough seconds in the day.  Sunday was one of those days. 

God be with you till we meet again little ones.  Till we meet again.

As the day progressed, another goodbye lurked on the horizon.  My cousin had asked my family and me to attend an impromptu birthday party at her house for my uncle Don.  We were honored and elated for the invitation and inclusion, but I knew a difficult parting would also be part of the celebration.  So, I approached her home with much trepidation. 

Just don’t think about it. 
We’re there to celebrate, not dwell on the fact that Don has cancer. 
Celebrate.  Celebrate.  (Deep breathe) Celebrate.

I replayed in my head the pep talk I’d given myself, headed in the house for the festivities, and prayed my smile would disguise my breaking heart.

Don is truly one of the most caring, encouraging, thoughtful, selfless people I know.  He can light up a room, and make you feel like you are the most important person in his life.  A real charmer that guy is…and a real joy to know him and call him family.  

When I was a kid, he nicknamed me, “Pretty Lady”.  I can’t begin to tell you how much those words made this chubby little girl feel like a beautiful princess.  Still to this day, I melt at the sound of his voice calling me “Pretty Lady”… and this chubby, big girl feels like a beautiful princess all over again.

During my teenage years, I wrote Don and my aunt, Jeanne, a long letter.  In retrospect, it was a long, passionate, teenage tirade in which I aired my frustrations and my dreams.  But, Don treated it, and me, with respect.  He never discouraged or made me feel like a goofy, passionate teen on a tirade.  Rather, he wrote back a lengthy reply and encouraged me to pursue my dreams.  That’s just the kind of guy he is. 

We gathered our coats and began our goodbyes.  Tears filled my eyes as I embraced my sweet uncle and mouthed my goodbye in his ear.  Sometimes there just aren’t enough seconds in the day.  Sunday was one of those days. 

I love you, and I will miss you.

“I’ll miss you too”, he said.

We celebrated my uncle Don on Sunday.  More than likely, the next time we gather, we will celebrate him again.  It breaks my heart to think he may not be present with us then, but I know a much grander celebration awaits!  For there are many who look forward to welcoming him home, and I look forward to the day when I am reunited again with them all.  Now that, that my friends, will be a celebration!

God be with you till we meet again.
I love you, Don.  Please tell grandma hello when you see her. 
I know she will be so excited to see you! 
God be with you till we meet again.  Till we meet again.

Father God, You know our sorrows and collect our tears.  Goodbyes can be so hard, and sometimes our arms and our hearts feel empty. Replace our sorrow with the joy only You can give, and heal our hurts.  Thank you that we never have to tell You goodbye – for You are ever present and always walk beside us on every road in our lives.  Help each one of us to feel Your presence and comfort as we look forward to the day we are caught up in the clouds with You and meet each other again.

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