as a missionary kid in papua new guinea, my growing up was well seasoned with goodbyes. since relationships were strongly flavored by the unique situation we were in, our love for each other was bold and intense.
goodbyes were more than a perforation…they were a tearing away.
year after year we learned the art of surviving them.
we infused farewells with all the heart we had. gathered at small airstrips for a loved one leaving…we storied, we laughed, we wept.
we pressed in close…stretching together to it’s thinnest, avoiding eye contact with packed bags, pushing away the inevitable less one.
and our greatest defense against everything we were to each other being swept off the table:
from note cards to lined notebook pages, we pressed them into each others hands with an understood ‘for later’.
they were what you mean to me…i’ll always remember…don’t forget.
they were every joke, code and just between us memory.
they were thank you, i’m sorry and i love you kneaded together.
we tried to capture a year or a lifetime of love and slip it into our friend’s leaving hands.
to be read while tears streamed down on airplanes full of strangers. we prepared them as salve for hearts cracked by loss. monuments to what had been real…to point at when doubt stepped into the room.
they were the flavor you carried in your mind, still with you long after the meal was finished.
i wonder if the disciples ached for a chance to have those last days back with jesus. to say their goodbyes and make them count. to hand thank you, i’m sorry and i love you to their friend and teacher and lord.
i think jesus re-appearing those last few times was his goodbye letter…slipped into the hands of those who had grown to love the sound of his voice, how he fit into their lives, how they were different because of him.
“…A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”…” (john 20, NIV)
i think he loved them with a reminder it was real.
giving them something to point at when doubt stepped in to the room.