Saying Goodbye to a Friend
I said goodbye to a friend this week. He has been a “such a time as this” friend, one whom I cannot imagine having gone through the last two years of my life without. He has been a trusted confidant and adviser, a prayer partner, a fellow dreamer, a connector. And now he’s moving. And I’m okay with that.
Lessons in Goodbye
I have learned a few lessons about saying goodbye to a friend from many years of experience. My last conversation with my friend before the moving van pulls away was a prompt to reflect on those lessons.
- Saying goodbye to a friend is a reminder that I made a friend. I chose to be vulnerable in hopes that the real me was good enough. It hasn’t always been. But sometimes it has been. And that changes everything.
- Saying goodbye to a friend means that I didn’t walk through seasons of life alone. The Lord has allowed me to walk through periods of life in which I felt all alone, but most of my memories involve other people that He has brought into my life…at least for a season.
- Saying goodbye to a friend means that my influence in the world became a little greater. When I have invested in a friend who moves away, the part of me in my friend goes, too. I consider it a high honor when I meet a friend of a friend who says, “I feel like I already know you.”
- Saying goodbye to a friend means that what we learned from each other has established roots that will grow in our other friendships. I still find myself quoting the wisdom of friends who have long since moved away. I tell my Bible study group all the time that any wisdom I have to pass on likely came from one of a thousand other similar conversations with friends. And it works both ways. Thirteen years ago, I remember quoting a Bible verse I had recently learned to a friend whose situation called for that particular verse. He told me recently how that verse is still a prominent filter in his life today. And guess what? It was a verse I needed to hear right then.
- Saying goodbye to a friend means glimpses of heaven for the rest of my life. Older Brother (in cahoots with my friend David, who moved to St. Louis many years ago) blessed me with Cardinals’ tickets for my birthday last year. I enjoyed sharing all day with Older Brother and the Little Fella on the trip up and back. To top it all off, I relished three hours of rarely-interrupted conversation with David, though it still ended much too quickly. (Fittingly, our friendship had originally blossomed when a mutual friend moved away.) I spent time with my long-time friend Tony back during the spring, when Older Brother’s baseball schedule took us to his town. A couple of hours at the coffee shop this summer with my friend Barry seemed over in a breath before he returned to South America. One day, however, all the goodbyes of earth will be eclipsed by the forever of heaven. The days of saying goodbye to a friend will be over. Forever.
So Long for Just a While
Saying goodbye to my friend this week was sad. He’s not moving to the other side of the world, at least for now. I’ll likely see him again multiple times this side of heaven. We’ll make plans to collaborate on a regular basis, and we may very well head out West together again. But I’ll still miss regular, in-person visits. And I’m still a little sad.
For today, though, I’ll simply say this: My life is richer because of you, Scott Hanberry. I love you, dear friend.[bluebox]Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life) is a collection of my faith stories. How appropriate that Scott Hanberry wrote about “me too moments” in the foreword.[/bluebox]