Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Sweetest Hello


 In all of the commotion of finals and graduation and having guests and traveling, I realized that I had forgotten to post this. I want to share it, even though it’s a week or two late, because this is what has been important to me recently.

***



She said to me sometime in her last week of classes, “I’m trying not to cry because I know once I start I won’t be able to stop.”

Yeah, honey, I so get that.

This past week has been one big rush, a blur of lasts. Last papers to grade. Last class to teach. Last chapel. Last final.

And that was just for me!

Her lasts are different, some of which I know nothing about, but all of which are significant, emotional, hard.

I’ve done a lot of reflecting these past couple of weeks, in between the grading and finishing and grocery shopping and cooking and getting ready for house guests. It’s an exciting time. A crazy time, too.

And yet, sitting here on my porch in solitude, my mind wanders to the early days—the carefree days of collecting new friends and settling in and working through problems and learning about people. The middle days of grinding it out even when you don’t want to, of questioning, of life-determining decisions. And now, these ending days and all the fun, uncertainty, and sorrow that they bring.

A friend said to me recently, “Oh, I remember the last month of college as one of the hardest. We all didn’t know how to say goodbye.”

I’ve been mulling that over for a while now, and I think there’s a lot of wisdom in those words. Do we ever really know how to say goodbye?

In my family, goodbyes are the worst. We pack up the car, smiling bravely like it’s no big deal and we’ll-see-you-next-week, all the while dreading that moment when we’ll have to hug and acknowledge that, rather than next week we’ll see you in six months or even next year. And suddenly we look up to see who’s crying first (usually my sister, Jenn), and then the dams all burst and we’re all crying and hugging and wishing we didn’t live 900 miles apart.

Right now, they’re putting on a brave face. Packing the car. Pretending it’s no big deal and we’ll-see-each-other-next-week. When the fact of the matter is, some of these people they will never see again.

The summer will bring joy and weddings and lots of firsts for my girl and her friends, but when the fall comes and real life settles in, that’s when the days become a little harder and a little longer. That’s when loneliness sets in, and the reality that four years of college seemed long at times but that was a blink of an eye compared to work life.


When the friends are disbursed, living life, doing whatever it is they are doing--and when the goodbyes have finally been said--that’s when the hope of heaven really kicks in.

And that’s when the words, “I will never leave you; I will never forsake you,” become the sweetest hello.

8 comments:

GLENDA CHILDERS said...

It is really the last time you are all together with so many friends. Therefore, there is always someone to weep with you when you weep and rejoiustsce with you when you rejoice. It is a serious loss. My first year out of college was hard and wonderful. But I missed my friends, some of whom I never saw again, since I moved away from California. Praying for your sweet girl as she adjusts.

Fondly,
Glenda

GLENDA CHILDERS said...

Opps ... I shouldn't type when I answer the phone. :)

Down On The Farm said...

Very true Shelly. Life is a series of "seasons." And life is filled with lots of goodbyes. Thankfully, for those of us who belong to the Lord, we can stand on His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. What a comfort. My son starts his "adult" job on June 2. He is just so happy to be done with college. I hate to tell him that college is easier than an adult job :). Blessings to you my friend!

Jo-Lynne {Musings of a Housewife} said...

Oh, the end of college was SO HARD. fortunately I had a boyfriend and we got engaged soon after and then I was in wedding planning mode. But still, the end of an era. So so hard.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that, and sometimes, though you re-connect lots of years later!
Would love to catch up. Lots going on in my life these days.
colette

Kate said...

Ah, yes, Colette! That reconnection has been one of the sweetest hellos I've had. Such a great reminder!

Pamela said...

I have a daughter facing some of the same. Breath-taking picture and oh, how I love your last line. He is always with us!

Blessings,
Pamela

Shelly W. said...

Thanks so much, Pamela!

And, Colette, that was really me commenting earlier, not Kate. :)