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.