This week we said goodbye to my eldest son. We put him on a flight that was heading halfway around the world, to embark on the journey of a lifetime. He’ll be gone for about 6 months — learning, and growing, and serving others. He’s gonna love it! The hubby and I have been debating “goodbyes” for the last three weeks. How are you supposed to feel about goodbyes? Sad? Excited? Anxious? Perhaps we feel all of those emotions. It’s not a debate whether you miss the person or not, it’s simply feeling. And everybody feels differently. We cannot impose our feelings on others. This is oh so evident with grief… and final goodbyes. Each of us handle it our own way — and you cannot rush the process. But that’s a bigger topic for another day.
We’ve been anticipating this trip for some time… and have made preparations: vaccines, paperwork, fundraising, packing, planning, researching, and waiting. You arrive early to the airport (way too early, says the hubby), and despite double checking and repacking, you pray they ignore the two extra pounds of luggage and put you through. Then you have a momentary breakdown (and shear panic) as you check the carefully labelled red folder of “important” documents and discover the passport is missing. Only to discover it is on said son’s person. But said son has disappeared for the last 20 minutes in some obscure airport bathroom…. and you silently curse…. and a whole new set of emotions well up.
And then, alas, the time comes for hugs, selfies, pats on the back, final warnings to be careful as you, yes, blink a few tears back, and watch as your beloved spreads his wings. We call all of that “goodbye”.
According to history, our English goodbye was derived from “Godbwye” a crazy, late 1500’s text-worthy spelling version of “God be with ye” — quite appropriate if I do say so. That is all we really want to say, isn’t it? I put you in God’s hands, and trust that He knows best. It’s really the sum of our mixed emotions. God be with you, until you return.
I’ve mused a little this week about how Jesus’ disciples must have felt when He said his goodbyes. Confusion must have been in their mix of emotions. Why was he leaving this way? How did Mary feel about her final goodbyes at the cross? Was Thomas the one wishing for the red folder of important documents? What about the reverse? What was going through the mind of the all-knowing Saviour as He said “goodbye” to His earthly life to return to His Heavenly father? I am sure He had some mixed emotions leaving His mission to a bunch of confused fishermen and bewildered women!
But — perhaps the “God be with you” phrase was truly coined then, at that moment in history. Perhaps Jesus simply did what He had to do, and then said His goodbyes, knowing that the rest of the future human race will simply have to learn to embark on their journeys with God “bye” our side.
Until next week: “Goodbye” my gentle readers…”God be with you”