Saying Good-bye When They are Gone
Letters to Jennifer
I did not get to say good-bye to Jennifer before she died. She was loved by so many that the family had to put a limit on who could come. She was dying of a quick forming cancer and she needed the time to process what was happening to her. It was hard not to go to her, but I was glad she had hospice care. Still, I needed to find a way to say good-bye to her and put my memory of her prayerful spirit in writing.
Remembering is not about reminiscing about the good, old days and it is not about recalling past events. It is about bringing the past into the present. It is about bringing the memory of someone as a living presence into one's life. Jennifer wrote edited a newsletter for the prayer center she lived at. I kept most of the newsletters since Jennifer always had something to write about.
In the Autumn of 1988, Jennifer wrote: "I believe that life is eternal, that I am asked to strengthen and nurture my relationships with those who have died." So I wrote back to her the following letter as my good-bye.
This dialogue with you is taken from your wise words written down for those on the journey of life. It seems that in our world there is so little time for friendship. It takes time to create a friendship. We had 30 years in which to do it. I did not visit with you often, but the hours we did share were so nourishing. I always left your space more refreshed and ready to return to my space in the world. There were long stretches in these 30 years that we did not see each other. Yet, it was such a comfort to know that you were there in the background of my praying for me. I could depend on your faithfulness.
I believe now that I can still grow in our friendship even though you are on the other side. I have your written words to sustain me without your physical presence.I take what you have written and ponder them in some of my quiet times. You are present to me a brand new way.
If you did not get the chance to say "good'bye" to someone you loved, write a letter to that person and then write another with their response to you. Writing is another way to say good-bye and ease the hurt.