When we get together with people in group settings like conferences or retreats, like paths crossing here or there, there is a bittersweetness. The same blessing of being part of a family of missionaries is also a wound. For each person we learn to know and love, we are very aware that we say goodbye to. The constantness of the reunions and the goodbyes are a factor in our lives.
I visited with someone who got to see someone special to them recently. She smiled because she said, "It is so nice this time, because usually I only have about four days before I say good-bye again, but this time I get a few weeks." Hello. Goodbye. So often so close together that before the joy has settled from the hello, we look ahead and see the shadow of the goodbye looming. It is bittersweet.
There is also the fact that the sheer joy of being here and being with these people means I am not there and not with those people. Always, no matter where I am, there are those I dearly love elsewhere. I miss them. Yet, if I go to them, I miss others. That bittersweetness of close relationships constantly being separated. A very part of our lives.
It is that part which makes me long for heaven. There will be no more goodbyes. I think in heaven I won't stop smiling. To finally have all those I love together in one place.... never to say goodbye again!
I've figured what I want etched on the bottom of my tombstone, after whoever puts whatever they want. At the very bottom, I want engraved, "No More Goodbyes". It is what I look forward to.
While being "home" (such a funny word), we've had so many hellos. Soon, I am facing so many goodbyes, and my heart is already protesting the pain of what is coming.