How to say goodbye
“Tell me when the time we had slipped away,
tomorrow turned to yesterday,
and I don’t know how.
Tell me what can stop this river of tears,
it’s been building up for years,
for this moment now.
Here I stand, arms open wide.
I’ve held you close, kept you safe, ’til you can fly.
Tell me where the road ahead is gonna bend,
and how to harness the wind,
and how to say goodbye.” *
You would’ve loved Tom.
Everyone who met Tom loved him, and why wouldn’t they?
Tom was blessed: good looks, strength, athleticism, brains, wit, charisma, personality to spare…
He instantly lit up every room he entered.
He had such an easy way with people of all ages, whether strangers or old friends.
Tom was warm.
God occasionally smiles on one, doesn’t He?
When our son, our only son, was born, I knew God had smiled on him, and on us, his parents. There is nothing I can write, no words I can use, to describe what you feel when your only child is put into your arms for the first time.
An only son.
One hope in your life.
One focus for all your love.
One chance to know the greatest joy life can offer…and the most unimaginable pain.
A little over a week ago, we buried Tom, my son’s best friend since 9th grade. He had just turned 23.
At some point while Tom slept, he walked through a door that was opened for him, a door that is just outside our view. We know it’s close. We still feel his presence.
Someone wiser than I once said, “Time heals all wounds,” and I hope that’s true for these wounded hearts.
I know the deeper the wound, the longer it stays sensitive to any touch. At first, you notice your scar every day, but touch it rarely, careful of the pain. It’s just too tender.
But maybe that’s why God takes the young, the gifted, the beautiful…the only child. He wants us to be more tender.
Maybe He wants our hearts more sensitized to the lightest of touches so that, rather than shrinking from the pain — the fear of pain — we reach out to trace our fingers, first along our own scars, and then along the scars of those we love.
Because touching can also bring back all the precious images, memories and love, and eventually, hopefully, even laughter and joy.
And we, ever so slowly, begin to understand and believe that truly, only one breath separates us from them.
And always — always — that this life, every part of this life, is a gift.
Every part gets us closer to where we are all going, to face that door just beyond our view, where there is no more sadness, no more tears.
For all are scarred, each bears unknowable pain, and only the heart can hear this whispered voice say, “Please don’t leave him. He’s my son.” **
We love you, Tommy. God loves you. And that will never change.
‘And I fall to my knees, so it’s You that they see, not I…’ ***
*How To Say Goodbye, by Michael W. Smith
**He’s My Son, by Mark Schultz
**Be Lifted High, by Michael W. Smith