It was hard, traveling around North Carolina, to say goodbye to friends and family. I shared tears and lingering hugs with so many over the past month. You see, I recently traveled to a number of communities and churches, as well as homes, to share about my new calling and raise some financial support. In some ways, it was emotionally draining to encounter these many farewells, especially knowing that there are still many more to come. It is like a slow closing of the eyes when you’re just not sure you’re ready to go to sleep. My head, however, is nodding toward Germany.
As hard as it is to say farewell, however, I found something deep, lasting, and wonderful in these “goodbyes”—stories. So many stories were shared with me as I visited. I learned things about friends and family that I never knew. Many people shared memories and feelings about me and my ministry and friendship with them through the years. Oddly, these moments were kind of like being present at my own funeral! Part of me wanted to remind people, “I’m not dying folks!” The rest of me simply took everything in, stored it, knowing I might need some of those encouraging words in the days to come. No, I don’t believe every good word that is said about me. No one should. But I will take them nonetheless.
I’ll tell you another thing I found in these moments, a lasting question. Why do we wait until the funeral moment? Why don’t we tell others, in the here and now of life, just how much they mean to us? This is a lesson I have learned in recent weeks. I take it to heart. Perhaps we all should.
Thanksgiving is coming up, here in the U.S. What better way to celebrate, than to seek out the ones who matter, the ones who impact our lives, the ones who play a part in all that we are? What do we do when we find them? Tell them thank you! Why wait until the funeral, or the long goodbye? Why wait for anything?