Final "good-bye"

I don't know if I'll ever get use to when a church member says "goodbye."  The first time I experienced it was my first summer church internship.  I visited a woman at the hospital and when she told me "bye" I just knew it was the final "bye."  Next time I visited she was no longer with us.

It comes as even more of a shock when it comes from someone who has been healthy and no one else would have a clue that they are dying.  Yet you both know that the "good-bye" is THE "good-bye" when it is said. There is a finality to it.

I think that is why one of my High School classmates and I always end our conversations mid-sentence to be picked up next time we meet - however many years later it may be.  He had a final "good-bye" with a teenage friend and I now wonder if he knew then that it was THE "good-bye."

Back in the "old days" people were more attentive to those dying moments.  We no longer keep track of last words or consider their significance.  Yet, I think if we took time to pay attention we would know too.

So today I said "good-bye" to someone far sooner than I ever expected.  Someone in my mind who has become invincible.  Someone who others would not realize the "good-bye" was THE "good-bye." It was very honorable and said with a smile, a hug, an "I love you" and a wink.  I hope the image doesn't leave my mind.


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