Sunday, November 14, 2010
The Journey to Goodbye.
My dear friend was clearly preparing to leave this world. The time out of time for saying goodbye was ever present during the past several days, hanging like silvery morning mist as the earth exhales the cooling November air.
Tuesday night felt heavy and anxious, so I lit a votive candle in the beautiful natural rock crystal holder that my friend had given me last Christmas. 'Christ - The Light of the World' the enclosed card had read. It burned well past midnight...
On Wednesday morning, I knew that this was the day.
I resolved to make my way to my friend's home after the morning ritual of driving my son to his bus stop. No rush, no urgency, this wasn't a time for rescue. It was a time for honoring a sacred passage. A time to be present and to help hold a space for gratitude and grieving and goodbye.
On the morning's journey, the sunrise went from a familiar kind of pretty as we left home to a sudden and breathtaking display of bronze, copper, rose pink, magenta and violet as we were lined up in traffic on the approach to the river bridge. Unable to stop or pull over, I pointed my camera out the open car window, and with one hand on the steering wheel and two eyes on the road, I shot four pictures, trusting that I would capture the images I was meant to get.
What I got was eerie and beautiful, just like the feeling in my heart and deep in the pit of my stomach - the visceral sense that time stopped for an imperceptible instant. That the stars blinked as a soul shot past them, leaving a never ending arc of light in its wake. I knew my dear friend was crossing a bridge then, too.
After dropping my son off, I made my way to my friend's home, stopping briefly nearby to take a couple pictures of a large carved stone statue of Christ that I passed every time I drove to her house.
I had always intended to do this small thing, somehow this seemed the right time to do it. The statue's hands were particularly evocative, and as I framed one of them in the lens of my camera, I reflected on my friend's loving intention of offering her hands to do the work of making a difference in the lives of the poorest of the poor in Haiti, where she and her husband supported many initiatives, and are building an orphanage and elder's home.
As I got back into my car, my cell phone sang out - it was my friend's dear husband, telling me in a soft, heartbroken voice that she had just "gone to Heaven..." if he was surprised when I told him I was just minutes away, he didn't say so...
It seems that our entire life is, among many other things, a journey to goodbye. I am forever grateful to my dear, dear friend for sharing some of her incredible journey with me, and for showing me that one can travel, even to goodbye, with love and trust, with dignity and humor, with purpose and kindness...
Godspeed, my dear friend. We shall meet again.