Saying Goodbye

“Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him.”—Genesis 50:1 (NIV)

My father passed away 10 years ago. He and my mom called me on the phone to say they thought the end was near. I begged him to wait for me to get there to say goodbye. He did.

When I arrived, he looked so thin and frail laying on the bed. I climbed onto the bed beside him and whispered into his ear, “I’m here Dad. Thanks for waiting for me.” He opened his eyes and said, “Hey baby. I told you I would, didn’t I?”

Still my dad, still my hero. I laid beside him listening to his breathing while he dozed. As I laid there, I happened to look down at our feet that were side by side on the bed. “Dad! I have your feet. How did I not know that?” Now that my Dad had lost so much weight our feet looked so similar. “What do you know. You do,” he laughed.

The next day Dad rallied a bit. We watched football, ate lobster, and spent the afternoon listening to worship music—all his favorite things. That evening my brother called to us from Dad’s room saying, “I think we’re losing him.” Mom and I ran to his side. We all sat with him and told him how much we loved him. He took a deep breath, then another . . . and then silence.

We knew this moment was coming, but we were never prepared for it. It’s the silence that hurts the most—knowing we’ll never hear the sound of his voice, or his whistle when he came home from work every day, or the laughter that was so contagious. We wept and wept.

I feel this moment with Joseph. So many lost years for this father and son. To say goodbye again must have been so painful. They mourned many days.

Mourning our losses is good. It brings healing. Maybe we move past our mourning too quickly these days. Maybe we need to mourn a little longer and remember the blessings in the midst of the loss.

I lost my father, but 10 years later I’ve been blessed with six grandsons. In each one I see a bit of him. The loyal, the lion, the cowboy, the adventurer, the math whiz, and the protector. But when the loss becomes overwhelming, I try to think of eternity.

As Christians, it can be easy to get our eternal citizenship mixed up with our temporary one. This life will continually be mixed with joy and suffering. The suffering should always turn our hearts to the eternal. I know I just want to hear my Dad’s whistle as I walk through heaven’s gate. Then I will know I’m home.

DIG: Is there something or someone in your life you need to mourn?

DISCOVER: Search for a blessing that experience or person left behind for you.

DISPLAY: Take time to share that story with someone who may need some encouragement.