More often than not we do this after the leaving… it is rare that we know when every person we ever knew is moving away, or changing jobs, or –worst of all– passing away.
My friend died yesterday. A pastor from her church and his wife were visiting her and her husband and son and had just finished praying with her. Then she died. Just as if someone opened a window or a door to release a captive butterfly. She was there, then she wasn’t. Rather, what kept her body alive had gone.
So the last time I saw her was the last time I wrote about her, just before Christmas. Her cancer had spread. She could not walk. She was relegated to hospice care because there was nothing else that medicine could do. A few days ago she was put in respite care so her caregivers could rest.
And then it was time to go.
Hooray for her, we say, thrilled she is no longer bound by her pain, defined by her cancer, imprisoned by her failed body. Are we thrilled? Really? Here we still are, right? So though we will someday go the same as she, for now we are those left behind. We miss her. For her family it is as though a limb has been torn off. Sure, time will make up for that loss, in its way.
But she will always be gone and therefore, missed.