It is a needle threading its way through your stomach, cinching it into a tight ball and knotting off at the gut. The nauseous tremor, the shaking disbelief of never seeing a person again. An empty, hollowed shell, you crawl out from inside yourself, searching for the ledge of wisdom, teetering on the knowledge that they go where the Spirit leads.
The initial blow of the news is not unlike receiving that ill-fated phone call in the middle of the night; the one that tells of a life taken at a moment’s notice. God only knows the sound of a heart breaking into a puzzled mess, scattering its pieces for you to do something with. A friend moving away may seem trivial in the scheme of the world and all its issues, but I have found the feeling to be on the outskirts of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression…and then finally acceptance. The death of a friend and its dizzying aftermath of questions and rage burdens the soul like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. It is a gut-wrenching, bottomless pool of doubt and chaos. Losing a friend to another part of the world places you into a similar pool, but the shallowness you stand in grants the acceptance that you will see them again.
I’ve cried many a tear saying goodbye to kindrid spirits over the years. Friends who went off to college or foreign countries or across the states. Grief and joy merge into a hard faceted stone you must keep in your pocket, toss around in your hand, kiss and accept. It is a sadness for selfish reasons. You want them to stay so you can go to the pool together; have the late night discussions about God’s grace. But the solution to your grief comes in the form of JOY. Joy in knowing that they have been blazing a trail all along, and this move is only the next step in the journey. Joy in believing in their intention of the better good of their lives, and by extension, the world. Joy in the knowledge that they see a path, it is lit, and they go not because you don’t matter, but because the ocean of endless opportunity that lies ahead is worth it.