“Don’t be dismayed by good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.” Richard Bach
My best friend died this week. Her name was Kay Mahaffey. She did not achieve world fame or monetary riches, but her life was filled with love and kindness beyond earthly possessions. For years, we laughed together, cried together, and shared our thoughts and wishes the way only good friends do.
I remember mornings talking about the strange behavior of colleagues and my usual poor fashion choices while driving to work in my green Celica or her gold Pontiac. I remember afternoons wondering whether we should grab a Godfather’s pizza or a Johnny’s burger and onion rings for lunch. I remember evenings sitting on her quilted bedspread discussing topics from unrequited love to workplace ambitions. I remember late nights of crazy fun and some bad decisions resulting from marathon sessions of disco dancing at Michael’s Plum and Cowboys.
My life in Oklahoma City and my friendship with Kay were tied together in real-time then and in memories now. So, how can I follow Richard Bach’s advice and not be “dismayed” to say a final good-bye to the woman who was such a part of my life that my daughter’s name is a combination of Kay’s and my given names? I think the answer to that question is contained in the second sentence of Bach’s quote. “A farewell is necessary before you can meet again.”
Something I wrote in my novel Sarah Finn comes to mind as the title character explains the concept of saying a final “farewell” to a loved one. Sarah Finn is speaking to two children before they visit their dying grandfather for the last time. She recites 2 Corinthians 13, verse 11: “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”
After some discussion including Sarah Finn’s explanation of the original meaning of “farewell” as “be well” along a journey or trip, the little girl turns to her brother who is crying with the thought their grandfather is soon to depart this world. She says, “…So, we don’t have to say good-bye. We can just say ‘farewell.’ Like he’s just going on a trip where, like St. Paul said to the Corinthians, he’ll ‘be perfect’ and in ‘good comfort’ to live with ‘the God of love’ where he will always be in ‘peace.’”
The little brother begins to understand this idea of “farewell” because after he visits his grandfather in his hospital room, the boy announces to Sarah Finn, “I told Grandfather ‘farewell’ …Just like we talked about, Miss Sarah. I said I wasn’t saying ‘good-bye,’ just ‘farewell’ on the trip he was about to take to go to heaven.”
So, perhaps, Richard Bach was right. “A farewell is necessary before the dismay of saying good-bye can change to the hope of meeting again. And meeting again,” as Bach continues, “[whether} after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.” If that is true, I will offer a “farewell” to my friend Kay for a good and peaceful trip to her spiritual home. And, then I will turn my prayer to the thought I might be lucky enough to once again meet her one day — after my own farewell journey.
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