The Gravity of Goodbye


How many times a day do you part ways with someone? Stranger, neighbor, friend, loved one? How often do you think about the meaning of these goodbyes? How often do we feel the gravity of exactly what we are saying when we leave each other? These and other thoughts race through my head as I sit in the floor of my office after a whirlwind 3 day trip to Georgia.

A trip that was supposed to be a relaxing weekend in Virginia with my in-laws changed tracks suddenly on Monday when I got a call from Patti, Cory’s mom, that they were considering moving Cory’s Grandma Scott to comfort care. Patti was asking me for my medical opinion on the situation. What did I feel as a medical student was the right choice? What did I feel as Patti’s daughter-in-law was the best choice? What would I do in this situation? In that call, I got the feeling that Patti needed to see her mom once more for closure. We quickly made plans to drive to Georgia, but I could not get off work until Thursday afternoon. Cory bought a ticket to fly from Dallas to Atlanta, all of us understanding this would be our last chance to say goodbye.

We arrived, after picking Cory up from the airport, at 2:13 on Friday afternoon. Grandma Scott passed away officially at 3:13. This was exactly the second time in my short medical career that it fell to me to inform the family of a loved one’s death. This time, the family knew before I said anything. Patti, Cory, Steve (Cory’s dad), and I got to say our last goodbyes. Heavy goodbyes. A goodbye that we knew was going to happen, but it presented some finality.

A little more than 36 hours before, I was rushing around my house packing my bags for the trip and finishing up my chores. I ran into my roommate as she left for work. I caught her quickly to inform her of the trip. She said she was praying for all of us. I said, “Thanks, have a good day at work!” We parted ways. There was no deep meaning, no gut wrenching worry, but there was a goodbye.

Back up 12 more hours. My mom and I had just finished a work out at her gym in Hurricane. We went back to her house where I dropped off my dog for her to watch (a scary thought if you know her). I grabbed some of her protein bars (I can’t afford those), and headed out of the house. I’m pretty sure my last words to her were, “Just don’t kill my dog” as I rushed out the door. That wasn’t even a goodbye. There was no thought about when I would see my mom again.

Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation, maybe it’s sentimentality, I don’t know. After Grandma Scott passed away (quite peacefully I might add) I have relived the last goodbyes I said to all of my loved ones. Did we part on good terms? Did I share what they mean to me? Probably not. Goodbyes or parting of ways are so frequent that they lose their weight, their gravity. I am currently feeling the weight of each goodbye I say. James 4:13-14 says:

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make profit”-yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

Grandma Scott’s death was not a surprise. Each word that Patti said to her mom was said with much gravity. Each one could have been the last ever said. It made each of us thoughtful. However, you never know when it will be the last time you see someone. Our lives are not our own. I should approach each parting as one that could be our last. Maybe without the tears, but with thought.

I want to end this long post by passing along some of the best marriage advise I have gotten so far and it can apply to all relationships. Joan Freeman pulled me aside after my first wedding shower and gave me a big hug. As she let go she told me to never part from Cory without telling him I love him. She said, “You never know when may be the last time.” Also, it’s as good reminder to me to love him even when we are disagreeing.

That’s all for now,

Beth Goff


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