As the walls of this wonderful house become bare and the last of the boxes are packed, I have been pleasantly surprised to find that goodbyes don't weaken relationships. On the contrary, goodbyes strengthen them.
One friend, for instance, made the 5+ hour drive from Vermont this past weekend to tell me goodbye and so she could read to Silas and Dorothy "one more time". Little stinker Silas wouldn't let her, but she forgave him.
"Your friendship means a lot to me ," several teary eyed friends have told me this week.
"I will miss seeing the Sims family sitting out there every week," my pastor said from the pulpit last Sunday.
And it works both ways as I have expressed the same sentiments. When you have to say goodbye, I've discovered, things that might go otherwise unsaid are freely spoken.
Goodbyes have other advantages as well. My soon to be 8th grader, Mary, gets a bonus from this goodbye as she will be allowed an early Facebook page--a privilege usually reserved for high school at our house.
And of course there is all that cleaning out that is forced upon you when it is time to say goodbye. "Photo albums are hard to pack," Bethany said this week, adding that she keeps sitting down and looking at them.
"I don't really want to move," said Ben, "but I have moved enough to know how that we are like arrows and we go where God aims us." Sometime I am surprised at what comes out of my 15 year old son's mouth.
Four year old Silas keeps reviewing the plan with me as he witnesses the packing.
"Someone else will live in this house?"
"And we will go to another house?"
"Am I going too?"
Of course, I say, amazed at such a question.
Yesterday I said goodbye to Matthew as he reported to West Point this morning. We had a send off for him last weekend. Bonfire, ultimate frisbee, dishes of food and dozens of people. The goodbye, I think, reaffirmed the friendships he's made during his short time in Norwich.
"What can I do for you this week?" droves of friends have asked, offering meals or cleaning or both. I gratefully accept any and all help at this point, since my growing belly prohibits bending and I am too tired to cook for my small army.
Goodbyes aren't all bad, I've concluded. If you look hard enough, you can find the good in goodbye every time.