We said goodbye to Rudy on Saturday when he left us for his new forever home.
And yesterday I said goodbye to a dear friend who ended her battle with cancer on Friday when she left us for her new Forever Home.
Both are perfect forever homes (one more perfect than the other, of course). But these home-goings have still been difficult for me.
As I've been grieving and processing Rudy's parting and Shirley's death, I'm realizing that inherent in every goodbye is a hello.
Rudy said hello to a new family filled with love and fun and companionship and affection (and no competition with a canine crew!).
Rudy's new family said hello to Rudy and a new life brimming with him and all he brings.
Shirley said hello to a new life in which there is no pain or sorrow or dying or tears. Shirley said hello to Jesus face-to-face. And He, her (can't you just see their embrace!). Shirley, who has been unable to walk for several months because of the pain, said hello to dancing and leaping and running and playing like never before. I can hear her laughing and giggling even now.
What wonderful hellos for them both.
But that leaves us saying hello to a life that no longer includes them.
You know, as I think about it, it's still the hellos that give us hope through these partings. Isn't it? It's the expectation of something better awaiting those who leave us. When we send our loved ones off, our grief is more for us than them; it's for the voids left by their goings.
And you know what? That's okay. It's okay for us to be sad about our losses. It's okay for us to miss them -- but only as long as we remember to rejoice for their gains. We have to remember, and hang on to, the hellos.
As Shirley said, "Don't grieve for me, I'm going Home." And Home she is. That's some grand hello -- the grandest of all.
So Rudy and Shirley are gone now -- both having said hello to wonderful new lives. Rudy, with his new family and Shirley, in heaven.
As a tribute to them both, here's one last shot of Rudy offering a "hello" (taken on our deck the day he left, with Ridge in the background sniffing). It was an exuberant, lively, I-just-gotta-tell-ya-I-luv-ya hello (is there any other kind from a Lab?).
And Shirley? What does her hello look like now?
I can only imagine.
But it's imagining the hellos that helps me through the goodbyes.
'Til next time,