Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Goodbyes: Hellos in Disguise

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,


Cheryl said...

I'm so happy for Rudy and for your friend Shirley! I am sorry for your losses though. What a wonderful way to look at it. Thanks for the inspiration as always! Much love and many hugs and prayers from me and the gang!

Anita said...

I have one friend fighting against cancer too and really hurts when we loose someone close!Best whishes!
I hope Rudy likes his new family!

Ana, Rufus and Indie

JuliaR said...

You have a great way of looking at it. Yes there is pain but we have to focus on the gain and what we have learned.

Chester's Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chester's Mom said...

Tears are rolling as I type......what a wonderful explanation of life. The ache in our hearts is less knowing our loved ones are in a happy place. We selfishly miss them but it is also a tribute to someone who touched our lives in a special way. Knowing you will see your friend in Heaven I'm sure brings you comfort also. Praise God for the hope we have in Jesus who died to give us everlasting life!!

PS. Sweet picture of RudyPaTootie

Thoughts said...

This is a beautiful tribute Joan., My sister is getting ready to rehome a foster dog this weekend and I think this will truly make it easier on her.


stephanie said...

so nicely put.
How's that go "you say 'good-bye', I say 'hello'"...

I will try to keep that idea in mind when someone I love goes "home".

Mary said...

You have such an elegance when it comes to writing that touches my heart in ways you will never know. The brillance of Rudy's and Shirley's hellos will be felt by all who now surround them. Hugs to you as you miss your friend both human and canine but embrace the memories of each and rejoice in their hellos.

Reagan said...

What a sweet, beautiful post. Thank you.

Maya said...

Thankyou for that wonderful post. I'm still missing my dad who died almost a year ago but know that he to is in a happier place. You worded it perfectly. I've been following your blog because I have 3 labs, but you offer more than just good pics. Thanks