This morning I’m sitting on the couch sipping my morning cup of coffee and feeling a little bit melancholy as I reflect on the last few weeks. The temperature here has dropped and it’s a bit cold so my warm brew tastes nice. Don’t get me wrong, the cold in Hong Kong is nothing like the cold in other places. Specifically, I’m thinking of North Carolina and Ohio from where I just returned.

This post builds on my previous one. The topic of leaving and goodbyes are on my mind. Since the last post, more goodbyes loomed on my horizon. I love the hellos and hugs of seeing someone I’ve not seen in a long time. The joy of reunion. The arrival hall of any airport is one of the happiest places in the world.

A few weeks ago, I traveled to the States to visit my son, my parents, and my family. The time was filled with hugs that can’t be felt through Skype, non-stop talking without interruption, lots of laughter, and tears that needed to be shed. Reconnecting with family was amazing and during those moments of resumed relationships, time and distance faded away.

When the inevitable goodbyes were in the back of my mind, I consciously pushed them away in order to enjoy the precious moments in front of me. Goodbyes are a part of all of our lives. No matter how we seek to avoid them, they are always there. Even if we choose to stay in one place, others leave around us. Goodbyes inevitably occur.

These goodbyes leave a hole in my heart. There will always be holes in my heart from leaving and loss. We all walk around with holes. However, I’ve learned these holes can be a dark gift. Within the holes, are beautiful moments and memories of time spent with loved ones, before the sadness of farewell. They are frozen and mixed together to make up who we are and bring depth to our lives if we allow them to.

There have been times over the years that I have questioned if the joy is worth the sadness. I’ve even tried to skip the joy in order to avoid the sadness. I’ve been a coward. But I’ve since learned that the sadness cannot be avoided. It’s life. Thankfully, we are miraculously made to heal and to move forward. At times, it takes great effort and intention, but it is possible.

Two and a half weeks flew by in a blur. It was over and the time came to say “see you later” in an effort to lessen the pain of saying “goodbye” again. It didn’t work. The ache in my heart said, “It was not enough!” I wanted to kick and scream. There is never enough time. All of the goodbyes were difficult.

However, the worst moment came in saying goodbye to my son. I asked for a second hug and buried my face in his chest. I watched his back as he walked away. It felt wrong. Him staying, me leaving. I will always be his mom. But he has his own dreams and I am proud of him for pursuing them.

As I turned to walk away, I saw others hugging and saying the difficult goodbyes. I went through security trying desperately not to cry. By the time my plane lifted off, the tears had stopped but the ache lingered on. I survived. There were people I love on the other side waiting for me to return.

In life, moments of joy and sadness live side by side. The ache in our heart does subside, the tears do dry up. After a time, the pain and sadness ease. The joy of reunion and relationships is well worth the sadness of goodbye.

“…weeping lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

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