Wednesday, February 18, 2015

No Sad Farewells

“Dear Friends, there’ll be no sad farewells, There’ll be no tear-dimmed eyes. Where all is peace and joy and love and the soul of man never dies.”

                I learned this hymn in the pews of Loyall Church of Christ, in Loyall, KY. We often sang it during Fifth Sunday Sings when other Christian Church congregations joined together. The old gospel hymn is best in 4 parts and was always a favorite. No one can sing it better than the folks at a Fifth Sunday Sing in Harlan County, Kentucky. The words of the chorus have been running through my head a lot lately.
                It has been a season of loss, not only for myself but it seems for those around me. Two dear family friends passed away around Thanksgiving. Mrs. Osness was like a second mother to me. Her daughter, Cheryl was my first friend and we were raised together in many ways. I remember doing calisthenics with Mrs. Osness and Jack Lalane in their living room.  Bernice Lindsey passed just a few days before Mrs. Osness. Bernice was related to us as a distant cousin but she was also a dear friend and neighbor. As a kid, she was the one with gold fish tanks and a beautiful flower filled yard. She gave my brother his allergy shots for many years. Both of these women were a huge part of my growing up and I shed tears when I heard of their passing.
                And then my Dad declined quickly and soon I found myself waiting for his passing. It was during this waiting time that I started singing this song’s chorus in my head. “Dear friends, there’ll be no sad farewells. . .” It was hard anticipating the inevitable farewell and being so far away from my family. But I knew that Dad’s life of pain would soon be over and that he would be in soon be in a place “where all is peace and joy and love. . .” Those particular words sustained me as I waited for the phone call.  And when the call finally came, I did rejoice that Dad was no longer in pain.
                Once I returned home after Dad’s memorial service, I hoped the season of loss would be over. While I haven’t lost anyone else close to me, I have witnessed others around me experience the loss of ones they love. My college friend just lost his mother unexpectedly, a co-worker is grieving the loss of his mother-in-law, another the loss of her mother-in-law. And tonight I found out a dear friend from the Loyall Church passed this week. The losses continue. The tears come quickly now. Today I’ve been in a melancholy mood, partly because it’s Ash Wednesday, partly because I cried for Dad this morning on the way to work, and because I see so much loss around me.
                I guess it’s no surprise that the song has also been running through my head today. It is a song of hope, a song that reminds me that those we’ve lost are in a place filled with peace, and joy and love. And a reminder that someday “there’ll be no sad farewells, there’ll be no tear-dimmed eyes. . .” So I’ll long for that day while I also rejoice that the ones I love are already there.