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  • Sarah Raad

Goodbye

“Goodbye” was derived in the late 16th century, from the phrase, “God-be-with-you”…

The Incarnation of Jesus and Saints (Piero Di Cosimo)

Some years ago – for perhaps the first time in my life – I was compelled to say goodbye to the most precious person in the world to me.


Previously, I had mourned beloved grandparents. I had grieved for Aunts and Uncles. I had mourned for the loss of cousins. I had buried the child of my cousin with him.


I had said farewell before and so I assumed that I knew how to say goodbye.


it was not only the people who had died who had taught me to say goodbye, either… After all, I had broken up with my fair share of boyfriends in my youth, and had said goodbye to close work colleagues and friends as we went our separate ways over the years.


But for me – this was the very first time that I was compelled to say goodbye to a precious child of mine. And this child was so precious to me because he had never been born and so he was precious to nobody else. The simple tragedy of having such a dearly loved soul to mourn who nobody else ever mourned with me was surely the most difficult thing I have endured in my life to date…

For me, this farewell was unplanned. I had no warning or symptoms that my child had died until I was told by the doctor that my baby had been dead for several weeks without my knowledge. The shock was surely something terrible.

But I am not the only one to have been shocked in my life. When my husband was 10 years old he said goodbye to his father as his father left for work and my husband left for school with his four older siblings. He never saw his father alive again. My father-in-law – may God rest his soul – died of what would most likely have been a heart attack or stroke when he was only fifty years old at work that day. His children never had a chance to say goodbye to him.


I often wonder how different my husband would be today if he had just had a minute to say goodbye…


Recently, the very best friend of a child who I teach passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly before he even turned 18 years old. My student’s lamented during our lessons in the weeks that followed, “If I knew that was the last time I was going to talk to him, I would have said goodbye properly.”


I have been reflecting very much on this action of farewell and the nature of goodbye…


After all, for those of us who have faith, we know that when we farewell a loved one in this life, we shall see them in eternity. And yet, even so, saying goodbye is surely one of the most difficult things we can be asked to do.


I wonder how it felt for God the Father and God the Holy Spirit to farewell God the Son when He was incarnated on Earth. Obviously through the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, they were never truly separated, but still, The Father and Holy Spirit surely knew that the Son was being born to die and suffer ONLY for love of us…

I wonder if the angels cried in that moment of the Incarnation… What did they feel as they listened to the YES of the Blessed Virgin to the Angel Gabriel, “‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’” (Luke 1:38). Surely there was JOY – for how joyful that moment, which saved us, but there was pain in that joy also…

As Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta would say, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”


Obviously, as those angels are suffused by Grace their will concurs perfectly with the Holy Will of God… And yet, I wonder at the tears of farewell when they knew how God would allow Himself to be debased for love of us.


I imagine that it would be like a human taking on the persona of a cockroach for the love of a cockroach, which of itself deserves only to be exterminated, but through the actions of that human, allows the cockroach to move into the best bedroom in the house and take us residence…


How joyfully-sad that goodbye would have been…


And yet, I remember the origin of the word “goodbye”… “Good-Bye” was derived in the late 16th century, from the phrase, “God-be-with-you”…


So now, I remember, as I reflect on the farewell of the Son – He was God – and through the mystery of the Holy Trinity God was with Him…


So, though we merited not His sacrifice and death, I wish that I could in some way atone for the tears of the angels that cried for love of Him that day…


I wish I could atone…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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