My wife Amy got up well before dawn today to go to the Rochester airport to say goodbye to Drew, her son. Drew has been in Rochester since February 26. He’s currently serving the Army as a medic in Iraq. He is scheduled to be done with this tour in June.
This goodbye doesn’t feel as painful as the goodbye we shared with Drew last May. Last May this new part of Drew’s journey seemed much more uncertain. We know more now than we did last May—Iraq is still dangerous but not as dangerous as in the past; we know that this tour of duty for Drew will be 12 months and not 15 months; we know that we can actually see and talk to him via Skype.
Last night we gathered for one of the rituals of saying goodbye—the going away dinner. We gathered last night with Nikki (Drew’s wife), her family, Amy, Hannah, and some of Drew’s friends gathered to eat and celebrate the time we had together.
I can’t help but reflect on how saying goodbye is a spiritual task. We’re fortunate when our individual faith journeys connect, but ultimately we all go our separate ways. This dance of connection/separation is part of our journey. Goodbyes are a common part of our humanity.
In my goodbye sermon to Community Presbyterian Church in Plainview last month, I joked about Minnesota goodbyes and Iowa goodbyes. A “Minnesota” goodbye is when we say goodbye and then put the coffee pot on; a “Iowa” goodbye is goodbye, out the door, goodbye.
I stayed at home with our daughter, Hannah this morning and thought about Amy, Nikki, and Drew saying goodbye at the airport. These difficult goodbyes are a common part of our humanity. I can’t help but think about all the wrenching goodbyes that are shared at airports.
Please keep Drew in your prayers these next three months. Pray for his safety; pray for Nikki as she waits patiently for Drew to come home; pray for Amy as she reflects about her son living in Iraq.