Weather interfered with our plans – to bid a fond farewell to a couple of valued, treasured members.
People are delighted for them to have found a new place closer to children and grandchildren, and better situated for their needs. And people are simultaneously dismayed at everything this will mean for us, absent them, going about our daily lives that will be significantly different in some ways now.
So we had made plans to honor the occasion. We had all signed a card. One of the members had prepared a gift – a really wonderful one, personal, and modestly spectacular, the fruit of long friendship and some serious research. We had probably all been thinking about relaxing the “no hug” rule, because, special circumstances.
But then there was ice, along with sub-freezing temperatures, and the unploughed parking lot, and all in all, zoom. But beyond that – how does anyone put into words, the same ones that are shallow enough to work for every routine, polite exchange, the depth of what people are feeling in such a non-routine, final one?
Everyone says “we’ll miss you,” “you’ll be missed.” Everyone says “best wishes,” “we’re so happy for you,” “blessings,” “so …,” “well …,”
No one says “you were the person who taught me that people will surprise you over and over with how profound their theology is and how much it animates their faith, even when they seldom talk about it”? Or “you’ve been a best friend and a mentor and an inspiration and a model and ‘I’ll miss you’ doesn’t even begin to cover how I expect this is going to affect me, even though I wouldn’t want you all to miss out on this opportunity for anything”? Or even “you all are going to leave an aching gap in this group that we will not soon fill, because we have come to depend on you probably without even fully appreciating just how much – you all are precious, which is why we’re both delighted and dismayed to see you move away.”
We could, maybe, say personal and private things like that, out loud, in public, if we had our wits about us at the time, which we seldom do, and if we didn’t suspect it would make everyone including us uncomfortable, which we usually do. But we don’t. We just feel the feelings that might fit into words like that, overflowing the shallow ones we use instead, and making us momentarily aware of our poverty of language, and our wealth of love.