Today I had to say “goodbye” to my sissy Joanie — my BFF, my confidante, and my best-of-all-time caregiver after my August 20 surgery! At this very moment she’s on a plane back to Oregon and her dear family, to her ministry to kids at her church, and to her little Yorky, “Daisy”, who I’m sure won’t stop running in excited circles around “Mommy” for hours after her return!
Saying “goodbye” is hard — especially when you love and appreciate someone as much as I do my Sissy Joanie. I miss everything about her: Her pretty face, her soft skin and voice, her sweet patience, her loving touch, and her infallible way of knowing just the right thing to say and do at just the right moment in time. I’ve told her that for me she has been like my own personal Statue of Liberty — steady, unmovable, unceasingly holding the torch which for me in my cancer storm has been absolute unyielding faith in God’s purpose in all this suffering. It’s interesting that at the feet of the real Statue of Liberty is a broken chain, which speaks of freedom for those entering our country. For me, the broken chain means that fear has been broken and so much of that is due to my sissy. Joanie, my own Statue of Liberty reminds me everyday and all the time that I am freed from fear in Christ Jesus and when she says sissy-stuff like, “You’re going to get through this just great”, it’s like God says, “Okay, Girl, you said it so let’s make this happen!” And He does! I think Jesus and Joanie have something really special going!
A bit of family trivia: Joanie’s only daughter Maleea and I have always been close, and because we lived in different states, she and I had something we’d always say to one another at every tearful departure. “Just remember!” we’d say, “Behind every goodbye is just another hello!” That little phrase between auntie and beloved niece has been said probably hundreds of times down through the years and somehow each time, it made our goodbyes just a little more bearable.
I’m thinking of that today, not only as I say “goodbye” to my sissy but also as I prepare to say “goodbye” to my beloved church building at 3209 Via Lido in Newport Beach, CA. All the final prep work is being done to make the transition. Just like Joanie packed her bags last night, so are we making lists and packing up what we can take with us to our new, temporary house of worship. Gotta’ tell ya’ — I’m really going to miss those stained glass windows and every single brick laid in the lovely courtyard. The last time I walk across that courtyard, I know I’ll be hit with a tidal wave of memories of all the sweet faces in joyful fellowship before and after regular Sunday worship services, after ordinations, baptisms, burials and weddings. And I know after that last “goodbye”, Prince Philip will go home and I’ll sit down and sob my heart out.
And that will be a GOOD TIME to remember the little phrase that’s been in our family for 25 years now — a little something the Lord gave us to say at every painful goodbye. A little something that soothes the heart and reminds us what is truer than the pain we feel at the moment. And so I’ll rise up from up from my weeping and say out loud, “Just remember! Behind every goodbye is just another hello.”
And it will be true! Oh maybe we won’t get to worship with the sunlight casting lovely shades of color from the stained glass window or maybe our feet won’t ever again cross those lovely courtyard patio bricks, but that which is most precious — oh yes, we’ll get to say “hello” to that again. You see, that tidal wave of memories I mentioned earlier — the one of sweet faces in joyful fellowship before and after worship services of all kinds at St. James Church? Well, those aren’t being left behind! They are ours to keep and to take with us wherever we go. We’ll get to say “hello” to those each time we gather, each time we meet in Jesus’ Name!
So I have an idea — St. James, let’s see if we can be each other’s “Statue of Liberty” as Joanie has been for me in this difficult time! Let’s be steady, unmovable, and unceasingly holding for each other the torch of faith in God’s purpose in all this. Today I said to my sissy, “Remember! Behind every goodbye is just another hello!” And on Sunday, September 15, our last Sunday at our beloved 3209 Via Lido, Newport Beach, in spite of the sadness and grief, let’s say to one another, “Remember! Behind every goodbye is just another hello!”