Saying bye, again

I waved and she leaned in close to give me a kiss. I could almost feel her breath on my face as her moist, little lips closed in.

When her plump face drew back in surprise at colliding with the screen of the iPhone, I was glad my 8-month old granddaughter was too small to notice the sudden reddening of my face or the quick tear that slid unhindered down my cheek.

Saying bye-bye is hard. And last week was bittersweet.

Nana and the three grands, Madelyn, 4, Ella, 8 mos, and Joey, 6, in Houston.
Nana and the three grands, Madelyn, 4, Ella, 8 mos, and Joey, 6, in Houston.

My husband and I spent nearly a week hard at work during the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston knowing our three grandchildren and son and daughter in law had just moved to the large city, just three miles from our hotel. When the majority of our work was over, we switched hotels and I continued to work, but spent some time catching up with the family (my oldest daughter joined us on her way from a business trip) and celebrating my husband’s birthday and then Father’s Day before we boarded a plane back to Jacksonville.

I’m so very proud of my son, partner in a wonderful Houston business which provides office furniture and consults for people. I know moving his family to Houston is the best thing for them. The family joined Houston’s First Baptist Church on their first Sunday there-when we were all together. Joey and Madelyn, 6 and 4, are already enrolled in school there, one of the best Christian schools in the nation. Houston is a great city with a lot to do and a huge mall!

Nonetheless, I’ll miss the family togetherness we have enjoyed these past few years–sitting in the family pew at First Baptist Jacksonville, swimming and snorkeling in the pool, cuddling in the living room, and eating at Nana’s favorite restaurant, Maggianos.

I’ll miss watching Joey skip to catch up to the Papa he adores and grab his hand before crossing a parking lot to be with the Daddy he loves to tease.

I’ll miss watching Ms. Maddy climb into Papa’s lap in the recliner and fall fast asleep and Aunt B helping herd everyone upstairs to the “kid’s room” to spend the night.

And I’ll miss Baby Elizabeth June giggle and laugh and find peace as Papa carts her around and tosses her in the air–even while searching with Melissa for a pacifier we both know Ella doesn’t really want!

I’ll miss the nursery rhymes and Narnia at bedtime, the prayers and reminders, reciting Psalm 23 and those cheeks pressed against mine, now separated by a layer of glass, an hour time-zone difference, and hundreds of miles.

And for sure I’ll miss knowing my family’s only an arm-length away after covering a tragedy, viewing horrific visuals, or reporting on disaster.

But the writer of Ecclesiastes said for everything there is a season and I know this is a season of change for us all. God in His providence has provided a clear path for John and his family.

I am at peace knowing that God is in control and it is Him Who I trust.

There are people who have said, “You must be devastated.” To them, I can honestly reply, “I am not.” Sure I am sad. I will weep. I will reach out and there will be no soft body to squeeze when I want it to be there. But there are iPhones, there are cameras, there are countless other grandpas and grandmas who have endured separations — and rejoiced in what God has done in the lives of their children and grandchildren. I am not alone.

God is in control. He has held me in the palm of His hand for more than 40 years. He has counted every hair on my head since I had hair, and knew me in my Mother’s womb more than 51 years ago. He knows my needs. He knows Papa John’s needs and Aunt Belinda’s needs. And He will take care.

He knows the needs of John and Melissa, Joey, Maddy and Ella June.

I trust Him.


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