To wait awhile longer
To not move forward or backward, but to stay for a bit because you don’t desire the moment to end.
Sometimes endings are truly endings, changes that you know are coming, and in lingering a bit, we try to heed off the inevitable.
I’ve had so many moments of ‘lingering’ in my lifetime. There are moments that I’ve wanted to stretch out and make last, savoring every solitary instant. Some of the moments that bring a smile to my face are singing in the quiet of night to a baby sound asleep in my arms after a long day, sharing a walk or coffee or conversation with a friend, driving in the car the long way home with the windows down signing a song at the top of my lungs. I’ve savored the last kiss or hug from my husband before saying goodbye, and I’ve so enjoyed the moments with my children, getting to really hear, enjoy, appreciate the individuals they are. I’ve so loved singing, and reading a good book or scripture and having that “A-ha” moment when I totally get something I didn’t get. I love singing with my dear friends, taking long walks with a loved one and my camera, sitting on the deck in the sunshine after a long day. Yes, these are moments that I want to linger…
There are countless moments that we want to linger on… and on and on. But one of the moments that I so did not want to let go was just a few weeks ago. Oh, how I wanted those moments to linger…
She was a vibrant, beautiful, precious friend, and in recent months, it became apparent that the cancer she had been fighting was winning the battle. Although she was in so much pain, she was kind and caring, and so focused on those around her. She was present, all-there, savoring the moment, no matter how hard. And those around her, well, we wanted to linger and stay on, and take in those moments so precious. Even her little dog Chelsea was always at her side, as seen in the above photo.
Her name is Janet. I’ve written about her before. We sang together in a trio for years. She was the well dressed beautiful one who could pick out harmonies in a heartbeat and had a beautiful voice. She was a perfectionist with our songs, and well, I challenged her with that one. Don’t get me wrong. I love to sing. Singing is one of the great joys in my life. But I’m so not a natural with the harmonizing bit. There are some songs that I can hear the harmonies right away. But there are some that I so cannot. Poor Janet’s ears have been stretched a time or too as I tried to find some of the harmonies. And she was so patient with me. I got the chance to thank her for that a few weeks ago. I said, “Janet, I know it wasn’t easy, but thank you for being so patient with me during our practices through the years.” She smiled and honestly said, “It wasn’t easy…” We laughed. I know it wasn’t easy. But she did it. And now, that’s a permanent part of her legacy. Janet loved well.
Cheryl, Janet, and I sang together for over 15 years. It was more than singing. We worshipped the God we adored and sought to minister to women through word and song. We laughed, prayed, sang, shared, and pondered so many things together. These two women were like sisters to me. Our time together has been one of the great treasures in my life.
So, when the time came to say goodbye, truly say goodbye, to Janet, well, we wanted to linger and linger. Cheryl and I went to spend time with her on a Sunday morning. Her family was there, and she was resting quietly, but very present, very aware that we were there. We sang some of her favorite songs. I shared a song with her that I had written for her the night before. (Later sang it at her funeral. It’s called, “Be There “) And although Cheryl and I came not wanting to overstay our welcome at a very difficult time for the family, we stayed for hours, and did not want to leave. I really wasn’t ready to leave. It was that knowing that these would most likely be the last moments we’d share on this side of Heaven. So we lingered for awhile, prayed, shared, wept, and kissed our dear friend good bye, and left.
Within five days, we were sharing, singing, crying, at her funeral. She had lingered for a day more, and had passed away on Tuesday.
What makes us want to linger with those we love? Acceptance. Laughter. A knowing, an understanding that you are known and enjoyed. A hope that is held on to. An “I’m in it with you” attitude. A faith, belief that is shared. A cup of coffee, a comfortable couch, a good song all make you want to linger….but the essence…the heart of it all is the presence of those we love. And that goes for the Presence of our Great God as well. What a gift it is to be able to linger in His Presence…He knows all that we have seen through the day, through our lives. His Presence fills, encourages, sustains, directs, knows, strengthens, enlightens.
And you know, when things change, when we have to say the goodbyes to friends, dreams, circumstances, children, family members we love, well I’m so thankful that we can always linger, always linger on in the Presence of the Lord. He’s not going anywhere…and no matter the circumstance, it is ours to choose to linger in the Presence of the One who is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.
Janet lingered awhile…she fought valiantly and bravely against cancer. But her fight is over. And I’m thankful in one sense that her painful battle is over. I’m so thankful for the legacy she left, and that she finished well. Sometimes love means lingering. Sometimes love means letting go. When Janet was told that chemo was no longer an option, the fight she had been fighting for so long was over. She had done what she could, and now, she was letting go. Lingering on this side of Heaven for just two short weeks after being told no more chemo, and then passing on. She lived well. She died well. We all learned from her about holding on and fighting, and then, when the time had come, letting go.
Now, those of us left behind are struggling with the letting go. It sure isn’t easy, for there’s a great void left in Janet’s absence. But how amazing it is that lingering in the Presence of One we love makes all the difference. God is so present, and covers the ache with a peace that is deep and wide and all encompassing. Amazing how grief and joy can walk hand in hand… What a gift that the ache of grief can propel us into the Presence and make us realize our need to linger awhile with the only One who can truly meet the deepest needs. And what a gift that absence can make us truly long for connection. Absence, a void of one lost makes us see how incredibly valuable our relationships are. Absence can make us want to linger awhile more with those we love. Linger on friends! Savor the moments, for moments so matter. In the end, how we spend them makes all the difference in the world, one moment at a time.
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11