That’s the bittersweet joy of ministry. We see people healed, and then we watch them move on in victory. Sometimes, it means saying goodbye. We must learn to celebrate as our fledgling birds spread their wings and fly into freedom, even if that flight pattern takes them far away from us.
A goodbye at the gate,” said Hobie. He seemed to be talking partly to himself. “That’s what he would have wanted. The parting glimpse, the death haiku – he wouldn’t have liked to leave without stopping to speak to someone along the way. ‘A teahouse amid the cherry blossoms on the way to death.
Maybe I am fated to always be alone, Tsukuru found himself thinking. People came to him, but in the end they always left. They came, seeking something, but either they couldn’t find it, or were unhappy with what they found (or else they were disappointed or angry), and then they left. One day, without warning, they vanished, with no explanation, no word of farewell. Like a silent hatchet had sliced the ties between them, ties through which warm blood still flowed, along with a quiet pulse.
I’ve never been to a funeral until today. I see dazzling arrangements of red, yellow, and purple flowers with long, green stems. I see a stained-glass window with a white dove, a yellow sun, a blue sky. I see a gold cross, standing tall, shiny, brilliant. And I see black. Black dresses. Black pants. Black shoes. Black bibles. Black is my favorite color. Jackson asked me about it one time.
“Ava, why don’t you like pink? Or yellow? Or blue?
A goodbye at the gate,
Goodbye, Room.” I wave up at Skylight. “Say goodbye,” I tell Ma. “Goodbye, Room.”
Ma says it but on mute.
I look back one more time. It’s like a crater, a hole where something happened. Then we go out the door.
I didn’t want to kiss you goodbye – that was the trouble – I wanted to kiss you good night – and there’s a lot of difference.
My mouth could say goodbye, but not with my heart
Page and page I let the spell of the story and its world take me over, until the breath of dawn touched my window and my tired eyes slid over the last page. I lay in the bluish half-light with the book on my chest and listened to the murmur of the sleeping city. My eyes began to close, but I resisted. I did not want to lose the story’s spell or bid farewell to its characters yet.
I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been – if you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you – you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing is ever going to happen again.