Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 8:01 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt
A friend said goodbye to her dad last week. After a prolonged and painful illness, he died. I attended the funeral and was blessed to learn more about him, his family and his priorities. A young Navy Seal from Union City recently lost his life in the conflict in Afghanistan. The more we learn about him the more we are moved by his courage and conviction. Whether quickly or through a prolonged illness, death will claim every one of us. We can count on it.
There’s another goodbye that took place last week. Hundreds of people gathered to say farewell to members of the 913th Engineer Co. out of Union City and the 230th Engineer Battalion out of Trenton. If you’ve seen the pictures, you can’t help but shed a tear. It was understandably an emotional time for the family members of those who were deployed. I’ve never hugged my husband knowing I wouldn’t see him for a year. I’ve never looked at one of my sons and tried to memorize his face because of the keen awareness that he’s leaving for a battle zone. I can’t imagine the pain of a little child saying goodbye to a beloved parent. But it happened last week, right here in our area. Men and women said goodbye to spouses. Children said goodbye to parents. We honored their faithful service to our country by standing on the side of the road waving flags and cheering words of appreciation. But we all knew the truth. Those of us who didn’t have family members on those buses were bystanders. Those who had family members on the buses were full participants. They had skin in the game. And their participation was not without true sacrifice and uncertainty. They were proud of their loved ones, yes. Absolutely proud. But pride didn’t eliminate the pain and agony of the goodbyes. We understood that ... or at least we tried to understand.
Separation is always a terrible thing. Whether by death or temporary circumstances, separation from those we love is a reminder that something about life on earth is not quite right. In fact, it’s terribly wrong. I grieved with my friend because she won’t spend Christmas with her dad this year. She won’t be able to ask him for advice when she has a problem. The young Navy Seal left a wife and small children behind. That seems particularly sad to me. I cried with the families of the 913th and the 230th because they won’t see their loved ones for a year. Children will have to do homework without their mom or dad. Moms and dads will have to spend Thanksgiving without the beloved son or daughter who brought joy to the table.
Despite the sadness of last week, there were testimonies everywhere of God’s faithfulness and provision. This world is not our ultimate home. It’s far too unpredictable and temporary. God provided a Savior, an Advocate, a Redeemer. And He has gone to prepare a place for us. A far better place.
For more information about Lisa Smartt, visit her website, lisasmartt.com.
Published in The Messenger 8.24.11
Lisa Smartt, The Smartt View