Facebook has that feature, the one that allows you to look at your 'memories' from the years. I must admit, my melancholic heart loves it. And today, it brought up a picture of the last time I would see my dear friend here on earth.
Our time was blessed. The look Paul gave when he saw my brother and I in his hospital room after returning from tests. Pure Joy! The love and strength I witnessed as Paul and Ann showed me once again how to trust God, how to put our words into actions when it comes to faith. As they explained to us the way they intended to fight, but also, the way they would allow God to use this situation as He saw fit.
Saying goodbye was tough, we didn't want to know it, but we knew in the back of our heads, this COULD be the last time we would see Paul. We didn't want to believe it, so we prayed in hope. When I left the hospital room, I left with a smile. By the time we approached the elevators, I was sobbing. The intensity of the situation hitting both my brother and I sharply. Did we say enough? Should we go back and say more? Paul was going to be okay, he'd have to be okay. It's PAUL we are talking about (how many times we said that in the two weeks that followed?).
But as God saw fit, that was the last time I would see my friend here on earth.
Man, sometimes it's tough.
But every time I feel overwhelmed by the thought I won't see Paul on earth again though, I am encouraged by the thought that follows.
The day Paul died was a hard day for so many people, myself included. Aaron came home early from work. We put the boys down to sleep and I just cried and cried. That night, we went out to dinner with two of our closet friends, friends from college, friends who understood what the loss of Paul meant, because they felt it too. On our way to dinner, Aaron said,
'You know what's cool- when you die, I bet it will be Paul waiting to welcome you into heaven"
Those words are what makes knowing I will never see Paul here on earth okay.
I think often about what it will be like, after serving a looooooooooong time in purgatory, when I finally get to understand the mystery of the heavenly kingdom. I have reflected in my life fairly often on how cool it will be to exist in the presence of God, to hang out with the saints and angels. That's gonna be awesome. The 'reward' of this pilgrimage we are on is something I think of with faith, and a bit of fear, but also, a sense of excitement.
I had plenty of reunions with Paul over the course of our friendship...
In college, after the long Christmas break, back in our dorms, we would meet up at dinner/lunch/breakfast, or let's not lie, as I was smoking a cigarette outside of Tommy Moore.
Right after college, when Paul came to live with our family, a truck full of toys in tow.
After Paul moved back to California, we were reunited once again, when Paul brought his beautiful fiance for my family to meet. The way our family was so smitten by her from the second we met her.
The reunions at our weddings, and when we met each other's children for the first time.
Waiting in my family room for my best friend's family to come spend yet another Thanksgiving with us.
Heck, we even had a reunion in the lobby of 'Financial Peace Plaza' when Aaron and I were there for our 'debt free scream' and Paul/Ann/the kids came to meet us.
We have had lots of joyful reunions. I know what joyful reunions look like when it comes to Paul.
I am quite sure there will be no reunion like the reunion I can hope for when my time here on earth is through. And I can't wait to see Paul's goofy smile, strong arms open wide for an embrace as he says,
"Mare!!!! Welcome Home"