Letting go

Ouch. What a day.

Today was Karla's last day. She leaves Wednesday for her new home and new church in Hickory, NC, but today was the final, official, and absolute leave-taking at St. Andrew's. It was harder than I thought it would be. I've been surprised like this before--tripped up by something I thought would be easy only to find that it was any thing but. I thought that I could be very mature about the whole thing. Surely focusing on the positive aspects of this change would make it all so much easier, right?. I saw her Tuesday at Vicki's birthday party; then on Thursday we had our last discernment meeting and dinner with Dan; I ran into her at the movie theater on Friday; and finally the farewell BBQ last night (which turned out fantastic). These were all happy occasions. So, I left for church this morning knowing that it would be an important and meaningful day. I even stuffed a tissue into my pocket as I rushed out the door--just in case. I was managing pretty well until Karla approached me at the communion rail. I couldn't look up. The dam broke just about the time the wafer touched my hand. We held hands for a moment. That was it. I couldn't take any more. I half stumbled into the sacristy with a communion wafer epoxied to the roof of my mouth and stood hunched over the counter, trying desperately to be something other than a nearly 45 year old man having a public breakdown. I don't know why I'm writing this; all I'm doing is making it hurt all over again.

I'm not sure what more to write about this day. I've written and erased several paragraphs trying to get the words out of my head so I can go to bed. Perhaps what I want to say is, Thank you God for the grace and blessing of Karla's ministry at St. Andrews. She stood with me at my confirmation, worked beside me and led though my vestry and warden service, invited me into her pulpit to preach, "married" me and Dan, sees me for who I am (often better than I see myself), believes in me, and has paid me the great compliment of letting down her guard to tell some of her own stories. What wondrous gifts. Thanks be to God.