GENDUSA COLUMN: Loss: A Troubled Journey

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, June 15, 2022

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Carter is moving away. She is the 7-year-old granddaughter of my good friend. Carter, her brother, and her parents are moving to South Georgia within days. I felt Saturday would be the last time I would see this precocious, spirited child for a while.

When she turned to wave goodbye while walking toward her grandpa’s truck, something within my soul moved tears to form in my eyes. I knew I would see Carter again when she visited her grandparents, so were the tears caused only by Carter leaving or something much deeper?

How odd when out of the blue, our past emotions are triggered by a current situation. Grief rises to the surface as if it wishes to choke us with sadness. Painful as it is, sometimes we are forced to recall the heartache of loss.

My granddaughter was only two when her family relocated to South Florida, and I remember waving to her as we both sobbed when the car drove away. Avery is now seventeen, and there isn’t a day that I don’t miss her and wish she were just around the corner.

When my oldest daughter moved to Washington State, I grieved for days. It was no different when my son left for Colorado.  With certainty, I knew my life would forever be altered.  Farewells change our lives, whether from moving, a death, or the ending of a relationship.

I recall sitting at a local car wash about a year after my brother died. When my car emerged from the auto wash, I watched as the attendants began to dry the little white SUV. Suddenly, my heart filled with immeasurable grief, and I could not control the tears falling down my cheeks. My brother helped me select that car, and the pain from his loss overwhelmed me once again.

How many friends have we never seen again because life took us down different roads? How many have died before we had a chance to visit one more time? We rue the days when it is too late for ‘one more time.’ Loss accompanies life and reminds us that we don’t live in paradise. Grief, heartache and tragedy run alongside our lives’ joy, laughter and peace. 

And we often wonder how we will survive such intense sorrow. But we do, and we continue to muddle through the tears and search for hope.

Well, folks, if we can’t see God’s work through all our pain, we need to look closer or clean our glasses. Because it is when we suffer the most, God hands us the gift of abundant strength. And, when we endure those moments of “out of the blue” grief, perhaps God is reminding us to retake his hand.

The passages we travel and the changes they cause can put us in a tailspin. Sometimes we grow weary and full of resentment or crumble from the weight of despair. Yet, at some point, most of us pick ourselves up and continue down the road.

We learn to value life because of loss. I appreciate that even though I don’t often see those I love the most, I know they are still there, still a flight away, and thank God for the invention of Facetime. Faith allows me to see my brother and the rest of my family in my dreams and know they are alive in paradise where ‘loss’ is not a word.

Friends who have moved away or traveled different paths are forever in my heart, and lost loves are still loved.  Yes, we will never physically see some folks again, yet they are still a part of who we are.

After I began writing, many of my columns were published in USA Today Tennessee newspapers. When I was fifteen, my family moved to Georgia from McMinnville, Tennessee, where we had lived for seven years, and I never returned for a visit.  After my first column was published with the byline Lynn Walker Gendusa, I received a note from a reader.

“Are you the same Lynn Walker who left McMinnville after 9th grade?” After affirming I was, my reader was a childhood friend to whom I waved goodbye almost 60 years ago. Since then, other lost pals have contacted me. How grateful I am for the chance to now wave, “Hello.”

We mourn, suffer, lose those we love, and rise to the challenge of living because God gives us the strength to do so. He reminds us that because of him, there are no final goodbyes if only we believe.

“Let not your heart be troubled….” John 14:1