Not Meant to Stay

“Maybe my angel wasn’t meant to stay. Maybe her job was done after she helped me find my wings.” – Lori Bennett, April 26, 2024

This thought came to me after a friend posted on Facebook about angels in our lives. I believe in angels, but I also believe in friendships that act in place of Heavenly beings; and, 35 years ago, I had a friend like this. My confidante. My kindred spirit. The person who kept my compass pointed toward Christ.

For many years, I’ve wondered why this best friend chose to step out of my life when I left for college. No arguments. No bad blood. Just distinct absence with no finality. Today, the voice that once spoke affirmation into my existence now echoes a deafening silence. No text messages. No responses to emails or phone calls. Complete, empty nothingness. And it’s left a void in my life the size of the Grand Canyon.

The hardest goodbyes are the ones you don’t see coming. No matter how prepared you think you are, no one is ever really ready for the burden grief lays upon your heart. It’s not just one goodbye and then you have closure. There’s a goodbye that comes with every milestone you thought you’d be celebrating together—birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, holidays, grandkids. The list seems to grow longer the more the years unfold.

Then there are the personal victories you start realizing you’re triumphing alone—choosing healthy foods and habits when you’d rather indulge in a large bowl of ice cream on a sad day, getting out of bed and trusting God with the unknown after Covid takes away your long-awaited cruise for your 10-year wedding anniversary, walking down a long dirt road without pain after months of recovery from a broken bone and foot surgery, deciding to read your Bible cover to cover and having no one there to share the blessings and discoveries. Like I said, the list grows daily.

The ache and longing for more time never truly goes away. As Diamond Rio’s song goes: “I simply wish for one more day with you—one more day, one more time, one more sunset, maybe I’d be satisfied; but, then again, I know what it would do, leave me wishing still for one more day with you.”

On April 27, 2024, Pastor Ken Wetmore shared in his sermon that a study showed we can only maintain 150 relationships at one time. Regardless of the actual number that makes this data accurate, it made me remember a time in my twenties and thirties where it became a full-time job just maintaining one. Maybe that’s why my angel stepped out of my life so I could maintain other relationships she knew I would need to be present for so Christ could use me to meet others’ real-life needs instead of her own. Noble, but still a loss.

My angel saw the best in me even at my worst. She listened when I needed to let off steam, endured my pity parties and depressed state of mind, and put up with a lot of teenage angst. I’ve grown up since those self-centered days. Not only have I matured by leaps and bounds, I also support a family and have learned to trust God when answers don’t seem so cut and dry. I don’t feel sorry for myself any more, no matter how much I miss her. I hold tightly to God in my restless moments, loving that He’s not put off by my human flaws and shortcomings. I have my angel’s friendship to credit for my unwavering faith. She truly saved my life. So, if I had one more day, one more conversation, I’d spend it saying thank you.

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