Lately, talk has been about my inevitable good bye.
I visited a member in the hospital, the one who just had potentially cancerous polyps removed along with a large portion of his colon (which, although the Doctor said there was a 99% chance that they were cancerous, the tests came back cancer free! Alleluia!), and the first words out of his mouth were, "So, can you see the light at the end of the tunnel?"
In our weekly area pastor text study, I walked in and sat down next to a fellow younger male pastor, and he turned to me and said, "So, you're on the home stretch, huh?"
In our church council meeting, one of the council members who I was sitting next to, casually mentions, "You don't have a whole lot of time left, do you?" Later on in the council meeting, after I (thought that I) quietly mentioned to another member that she was leaving to show cattle for the state fair before my last Sunday and that she'd have to make sure she said good bye before she left, another council member overheard my comment and made a much louder comment about it. At that point my leaving became the topic of conversation of the whole council. Many voicing regret that I would be leaving, and some even saying that I couldn't leave. One member said that they could fail me so that I'd have to stay another year. Supervising, always the voice of reason, mentioned that if an intern fails his/her internship that they go elsewhere and don't stay at the internship site.
This morning, at our conference clergy meeting (all the Lutheran pastors in a reasonably close geographic region), we went out to lunch afterwards and two of the pastors who I've grown close to were talking about how they will miss me and that they need to get me back in this synod after I graduate.
If I wasn't already thinking about the transition, I would have started now.
Each person who has mentioned my leaving seems to not be anticipating it with joyful expectation. Which is good. Most seem a little remorseful, as if when I leave a little ray of sunshine in their life will disappear, as well. It's nice to know that I have been a positive addition to all of the places to which I have been added. It's always nice to hear that your absence in a group or at a location will be noticed and that your presence will be missed. It's neat to think that during the year that I have been here that there have been positive additions because of my contributions and presence.
The not so fun part is the leaving. The good bye saying. The inevitable change that happens to once close relationships. I'm no stranger to moving. Growing up, we moved an average of every four years. I'm used to forming relationships, knowing in the back of my head that they will not remain the way they are for long. I'm used to saying good bye, promising to stay in touch, and then slowly, but surely, contact fades until all that is left is the memory of once good friends. But that doesn't make the process any easier. I'm a very relational person. I thrive on human contact and enter whole heartedly into most friendships and relationships in which I engage. Even with the knowledge that I would only be here for a year, I was unable to prevent myself from picking this church and these people up and stuffing them into my heart.
So the idea of transition, and moving on, and saying good bye has definitely begun to weigh much more heavily upon me. Two months is still two months, which is a good chunk of time. But two months will slip quickly through my fingers. Two months will come and go with enough speed to take my breath away. The thought of moving on, leaving these people, forever altering the relationships that I have made these past months, can sometimes make me queasy (which, just so you know, is indeed spelled with an "s" and not a "z," even though it does have a definite "z" sound to it. I'm willing to admit when I'm wrong. And the person this comment is directed at knows who they are).
Truth be told, I am looking forward, a bit, to the end of my internship. I've mentioned that my social life is a bit bleak, and that I miss the relationships I formed during the past few years at seminary. And with all of the paperwork coming that needs filled out for next year, that impending reality is looming very much in my future. But, I don't want to talk about that right now. I want to make sure that I focus on saying a good good-bye to the people I care about, to this church which has wonderfully nurtured a tentative and unsure intern, and to a pastor who has been an amazing example and support.