Old Friends

Old Friends they shine like diamonds
Old Friends you can always call
Old Friends Lord you can’t buy ’em
You know it’s Old Friends after all

– “Old Friends”, Guy Clark

This isn’t an easy one to write, because it involves a long goodbye. So I’ll just say it simply. Joe Stuart has been a good friend and neighbor for 21 years. He’s 90, nearly 91, and if his time hasn’t already come by the time I write this, well, that train’s almost pulled into the station. I took his family to the hospital the other night, late, right around midnight, and it was one of those hard rides that follows a hard phone call from someone you know, but at the wrong time to be social. Those calls are never easy, and they often involve a goodbye that you never want to say.

I’ll remember the words he said when I gave him a blessing. “Thank you. I feel so peaceful now.” Just a few hours later, we were driving to the hospital. Sometimes a blessing of health is a miracle cure that relieves suffering and gives a person joy in his life… and sometimes, that relief from suffering makes that life in the past tense.

I’m just glad that Joe, his family, and I all know who we are, where we want to go, and how to get there. There’s a place where there aren’t any goodbyes. With God’s love and Jesus’ grace, we all can get there, all of us, every one. We just have to find that blessing in our lives that makes us peaceful, and we’re there.

Goodbye, Joe Stuart. You’ve always been a person I wanted to share a bench with so you could tell me about old times and the wisdom you learned. I’ll have to say goodbye to you one day, so it might as well be today, here and now.

I’ll see you again, though. Of that I’m certain.

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