So, I am in Ohio today to work with a wonderful congregation in Middleburg. Tomorrow, I get to be with the good folks of Hudson, Ohio. Then, on Saturday, I’m doing my favorite workshop, “Vital Vintage Worship.” When it is finished, I have to catch a plane to New York. I get there about 9:15 p.m. … 12 hours before I preach at Middle Collegiate Church, which is my new assignment.
To say that I’m feeling overwhelmed by all this change would be the greatest of understatements. Moving is always tough. Starting a new job is scary for everyone. Leaving family and friends behind is painful. Still, over the course of my life, I’ve managed to do it several times without so much trauma. This move has been impossibly difficult, and I finally realized this is the first time as an adult I have moved from one city to another without Bill.
Those of you who know us know that Bill would have been the one to handle the myriad details of moving. He would have made it all seem so much easier than it really was. That isn’t what is making this so hard, though. Over the years, I’ve always known that, although I THOUGHT I was doing the right thing, there are no guarantees. I might hate living in NYC, or my new church might not like me.
In the past, though, I’ve been able to take all of that in stride because, no matter what happened, Bill would be right there. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, he would be there, so I would be okay. People keep telling me that Bill is with me, but he isn’t. Please don’t say those things to people who are grieving. It is a nice sentiment, but it really isn’t true. Bill is dead and gone.
I am still in love with him. I still remember even the smallest details about him. I can imagine what he would say or do, but he is not here. More than anything in life, I wish he was, but he is not. I can’t hold him, and he can’t hold me. He can’t coach me, encourage me, or even correct me. He won’t hold my hand as we walk to church on Sunday. He filled up so much space in my life, and now there is a hole that wisps of memory and enduring love cannot fill.
This move is hard because my best friend, constant companion, partner, and the love of my life is not making it with me. THAT is what death means. I wish it wasn’t, but it is. I’m not sure I’d be doing any better with this if someone had told me the truth sooner, but maybe.
Please forgive me for telling you the truth. I hope it will help when you have to do this, or at least help you not to say that someone who is gone is still there. If only it were true …
Rev. Michael Piazza