I recently had to say a pretty painful goodbye. After counseling a little seven-year-old fellow (let’s call him Carl) for about two months and just beginning to build a solid therapy bond, I had to look into his pair of precious eyes and tell him I was moving towns. I imagine that Carl’s resilient young soul bounced back from the news and our subsequent separation without much trouble, but it sure hurt my heart. Goodbyes are hard.
It didn’t help that this particular kiddo is a half-white/half-black absolute cutie with that smooth honey-colored skin, a superb head of bouncy curls, and huge hazel eyes that can manipulate like nobody’s business. His humor is priceless and while some sessions included tears, a good dose of laughter was always a guarantee. And how closely I related to his dear emotional sensitivity, which is a delicate gift that he is now beginning to learn to handle with care. Needless to say, when Carl showed up on my caseload, I received an unexpected blessing.
Saying goodbye was especially difficult for me to do because Carl’s current family is flat-out chaos. Stability is something he craves, and I couldn’t stand the idea of being a person who stepped into his world, shared a short stint of love, and then stepped back out. Much of my heart wanted to stay, to walk with him, to try my best to be present and supportive and dependable. But life was leading me a different direction—to another location a couple hours away—and thus our farewell was fated.
So I sought help from a supervisor: What do I say to a child who clearly needs consistency as I prepare to walk out of the door and never see him again? How do I communicate that trusting other people is possible when I’ve asked for his trust and am now turning my back? How do I let go when I’m secretly wanting to embrace this sweet little guy and help him feel at least somewhat secure?
My supervisor passed along a few wise words that I received gratefully not only for my client, but for myself as well. Basically, he advised me to close with a discussion about the simple idea that God sends us safe people—angels, if you will—who come into our lives at just the right time. Sometimes these people stay a long while, perhaps accompanying us along our entire life journey. At other times they enter for just a bit, and so our “hi’s” and “bye’s” have to happen fairly quickly. Though it’s never easy to part ways with these special people, we can always trust that when one leaves, God will bring another. I told Carl that we always need to be on the lookout, as if we’re on a treasure hunt, because God never leaves us alone. If our eyes are open, we’ll be able to see angels all around.
Reflecting on how closely my supervisor’s perspective applied to my personal experiences, I offered Carl comfort by assuring him that though I was having to step back, another “safe person” was sure to step right in. We then launched into a conversation about how to identify these so-called safe people and Carl softly spoke, “you can see it in their eyes.” I fully agree.
Who in your life has angel eyes?