The Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields is an Episcopal parish in the Diocese of Pennsylvania that is centered on the worship of God, the ministry of all baptized persons, and the call to be agents of Christ’s love in the world.
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Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
8000 St. Martin’s Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19118

The Rev. W. Jarrett Kerbel

St. Martin's Cloak

The Cloak is a collection of audio vignettes—stories that reveal parishioners’ faith journeys. Share your thoughts by sending us an e-mail.

The most difficult goodbyes are the ones we don’t have an opportunity to prepare ourselves for.

Nikki Wood

Nikki Wood’s younger brother died suddenly on Ash Wednesday. Listen as she talks about the impact of his loss, coming not long after her retirement.

I had just left him less than a week after having been in New Orleans for over six weeks, caring for my mother. I packed my car, because I had driven down, and he said, “I’ll see you at the end of April.” He had planned to come up and spend his birthday with us. So it really caught all of us off guard because we were celebrating that he was doing so well and was living into the kidney transplant with such apparent success.

For me it has been one of those times that has made me question my faith—quite surprisingly and unexpectedly—just needing to put the anger of grief some place.

I’ve said goodbye to a lot of things. I’ve said goodbye to work, to a profession as I know it—goodbye to friends, a community of colleagues. And have had enough time to understand and appreciate how much of me was connected to that collegial community and how it sustained me. And the underbelly of what it means to remove oneself from one’s daily routine.

I think that an awareness that I have from this is that for me the most difficult goodbyes are the ones that we don’t have an opportunity to prepare ourselves for. Retirement was something that had to happen, and a piece of me was left. But there was a call to move on. Friends have moved away. Those who have moved away without enough warning to prepare to say goodbye have been the hardest; those are the ones I have grieved the most. Those that came with enough notice to have ceremony around them have been experienced more as just a moving on.

As with my brother, there was no time to say goodbye. There was no expectation that saying goodbye was necessary or urgent. So the grief of that is heavy, is hard, because it’s unfinished. The relationship feels unfinished.