I remember this feeling--the sinking sensation in my stomach, the rawness of emotion and the stinging in my eyes when I lose another friend. Not death, I remind myself... just moving away.
I can vividly remember all the good-byes I said growing up on account of my parent's military commitment. I remember there wasn't a single time it didn't hurt. I remember there was a quiet moment when I told myself I wouldn't let this continue to happen. But I married a military man. Moving was part of the lifestyle. Moving was part of the job. Moving was part of me.
We laughed that part of our prenuptial agreement was that he wasn't allowed to extend his commitment. "Six years", I said, "then out." We settled in the city where the military had brought him. We connected in our church, our jobs, in our education and with our community.
But before he had finished his required time, someone else had a new assignment. My best friend Nicole was celebrating her husband's new assignment: Florida. Well she should, I thought, Brandon had done exceedingly well in his educational program and was an instant pickup for a pilot program he had long wanted to be a part of. It just meant another move. She was ready. I wasn't. I was digging my heels down: hard. I was pregnant and so was she. Our babies were due only days apart and she had inspired me into my home delivery of Baby. But she was going to be miles away in Pensacola and I would remain here.
I thought me refusing to move another time would somehow keep all my friends around me. A natural part of life, however, is change. Growing up, getting married, having children... moving....
I said goodbye again tonight. This brought back the same intensity of hurt. This time, it was a friend who has loved me like a sister. We worked together, ran together, she baked Roomie's birthday cake, I hosted her wedding shower, she threw my baby shower... for nearly four years we've been together. This gentle grafting of our lives had been easy and sweet. She had loved me enough as a sister to tell me when I was out of line, to tell me I was beautiful on days that was only true perhaps on the inside, her parents had loved Roomie, Baby and I, and I knew this was going to hurt.
They came over for a short-notice dinner tonight and as they were leaving, I could already feel it washing over me: the stinging of my eyes, the slump of my shoulders and the sorrow that comes with another goodbye. The door shut and I brought Baby to bed, the exhaustion of all the attention from our friends was evident as it took mere moments before she was deep asleep, but for me... where there were butterflies earlier, there were knots now.
"Parting is such sweet sorrow"... what does that mean? Perhaps to have love, to have friendship, to be separated for a time and not for eternity; perhaps to have reciprocated sorrow...
As I forge onward, creating new friendships in the vacuum that was left when my friends have moved, I leave the very tender parts of my heart still looking, still waiting, still loving and waiting for their voices to ring with a cheerful, "hello!"