She was more than just my friend.
She’s the one who’s belly grew beside mine for the same nine months. She’s the one I told first when my water broke, who brought me pancakes in the hospital, who stood by my side while my first child was born.
She’s the one who said goodbye to her husband for the same long nine months I said goodbye to mine, the one I spent every deployment weekend with, and every Sunday dinner. She’s the one who has spent more wedding anniversaries and birthdays with me than my husband, the one who made sure I wasn’t alone on those special days--and to fill them with fun and surprises.
She’s the girl everyone should have in their lives—the person you call whenever you need a hand...when you need help hanging something on the wall, when you need to up your curb appeal, or when you can’t decide which top goes with those pants.
She is the kind of person who knows the correct name for every material, texture, style, and pattern. She’s the first one, and probably only one, who will tell you that your curtains are just a couple inches too short. She’s the kind of person who could become friends with a rock. She can keep even the dullest conversation going forever, and is the very best listener. I personally watched in awe as she became friends with the guy who works at Target and the girl in the Shipley’s drive-thru window who now gives her free kolaches, just because. She touches the lives of everyone she meets because of her warmth and her genuine interest in them. She most certainly touched ours.
She’s the one who’s house I passed by a couple weeks ago, blocked by a giant blue moving truck; and the one who’s vacant house I finally got brave enough to look at as we walked by last night on our evening stroll. There were none of the familiar door or yard decorations, her name plate, no car or stroller in the driveway, no spotty dog barking through the glass door at me. I stood there for a moment and it felt so strange looking at the empty shell my dear friend left behind for someone else to fill.
The truth is, I don’t want a new neighbor. I want my friend back...the one I’d text at four o’clock when my son was driving me crazy and she’d come over with her daughter and we’d eat popsicles and Cheetos and watch the babies play in the pool and sandbox and everything was better.
I miss not-so-coincidentally bumping into each other at Target, matching in our scrunchies and mom shorts, I miss our lunch dates and our girls’ nights. I miss her walking through my front door unexpectedly and I miss looking out my window to find her pushing her daughter in the wooden swing in our front yard. I miss her Sunday morning updates on the way to church, letting me know if the donuts at Shipley’s were fresh. I miss our babies being best friends, lighting up whenever they saw one another. I’m thankful my son can’t quite understand the concept of farewells; but I do get small glimpses into the pain ahead in watching him say goodbye when I show him pictures or videos of his friend Caroline, and his eyes fill with odd wonder because he hasn’t seen her in a while and I can’t explain why.
And I would say that I miss texting each other all day about babies, husbands, our foodie fantasies or other random passing thoughts throughout the day-- but we still do that. And I’d say I miss our days hanging out just the four of us, but we already have our next one on the calendar. However, I do miss the days where we lived close enough for spontaneity and conversations that did not take place through the phone.
I’ve said it so many times...it is the hardest part of this life: the goodbyes to the friends who became family. You know when you have that special friend she was a blessing sent to you in a time of need, not meant to stay forever-- but oh, how you wish she would. You fear what difficult times ahead will look like without her by your side.
But, while this is one of the greatest challenges as a military spouse, I also consider it one of the greatest privileges--getting to meet all the different people I do, and cross paths with some of the most wonderful people I’ve met in my entire life.
This is a life of loving and letting go. My best advice for fellow military spouses is this: it’s true what they say, that it is better to have loved and lost, then to have never loved at all. While sometimes it’s tempting to protect yourself and wander this life alone and free from the pain of farewells, that is not living this life the way you were meant to. Goodbyes are hard, but loneliness is harder and lingers longer. Let yourself have all the friends you can along this journey;
and you might find that some of them become more than just a friend.