when I was in 3rd grade, my best friend was a little strawberry blond girl named Sherry Hobbs, freckle-faced and cute. I loved her so much, she and I danced and laughed and played for endless hours on the Air Force base our Dads were stationed at. I learned really young that friendships change, when you are a military kid, you get used to saying goodbye. It doesnt hurt less, you just get better at it. I was not good at it yet when she left. She spent the last few nights before she left with us, my Mom made the days special, it has always been something I am grateful for, the care she put into that goodbye. Sherry and I said our goodbyes, and she climbed into the back of an old station wagon, then turned and looked out the window, her tears matching my own. I waved goodbye until I couldnt see her anymore, then tried to hide the tears that streaked my face. We wrote some letters, but we were little, and soon the distance between us ate up even those. I learned to be more cautious with my heart, to give it less easily, and to hold something back with every new friend thereafter. I dont think I was cut out to be a military kid, the goodbyes were so routine, and so painful for me.
Fast forward 20 years, I am 27. I am a Brownie Girl Scout leader, and my new co-leader is a gregarious, hysterically funny single mom named Wendy. We hit it off in a way I usually dont allow myself, opening my heart completely, fully, for one of the few times in my life. Soon we are best friends. Our kids are best friends, and we add to the group several times between those early years and now.
Now, I am 40. Wendy is married, and struggling to make ends meet, especially with the price of oil and 7 months of winter in Maine. She and her dh decide to move away to Florida, where he has family. New jobs, new faces, less bills. They plan and plan, pray and worry, and finally it is time to go. I gather up my kids, and we drive to the airport to say our goodbyes.
If it was anyone else, I could do this without crying. But as I watch them get ready to go away, taking this woman who could be my sister away, taking away the little boy that has lit our hearts for 4 years now, my heart aches. The tears come, and I cannot stop them. She hugs me and says goodbye, hugs each of my kids. And my own 12 yr old son, who so adores her little boy, is standing there with tears in his eyes. And I think of my mother and how strong she was for me, how she made it ok, even when it wasnt. And I suck it up, stand tall, say goodbye. The kids head out to the car and I stand alone, watching the plane take off, carrying away one of the best friends I will ever have. And I am a little girl again, the ache in my heart just as strong, the tears just as hot on my cheeks. This time, I will never stop writing, calling, being here.
6 hours ago