I wrote a post about a year ago regarding our dear friends who, at the time, were deciding whether to move out of state. I knew if they did we’d be saying some tearful goodbyes and it would hurt. For a long while. And the update is that they did, in fact, move, and it does, in fact, hurt. About the same amount I suspected: immensely.
A few weeks ago, the mom and two daughters visited. It was like nothing had changed – laughing, talking, kids making a mess, swords and barbies and ice hockey on baking pans – but the knowledge of limited time ran like a current through every moment. I was nearly able to ignore it, but not entirely. The crackle of “tomorrow they’ll leave” got louder with every minute, until the tomorrow came, they packed in their car, and again we watched them drive away. I was in a rush to get my kids hustled off to church, so the reality didn’t sink in for a bit, but when it did it sure did. The rush of sadness came back, the feeling of loss, the ache of knowing they couldn’t come over tomorrow or the next day or the next. And whenever we saw them again the same electric feeling of time slipping away would exist. The easy, every-day part of our friendship was gone. Replaced with a special, every-once-in-a-while one. And that just hurt. And still does.
Luke and Lily made welcome-back signs for the kids and taped them to the front porch, watching for their minivan, bursting with anticipation. When the girls did arrive the squeals and hugs and pure excitement made me realize the significance not only for me, but for my kids, of having friends like this. The look on Luke’s face when he gave his buddy a hug was the one he saves for the people he loves most. Not just likes, not just gets a kick out of, but truly, deeply loves. This was a loss for my children, too. I knew that. But sometimes you get hit in the face with the truth of something. This was one of those times. And it left a bruise.
I know that it is not the end of the world. Not literally. But it feels like the end of our world. Like the end of an era. The closing of a fabulous chapter. There will be others, and this is not the falling action part of the story – like a novel, life has many little climaxes and resolutions. This is only one. But tell that to my heart, because it feels like death. You may think that’s ridiculous. Overly dramatic and an insult to those who have actually suffered the death of loved ones. If so I apologize for what seems like naivete or outright disrespect. But I can’t take it back. To me, this is how it feels. And whether you, or I, or my kids like it, it’s going to feel this way for a while.
I can chalk it up to another of life’s frustrations and disappointments that will, in time, lead to wisdom and compassion and perseverance. It is and it will. But for now it just burns. The hard part is willingly letting it do so without trying to put up fireproof walls around my heart. I’m going to keep trying. I can’t say I’ll succeed – I may need to take a sledgehammer to brick and mortar from time to time. But even now, writing this, I’m letting myself feel the pain. In all it’s heat and miserable glory.