Our good, good friends who moved away last summer are staying with us this week – two adults and three children added to an equal amount of Us. It’s a bit of a zoo, but I would not have it any other way. My kids waited anxiously for weeks, counting down the days for their best friends to arrive. They made detailed plans involving Frozen, the pool, lego, Minecraft, ice cream, Rudy’s pizza and sleeping arrangements. My six-year-old picked out clothes she and her bff would wear together. Hopes were high. And now they are here, have been here for four days, and the love is still flowing. The kids are getting tired and cranky, a bit sassier than I prefer, but there’s still nowhere they’d rather be, no one they’d rather be cranky with. When Lily’s little mate wasn’t home yet for bedtime last night she said “I feel like something is missing.” She tossed and turned and couldn’t get comfy. And when she walked into Lily’s room, with a big sigh of relief…”Ohhhhh. I know what was missing. It was Elsa.”
Sometimes chaos and pain and the messy things of life are worth it. Because they mean you’re really in it. Living inside of life instead of floating around its edges. Having a house full of five extra people, three of which leave underwear on the floor and talk at elevated volumes at all times (in addition to three of my own who do the same), is a mess. It’s chaotic. And it’s what life is all about. I could have a clean, quiet house. I could have the brain space to make one decision at a time instead of constantly multi-tasking. But it would be clean and quiet because I was alone. Because I was choosing to sanitize my days instead of jumping in and getting dirty. I could back away from friendships that are real, because they make me vulnerable to pain, to disappointment. But I would miss all the good, messy, fun and funny moments. I would miss out on being known. And it’s just not worth it.
So what will we do when they leave? That’s the hard part. I know there will be days of withdrawal. Crying and missing and aching. A bit of wandering aimlessly with nothing to do but piles of laundry and feeling that “something is missing.” That’s to be expected. That’s the cost of attachment. The offering you make to someone you love. “Here, have a piece of me,” you must say. Hold it out in your hands, be willing for it to be plucked away and done with whatever the friend chooses. That’s the risk. And the blessing. Because, when the person is right, you get a piece of them, too. You can stuff it in the very place your piece was, to stop the bleeding. Ease the pain. It’s not an exact match, but it helps. That’s the way it is with these friends. They have a piece of us, we have a piece of them – each and every one. The saying goodbye hurts more than we want, but we have each other for the long haul. These are forever friends, together or apart. And that, despite the mess it makes, is worth it.