Worth Melting For

We had a wonderful visit yesterday from some dear friends we met 21 years ago in Lamaze class. Our babies were born a month apart back in 1994 and our lives were intricately intertwined until they moved away at the end of the kids' second grade year in school. We've stayed in touch, and yesterday it felt like old times when the five hours we spent together passed as if it were five minutes. Oh how good it felt that they came back home, even if only for a visit.

Here's a personal narrative I wrote nearly thirteen years ago as they were getting ready to drive out of our neighborhood, out of our town, out of our state, and as I was frantically trying to run away from the intensity of the feelings I was experiencing. And yes, they moved pretty far away, but geographical distance will never be able to take them from our hearts and our lives. If you've seen the movie Frozen, then you'll understand when I say that this family is 
worth melting for.

A Moving Story About Best Friends
By:  Barbara Gruener

I cried all weekend long, so I’m tired today. Not the kind of tired that you feel when you haven’t quite gotten enough sleep and could really use a nap.  More like exhausted. Physically, mentally, and emotionally drained.  Kind of how I felt after I completed that biathlon. Or how I felt after biking from Houston to Austin in the MS 150 that year. Like how I felt after twelve hours of labor when my first child was born. And it’s not like I’m prone to emoting like this. In fact, I’m much better at teaching people how to feel than actually doing it myself. But this is different. Our best friends are moving away on Wednesday and I’m just plain sad about it.

It’s bittersweet because of course we’re thrilled for them. They’re opening this exciting new chapter in their family’s saga by moving to the Pacific Northwest, one of America’s most naturally beautiful areas, which means we’ll have a wonderful new vacation spot. But that’s not helping now as we watch them pack their life into boxes in preparation for the movers who will be here tomorrow to transport their things cross country. I’m struggling to breathe; it feels as though someone has just punched me in the stomach and knocked all of the wind out of me. I need to stay busy. Where can I go? What can I do? There must be an errand I can run. Someone must need something. Yesterday when I jumped into the car, convinced that we needed ketchup or something from the store, this sad, empty feeling came along. And then, through my tears like a mirage on the horizon, I saw their car coming toward me. How weird is that? This may very well be the last time that happens. The cliché you can run, but you can’t hide slapped me in the face. As we met, I smiled and waved, hoping that they didn’t notice my red face and puffy eyes.

We first met this couple in Lamaze class eight years ago as we were preparing for the births of our first children. Both due in May, we were at a fun yet frightening time in our lives. When we saw each other at our new church the following Sunday, they asked if we’d like to join them for lunch and we graciously accepted. As we talked, we discovered that our husbands worked for the same company and that we lived in the same subdivision. Coincidentally, our street actually turned the corner into theirs. We had no idea that a spur-of-the-moment luncheon would be the start of such a beautiful friendship. Their little boy Andrew was born in April that year, just one month and two days before our daughter Kaitlyn. It was so nice to have someone to walk through this exciting time with us. Tirelessly, we pushed the strollers up and down the streets of our neighborhood as we adjusted to parenthood and got to know each other. We quickly became best friends. We took the babies on outings to the park and the zoo, we met regularly at the neighborhood pool, we ate out together, and stayed in together. We celebrated birthdays and holidays and life, together. A year later, our son was born, then another year later their daughter came. Before we knew it, we were enrolling our babies in kindergarten. Soon afterward, our third child, a little boy, joined us, followed five months later by their third, a baby girl. Our families were nearly inseparable. Until now. 

As a counselor, I facilitate a Lost and Found grief group. It’s becoming clearer what lost really feels like. But how will I ever get to the found? A vital piece of my life’s puzzle is about to drive away. I want to scream, “Please don’t go.  Please don’t take my kids’ best friends away. Don’t leave us. Don’t leave me. Please!” How do I explain to my two year old – their godchild – when he’s repeating “see Abby, see Abby, see Abby” as we pass by her house that she moved, that someone else is going to live there, that you won’t see Abby for a very long time? And that when you do see her again, you may not even remember her? Ok, so I’m sounding dramatic, but wow, this is not how I would have written our lives’ screenplay. We I had plans – we were supposed to grow old together.  Our kids might even date as teenagers – ok, so I might have gotten ahead of myself with that plan, but there were so many more chapters for us to write together. If I’m feeling this lost before they actually leave, how do I go on past tomorrow? How do I fill this cavernous void? Can we replace the missing piece? My husband suggested waiting a few months and then calling their old phone number to ask the new people to be our friends. That’s almost as silly as taking out an ad in the classifieds or putting a blurb in the Green Sheet - LOST:  Our Best Friends or WANTED:  New Best Friends.  Will we ever find that perfectly matching piece? 

Tomorrow we’ll be starting a new chapter of our own as they drive off to begin theirs. The only difference is that they’ll be surrounded by new scenery, and we’ll just be rearranging what we have left. I imagine that, in time, our missing piece will be less and less noticeable. And technology truly does make it a lot easier to keep in touch and stay close. We have always wanted to hike around Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helen, so I know that we will get there for a visit or two, eventually. For now, I’ll probably just busy myself with the small stuff, keep on keeping on through the daily routines, trying not to think about our huge loss and great sadness too much. Life goes on. I know that in time it’ll feel better than it does today.  Until then, does anyone have a tissue? 


Who are the friends in your life that are worth melting for?

1 comment:

  1. That's a lovely story. And made better by the fact that you never really LOST them. Like the book The Heart and the Bottle.


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