Something I'm not sure I'll ever get used to is the cycle of hellos and goodbyes that come with living amongst a military community.
This last week was one of news for many of our friends here. It's difficult to find a balance between feeling selfishly sad for having to hug a good friend goodbye, and being excited for the new journey ahead of them. How do you say congratulations when your heart is saying, "Don't go" at the same time and mean them both? It's strange, but it happens and it's happening now.
While a couple friends are still awaiting official news of where they'll be going from here, everyone seems to have a pretty good idea and all those places have SUN, so we're all happy for them. Chris and I have been so incredibly fortunate to have found the friends we've had here, so when summer rolls around this year, there will be a lot of smiling through tear-filled eyes.
Congrats to Angela and Chad, who won't be separated after all, moving to the sunny state of Arizona. Having been expecting to be apart for a year and basing life plans around that, finding out they'll be moving together must have brought a great sigh of relief to their home.
Congrats to Amy and Rick, who although will sadly be apart for some time, will at least have the comfort of knowing Amy and their kids will be with family and friends who can't wait to have them home again. I'm sure it will be a comfort to Rick to know his family is being well cared for while he's working hard far away. Amy and Rick are strong, wonderful people who can and will handle the up-coming separation with grace, no doubt. It doesn't hurt that they've got two amazing kids to remind them of how great they've got it in the long haul.
Congrats to Diane and Wayne, who will be moving back to the South, where Diane feels at home. Living only a few hours from her parents, it will surely be a joyous time for everyone, including their (now) 3 beautiful children. And knowing that my dear friend will be a drivable distance from Chris and my family in Florida at least leaves room to imagine possible visits with them in the next couple of years. Still, this will be my most difficult goodbye, as Diane has been one of those friends you don't find often, one from whom I've learned so much and one I know I'll always cherish. But I was good today; I waited until we hung up to cry.
It's also likely that California will be inheriting another favorite family of ours, but we'll wait till that one's official to go into any detail. What is for sure is that all of our departing friends will be leaving uniquely shaped holes in our hearts, and will be missed dearly.
So why do I feel the need to whine about this publicly? I guess this post is a kind of emotional purging, with the hopes that as I am reminded to take full advantage of the time I am gifted with people I've come to call family, you will, too. We have to say goodbye throughout life, whether due to moves, life circumstances, or death. Remembering that all things change, that all things come to an end in some fashion is important, I think, because it keeps us from taking things for granted, these relationships and these people we love. So I'll be looking for more opportunities to spend time with some before they leave, making more memories to hold onto when face-to-face get-togethers are replaced with Skype and the phone, as well as with the friends who are thankfully hanging around a bit longer. The hugs will get a little tighter, and as the time nears, possibly a little longer.
Maybe one of these days I'll be able to say so long to a good friend without shedding a tear when it's time to go, but I kind of hope I don't. I actually went back to an old post to find something that dawned on me then, and applies again now..."And never worry about the difficulties of goodbye, because between friends that doesn't really exist anyway." (from the post, There You Are, by me).
That's comforting, and realistic given the way the people around us travel all over and wind up with neighbors they shared a street with a decade before. So that's what I'll be thinking about when the hugs begin this summer.
If I may quote from a good friend's blog regarding this same current happening, "Nothing replaces friends - our hearts only get bigger as we try to fill the void they will leave" (The Adventures of Nicholas Roy Leadbetter and Family, Sara Leadbetter).
I couldn't have said it better, Sara.