There’s a funny thing that happens with friends, I mean real, true, kindred spirit kind of friends – you just assume that they will always be there. It never enters your mind that they will move away. It never occurs to you that you will have a last meal, a last coffee at Starbuck’s or a last adventure with them. Your future will always include their presence. They become such an integral part of your life, it’s as if they were always there and always will be.
This Christmas, the season started as many before it. The cold snap came and the air became crisp. Lights were strung on houses – the ‘Christmas Street’ lit up the entire neighborhood. Shopping, excitement, anticipation. Good times with friends. All the normal, usual stuff. Well maybe not usual because it’s the kind of stuff you (at least me) look forward to all year.
The weather was especially cold that year and it was perfect because it just seemed more like Christmas. My best friend J and I were going off to see a play. The Christmas Carol, as a musical no less. Another friend had a part in the play and we were just going to have fun watching her and then teasing her afterwards.
The play was up in Canyon Country which is about a 30 minute drive from our town. J came and picked me up and off we went. I noticed that J was a little more quiet than usual but really didn’t think much of it, so I sat back and settled in for the drive. Quite casually and out of the blue J said, “I’m moving to Texas, Duckie.”
I was stunned. I knew she liked Texas and all and had been there on business and enjoyed herself but she’d said nothing of moving there. “When?” I asked – pretty sure she was going to say something vague like in a year or two.
“January,” she said looking straight ahead.
It was weird because it felt like all the air was sucked out of me. I just didn’t know what to say. I’m not really sure I said anything. I just sort of collapsed around my grief. It was a mere 4 weeks away. It felt like someone had yanked my arm off or something equally disorienting. I went numb.
I think we talked a little more about it. But just the facts. Where would she work? What made her decide? Where would she live? She’d been made an incredible offer she felt she couldn’t refuse, plus her young son was getting older and she wanted him in a better environment to grow up in. She was going.
I knew there was definitely no talking her out of it. I didn’t try. How could I? I could only hope she’d change her mind, even though I knew she wouldn’t. J isn’t the kind of person who decides casually, I knew she’d given it a lot of thought and weighed the good and bad and her mind was made up.
That terrible ache you feel when you’re trying not to cry crawled around inside me. I tried not to be upset. I didn’t do very well at that. In fact, I did lousy.
The dinner we had with friends before the play was strange and unreal. I just couldn’t think of anything else. I told myself I was being selfish and that I should be happy for her but I was too sad for me.
Christmas went from bright colored and sparkly to gray. I went through the motions but mentally all I did was count off the days til they left. I think I cried just about every day. I kept telling myself I was being ridiculous and that I should grow up and take it like a man – but the girlie girl in me won the battle every time
We spent a lot of time together before she left. We tried like the devil to cram everything in that we could. As many laughs, coffees, jokes, adventures that we possibly could. Eventually, I was able to deal – at least without bawling like a big baby. Because despite my greif I really was happy for her. I knew it was right for her – that good things would come of it. That it was a journey in her life she needed to take and I wasn’t going on this particular road trip with her.
We would write and call – and she had family down here so I would see her again. I knew all of this. But I couldn’t stop missing her. I just couldn’t make myself do that.
Christmas came and went. The time drew near and I did everything I could to avoid thinking about it. And then the final goodbye came. At a restaurant. I met her and her dad and little boy and we had a good time. We chatted and ate chips and drank iced tea as though it was just a normal Tuesday night. But too soon the time came and we stood in front of the restaurant hugging and crying. Then separating.
I walked to my car and couldn’t look back. I didn’t want to have my last view of them driving away. I wanted to keep that image of them standing there smiling and waving.
But life felt emptier at that moment. Less bright. Less colorful. Less adventurous. It just wouldn’t be the same without them. And it wasn’t.
But you know what? As sad as this story might seem and as much as I may have bummed you out by telling it to you – it didn’t destroy me or ruin my life. It just really made me love and appreciate her all the more. Because no matter where your friends go and no matter how far away they may be they never are gone – you always always have them and they always have you. It’s just a little harder to make the commute sometimes.
8 thoughts on “The Goodbye Christmas – 12 days of xmas #10”
I’ve had friends come and go, but none moved away. If any of my friends moved, I would miss them terribly too. But it’s rather bittersweet isn’t it?
Yeah it is rather bittersweet, Lass. J and I stay in touch – but somehow when she moved it was the end of an era.
i totally relate to this post like you have no idea! my sister moved away 3 years ago to florida on a whim. (when are you moving? next weekend) i was crushed. then, earlier this year, my BFF of 20 years got a real good deal on a house over an hour away. i helped her move but we always lived so close i cant just jump in the car and go see her now. i am actually going up this weekend to do the yearly wrapping tradition ( she has 5 kids) and as much as i was happy, like you, i was so sad for me. it’s not another state but it is far just the same and lives are busy. it’s great that you are still close with her, distance shouldn’t affect true friendship at all, and i’ve noticed it doesn’t. not true friendship.
Yeah, you know Reggie, I think it was the shock of the suddeness that was hardest about this. Obviously it didn’t destroy the friendship but it was just so quick I guess it took me a while to adjust. And true, distance doesn’t end true friendships, ever,.
Strange how some relationships THRIVE on the distance, others kinda quietly wither and die. And I don’t think it necessarily means the friendship wasn’t a good,strong,true friendship. Just the distance can create gaps that weren’t there before.
It’s true honey, each relationship is unique – some can bear the pounding of a thousand stallions and others crumple under the pressure or distance. I guess you have people for however long you have them – the trick is in appreciating them while you do.
As long as good friends are still here then distance is only dots on the map.
You’re so right Fuzzy. When I look at it that way – I see that I have a multi-dotted map as my Christmas card. Thanks!
It is hard to have friend move. Most of my friends are all off at college right now, and luckily most of them are home for the holidays, so I should be able to see the some over the next few weeks. I don’t like having them in other states, but I do appreciate having them back, even for a day, so much more than I ever did before.
Oh Kelsey that must be tough to have most of your chums away at school. I hope you do get to spend time with all of them. Isn’t it great that we have Christmas for such reunions? It makes the holiday that much sweeter.
Oh- I so Luv Christmas–The Lights, The Colors, The Tree, The Smell of Christmas in the air…
I could go on, and on.
WC I hope U have an Awesome Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!
Aw you too you big nut. Hey, I’m having a hard time getting onto your site. I’ll try again later.
Merry Christmas, hon.
As the friend who recently moved, this wasn’t an easy one for me to read, but I’m glad I did 🙂
You know Kel, I’ve been the one who left too. Ironically, just as J was getting married I was on my way to Florida. Sometimes life happens – and you have to do what you have to do. Luckily, our friends understand.
can totally relate. I had one friend who was my (BFF) and straight from high school she moved out of state to attend college, but we kept in touch and she’d visit (never long enough) but we always seem to pick up where we left off. Than i went to visit her about 2-1/2 years ago, and we haven’t spoken since. She had changed a lot and i realized that she just wasn’t the same person who was my (BFF) anymore. Anyways, i learned early to let people go when they had to go, so the lesson isn’t very hard for me anymore…
It’s true that sometimes those who were our closest friends change a lot over the years at we find we don’t have anything in common with them anymore. I’ve had that experience more than once – and it’s kind of sad. Though some friends and friendships transcend time, geographical location, space, oh pretty much everything. Those are the ones who you always keep in your heart.
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