Recently, a close friend, one of the few I have made in my adult life, moved on.
She is not moving far away, but she is moving on to another walk of life, where our paths will not cross naturally, and our days become more different than alike.
Our supportive partnership and friendship worked so well and grew so close over the years, that when she first told me she was moving on, my first thought was:
“But what would I be without you?”
I went into a state of reflection, because so many transitions are happening now. Of course we are always in some state of continuum; even as we sleep, time passes and events transpire, moving people around like so many shooting stars.
Like your child growing up beyond childhood.
At 5th Grade graduation this week, parents wiped their eyes during the slideshow as picture after picture showed how much children change over seven years, how ten- and eleven-year-olds start to form bonds with each other, turning within themselves, to each other, and maybe away from you. I looked over at my husband, beaming with his camera as our daughter walked serenely like an angel onto stage. I recognized that look of his from the minute she was born, and I will probably see it again the day she graduates high school, hopefully college, maybe at her marriage ceremony or the day she is holding her own child. That feeling where your eyes, your whole being, cannot get enough of the moment – he embodied how I felt, but seeing it on the open book of his face made me feel even more tender.
What would I be without you?
From the very moment we are born, and we place our instinctive trust in the nearest recognizable being, that trust is gained, tested, broken, retried, over and over to the end of our lives. It is a wonder we ever form connections, and yet most of us do, and most of us need them. I understand now, when we moved away from our first home, why my first best friend ran away crying. I sat, blank faced through the car’s rear window, dutifully waving goodbye, but I did not understand, nor did I understand for a while, that I would never see her again. I understand now, when I see others look at pictures, caress them, brave enough to cry and be sad for something gone, and then climb out and be in the moment again. What a terrible thing to feel so deeply, and yet what a wonderful thing.
Now that I have learned how little control I have over time, I make time to be in the moment. Sometimes, something will catch me — a sound, a smell, a spoken word, and I think of someone beloved — smiling across from me, in some slice of time that captured the very essence of our connection. It is so immediate that sometimes I almost reach out in front of me. I am not afraid of the ghosts of those moments, those relationships. I have learned from them and revel in how they made me feel. It was a privilege to have passed through some moment of time together.
When I had to leave my friend’s goodbye party, I turned and looked back for just a few minutes. She looked so beautiful, saying goodbye to her friends and co-workers, sometimes smiling with trepidation, sometimes with hope, sometimes relief. And in remembering that moment, the emotions jumble inside me, and I think of all the moments where I turned to look back at that last minute: when I left my childhood home behind; when I saw my daughter smile and turn to be with her friends; when I see my parents walking away, hand in hand and alone together, because I am grown and they have moved on.
And always the tears well up from afar — of regret, of longing, and finally gratitude — after the moment has passed, after the distance of hindsight, long after the motion of that someone moving on from me.
What would I be without you?
I will be a testimony that our connection will always be.