In the early spring one of my dearest, “bestest” friends and post-college roommate disclosed inklings that she was considering moving out of our south-central Pennsylvania town that had become the home of our friendship of seven years. I was excited and proud of her courage to pick up her life, take it down south, and pursue a relationship she had always desired.
As the days and months of the spring began to slip away these inklings turned to dreams, these dreams to plans, and plans to reality. Just a few weeks after our school year ended, we were taking our last walk through the cornfields and talking going-away parties and moving trucks. I watched as the apartment on Locust Point that I had never seen bare began to be emptied as she packed her things into boxes. We had shared that precious space for the two-years before I got married; full of watching the Bachelor, decorating for Christmas, late night talks in the hallway, being snowed in the blizzard of 2016 and learning from her cooking as sous chef, a dream come true for two college girls who fantasized about living together. That sacred home held us as we transitioned into teachers, got through the major challenge of learning to be both friends and roommates, fell in love, and eventually even after moving out, it was the place I learned I was going to be a mother.
Mid-June we planned one last friend date, afternoon tea, before her man came into town to begin the moving process. The morning of the date, I was overly emotional. At first I tried to blame the transition from the school year to the summer, and even tried to blame Cody. Finally, I realized what it was. My friend, my true and deep friend of seven years was moving and I was grieving, not the grieving from death but the grieving that comes with good, bittersweet change. After confessing my true feelings to her, I explained that I just didn’t know how I was going to do the day. She replied and said “I know it may be hard for you to see me, but it will be harder if we don’t” to which I responded “Not seeing you is not an option in my book, as hard as it is I’m still going to see you.”
We decided to press in. No matter how hard, we would lean into the pain instead of doing the easy task of pulling out when it got sad and difficult. Pressing into this bittersweet season meant sharing moments of finding boxes behind department stores. It meant making a slide-show of pictures and songs and crying all the way through it. It meant visits with her boyfriend’s family and joyfully (truly joyfully!) third-wheeling as I was given the opportunity to meet important people in her new life. It meant throwing a good-bye party when I wished there would be no-goodbyes. It meant packing up rooms and memories into boxes. It meant sharing a goodbye letter, hugging over and over again in the basement of our old home, and with tears-streaming down my face, turning away from my best friend into the pouring good-bye rain. But pressing into the pain also meant celebrating the joy of having made a true and lasting friend, who made goodbye so hard.
On our last night together on Locust Point we spent a few sacred moments while I read a letter to her. I have since carried the words “press in” and the memories of that night in my heart all summer as we’ve begun to learn the new patterns of being long distance friends. The words of that letter continue to encourage me in this season of pressing in:
“I am not going to pretend that our friendship is not going to change, it is. However, I am glad to experience the grief of watching you move across the country because it means that I let you become so important to me and have such a deep part of my heart and I wouldn’t want it any other way…. I will continue to press into the missing you and the figuring out of this next phase of our friendship…I am here even from miles away, loving you, supporting you, excited for you, and grieving the way our friendship was, and celebrating the new way it will be. I love you so much my very best friend.”