I can’t call myself a Phil Collins fan, but one of the songs I really like is “We Said Hello Goodbye”. It’s from his No Jacket Required album, which contains most of the other Phil Collins songs I like. And this year, the song has taken on more significance than ever for me.
Since January, my husband and I have said goodbye to 10 people who’ve made cross-country and even international moves. Earlier this year, I posted about friendship, inspired by a statement one of my friends made as she prepared for a move to a different part of the country. The title was Life’s Great Friendships. I had no idea then that so many of my different great friendships would be transformed by relocation over the following months.
As many of us were, I was introduced to the concept of losing friendships over geography when I graduated from high school and headed off to college. This happened again, though to a lesser extent, when I left college. While I was in my 20s, my closest friend at the time crossed the Atlantic to live with her new husband. These transitions in friendship didn’t phase me. They were expected. Plus, I was the one who introduced Sue to her future husband, so I had only myself to blame and had plenty of time to prepare.
Tomorrow, two more friends will leave. They won’t be going far… about 12 miles away to a nice suburb that frequently tempts me with the promise of siren-less evenings, well-funded and free schools, the sound of crickets and no fast-food wrappers in my yard. I will feel their loss as much as I do anyone else’s, and in some ways more. Although I know from my experience with my friend Sue that friendships can survive distance, they become something different.
Unlike my other dear friends who have moved, my friend Tina has been a part of my daily life for nearly 10 years. We met through a moms’ group with our first children, ended up living around the block from each other and watched our children grow from babies to ‘tweens. Our families spent hours in each others’ back yards and kitchens drinking wine and eating take-out Thai while the kids stayed up past bedtime because none of us wanted the fun to end. She’s a part of that tight group of women I wrote about in my post on great friendships, one of the key initiators of it. The experiences we’ve shared have been some of the most significant of our adult lives.
Anytime you lose a good neighbor, it’s disappointing. Whenever someone you see almost every day disappears, it’s an adjustment. Saying good-bye to a person who is a neighbor, a daily presence and your friend is a triple-threat.
It’s easy to dismiss the short distance. Plans are made for breakfasts, playdates, workouts, housewarming parties, etc. She’ll remain our friend, I know. But it seems a little more heartbreaking that our friend will find other neighbors who’ll have her back when she needs someone to pick up her kids from school or share in the day-to-day trials of life with a new group of people with whom she’ll eventually have more in common than us. The rest of us are sending our children back to school this week. She’s packing and moving. Already, we’re walking on different paths.
I don’t always know what to say when a friend leaves. My initial reaction generally is to congratulate them, because usually it’s something they want. I’m the only one standing around with a smile for them while others are lamenting their loss. I don’t think it hurts me any less. Maybe it just takes time for the reality to set it. One thing I can say is that I will miss my friend tremendously.
Best of luck on your move, Tina & Dave!