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Our closest friends are moving away.
There. I said it. Sometimes I try not to. Other times I say it more than I probably need to. Both are ways to deal with an unexpected (and truthfully, unwanted) change in my life. Our family’s life.
We have known for a while, but I think it’s safe to publicly say now as the decision has been public for a couple weeks. But for quite a bit longer than that we have been thinking and talking together with our friends through the various elements of their big decision. They are quite excited. It’s a great new opportunity for them, and seems to them to be exactly what God has prepared them for. They were expecting a new chapter in their life and it looks like this is it!
For us there are much more mixed emotions.
On the one hand, we are of course excited for our friends. We love them and you can’t help but be excited along with people you love. You are excited when they are excited. You hurt when they hurt. And so on. But on the other hand, it will be very different with them gone.
Of course I know that life is change. “The only thing certain in life is that life is not certain,” or something like that. Life is all about changes. Chapters, if you will. And we have actually had a good two or three chapters with these friends. Going way back to college days (chapter one) and then moving together to work at the same church in upstate NY (chapter two). Then bring Jen back into the equation after her one-year internship in Indiana (chapter three) and then we both started having children (chapter four) and maybe even add one more chapter for when we both had finished our time at the church that brought us to this town in the first place (chapter five).
That’s a lot of chapters.
And there will be more. Perhaps only one more. (The “rest of life” chapter.) But how can you ever know? If change is the only certain thing in life, who knows if we might meet up again somewhere down the road?
But for now… I’ve mostly just been sad.
When someone dies, people are affected in different ways. The people who spend the most time with the lost loved one are of course affected the most. We saw this when Jen’s brother died. Her parents were devastated for a long time. They had poured their lives into him. He lived with them again, and so they were spending every day with him. We were all hurt by the loss, but I believe they were affected the most.
In a way, it’s similar with our friends. No… they aren’t dying. 🙂 I’m grateful for Skype and e-mail and phone calls (and the occasional visit!). The similarity for me is just in the closeness both emotionally and in time spent together. These friends are the ones we share the most life with. Often at least a couple visits in a week, and of course every birthday and other special day. (We have lots of those….) 🙂 Our kids call them “aunt” and “uncle” as well, which is intended to reveal a closer relationship. We have a few other friends whom our kids call “aunt” and “uncle” but none fit quite as appropriately. We have joked since our first children were born (we had a boy and they had a girl) that our kids might one day be married. And I guess we just assumed they would at least grow up together.
It will definitely be hard when they leave. It’s nice that the end of this chapter – this section – is not abrupt. They will have a few more months of tying up things here. For now, we’re enjoying the last part of this chapter.
And I know there will be more. And I’m grateful for the five (or more) that we have had. And life will be full of many more chapters.
It’s still not always fun to move on.