When Friends Say Goodbye…


My family and I just returned from an amazing two week vacation in the Canadian Rockies.  The mountains were breathtakingly beautiful, and the experience was made even memorable by the fact that we shared it with special family members that we don’t get to see often.  Having lived near them for many years, we now have to maximize the time we do spend together, making memories and sharing belly laughs.

We had a strange return home, however.  Good family friends were moving out of state in just a day, so one of the first things we did after catching up on some much-needed sleep was to head over to their house for final goodbyes.  Seeing the last remnants of their home randomly scattered in a few remaining piles in the garage was all it took to bring our own moving memories flooding back.

Why is it so hard to say goodbye?  Even when–and perhaps, especially when– it is what you have wanted for so long, a move you know is in your family’s best interest?  Our girls gave teary hugs goodbye, while our boys went off for one last crazy bike ride down the street, forgetting the hug entirely (until we suggested he better go do it!).

Feeling nostalgic today, I went looking for an old photo of myself with my best friend from high school, opening one of the boxes that survived the 1100-mile journey we undertook just one year ago.  Not finding what I wanted, I was drawn to my old high school yearbook, laying right on top.  One glance inside the front cover revealed dozens of lengthy notes from former classmates, close friends and acquaintances alike promising to never forget each other, declaring friendship, love, and demanding that “No matter what, you have to stay in touch!”.  Sweet words, well-meant at the time, but gone by the wayside many years ago.  Of a dozen or two good friends, there is only one with whom I remain in touch, whose babies I’ve held and whose kids have shared precious beach vacations with mine.  We were in each other’s weddings and have encouraged each other through many ups and downs of motherhood and family life, even to this day.  The same holds true for friends from college, graduate school, and life beyond as my husband and I have moved our way from Boston down the East Coast.

I like to tell my daughter that friends are like charms on a charm bracelet.  You can collect many, and while they look pretty for a time, there are some–many, in fact– that you will leave behind.  Whether one of you moves, or your life changes and you drift apart.  Regardless of the reason I believe there are only a few “true” friends out there for each of us.  I have been blessed that at the end of each phase of my life, each city that I’ve lived in or school I’ve attended, I have collected at least one golden friend who remains with me, wherever I go.

Tomorrow I am driving five hours with my three kids, alone, because my daughter’s golden friend is that much closer than usual.  Both of us moved in the same year, two years ago, and our girls, true soul sisters, BFF’s for life, were devastated.  But in the spirit of friendship- and recognizing that theirs is a true friendship, one built on mutual acceptance and love– as families we have determined to do what so many of my high school classmates wanted to do: we are staying in touch.

Who do you stay in touch with, personally and as a family?  How do you determine when a friendship is “golden,” and worth working hard to keep?