The last time I cried like this was when I was six years old, sitting on the front steps of the home we were moving away from in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Even at such a young age, the thought of leaving my best friend, Eva, left me grief-stricken. I don’t think I’ve cried that hard over a goodbye until this week. On Sunday, one of my dearest friends and her family gathered with mine for a final meal together before their move this week to the west coast. I made the cocktails a little stronger than usual, and we relaxed for a few minutes on the deck while the kids ran wild through the house. All the while, in the back of my mind, I knew the time for goodbyes was at hand.
For the past couple of months, every encounter with this special friend has felt like a countdown of sorts, as I anticipated her departure this week. And finally, as reality set in that there isn’t a date on the calendar for the next lunch date or impromptu sleepover, the tears came. And they kept on coming. I felt like I was six again.
I’ve said plenty of other goodbyes over the years, but none quite like this one. As I lamented each thing I won’t be able to share with this friend on a regular basis, I was filled with gratitude for everything she has been to me, especially in the years since the end of my marriage.
Six years ago this summer, she welcomed me back to Maryland in my newfound singledom. Months earlier, I’d moved to the west coast myself only to learn that my marriage was over. When I arrived back home in Maryland, she drove to my old townhome with me and helped me paint the walls of the bedroom that would this time be just mine. When I recall the milestones of the last several years, she was there for nearly all of them—-my divorce, my first Christmas following, my 40th birthday, my second wedding, and the launch party for my book. We’ve logged a few road trips and countless soulful conversations. I love her so very much.
What I was reminded of as the tears washed over me was, once again, that grief begets grief. We can be chugging along, reciting the mantra, “fine, fine, everything’s fine,” and then wham! A fresh loss feels like a semi just hit. It’s as if our tears leave old wounds raw, exposing unresolved hurts and memories of past heartbreak. So it was good, that as I lamented the depth of the loss, I could not ignore the profound gratitude to have had such a friend whose absence I am grieving deeply. And thankfully, she’s just going to the other side of the country. All has not been lost. There will indeed be an opportunity to reconnect somewhere down the road.
A few weeks ago, we shared one last dinner without our families. After we paid the bill and said goodbye, we each headed to our respective parking garages, thinking we’d be heading in opposite directions. Yet, there we were, waiting for the light at the crosswalk to head in the same direction. Amused, she made a comment, and I followed up saying it felt like a metaphor for something. And that’s where I’ll leave it. We’re veering off for a bit. But ultimately, my sweet friend, we are heading in the same direction.