I was listening to Jen Hatmaker’s new podcast about friendship. The episode was an interview with Vicki Lovine who wrote the Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy and other Girlfriend’s books. As Jen is doing a series on girlfriends, she is the perfect guest to talk about the subject.
During the episode, Vicki talks about how a lot of her friends she met when her children were very young on the playground. How they connected then and just grew through the years together. This reminded me so much of my mom and her friends.
She moved out to California from the Midwest after college and found her group of friends. Most of them had little girls the same age as me, and these women became like aunts to me. They were there throughout my childhood. These days, as they are in their 70s, some have moved away to be near their children in other places, but their friendship is still very strong.
When I was thinking about all this, I started to cry. I couldn’t help it. The moms I met at the playground back when my kids were a lot younger? Well none of us even live in the same country where we met.
This is the reality of military life. You or your friends always move away.
Maybe you get lucky, and you get to spend four or five years together. Maybe you end up getting stationed in the same place again. Maybe you can plan to see one other on vacation. But the reality is, once you or friends move away, that is it. Things are never the same again.
You don’t get to grow together in person, only across the miles. You can watch each other on Facebook, commenting and liking photos as your kids grow. They might have another baby, you might have another one too, and you are aware that there is a huge part of their life you know nothing about.
As military spouses, we accept that this is going to happen.
That the local friends we had when our son was two are not going to be the same local friends we have when they are twelve. We know that any friend group is going to be temporary. And saying that makes my heart hurt.
As we say goodbye to our best friends, we hope we can stay in touch. We hope that we can somehow keep things the same, even though we know they will be different. We hope that we can still talk every day, even if we don’t hear each other’s voices anymore.
And the truth is, you can stay in touch with friends who have moved away. But it takes a lot of work.
Work on your part and work on theirs. I have learned that if both parties are not up for that type of long-distance relationship, the friendship will fade away. You both have to want it. And more than want it, you have to have the energy to keep up with it. Life doesn’t always give us that.
One day you realize that you haven’t talked in over a year and you don’t see that changing anytime soon. You are aware that things are different now, and although they will always have such a special place in your heart, things will never even be close to the way they were. That’s life.
But then, you have the friends where you can keep in touch.
Where you talk over text, like each other’s Facebook posts, and know what is going on in their lives. Where if you do see one another again in person, you know you won’t feel strange or weird because your friendship hasn’t missed a beat.
These friendships are the ones that will last. These are the people you will know years from now. These are the friends that you will always have.
I have cried so many tears over friends moving away. I do this because I know I will miss them and what we had. And even if I am aware that this was coming, it doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier.
The best thing to do is to have faith that your friendships can stand the test of time, even if you don’t talk too often.
Know that they could be missing you, just like you are missing them. That sometimes we are only friends for a season, but that doesn’t change what we learned from them or what we had together. And know that someday, things could be different.
That the constant moves of military life will end, that you will find a place to dig your roots into, that you will find friends that will be there as long as you are. That someday you won’t always have to say goodbye to the people who are special to you.
You will be able to look back over the years at all the people who you have called friends.
That although they live all over the US or even the world, that you know you became a richer person because of all of them. That you know that although the pain of saying goodbye will always be with you, the memories of what you had will also stay with you for the rest of your life.
Being a military spouse, you will have to say goodbye to your friends. Some will be your best friends; others will be more casual friends. And as hard as this will be, you are strong enough to endure the goodbyes. You will figure out how to cope and that will not stop you from making new friends wherever you go in the future.
Have you been able to stay in touch with your military friends over the years?