Tonight was a sad night.

Tonight we felt the pangs of goodbyes.

My tenderhearted daughter was in the other room, crying and praying to God, telling Him about how bad it hurts to leave her friends, to leave people she loves.  I heard her– I would have heard her if I was a million miles away.  Mothers know when their child is crying, even when we can’t hear it.  I went in, and we talked and sniffled and hugged and I said all the things I know to be true, because I’ve been there.  I’ve been eleven, and crying, and trying to figure it all out.   I know she’s going to be okay.  But it hurts me, too.  Because when you are eleven, and you love someone, you REALLY love them.  You don’t hold back, you don’t consider keeping a little piece of your heart back for safekeeping.  You just give it fully and completely, not knowing that when you love something, you become vulnerable to hurt and loss.  Adults know this– a hard knowledge that we must overcome at times, huh?  But a child… no, she didn’t see that coming.  She loves big.

I wish she never had to  feel the other side of loving that way.  I wish she never had to say goodbye to anything or anyone she loves.  But that’s what this fallen world is, isn’t it?  We’re all buying time, but eventually, it catches up to every soul that walks this earth.  We’re born into a land of goodbyes.

It’s a land of many other things too- many precious experiences and wonderful connections we make with people.  It’s not all sad.  It’s really amazing in between the goodbyes.  That’s what makes it so hard.  We’ve had such a rare and lovely life for the last four years.  We have friends who have become family.  It IS rare- we’ve always known it– always counted ourselves so unbelievably blessed to have it.  Leaving them just breaks our hearts.

Across a little green bridge, just one street over, is my friend Jennifer.  Tonight, she crossed that bridge, over the creek our children have spent thousands of hours playing together in, and brought me a photo book.  She walked to my house, she’s that kind of friend. The one you call when you need sugar.  The one who keeps plenty of popsicles in her fridge during the summer because she KNOWS your kids will be there half the time.  The one who walks with you in the cool of the afternoon around your neighborhood and talks about life and homeschooling and husbands and theology.  The one who checks to see if you need something when she goes to Wal-Mart.  The one who gives you her spare ticket to the opera, and loans you Pride and Prejudice when you’re having an unexpected Jane Austen craving.  The one who laughs at your jokes, celebrates your successes, prays for your struggles, cries for your grief.  The one who will spend hours upon hours creating a beautiful memoir of the time your families have had together, and fight back the tears with you as you look at it together, because she knows only one of you can be crying at a time.

The pages of the book are filled with our children, forging the strongest friendships they’ve ever had in the little lives.  Page, after page, year, after year– these are our bosom buddies.  I broke down by the end, unable to bear the thought of not having that anymore.  My daughter is not the only one hurting tonight, losing tonight.  It is a season for my sadness, too.  I can’t, I just can’t, imagine the last time we cross that green bridge.

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