We did life together for almost three years. We walked each other through three deployments, and babysat and fed each other’s children when we got sick.
She loved me through four miscarriages, and was there when my husband couldn’t be.
We talked each other through the unknown hours during that night mortars were raining down on our husband’s base over there.
We saw when the other was teetering on the edge with the weight of this military life, and we pulled each other back to safe ground.
And then it all changed.
We received orders to Italy, and they received orders to stay put. And all of a sudden she stopped returning my calls. I would see her in the parent pick up line and she would walk the other way. Invitations to family cook-outs and girl’s night out went unanswered.
And it hurt!!!
After cornering her at a basketball game, it finally poured out of her. The deep hurt and pain she felt in my leaving, she thought it less painful to say goodbye now, like ripping a band-aid from a deep wound.
Twelve years later I sit at a table full of women who I have grown so very fond of. And I am amazed at the richness of relationships found here. Because I recall my reluctance to leave our last duty station and those friendships formed there. I remember the extent of my exhaustion upon our arrival here and the daunting task of making new friends.
See, half a world away, I had just left some of the deepest friendships and soul sisters I had ever had. And I didn’t think I could do it again.
But as I sat around that Cracker Barrel table, I was reminded that these are my people.
Women who have walked the path I am on. Women who know what it is like to give birth while your husband is at sea; women who know what it’s like to be torn from a place you love; women who understand the trauma of making and then leaving good friends.
I am most at ease with these women because with every story and hardship, one of them can say, “I’ve been there.”
And you feel not quite so alone. They offer you hope, that if they made it through then you can too.
And I am so grateful these women chose to open their hearts and lives to the possibility of friendship. Because we all understand one of us will be leaving soon. Yet each woman around that table invested and took that bold step to potentially make a friend for life, with full knowledge of the hurt that happens when friends leave.
We can tire and we can hide. We can nurse our pain and miss our besties. But in the end, we must get back out there and invite that new neighbor over for a cup of tea. We must join that bible study or mom’s group. We must connect with that friend of a friend over coffee.
Because we just might find a friendship sweeter than all the rest.