“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” (A A Milne, Winnie the Pooh).
Change and goodbyes are hard – whether forced or chosen.
I feel like I have had to say goodbye to people I love too often and it doesn’t really get any easier.
When I saw this quote the other week straight away my mind went to a person who is so incredibly precious to me, to a friendship that started 24 years ago, a friendship that means the world to me.
I cannot really think about my friend without the tears coming, because I am so grateful for her, so proud of who she is and the way she lives her life, and because she is such a big part of who I am. Other than my family there is no-one I love more.
Other than a few years living in different cities for university, and gaps years, we have always lived in the same city, and yes there have been periods where we have not been so involved in each other’s lives, but she has always been just down the road, she has always been near. However in a few months time she is going, she is moving cities and the likelihood is that we will never live in the same city again. I have not really let the enormity of that move sink in yet as I know when I do the tears may not stop and I am not quite ready for them yet.
That friendship started as 14 year olds in a tent in the Lake District and has grown through those teenage years, into our 20s and 30s – we have been each other’s bridesmaids, stood by the other as one lost a husband and the other a baby, we have laughed together, cried together, prayed together, eaten together, shared our hearts, our dreams, our worries and our struggles as well as our families. When she married I gained a friend in her husband – a man who has spoken so much wisdom, life and truth into my life, probably more than any other person ever has.
We had baby girls within months of each other, girls who could not be more different, one who is shy and sensitive, the other who is brave, confident and fearless but who are the best of friends.
My friend is beautiful inside and out, she is humble, kind, and gentle but at the same time strong, passionate and sold out to the things she believes in. She is not afraid to speak the truth and stand up for what she knows to be right. She is consistent and committed. She is real and honest. The way my friend and her husband do marriage and family constantly inspires me. They have made sacrifices for the other and supported and encouraged each other. They have taught me so so much.
Back in the autumn my friend text me to tell me she need to see me that evening, which in and of itself felt odd as it was slightly out of character, and once I had established with her I was not in trouble I knew. God had been preparing my heart for this conversation for the last few years, for the fact they were going to go one day. As I drove to her house I asked God to help me say goodbye well and to honour them in whatever was next for them.
I hate thinking that in a few months they will not be just round the corner, that I won’t be able to see them easily, without much planning, that we will no longer be part of each other’s lives on a day to day basis. To be quite honest it feels like it will be another grief because in the few moments I have let myself feel it the tears come and my heart aches. I am though so excited – I know there is so much in my friend to still come out, that God has awesome and amazing plans for her life, and that this move is a part of those plans coming to fruition. I am excited to watch from a distance as this new chapter of their lives unfolds.
Change is so important, to stop life becoming stale, for the new and better things to have room to come, to allow new people into our lives who may transform our lives in ways we could never imagine. But with change there is often the sadness of letting go of the old, the safe and the known. The excitement and the sadness sit side by side and that is ok.
So I release you my friend and your precious family, into all that God has for you all. I will always be standing right behind you, rooting for you, praying for you and loving you. I believe in you completely. Go in the knowledge that your time here has been marked with goodness, integrity and truth, that you have all blessed and impacted so many lives, and that you have finished well.
I love you x