How can you find a new 'normal'?
Last week, I wrote about my best friend announcing that he was leaving home for a job in a new city, and how I regretted not having more time to make more memories. I’ve heard from a lot of people — all with good intentions — offering kind thoughts and words of support.
One friend, in particular, started an e-mail to me with, “My heart is broken for you.”
She proceeded to tell me a story about her best friend who hasn’t lived close by for about a decade, and how, despite the distance, she and her friend have remained close throughout the years.
“Of course we don't talk as much as we used to, and we see each other MAYBE once a year,” she wrote.
I stopped at the end of that line. I thought about how painful that is for me to think about — “maybe once a year. Maybe?!?” Over the last several years, my best friend and I have gone no more than two weeks without seeing each other, but most of the time, we go no more than a few days without at least meeting up for dinner. On top of that we’re constantly sending text messages and e-mails or talking on the phone. All of that changes when he moves away.
I continued reading my friend’s e-mail.
“But, when we do see each other, it's like we still live next door to each other like we did growing up,” she wrote. “We're still each other's best friend. She's always there for me, she's still the same person and the same great friend.”
My best friend and I talked about the future — him promising to visit as often as he can. I told him not to make promises that can’t be kept. When he moves away, there’s no real guarantee of what will happen. No more can we plan for dinner tomorrow night or a hockey game this weekend. We can’t drive a few miles to the east of town to visit a mini-golf course. We can’t decide to randomly drive two hours north just because we were craving dinner.
The e-mail helped. I know everybody goes through this kind of pain. And I recognize that it could be worse — I could be mourning his death instead of being upset that he’s no longer going to be nearby. I know all of those things, and I get all of those things.
But it doesn’t make the pain any easier to know that there is a chance we could meet maybe once a year for lunch or dinner to catch up. There’s a real possibility that we’ll have to depend much more on phone and e-mail conversations, which means any hopes of making memories are smashed into those quick trips there or his quick trips back home.
In my mind, and against better judgments, there’s a real possibility of our friendship fading. That, quite honestly, is what scares me most. I’ve written before about how friendships — really good friendships — slipped by for a variety of reasons. In some cases, I’ve gone many years without talking to some friends — people I considered good friends.
You can’t predict the future, but the past gives you insight into what might lie ahead. And I’ve seen the dangers of trying to maintain friendships from all ends of the world. Most of the time, it doesn’t work.
It takes a lot of compassion, maturity and love to make sure those we care for dearly never really stray too far from our heart. But life does get in the way of maintaining close bonds, and there’s nothing he or I can say today to promise that our friendship remains intact after he moves away.
In some way, I feel as those he’s abandoning his family, his friends and his life just for a career. I never thought he’d leave every bit of happiness behind for something so minuscule, something that — in the grand scheme of life — means nothing if your family and friends aren’t there to share in the happiness with you.
Up until all of this, 2011 was shaping up to be a great year. My best friend and another very close friend of ours really began to bond as a group. We discovered we shared similar obstacles, traits, likes and dislikes, and quickly figured out that we could finish each other’s sentences.
We often joked that the “Three Best Friends” song from the movie The Hangover was meant for us — “We're the three best friends that anyone could have, and we'll never, ever, ever, ever leave each other.”
It seems that last part isn’t actually true now.
On one hand, I look at this situation and am happy to see that I do know how to care for others, and that others care for me. Love — whether it’s love for family or friends — can hurt.
But on the other hand, I look at this situation and think of all of the other times friendships have ended because there no longer was any interaction. Life’s focuses changed and friendships were diminished.
Part of me keeps hoping he’s going to say, “Just kidding! I’m not leaving!” But I know that’s not the case.
So while this (hopefully) isn’t the end, many chapters still come to a close. There hopefully will be new beginnings and new memories made in our friendship. I’ll never really get past being hurt — nobody ever does. But I’ve never been one to let an obstacle bring my life down in the long run, and I don’t intend on starting now. I’ll find a new “normal” — one that hopefully includes our friendship. And I’ll treasure those moments just as I’ve treasured others before.
Like everything else in life, though, it’ll take time.
My friend ended her e-mail to me with two lines of encouragement: “It can be done,” she wrote. “I know you guys will make it work.”
I hope she’s right.
twoday magazine wants to know: How did you deal when a friend moved away? Facebook us and share your stories.
Can' get enough of our weekly contributor, Bobby Cherry? Catch up with him at Gobobbo.com!