I have a friend of 20 years who moved out of state in October. She and her husband are victims of Illinios’ taxes and our nasty winter weather. They are excellent examples of the human exodus leaving Illinois in the past decade.
It hit me like a rolling freight train
We met through a picnic for a homeschool group, we had just moved to IL. We had so much in common! She had 2 children, so did I. Her husband traveled for work, mostly downtown, sometimes abroad. So did mine. My oldest babysat for her two, our youngests played together for a couple of summers. We were born the same year, graduated high school the same year, and even have versions of the same name. Mine-Cinda, hers…
I don’t see her as often as I once did, so this move shouldn’t be as traumatic for me as it feels. Other friends have left and it didn’t hit this hard. It’s a different emotional experience for me. It’s usually Bruce and I move who move, leaving behind friends and family. We’ve talked of leaving IL, dreamt of it, especially in January. Our family ties here are small, unlike Cindy who has all her family here.
But this time, we stay and they go…
When we shared a neighborhood we saw each other often. The guys were out of town so we’d get the kids together and have dinner. Plants were shared in each other’s yards. I had surgery and she sat at my side, knitting to keep me company. We had to downsize and needed to wait before moving into our next home so we lived in hers for a week. She helped me paint my kitchen, I helped with her daughter’s bedroom.
The stuff of life
As the years brought changes and I went back to work she was encouraging, lending a listening ear. She dropped into the stores I worked in and made purchases. And she sympathized while I whined about my managers. I knew I could tell her anything and it would stay confidential.
For 20 years we’ve had a rich email life. Sometimes daily (even hourly). In the last decade, weekly. It’s probably how we know each other the most. What we couldn’t do in person, because of time and obligation, was done through writing. It’s a rich chronicle of life over the past 20 years. We joke that one day we’ll retire, tour the country in side by side RV’s and email each other over coffee every morning. We’re leaving them for our kids to publish one day.
Maybe it will pay off their student loans…
Cindy’s people skills have served as an example for me. I’ve learned so much from her about navigating sticky relationships. In the early days of our friendship, I watched her handle some delicate things, and listened when she presented other viewpoints for interpreting people’s behaviors. Even when she coached me she never criticized, or accused. I’m not sure how she does it (I suspect she has an iron lip zipper), but she is a consistent example of grace and kindness.
Knowing her has grown me socially, emotionally and spiritually
The past 5 years have brought some struggles for my sister/friend. She had a very painful church experience that brought deep heartache for her family. Her husband had a health crisis and she took a cancer journey of her own. And her dad is experiencing the health related problems of being 91. He is a Methodist minister with decades of ministry and common sense living on his resume’.
She comes from hearty stock!
Through all of these things she never once lost her Christian witness, her faith, her perseverance, her graciousness or her kindness. I felt so lucky to journey with her. To shed tears, laugh, worry, pray and care. I went on a chemo day and saw what she experienced. Relieved to know that my prayers for her were answered.
The treatment worked and she tolerated it
We’ve celebrated graduations, engagements, bridal showers and weddings, (her professional photographer daughter took our youngest’s wedding pics), birthdays and anniversaries. We’ve grieved over lost loved ones – even our pets. Dinners have been provided, drinks shared, stories told and joys and trials celebrated and lamented. On the day we moved to Chicago, she and her husband drove an hour to bring us dinner. She said she wanted to be able to imagine where we were. We sat as couples around a tiny little table in our city kitchen, knees bumping, sharing what God was doing in our lives.
We like to joke that you can’t take Cindy anywhere without her knowing someone in the crowd. As calm and quiet as she is, she’s still an extrovert. And now she’s left me.
That freight train again…
I know that a friend who moves isn’t a friend lost. This will only extend our friendship across the miles and over the years. We will each have an excuse for a long weekend trip. She will be back for family and friends. We can escape in March when spring is still distant but it’s blooming in her state. Who knows? We may see each other more often! And as always…
We will email