Friday was a day our family has been dreading for a while now. After months of trying to prepare ourselves and a week of going-away parties, it was finally time to say good-bye to some great friends.
It's easy for me to look back over my life and count the really special friends in my life. It isn't often that I find a friend who feels more like a sister. It isn't often I find a friend with kids who have an instant bond with mine and become best buddies. And even more rare that our husbands would connect so effortlessly.
This family came into our lives at a time when we were experiencing a gaping hole that needed to be filled. It was three years ago when we began to home school for the first time. We were checking out a home-school co-op and met this family with two boys the same ages as ours. Their third son easily blended in as a little brother to our boys.
Those first few weeks of home school were a big transition after leaving a very tight private school community where my boys had some amazing friends. We were working on our school work in early September when my son got teary eyed. He liked doing school this way, but he sure missed his friends.
That's when I got determined to help my kids develop those same types of friends with the other home school kids around them. I got up my nerve to send an e-mail to this family we barely knew asking them to meet us at the park.
I was so focused on my boys and their need for friendship that I wasn't really thinking about myself. But after a few months of getting to know this family, I was pleasantly surprised at how much this mom and I had in common. A love of photography. A desire to chronicle our families' lives through blogging. Even an interest in cooking decorating! :) I don't have a lot of friends who could wander around a jewelry store with me or get excited about the newest line of OPI nail colors.
But my favorite part about this mom was her sense of adventure. I have a tendency of jumping into people's lives like a locomotive and dragging them along. I love to go and see and do and find new places.
My friend shared that interest. She was always up for the adventure, whether it meant letting the boys climb on tanks or watching sled dogs race in the snow or taking a hike through the woods just because it was a perfect fall day.
I guess you could say our boys rubbed off on each other. Ours developed a love of baseball and Nerf wars. Theirs took an interest in snowboarding and Angry Birds. Now, if one of them likes a movie, a sports team or a game, they all immediately like it.
The men were united by something you don't find very often in the Chicago area. While the rest of the world seems only to care about the Cubs and White Sox, these two had Cardinals red running through their veins.
From Day One, this family has been a huge part of our home schooling experience. The boys always made sure they signed up for classes with their best buddies, whether it was PE or year booking or woodcarving. My favorite part of the week is hanging out with my buddy and our other friends on Friday mornings during what we jokingly call "Group Therapy." It's hard to imagine how we can continue to home school without them.
We've known for half a year that Departure Day was coming. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to put up a wall and backtrack in some futile attempt to numb the inevitable. I'm glad I didn't. We kept living out our friendship in vivid color, making the most of the months that were left.
There were lots of tears shed on Friday. But in the end, I was thankful. That's a good kind of hurt. That's how you know it was worth it. That's the kind of friendship that is more like an extended family. And it's the kind of family you won't let go of just because you are separated by miles. When a good-bye hurts like that, you know it's the beginning of a new chapter. But it's definitely not the end.