Leaving and Being Left
Being settled to me means security. And security to me means living in a bubble where I believe that everything will stay just as perfectly in place while I am contentedly living in that space.
So when my friend-of-10-years Brooke hinted that she may be moving to Madison, I chose not to believe it.
I knew it, but I never believed it – I never let it sink in that she was actually leaving.
A few times through the weeks between her telling and leaving, thoughts would creep up that included a sick feeling of missing, but I pushed it aside quickly.
Then the day came. It was my Easter – Saturday night after church the day before Easter. While the congregation was singing Christ arisen, I found myself stuck in the burial. After church, I stayed around home to cook dinner and help put Zora to bed, trying desperately to make the evening seem normal, and knowing there was no sense of normalcy in the hole that would be left in Brooke’s leaving.
There are friends and there are people you swear you’ve known for lifetimes. Brooke and I met on “accident” our freshman year in college; we were “randomly” assigned as roommates. We always believed that God was behind the orchestration of our meeting and saw no chance in any of it.
And we’ve stayed together through the better part of the quarter-life crisis. We’ve sat over bottles of wine talking about the men we loved, and then another bottle followed closely behind talking about the men we lost. We each had our own bottle of wine one night at book club when we were the only ones to show – we may or may not have talked about the assigned book.
We’ve shared warm cups of coffee and talked about grad school and broken families and how hard it is to know when you’re falling out of love. We’ve shared green tea late into the night at a café talking for hours and not talking at all.
When I drove across town to say good-by to Brooke on Saturday night, I passed places that held our memories: the street where our atheist tattoo artist and scientist friends lived in college, the wine bar where we met soon-to-be long-time friends on a blind friend date, the farmer’s market, her old apartment full of dark wood trim.
Brooke’s moving for love, as she says. There’s no better reason to move, and I could not be happier that she has found that gushing, googly-eyed, beaming love for a man called Tim.
But her leaving is leaving holes in my life and in my city.
In the years of our friendship, I have left. I moved to Virginia for a few years, and our friendship managed to survive. But I’m not the one leaving this time, and I find that it’s harder to be the one left than the one leaving. The one leaving has adventure and unknown ahead. I’m not going anywhere, and I can see in front of me, after she leaves, a whole lot of the same beautiful life, with Swiss holes spread about sections, places, hours, conversations, grief, and celebration. I will miss her being present in my life.
I am happy for the adventure and the blossoming of a Love for my friend – happy enough to crack open another bottle of wine. But being the one left behind, I will miss her in the free-flowing way the tears appeared on my cheeks all through Easter Sunday worship.