I grew up in a perfect little suburb of Houston. Okay, perhaps perfect is too strong of a word, but it was an incredible place to grow up. Our street had kids living in nearly every house on the block. From the moment we woke up in the morning until the street lights began to come on in the evening, the kids were outside playing. We didn’t have to “check-in” because The Mom Network was an infallible organization. When the group would show up at a house for some Kool-Aid or lunch or a popsicle, the Mom Network hit the phone lines to let the others know the whereabouts of the motley crew of children that roamed the neighborhood. Sometimes the Mom Network would grab some lawn chairs and sit outside drinking iced tea and gossiping or comparing notes about various domestic issues. We (the children) didn’t care. We were all about the play. But we knew we could count on the Mom Network. If you fell and got hurt, you didn’t run home. You ran to the nearest Mom and got all bandaged up. You did something wrong? You never had to wait until you got home to get into trouble. The nearest Mom was going to get you. You could count on it. If by chance you were able to outrun the Mom, you were never able to outrun the Mom Network. By the time you got home, your own Mom already knew whatever you did wrong and was waiting for you. If you were outside playing and you needed your own Mom, you didn’t have to wonder if she was home or not. You just asked another Mom and she would be able to tell you. It was idyllic.
I always dreamed that when I grew up and became a Mom, I would become a part of a Mom Network and I would be able to hang out with other Moms and trust in the tightness and security of The Network. I always wanted the kind of friends that I referred to as “coffee neighbors.” You know the kind I mean? The ones in the sitcoms or movies that just come on over to her friends house for a cup of coffee or to just chat? The kind of neighbor friend that you could call up and say “Hey, I am out of Diet Coke. Can I come over and grab a couple from you so that I don’t have to run to the store?” The kind of friendship that knows your secrets and would never reveal them. Who sees your bad side and loves you anyway. Who holds your hand and lets you talk without trying to fix it. The kind of friend that sits in emergency room waiting rooms until the early morning hours so you won’t have to be alone. The one who is the first person you can’t wait to share good news with and the first person you run to with the bad news.
Well, the world changed since I was a child. I don’t live in a neighborhood that has anything resembling the Mom Network. (At least not where I live.) I struggle to just meet moms that I have enough in common with that talking over coffee doesn’t seem awkward. However, I do have a friend like the one I always wanted. I do have my “coffee neighbor.” (Although, sadly, she is not a big fan of coffee. But, I do love her anyway!)
My friend is going through a very hard time. She just started the process of a divorce. She is so strong. She seems so together. Here she stands at the precipice of an entirely new life and she has a positive and somewhat eager outlook. Stretched before her are more changes than she can imagine and she is feeling strong and ready to face them head on. This is the time when I, as a best friend, stand beside her and support her with anything and everything that she is going through and will go through. And without batting an eye or ever questioning whether or not I would be there for her, I remind her that if she needs me for anything, I am right there. Always.
And then she drops it on me.
There’s not enough time to even prepare myself to lose her as my neighbor. We are talking about under a month before she drives off in her moving van out of state and away from me. So, I do what any best friend would do in a situation like this. I do what is expected of me. I do what only I can do so well. I cry my everlovin’ eyes out. I sob until my husband thinks that I have contracted some fatal illness that will incapacitate me in a matter of hours. I guess you could say that I cried like I just lost my best friend.
Right now, it is all about her. She is the one who gets to lose it right now. She is the one who gets to cry when it gets too hard to handle. She is the one who needs her hand held. But if you promise not to tell her, I will share a secret with you. When it is quiet and I am alone, I let it be about me for a just long enough to have a good cry. I am going to miss her like crazy. I am going to miss her in ways that right now I cannot even fathom. I know we will stay in touch with phone calls and email and that will keep us in each other’s lives. But really it isn’t the same. I mean, who am I going to call the next time I run out of Diet Coke? (It’s the important things that bond you to your friends, right?)
But like I said, right now, it is about her. But mark my words, I am not above throwing myself at her feet and grabbing hold of her legs like a needy toddler the day she tries to pull out in her U-Haul. And just like that toddler, I hope that someone loves me enough to pry me off of her and tell me to blow her a kiss, wave goodbye and let her go onto her next big journey in life. I just pray she doesn’t look back because I will be standing there in the middle of the road crying.
Like I just lost my best friend.