When I was two years old, God gave me a best friend. I didn’t know it at the time. In fact, as the years went by I was quite sure that God had given me an enemy, an irritant, a frustrator-of-plans, a tattle-tale. Our games, begun so peacefully, tended to end with upended game boards and scattered pieces. We were just so– different.
Sixteen and a half years we lived under the same roof, until I went away to college. I met a wonderful guy; said yes; said “I do.” She was my maid of honor. A year and a half later she got married and I was her matron of honor. By that time we were friendly and full of sisterly love and peace and harmony and all good things. But I didn’t know then that God had more for us.
We had our first sons within three weeks of each other, back almost nine (!) years ago. She lived down south and I lived in Iowa and we were very far apart, but I began to see how things had changed. Who had been a cheerleader and who had been “counterculture” and who had been on the honor roll and who had struggled with grades and who had been popular or not didn’t matter anymore. We were young moms with little babies, and we were more the same than we were different.
It was three years ago last month that all that changed. We were making s’mores in my dad’s driveway and we got talking and suddenly I was pouring out my heart to her. How we were trying to get pregnant again. How it was scary after a miscarriage.
I came home to Iowa, and she went home with her family to Las Vegas, and within a month we were both squealing over the phone with delight because we were both expecting babies within weeks of each other again. Emails flew between us daily, back and forth– I had forgotten how miserable morning sickness is; do you have Grandma’s banana bread recipe?; remember the time when . . .
Eight months later and we were sharing birth stories and emailing in the middle of the night when our babies wouldn’t sleep; discussing latching issues and baby constipation and the woes of trying to keep up with the dishes. And sometime in there, I realized that when people asked me who my best friend was, I had started telling them my sister.
She has lived far away from me for nearly ten years, when she said her I Do’s to her military man and followed him to Biloxi, then Tampa, then Las Vegas. We have never lived in the same time zone since her marriage. But now– now she will follow him to Spain, for four years, and I guess I will learn what it is like to have a part of my heart on the other side of the Atlantic.
I said to her last weekend, as we sat in Mom and Dad’s backyard watching all eight of our kids run crazy wild around the grass, that for some families this sort of thing happens every weekend in the summer. Pools and grills and a wild rush of cousins in wet bathing suits are just the way of life. I’m a teeny bit jealous of those people; I can’t lie. But I also am thankful that we have these wild, memory-packed weekends each year to look back at and smile about. Maybe we cherish these memories more because they are not our normal.
I do not know when I will see my sister again in person. It could be four years. I hope not. In four years, we will have between us two twelve-year-olds, an eleven-year-old, a ten-year-old, a nine-year-old, two six-year-olds, a four-year-old, and any other blessings God gives us. Those numbers just seem impossible. I pray that we will meet in the meantime.
My best friend is moving to Spain.
I miss her already.