And with that one word it was time for another goodbye, not to sports but to my teammates in the bleachers and camp chairs.
It was the last game of baseball season, history and geography told me that I wouldn’t see some of those parents until practices begin next March; that I’ll never see some of them because kids and sports teams don’t always stick together.
Friends come in, out, and sometimes back into our lives all the time, but that day I was experiencing the unique feeling of future nostalgia when I realize that they were going out.
It’s after high school that we first recognize that feeling — maybe during graduation, maybe six months later when you run into your English lit bestie at McDonald’s and realize that you probably won’t see them again.
Maybe you were more aware than I was and realized it when you moved in grade school or left camp for the summer. Whenever it happened, realizing that the saying “We have friends for a reason, a season or a lifetime” is true and, at some time point, the reality of that will smack us upside the heart.
Within a couple of days of the last out of that last ball game, I felt a version of that happy-to-see-them but sad-that-time-will-pass-before-I-saw-them-again feeling twice more. The first was Becky, whose two daughters had gone to school with my oldest kids. We had seen each other at school events for years, sat next to each other when we did — but when high school was over for our younger kid, those run-ins ended.
We were at Costco when I saw her again and the feeling I had surprised me. I didn’t realize that I had missed her easy smile, her chill attitude, her honest way of talking about her kids until I saw her again. I’m pretty sure we annoyed our respective offspring shopping companions because we stood talking in electronics for so long. Too bad; they’ll do it to their kids someday, too.
The second time was with a woman that I had met online then saw intentionally in person many times. Professionally we’re in the same field and had worked on a project together, but most of our relationship was cyber-based.
Long conversations held when they fit into our individual schedules for years…until they slowed when life got in the way. I had sent her a note and when she responded the resulting conversation made me miss what we had and wonder if we could get that back in a 2018 version. Changed, but still cherished. I hope that we won’t fall into the "seasonal friend" category.
Over the years I’ve had to tell my kids about this life phenomenon many times as they experienced the pain when a friend moved away, when a kid changed teams, play-in-the-yard or sleep-over alliances. I can’t buffer my children from the feeling, but I can tell them that it’s a normal part life, that what they are feeling will happen again.
I can tell them to try to appreciate any friendships while they are happening because you really don’t know when they will be put on pause or end altogether.
The first lines from a Joseph Parry poem (nope, it didn’t originate with the Girl Scouts) nails it:
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
For my kids, for you and for me, I hope that we can all do that: deeply appreciate our friendships while they happen and do our very best to keep the golden ones.
Susan Vollenweider is a Kansas City based writer and podcaster. To listen to the women’s history or history-based media podcasts that she co-hosts or to read more of her writing visit www.thehistorychicks.com or www.susanvollenweider.com.