We stood outside last night, chatting and looking at the snow-covered hills. I think we talked about everything we could have without actually saying the words of goodbye. Neither of us want to say it; I know I refuse to, because saying it would make it real. Permanent. And silly as it is, part of me still hopes and wishes this weren’t happening…

I’m not good at this, because I’ve always been the one who left. Now it is my turn to be the one waving, and I am so awkward.

Our friendship has surprised me beyond words, and I can never quite say just how much you and your family have come to mean to me. This year has been way too rough on us all, and yet when it seemed J and I would be barely able to pick up the pieces, you and your family covered the distance and held our hands while we trembled. When many shied away out of fear and uncertainty, you invited us to dinner. You let us lean on you whenever we needed to, and I am so grateful.

At the time, I had hoped the employment uncertainty would resolve and you all would be able to stay for the rest of your lives, like you wanted. Because by then, I wanted it, too. I wanted to have the opportunity to repay your generous kindness, somehow, someday. I wanted to have the time to show you how precious you are.

But today you are moving away, and it’s a good thing, because things have worked out at last for you. I know it’s a good thing, because families shouldn’t be spread apart for quite so long. And like I told you last night, I am happy for you to be reunited. But I am not happy to say goodbye.

As we stood there talking under the stars, I was reminded of the note you sent me on Facebook this summer when your children found that abandoned fledgling. About how we never know how long people will be in our lives, how every moment we DO have is a precious gift.

Oh, our friendship has been such a precious gift.

So I won’t say it. I won’t say how much I’ll miss you all. You won’t hear a peep of lament. I’ll just stand still, and I’ll raise my hand and wish you well, and the only thing you’ll hear me say is thank you.

Thank you for being you.

Thank you for being my friend.

This is not goodbye.

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