This can be a touchy subject with military kids. Sometimes you’re incredibly outgoing and make friends easily, or maybe you’re painfully shy so every move leaves you feeling overwhelmed at the thought of starting again. Probably you’re somewhere in between, doing the best you can but knowing all along that you’ll be leaving behind the people you’re learning to love in a few years. It’s a tough shadow to shake when you’re trying to build a worthwhile friendship.
I don’t believe we get very many genuine friends in this life. Not the ones that are solid, through thick and thin, I’ll-help-you-bury-the-body kind of friends, anyway.
My own friendships have varied over the years.
I had fleeting childhood friendships, ones that I knew would end once I moved out of state. These were buddies, kids that I knew from school or sports or girl scouts, but not anyone I’d go to if I was in trouble. They made my childhood feel more normal, though, and for that I’m grateful.
I’ve also made a few very special friends. Ones I knew I would keep in touch with no matter where I went, and we have. On my wedding day I was blessed to be surrounded by bridesmaids who had been with me throughout my life: my sister, a friend I’d met in fourth grade, another I’d met in high school, a girl I’d become close to in college, and my future sister-in-law. I felt so fortunate to have these friends standing by my side in the church, women who had seen me through every stage in life and were with me as I started a new one.
I consider myself especially lucky to have met several wonderful friends in high school, ones I can count on even today when I need a laugh, have a problem, or simply want to share good news. As a navy brat I never expected to have friends in my adult life who knew me as a teenager; people who grow up in a single town may take this concept for granted, but friends who “knew you back when” are actually pretty priceless. I certainly count all of mine as a special gift.
I can only describe making friends as an adult as challenging. I’ve found I’m more isolated, caught up in my life, and it can be hard for me to reach out. This feeling of detachment quadrupled once the kids came along. You’d think motherhood would make it easier (all that playground time and such), but it wasn’t that way for me. Plus making friends is hard. It takes time, effort, commitment — all things that require energy, and sometimes that’s in short supply.
I’ll be the first to admit that getting close to people is not one of my strong suits. After years of practice leaving people behind, it’s hard to settle in and open myself up to even the possibility of friendship. I think that’s why my time here is marked by so many different kinds of relationships: passing acquaintances, the kindhearted people I know from church or school, some of the parents of my children’s friends…
But I can say I’ve made one honest-to-goodness, thoughtful, considerate, always-has-my-back friend here. She is a kindred spirit: sarcasm is a sport, candor a valued trait, take-it-to-the-grave trustworthiness, ready at a moment’s notice to circle the wagons, and my warped sense of humor doesn’t freak her out. Usually because she’s told me a story just as crazy (or crazier) than mine.
There are a lot of ways it’s clear she is my sista-friend, but one particular incident always comes to mind when BrightSide and I talk about what good people she and her husband are. T-man had been with us about seven months and we’d told the agency we were ready to begin the process for a second adoption. BrightSide and his sister are very close in age and grew up thick as thieves; he was hoping our own children would have that chance, too. When we told sista-friend and her hubby our plans they very kindly and thoughtfully asked if we were sure we were ready. We’d had an enormous amount change in our lives in the last six months — did we really feel prepared to bring a baby into the house when T-man wasn’t even two years old yet? This opened the door to a very honest conversation about what our decision would entail.
Now, all of the people who were immediately thrilled by our news are a cherished part of our journey. Their support was invaluable, especially during an adoption process that can be long and rife with worry.
But you know you have a true friend when they’re willing to talk about the awkward topics, to say the things that other people might shy away from because they don’t want to risk offending you. Being able to ask a thorny question with such grace and compassion…well, that’s a gift. As their friendship has been to us.
Good friends are truly a blessing! 🙂
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