Michelle DeRusha

Michelle DeRusha

MATT RYERSON/Lincoln Journal Star

When she called to say they’d be stopping by for a few minutes on Labor Day, I didn’t give it a second thought. Deidra and Harry often pop in for a quick visit. After eight years, these friends are more like family now. We’ve vacationed together, shared dozens of meals together, worshipped together, grieved together and celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and holidays together.

So when they sat on our living room sofa that Labor Day and told us they were moving 1,500 miles away, I admit, my world turned upside down. They didn’t stay long. I waved from the front door as they walked down the driveway, and then I turned to my husband and burst into tears.

I cried off and on for three days. And when I wasn’t crying, I was surprised to find I was angry. Turns out, I’d written a whole story of the future of our friendship in my head, and suddenly, there was a whole new plotline. Frankly, I didn’t much like this new story. I vacillated between resenting Harry for accepting a new job halfway across the country, shaking my fist at God for writing a plot that didn’t match mine and mourning what felt like the end of a friendship I treasured.

Deidra and I met online eight years ago. I don’t remember who stumbled on whose blog first, but I do remember it didn’t take long for us to realize how much we have in common. We are both writers. We are both transplants to Nebraska. We both have two children. We both love dogs, the beach and shoes.

As the months and years passed, we moved from the light conversations of a beginning friendship into deeper terrain. Deidra is black and I am white, and in the early days of our relationship, I was keenly aware of our cultural differences. But because we grounded our friendship in what we had in common and allowed our relationship to grow naturally at its own pace, we were later able to step gently into the places where we are different. We didn’t always share the exact same viewpoint, and that was OK. We gave each other space and grace.

Last week I stopped by Deidra and Harry’s house one last time. The moving truck stretched along the curb out front. The rugs were rolled up in the living room, and there were boxes stacked in the corner. Deidra and I embraced in the empty dining room, but with the movers bustling about, there was, thankfully, no time for tears or dramatic goodbyes. “See ya,” I said, waving as I walked out the front door.

Still, last Saturday I awoke with a pit in my stomach and a lump in my throat, knowing Deidra and Harry had departed Lincoln earlier that morning, bound for their new home in Connecticut. All day, as I went about my chores and errands, I felt a heaviness in my body and heart that I can only describe as grief.

The truth is, I still don’t like this new twist in our story, because I know that, in some ways, our friendship is bound to change. Yet I also know that the reason I feel such sorrow is because Deidra and I have something rare and precious. Friendships like ours only come around once or twice in a lifetime, and not even 1,500 miles between us can get in the way of that.

Michelle DeRusha lives in Lincoln and is a member of Southwood Lutheran Church. She blogs at MichelleDeRusha.com and is the author of three books.

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