Jennifer (and family) are leaving for her new base tomorrow morning. There is a big, big, whole where she used to be in my life. I know she is only a phone call away, but let me try to explain.
Jen had my back, even if I was wrong, and I would have hers (not that she or I were ever actually wrong, but had the occasion ever arisen we would have never let on to a soul.) I have always said about my grandma, I could lie and she would swear by it. At least in front of anyone. She might find a way to tell me otherwise privately but never, ever would Jen, or my grandma for that matter not have taken my side to the death. Do you have friends like that? They are priceless. Reminds me of one of my favorite movies, The Godfather. "Never, ever take sides against the family." Something like that. I would "go to the mattresses" for Jen. (so ya know, that means going to war in the mob. They would buy lots of mattresses for the men to crash on and hold up in a safe house in times of war.) Jen and I have been to war, eh Jen?
Jen has been called my pitbull, not so lovingly by some. What people don't know about her kindness could fill a library. What they don't know about her strength, what she has been through in her life, and how fiercely loyal and loving she is, it's very powerful and it's their loss.
As I have wrestled this week, time and again with the reality that she was really leaving I kept thinking how hard this is. Military life has so many struggles, so, so many. Military wives, and children learn to jump in, make friends but not usually get too close. Sometimes though you can't help yourself. Every other PCS or so your path crosses someone else's and you realize that God brought them into your life for a reason and a season -and you are thankful. Sometimes you make a dear friend for life and you feel blessed. Other times too you make a friend who is like the sister you never had and all you can do is say, thank you God for giving me this gift.
This feeling is familiar. Too familiar. It feels like when I left Carol in Mississippi. Knowing Carol, changed my life. She changed the way I parent, my marriage, my faith. Knowing Jen has changed it again. Her support has carried me through the most difficult two years in my health and some of the more difficult ones in my life. What am I going to do without her?
As a girl, my friendships were whispers, and playing. As a teen, our lives were filled with dramas, love and mistakes. As a young woman in my twenties with young children I depended on my friendships as an outlet to keep me from losing my sanity. Approaching my forties my friends feel like anchors, and I need them, I love them. I treasure them. They are like my Ya-Ya's. Their presence reminds me of who I am.
I am wife, and mom always. But with my friends, I am Robin. It's who I was first. It's who I am becoming again as I move into new chapters in my life. It's just me. It ain't always so polished either let me tell you. It's not always pretty, not always easy to take. Better or worse these rare, wonderful women have loved me anyway. Jen is one of them. I have made her so mad I thought she would throttle me but she would just take a deep breath and tell Susan on me.
Coffee chats that turn into breakfasts and breakfasts that turn into lunches until our husbands and children send out rescue dogs looking for us - those are good times. We have sat in coffee shops, crying, laughing, making scenes all in a span of about 4 minutes. We've closed down restaurants and had to tip the waitress handsomely for holding up her biggest table for 5 hours. We've celebrated and mourned. We've gotten good news and bad. We coached one another through the rebellions of our children and our bodies. We've prayed to hold our marriages together and held on, even when some didn't make it.
We talk about everything, and I do mean everything and we talk about it a lot. There will be a chair saved for you Jen, always at the Cafe. I will miss you so much.
Oh I'll miss you too Dave
yes and YOU too Adam...geez louise.