I remember the day my good friend, Donna told me she and her family were moving to another state.
We had been friends and neighbors for over 20 years. We were one of the firsts to have houses built in what was then a new subdivision. Our children grew up together.
We shared good times and bad. We had established traditions. We loved looking forward to Christmas nights at their house!
While I knew that physical distance did not end friendships, I knew something would feel different. I would no longer look over to see if they were home. We could no longer talk person to person and get those reassuring hugs that said what words could not.
The day the movers came was surreal. Familiar items loaded in a moving van. The last walk together through empty space. The warmth of familiarity we perhaps took for granted fading.
Some very nice people bought the house. They are wonderful neighbors too. Donna and I continued to share life by phone, text and pictures. Sometimes we even reminisced, sending each other pictures from the past.
When our close friend died, we cried over the phone together, longing not only for her hugs, but also each other’s hugs.
Donna and Brian’s children still live in this area, so they came to visit them for Christmas.
This afternoon we visited outside in the cold, socially distanced, smiles hidden behind masks. We took off the masks just long enough to get pictures.
We were together in heart, able to hear the voices we longed to hear, delighted to be in the same space again, but still longing for those hugs.
However, we have a long track record of adjusting to the times, going with the flow and refusing to let the challenges defeat us. We are forever friends. We stick through thick and thin. And we see hope in the future.
There will come a time when the masks will come off and we can be closer than six feet apart. And we will have arms wide open and ready for the hugs!