For the first time in many years, I cried when someone pulled away from my house.
When I was a kid, I cried every time we had house guests and they left. And every time we were house guests and we left. Goodbyes are hard for me; I can't seem to get over the "I miss you already" part to look forward to the "I'll see you again soon" part. As I get older and begin to lose more people from my life, I've also learned that, sadly, you can't take for granted the whole "I'll see you again soon" part. Goodbye is, sometimes, permanent.
In my adult life, we've had plenty of house guests who I've hated to see go. But the vast majority live a short drive away. I know that, in a year at the absolute most, we'll be hanging out sampling Kentucky's finest bourbon again. When my college roommate and her family pulled out of my drive Sunday, it was different. She lives in Atlanta; it had been seven years since I last saw her in person. We both have younger children and lives it's hard to get away from. It could easily be seven years again.
My tears Sunday night also came from the realization after spending a couple of days back in her company that my friends have become, especially in the two years since I lost Mom, my family.
When you lose that last parent, you so often lose the various threads that tie you to the body of your blood family. I have a sibling, but we are two very different people with nothing really in common except for the genes we share. In times of crisis, I now turn to the group of people who support me by choice, not chance. The men and women who grew up with me, went to school with me, pass me in the halls every day at work, share a side yard. These are now my people. My tribe. They now know me better than anyone else still living on this planet. We've shared laughs. We've shared tears. We've broken bread together at occasions of both great joy and great sorrow. We've climbed mountains and fought in the trenches. Our bonds are deeper than blood.
My college roommate's visit brought back a trove of good memories. Of course we talked about those. But not having seen her in a while, we also re-discovered each other as adults. Adults who, since our last adventure, have lost some of the people we held most dear. Who are raising children in an increasingly scary world. Who balance work, family, and our homes.
We've changed. But we've changed together in spite of the miles. And in just a couple of hours spent catching up on the front porch, we were right back to being two girls who shared a dorm room.
No matter what, we'll always have Danville.
And though we aren't connected by blood, I will always think of her, as I do so many others of my friends, as family. Family who have been there for me when I've needed them the most.
We weren't born to the same mother and father. But my friends are my brothers and sisters all the same.