When Friends Move
By Kendra B. Drummond
It has happened again. Your new best friend has orders. Or, maybe you have orders. A PCS (Permanent Change of Station) has interrupted your life, and friendships are going to change forever. As a child, we sang a song in Girl Scouts, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” I contend that they are all gold, maybe different karats, but gold none the less.
“Keeping the old” is an important part of survival as a military family, or for any family that is on the move as the result of work or school. For both parents and children, having a plan and routine plays an important roll in easing the transition. Knowing that you won’t lose touch can act as a salve on the burning pain that moving brings.
For children, openly talking about what happens when a friend moves (or you move) goes a long way in developing coping skills. Acknowledging the pain is very important. Developing a routine can help your little ones learn from an early age that keeping old friends can be done. Allow your child to draw a picture, pick a flower or purchase a gift for their friend to be remembered with. Teach them the joy and value of mail. Our oldest learned at an early age that when you love someone, you can send them mail and they will send you some back (it helps to enclose a self addressed stamped envelope and make a phone call to let the adults know what you are doing). Photo albums are also a great tool for helping to ease departure. A simple purse sized flip book filled with pictures of friends can become a precious memento.
As adults, the transition is different, but no less painful. You will lose touch with some, but take heart; there will be friends that you will stick with forever. These are the friends that are kindred in spirit, the ones with whom you can pick up 10 years later just as if you never were apart. Recently we were blessed by a visit from friends we knew when we were first married, at my husband’s first duty station. That was almost 11 years ago! While they were here, it was like we were never apart. We laughed, talked and shared like the good ol’ days. Even better is the fact that we just learned we are going to be stationed together again! Friends like these are the ones you know you can call on at any time for any need. Those are the 24K gold friends.
Simple things like a yearly Christmas letter with pictures and news about your family go a long way in keeping in touch. Of course, make sure that you put a forwarding order in with the post office that covers the month of December! The standing joke around here is that we warn people never to write our address into their address books in pen. Pencils only please! Every year, it seems that half of our Christmas cards arrive with little yellow forward stickers on them.
Prayer is another tool that can keep friends close when living far apart. Even when you are not in close communication, pray for those who have moved and for those you have left behind. You can offer no greater gift to your beloved friends than to lift them up to the Lord. Encourage your children to pray for their friends. They will learn how precious and valuable each friend is to them as they discover that God views them to be precious as well. Rejoice as a family when you remember those who have touched your lives.