The capacity for friendship knows no bounds. I'm basing this on an overflowing Facebook wall and the actions of my children. Mostly the children.
We have moved plenty of times over the years and with each new adventure comes new hellos and sad goodbyes. However, the kids, thanks to technology and long distance calls available in every other pocket, have managed to maintain relationships where previous generations watched them fade from freckled faces onto pencil and paper, then into the fog and forever.
As a boy we never moved. I lived in the same house from my earliest memory until I left for college, but that didn't keep others from the come and the go, and when they went they were often lost to the years and sometimes forgotten.
Then social media came along, and now we are all liking so many updates passing for status. Still, there was a lull, a gap, between real goodbyes and virtual friend requests that taught such things as loss, acceptance, and other matters of the tender heart. Some claimed that this was important.
I entertained the thought, albeit briefly as I have real things to worry about, that the current generation was losing the lessons that the sweet sorrow of parting inflicted. After all, what is a hug goodbye when followed immediately by chats and Club Penguin?
And then I found these notes that I had jotted down when we moved a few years ago:
"What do you think it will be like?" he asked. "Do you think there will be kids our age? Do you think there will be games?"
"I like to think that's the way they do it there," said his brother.
"Will there be teams and last kids picked? I don't want to be the last kid picked."
"I'll be on your team," said one brother to the other.
"What will happen to our friends here? And the treehouse? Does it all disappear?"
"Close your eyes," he answered, and then waited for his brother to do so. "Did they disappear?"
"Well, then they might," he said.
"Everything will still be here," said their mother, "but we'll be there instead."
"I just don't know," one of them replied.
"We'll keep in touch," said the other. "You'll see."
Then we moved and everything was still where it was and where it is, except that we moved once more, and we have left a trail of friendships behind us.
It has been a year since we moved to where we are now, and we are in no hurry to wander again. But we can't stop others, and so it was that tears were shed and hugs were held long past awkward until our new neighbors became our old and they moved across the country to where the beach faces the opposite direction.
They, like those we have left behind, are still part of our daily routine of texts, chats, and thumbs of approval. The kids keep in touch, because they can, and that is all they know. It is the best part of parting, the bandage on tender hearts, and it so much better than learning lessons. Friendships should not hinge on details like distance, and life is too short for unwanted goodbyes.