Family: Long distance friendships are different

Treena Mielke

I am sad today.

Oh, you know, it is easy to be sad right now with COVID-19 scaring the crap out of everyone, cases going up and even touching doorknobs and handles turning into a dangerous past time.

But, no, that is not why I am sad.

In fact, I am just the same as far as COVID goes. I am trying to be careful. I wear a mask. I use hand sanitizer. I stay home as much as possible, but, still, I cannot live in a bubble.

I must get groceries. I must get prescriptions and I must watch my grandsons play hockey.

Okay, I do not have to watch the boys, but I did. On Sunday I watched them. And it was good. The two local teams played other local teams (same town) and the stands were nearly bare.

There were only a few fans and just me and the boy’s dad who kept yelling, “get the rebound, get the rebound.” Once a coach, always a coach, I guess.

No, I am not sad because of COVID.

I am sad because once an exceedingly long time ago I found a friend, a true friend. Over the years, she has laughed and cried with me, got lost with me, supported, and comforted me and even lent me her absolute best velvet dress pants one New Year’s Eve a long time ago.

And, when my hospital bed was surrounded by doctors, all looking very grave and concerned because they could not figure out what was wrong with me, she was there.

I am sad because she, who hates Alberta winters and wants to be closer to her pregnant daughter and, for a host of other reasons, is moving.

She is moving to British Columbia which is, at least to me, too far away.

They say the longest journey begins with a single step. To my way of thinking that’s how friendships begin as well.

For us, the first step of the journey of our friendship began with a book club.

From there we just kept on going on a friendship journey that mostly took us out for coffee and then, finally, to England where she was a tour guide to me, a stranger in her native country.

Our journey has taken us through the soap opera days of our own lives, job changes, no jobs, relationships, kids, grandkids, and sickness.

Last year my friend was diagnosed with bone cancer. She faced her diagnoses with incredible courage and strength.

I was grateful to be among the people who could be there to love and support her.

And even as she begins another leg of her journey in a different province, I know our friendship will not be fractured, but it will be different.

And that is why I am sad.

I do not want it to be different. I want it to be the same. I want to go out for lunch. I want to go out for coffee. I want to stop by her house, and I want her to stop by my house just like we do now.

But, as much as I want all those things, they are not going to happen.

And that is the reality of the situation.

But this much I know to be true.

There are no border officials patrolling friendships. And the journey that began a long time ago with a single step is far from over. It has just taken a new and different turn.

And so, I will put away my sadness, wish my friend well and know in my heart of hearts, we will see each other soon even if it is through Zoom or Messenger.

And one day I have no doubt I will ring her doorbell and we will hug (goodbye COVID) and have a glass of wine and celebrate the incredible journey of our friendship.

For now, it’s just another bend in the road.

Treena Mielke is a central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.

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