Dear Papa Bear,
It's hard for me to write this, but I just really need advice on something very important in my life. Someone very important, that is.
I'm only 13, but I'm going through something very hard. My best friend, let's call her Daisy, has moved away 600 miles from me in June.
Her Dad lost her job a while back and then found one in Florida, very far away from my home in North Carolina.
To start out, she wasn't just my best friend, she was my rock. We had done everything together since we were 6 and we have been through so much. We have laughed together, cried together, and traveled all over our state. We would always be each other's first choice and we stuck by each other's side through everything. We would do the unthinkable and we had so much in common. She understood me like no one else, and I appreciated every little thing she did. I know that she hates eggs, that she has a weird birthmark on her lower back and I know all of her secrets. She lived right up the street from me and we would spend every weekend together. We would spend a lot of time together in school too, and we just had fun talking about how each other's day was and what we did. To make it short, this girl was and is my best friend, and no matter what we did, every day I spent with her was a new best day of my life. Her moving was the worst thing that has ever happened to me and I'm not taking it well.
I visited her in the Summer around August, and her house and where she lives is amazing. I'm so jealous, it's such an upgrade from the old, boring town that she used to and I still live in. Me visiting her was the best vacation ever and she wasn't a changed person at all, she was just how I remembered her.
I talked to her the first day she started school, and she was bawling and she missed me and her other friends so much. She said that she wanted to come back and that she didn't like it there.
Skip forward to now, which is November. She has about 5 friends, 2 of them being close ones, and she is liking school very much. She seems to be fine there now and I'm very happy for her! Even though I wish I could go to Florida and tell her knew friends how lucky they are to be able to spend every day with this amazing wonderful person that I would give up so much for just to spend one minute with.
And, since the day she stepped out of my life, I can't stop thinking about her. I miss her so much. I really only have one true friend that is still here and we both miss Daisy like crazy. It's not the same. I need her in my life. I need to be able to see her everyday and hear her voice. I need to be able to see her walking down the hall at school and I can say to myself, "That's her. That's my best friend. That's the person that I live for."
Fast forward to this week, she visited me. We had so much fun going to our old places and spending time together. She is still the same exact person, the same person that has been with me from the start. When we were together it felt like she had never moved. When we said goodbye I felt like she was just going to go back up the street to her house. But no, this goodbye is for at least a year.
Saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing ever. It wasn't just that she was leaving, it's that it didn't feel ... right. She's not supposed to live in Florida. We were meant to be best friends. She's supposed to live here with me, in North Carolina. She's supposed to be here. She's supposed to be here to cheer me up when I feel sad, she's supposed to be here to come over to my house at 1 in the morning, she's supposed to be here. For me.
Everyone says that God makes this happen for a reason, but I just wish I knew what that reason was. I know that God put her in my life for a reason, so why is she not with me anymore? There's going to come a time when she forgets me. Just like when I moved away from Virginia. I don't really think about my friends there anymore, even though I used to call them my best friends. I don't want that to happen to me and Daisy.
She's my rock. And every day I spend without her, is another day I feel like curling up into a ball in crying. I need her here with me. I don't want to text her, or Skype her, I need to feel her presence. I need her to be with me.
She's the only thing that is still keeping me going strong. Everything I do is for her, and until the day that we can be neighbors again I won't stop at anything. So, my question for you, Papa Bear, is not how can I forget her or how I can live without her. That's impossible. My question for you is how can I keep living as if she is still here? All I want to do is pack my bags and run to Florida.
Thank you so much.
* * *
Papabear knows exactly what you are going through. I was 14 when my family picked up and moved from Van Nuys, California, to (omg) Wheaton, Illinois, or, as I liked to call it, Corn Fields, USA. I didn’t have a lot of friends back then, but my best friend since third grade, Todd, was there and I had to leave him behind. He was the friend that I used to play “Star Trek” with, and the first and only kid whose bar mitzvah I got to go to. My parents were close friends with his parents, as well, and it was really rough on me. Unlike your BFF Daisy, I wasn’t good at making new friends or handling living in a new part of the country. I really didn’t even start to get over the move until my junior year in high school, but I eventually did.
Over the years, through high school and college and such, I had some friends but didn’t get a new best friend until I met the woman who would be my wife. All the other people who were passing friends drifted away and I don’t talk to them anymore ... EXCEPT for, you guessed it, Todd. He is my oldest friend, even though we only see each other once a year or so because he lived in San Francisco when I was in Michigan and now he’s in New York while I’m in California. So, that friendship has lasted despite the trials. Another friendship that has lasted despite a divorce that would ruin most such relationships is the one with my now-ex wife. Why are we still friends? Because we want to be, and we both mean a lot to each other despite what happened that caused the divorce (namely, my figuring out that I was gay, which you can understand would cause a problem).
CJ, as you go through your life, you will discover that you will have two kinds of friends—well, actually, three kinds of friends. 1) your fair weather friends, who are the people who just hang around you when things are good and you are having fun, but who will flick you away like a gross booger on your finger if you actually need them for something; 2) good friends who will go an extra mile for you and help you with things like, oh, needing a ride when your car has broken down or chipping in a couple extra bucks when you realize you are short of money for a movie ticket; and, finally, 3) your BFFs like you and Daisy or me and Todd. These are the people who will accompany you throughout your life no matter where you end up. My mate, Yogi, has several of these, while I have what I call my primary three: Todd, my ex, and now Yogi. When you get to be older like Papabear, you will count yourself really blessed if you need two hands to have enough fingers in order to count all your BFFs.
I know it is so much better when your BFF is close by and you can actually see and touch her, but at least you can keep in touch with her in ways that were not possible when I was your age. Video chats like on Skype were things from science fiction when I was growing up in the 1970s, but you can see Daisy via Skype any time you wish (I know, I know, you don’t like it as much, but it’s still better than, say, letter writing and waiting for the Pony Express). Also, while 600 miles is kind of far, I’ll admit, it’s not so far that you can’t visit once in a while, as you have been doing. You know, many families move to different parts of the country and only see each other on holidays and they manage to survive and love each other.
Learning to cope with such separations is a part of life, CJ. You and Daisy will both make more friends as the years go by, and you will lose some of those friends, too, and make more friends. You may even make more amazing friends like Daisy.
Life is about change. It’s human nature—especially when we are young and we have not experienced much change—to want things to remain as they are. A life without change feels stable and reassuring, comforting and familiar.
But if I had never moved away from Van Nuys, I never would have met my wife and experienced some of the happiest years of my life, and I never would have met Yogi, who is the sweetest man I ever met and a blessing in this new chapter in my life.
CJ, the fact that Daisy has moved away is not the end of a friendship. If you want to keep Daisy in your life, then keep her in your life. That is within your power to do so. It will take a little more effort because of the distance, but a BFF is worth that, I’m sure you’ll agree. And, not to be grim, but at least your separation is merely one of distance. She has not passed away and is very much alive and well, so that is a blessing.
In the meantime, keep looking ahead to the possibility of new friends in your life. You will definitely meet new ones as you change schools, go to college, find a job, and, very likely, move to new cities.
You don’t have to forget Daisy, nor do you have to live without her, especially thanks to the assistance of technology. Maybe she will someday move back closer to you, or you will move to Florida. In the meantime, the best thing you can do is keep your attention on where you are right now and what you are doing right now. You have very important things to do, such as school and figuring out what you want to do with your life because you will be surprised by how quickly you will suddenly be making plans for college and a career and maybe even your own family.
You are taking a very big step in growing up right now, CJ, by learning that the world was not designed to accommodate your needs. When you say, “She's supposed to be here to cheer me up when I feel sad, she's supposed to be here to come over to my house at 1 in the morning, she's supposed to be here. For me.” Well, no, that’s not how real life works.
How it works is this: we meet the people in our lives when we are meant to meet them. Each important person I have met has helped guide me through a stage in my life, and there have been more than just the three I mentioned above who are the primary three. There are my parents, of course, and my sister, but also people who have come into my life more recently. For example, just as I was discovering my sexuality and, at the same time, connecting with the furry fandom, I became close friends with Cyberbear, who, it turned out, had gone through exactly the same thing in his life of being married and discovering he was gay. He was really pivotal in helping me get through that part of my life, and I met him exactly at the time when I needed to (this is one big reason why this bear believes in spirit guides.)
CJ, I’d like to recommend a book to you: Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven. It’s a little heavy-handed and syrupy, but it’s a good story about life and the meaning of the people who become a part of it.
Keep Daisy in your life. But don’t think that she will be the only one you will ever meet who will mean this much to you. If you keep your heart open, you will meet others like Daisy whom you will treasure for many years to come. And that’s something you can look forward to!
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