Four years ago, I signed The Girl up for Girl Scouts. We were placed in a troop with Shannon, a young leader who had three kids of her own and was leading this troop for her oldest daughter who was the same age as The Girl. I used to stay around the meetings because it was something I wanted to do as a mother/daughter thing & it was fun watching this group of girls create things & learn together. And with a boy barely a year old along for the ride, I figured Shannon could use some help with the troop while her son ran naked. (He’s starting to outgrow that phase but it’s only been 4 years. Don’t rush him.)
Shannon’s husband, John, is in the Navy. I’d like to name his exact position as though I know what I’m talking about but all I know is that he was recently promoted to Chief Petty Officer. What’s more important is that after two years in Guam while his wife & children lived 8,000 miles away, he is finally heading back stateside to a post in Virginia. Initially, Shannon was going to stay up here until her house sold but once John got back & they helped him move into Virginia, the waiting became too much and she made the difficult decision to just go. House be damned. And in that moment of trusting that it would all work out, they got a buyer for the house just days before her departure.
So with all that said, I bid farewell to a wonderful family. They just walked out my door for the last time leaving behind a lot of great memories and a pet chinchilla that we have now adopted because they couldn’t take her with them. I am trying to be happy for them and not sad for me.
I’m failing miserably.
So with that, I want to let each one of this fabulous fivesome know how I feel. I may not do it eloquently or even halfway decently, but I do it with my whole heart.
Dear Angelina: You are one of the most mature 11-year-olds I know. And I know a lot of 11-year-olds. Thank you for always being a friend to Grace and Sam & for being such an enormous help to your mom especially in the past two years. Don’t forget to be a kid sometimes, though, too. You are an amazing young woman & I’m sure you will go far in whatever you decide to do. Keep singing. The world needs to hear your beautiful voice.
Dearest Abigale: You are a spirit unlike any other. Except maybe Sam. You two really are kindred spirits. You’re just the girl version. Keep your sense of style & your wonderful silliness. They will help you get through whatever you face because a sense of humor & great shoes can help overcome anything. And if all else fails, throw yourself to the floor.
Darling Owen: I can’t tell you how much I have loved hearing you talk. You are funny & charming & a pain in the butt. A naked butt. Please keep your pants on. You make Grace yell things like, “Owen’s got a toy hammer. Cover your private parts!” And you’re the little brother that Sam never had. I will miss you shooting at me & sticking your gorgeous face through the mail slot in my door. My doorbell will never be quite the same again.
Dear John: You’re the one family member that I don’t really know. What I do know is that you recognize how amazing your wife & children are. I have watched you & Shannon fight to maintain a solid foundation with 8,000 miles between you. This can only be done with hard work, determination & a tenacity that few men have. Take care of your beautiful bride. You know what an amazing woman she is and in the unlikely event that you ever forget, call me. I have watched her over the last two years and can fill you in on what she’s dealt with not just with the kids, but with work, Girl Scouts, babysitters and schools. It hasn’t always been pretty. But you are married to a woman of grace & fortitude who will fight for what’s important and you and your children are the most important things to her.
And finally, my dearest Shannon: I’ve written this part a half-dozen times & it’s still not right. I guess sometimes there aren’t really words that can be put onto paper to express your thoughts. To say I’m sad is an understatement. You are spontaneous & glorious and have taught me how to lighten up and how to fight it out. You have become the type of friend that can never be replaced. You have brought me tacos, gluten-free treats & enormous wine glasses. You’ve walked in moon shoes on my lawn, made me concoctions with pineapple vodka and gone skydiving with me. (Dear Readers: Not literally. I would never jump out of a perfectly good plane. It was just a term we used for escaping when kids & life got overwhelming.) But mostly, you have cared for my kids as if they were your own and you have been there, time and time again, for them & for me. I can only hope that I have been able to do the same for you.
I love you all & I will miss you. God speed.