Four and half years ago, my belly swelling with baby #3, I walked into a taco stand. A few days before, I’d received a tentative email from another mama about my blog; she had surmised by some weather posts I’d put up that we might, just maybe, live in the same area. We emailed back and forth, both a little cagey about giving personal details, and finally arrived at Yes. She’d been reading my blog for a while, and I hers. Turned out our boys were closely matched in age, and we lived about 20 miles from each other. So we agreed to meet.

That mama was Mo, and anyone who’s been reading me for very long knows what Mo has come to mean to me. I’ve met dozens of friends from the blogs now, but back then, it was still new and scary. I have wonderful friends via writing- people I dearly love and count among my treasures… but there is no one like Mo.

That first day, she brought along not only her two sons, but also a buffer friend, just in case I turned out to be some weirdo. Little did she know… Or me. We hung at the taco stand until our kids got too rowdy, and them headed to the mall, where she’d brought a roll of quarters and her friend fed the coins into the mechanical horses and cars while Mo and I sat on a bench and talked. And talked. And talked some more. We were both a little cautious still, but she was so easy to be around, so easy to like.

One of the many things I’ve learned from Mo over the years is to just put myself out there. Just do it. The first few times she came over, I was surprised at how comfortable she made herself, how long the visits lasted. I was used to the more formal LDS friends I’d made in my transplant Washington- they came, chatted, our kids played, they left. The end. Not Mo. She told me in Alaska, where she grew up, everything was so far that when you went visitin’ you visited. When she came by, I could count on them for lunch, and maybe dinner. There was nothing formal or stiff about it. She was so open, so honest, so generous with herself.

My track record with friends isn’t so hot. I don’t trust people easily, and always feel like the other shoe is going to drop at some point. It’s happened enough in my life that I’m warry. Shortly after we met, I got a card in the mail that simply said “Shoes are for wearing, not dropping. ~Mo”.

Over the ensuing years, we’ve celebrated the births of two daughters, countless birthdays, every Thanksgiving and a couple of Christmases, and unknown regular old days. We’ve moved each other, we’ve lived through her husband being deployed to Iraq, him being gone for much of a pregnancy, the diagnosis of two of our children with Autism spectrum disorders, the deaths of grandparents, marriages of friends, and the crater blown into the center of my own life by my divorce. We’ve been in the temple together, we’ve cooked holiday meals, shared secrets, and wiped each other’s tears. We’ve hung out with each other’s parents and in-laws, disciplined each other’s kids, cleaned up messes, and helped put back together broken pieces of shattered hearts.

From Mo I learned that I don’t have to fit any particular model or ideal to be who I want to be. I learned, through her example, that I could take off a cultural shoe that was just too damn tight, and be the kind of Saint I wanted to be. I learned that a woman with pink hair and tattoos had as much claim to our shared faith as any person I have ever met. I learned I could be whomever I wanted to be, and be really good at it, no matter what anyone else thought of me.  I also learned how to wield my make-up brushes like a Ninja, and how to rock blue eyeshadow. I’m serious- it can be done.

In less than two weeks, Mo is moving. This is a good thing for their family, and I knew one day this would happen- it’s a fact of life for military families. I will be there to help load the truck, and I will be there to help clean their house. I will see her again, and I rejoice that she’s going to be working in a place she is excited about, and that her new house has not only a yard, but a basement where she can throw the monkeys- somethings she’s never had as long as I’ve known her. I am so happy for her.

But I can’t pretend anymore that this is not really hard for me. In a year that has cost me everything, I am losing my best friend, too. And my heart is breaking. I know she is not really gone, and I’ll see her- but our days of lazily hanging out around my kitchen table, in whatever form it takes, are coming to an end. And dammit, I’m going to miss her.

It’s only fitting that this chapter ends as it began- with the blog. So for all the universe, here is my heart. Here is my friend. I’m going to cry for a little bit. Then I’m going to pick myself up and go help her pack. And I’m going to make sure she knows how very much I love her.

19 thoughts on “Mo

  1. I didn’t know you guys met through blogging–I thought she was your friend IRL before blogging! That’s cool.

    True friends are precious. The thing that makes them true, though, is that they’ll always be there for you. I’m happy for Mo–and a little jealous! How I would dearly love a basement!

    • Yeah Susan. You were my first blog friend, and she was my first blog-to-life friend. So far my track record is pretty good, eh?

  2. Hugs. My best friend moved the same distance away in January. I could lie and tell you it’s been easy to maintain our friendship, but…

    Moving sucks 😦

  3. I’m delurking after months of reading your blog. Last year I went through something similar, except that I was the one moving away from the dearest friend I have ever had–someone I know God put in my life at the exact moment I needed her–and she me. We both were living in a place where we didn’t really want to be and when I ended up being the one to leave (and go where she wanted to go too) I wondered how she would take the news, how it might effect our friendship. To her credit, she stood by me and was genuinely happy for me and what this move meant. Like you, she was there to help me pack, clean up my house and leave on my new adventure. And we both cried buckets of tears during the process.

    I’m happy to report that more than a year later, we are still close. We email every week and call as often as we can manage it. We both mourn the loss of proximity that allowed us to spend lazy afternoons at the parks with our kids or to meet for an impromptu lunch. But what we have is still good and still a blessing–even if it’s managed long distance.

    My heart goes out to you as you adjust to this change.

    • Thanks for delurking, MsJ- and I’m glad you’re having success with your long distance friend. I have a LOT of long distance friends, so I know this will totally work. I’m still sad though. Thanks for your kind comment.

  4. God bless Mo for being such a wonderful friend to you, and you for being such a wonderful friend to Mo.

  5. I’m sad you’re losing such a fantastic friend you’ve grown accustomed to seeing all the time. Even though I’m sure you’ll always be close it’s just not the same when you can’t just drop by. Thank goodness for the internet and phones so you can still easily stay in touch. Friends like that are hard to come by and I know she’s been and will continue to be a huge blessing in your life. I’m sorry you won’t get to physically see her all the time anymore.

  6. Not everyone is blessed with meeting a fabulous a friend as Mo.
    Reading this post, I’m envious of that friendship. I’ve been wishing/dreaming/craving a friendship like that here in Idaho. I’ve lived here three years now. I have casual friendships but not the kind that visit Alaska-style, tell-everything, do-everything, and teach me how to rock blue eyeshadow. Blessed, indeed.

    I loved this post. Many thanks and hugs.

  7. As someone who moves quite often, all over the world, I cherish my friendships, those who uplift and strengthen me, despite the distance.
    Hold close to your friendship with Mo, distance doesn’t make it harder, it makes it different. And different doesn’t equate bad.
    So glad you have friends who hold your hand and your heart…just the way you are!
    Lots of love!

  8. There is nothing in the whole world like a true, real-life friend.
    I don’t have many that I’d put in that category.
    But when I find them, I make sure I put in the work to maintain the relationship, so that when we do get to be around each other physically (which is never often), it’s easier to pick up where we left off and remember how much we enjoy each other.

    But I’m sorry this comes at such a bad time for you. I’m also kind of glad it didn’t happen, say, 6 months sooner.

  9. You have such a way with words! After reading all that, I love Mo too! I had a wonderful friend who literally saved my life when I went through my divorce. She passed away 4 years ago. I really do miss her words of encouragement.

  10. Such amazing friends are the best blessings! I’m so glad you and Mo have each other. This causes me to reminisce about my own best friends and all the incredible good they have done and are for me. May God continue to bless you and Mo.

  11. I’m so sad for you both. And happy that you’ve had the time together in person that you’ve had. Wish it could be longer. Hope life brings you both back together as next-door neighbors with a gate in your adjoining fence.

    I’ve been blessed with amazing friends, many of whom have moved away. One of the greatest joys of my life is just running errands/folding laundry/brushing teeth/breathing with any one of them. A good phone plan is essential. And one of those massaging things that can fix my neck when it gets all kinked up from hours-long hanging out on the phone.

  12. You just reminded me to call my best friend. We’ve never been able to live in the same town for more than a month or two since we were teens. I am in Florida, she is in Northern California.
    All I have left are the typical LDS ‘play then leave’ friends. If you can even call that friends… It’s more like Playgroup pimpin’

  13. You’ve set up an awful lot for me to live up to there lady! Now all these people are going to expect lots of real life awesome from me.
    And, ya know, I love you and stuff…

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