I can’t remember who said it first:
“Everybody needs a moving buddy.”
(This sounds like something I would’ve blurted, especially after a glass or two of wine. And I’ve always loved the movie Toy Story, so.)
You know the scene, right? Andy’s family is packing up and Woody warns everyone about moving buddies. “If you don’t have one, get one.”
The idea is that no toy would be left behind. This plan sounded good to my friends and me, too.
I was in Las Vegas with Kathleen, Suzie, Rowena, Jen, Gail, Jackie, and my sister, Nancy. I won’t share details from that first trip or any other we took — for birthdays, bachelorette parties, or just for the hell of it — but I will say this: Every one of us took being a moving buddy seriously. Whether we were heading to the bathroom, dancing in a piano bar, walking down the strip, or waiting in line for a comedy show, we made sure our other half was with us.
Happy. Safe. Whole.
No one left behind.
When Karly decided to go to the University of Oregon, the college her brother already attended, I couldn’t help but feel relief. My heart’s still at peace knowing they’ve got a moving buddy. Literally. They drive up at the beginning of the year together, then back down here at the end. For holidays and trips home, they fly. Either way, they have each other.
No sibling left behind.
This is no small comfort to me, even as my own life has changed over the past few years.
After decades of being Mom, I’m no longer a full-time parent.
Sure, we never stop worrying, wondering, supporting or loving our children. But mine spend the majority of their days beyond my reach. Most of the time, I don’t know where they are or what they’re doing, and I’m okay with that. It’s how things should be now.
But it’s also good to know that when Karly thought she had strep throat last spring, Jack was in his car on the way to her dorm to take her to Urgent Care before she’d finished showering. She didn’t even ask him to come. Moving buddies shouldn’t have to ask.
They just show up for you. No matter what.
In between, I’ve relied on a handful of friends during different seasons of my life: the awkward years in elementary through high school; then college (a time I especially needed looking after); those early days of teaching, of being a wife, then a mother.
I’ve made writing friends and online friends who have shown up for me in ways I’d never expected.
Unfortunately, the goal of no one being left behind isn’t realistic. Not always. Not forever.
We lost Jackie four years ago, but we were with her until the end—her moving buddies during those final days, at her bedside, holding her hand.
This April, on the anniversary of her passing, I was driving home from my parents’ house when a song that is special to our group—one I hadn’t heard in quite some time—came on the radio.
But it made me smile and, in that moment, feel less alone.
All this is to say these partnerships we forge are important, for however long we’re lucky enough to have them.
Think about who your moving buddies have been, who they are now, who they might be. How did they come into your life?
If they’re gone now, hopefully their time with you was purposeful. Hopefully others have come in their place to hold your hand.
Moving forward doesn’t dim the light of those who came before. Instead it reminds us, more than ever, how much we needed each other then, how much we need each other still.
So I’m here now, giving thanks with my whole heart, grateful to those we choose.
To those who find us.
To the ones who show up without being asked.
The ones we’ll never leave behind.
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