But, with a last means that there will be a first.
This morning, I woke with the sun streaming through the curtains and a baby cooing over the monitor ready for her breakfast. After feeding her and getting dressed, MB and I headed up to our old haunt for breakfast. I told the ladies behind the counter we were moving and they wished me the best of luck, while only charging me $4.95 for my breakfast BLT. Preacher Man's wife showed up with MB's boyfriend and Mama Bits showed up with her babies in tow.
Two seats down, there sat four older women. Not old, rather just older. They were laughing, talking, and at some point called a fifth friend on speakerphone. All five women cackling the laugh of long-lasting jokes and memories. The woman sitting closest to us asked if we met up for breakfast regularly. Such an odd question.
"Yes, as a matter of fact we do."
The woman's face lit up with the biggest smile and the other three ladies looked on as she said, "We started meeting for breakfast on Wednesdays over twenty years ago when our children were all in preschool together at St. Peter's. The group has grown and changed, but we are still the original crew. Our children are all grown now, but we still get together for breakfast."
All three of us had goosebumps as we laughed and said that Friday was our day and we had a gaggle of preschoolers at school right now that go along with these babies.
How amazing and fortuitous for these ladies to be sitting beside us. As they gathered their purses, phones, and trash they kept talking with things in their hands and purses in their lap. They were not ready to part from each other and go on about their day.
That's a lifetime kind of friendship.
Mama Bits has three children and her eldest has always been very very shy. One day, a long time ago, I told him that one day before this sojourn ended that he and I would have a conversation and it would be wonderful. He waited until the very last minute for us to have a conversation, but what a conversation we had! It made me want to cry to hear him talk with that precious little kid voice and tell me all about the pirate ship and pirate Pete. He and I counted to 1000, or "ten hundred" as he said. He asked me if I would fill my five bedrooms with more babies since we had two to spare. "We could do that or you can come visit?"
"I will come with Mommy, Daddy, JF, and Baby J. But where will Dr. Husband sleep?"
"I will find a spot for him. He can sleep outside."
He's a great kid. I will miss him.
As we said our good-byes, Baby J screamed to hug MB over and over. Ahn-Drew and JF gave me kisses. I made them promise me that they would take the very best care of their Mama. They promised me.
We made promises of visits.
Kids in strollers, we all headed out different doors to our respective cars. Wanting to hurry, but wanting to drag- I paused and looked around. Preacher Man's wife headed out the door directly behind me. When the doors swung open, she was enveloped in sunshine and promise. Out the door and a quick turn left with her red stroller. Mama Bits loose curls and tow head be-bopped past the meat counter and I heard the children singing some song about the park they were headed off to.
And like that, it was done. I turned around and went out my door to double secret parking one last time. Loading MB in the car, the sun was shining and a few puffy clouds wafted by.
On a flick, the music came on and the Charlie Daniels Band was burning the fiddle through my speakers. On the classic rock station, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" came loud and clear. I cut the music up louder than I should, opened all the windows, and headed down 6th Street before turning onto East Capitol and taking one last look at the large white building.
My bag is packed. My ticket is printed. My baby is wearing seersucker, embracing The South and we are ready for all the things that home has to offer.
We all traveled many miles to get here, to gather, and to clutch these friendships that quietly became our family away from our bloodlines. We will continue to travel through life and expound on these bonds and will see each other again. Not as often, but not with any less love. Just because the proximity is leaving us, the friendship will not.
My flight takes off at 4 and I will land where I was born. Older. Wiser. Better. I will hold my eldest and hear of her adventures and tell her of mine. We will wait for The Man in our life and get ready to get on to the business of living.
There's no turning back, and I look forward to my next 1000 days. I look forward to my tomorrows. I will miss my todays, but that only means that there was something wonderful up here to miss. And it was a hell of a ride.
Wouldn't you agree?