The other morning, I was driving my new first grader to school while listening to a song by Billie Eilish.
The words and melody were so sad and beautiful. “I used to float, and now I fall down—what was I made for?” Her voice sang softly. I started to get emotional. And then I noticed my daughter crying.
I asked my daughter if she was okay and if this song made her cry. She was quiet at first, then sobbed, “I miss my friends!”
And I said I miss my friends too.
I knew what she meant—despite having many friends at school and home, she was experiencing the feelings that come with loss. She named a friend who switched schools. But I knew what she was telling me—there were still friends with her in her new class—but some relationships have changed, and that hurts too.
She and her best friend from pre-school are no longer in the same class, and her friend has a new friend, and now the 3-person group doesn’t quite work.
She’s in a new class with a new teacher and cannot bring her beloved stuffies to school for the first time since she started at daycare. Things are different.
Over the summer, we moved to a different neighborhood. We attended a block party last weekend with our old neighbors, and Eilis was reminded of her friend Mickey, our elderly neighbor who exchanged presents with her on holidays and who passed away.
It was bittersweet—we were surrounded by friends and neighbors we have known for decades, yet we don’t live among them anymore. Our friends were there, but things were different.
In all this change, there are still other friends. There are new neighbors that we can get to know. Change is hard, but there is hope. There will be good times ahead. It’s hard to see them when we are in the thick of our grief and feel out of control. But joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5)–because joy has to.
As we prepare this month for our first in-person gathering since 2017, I’m reminded how even though things are very different, they are also the same—we still have a community of women around us, supporting us when we fall down, and sharing our happy moments. They share our faith in Christ and engage with us in ministry together.
The Just Love Gathering, in many ways, will be like our other gatherings—filled with energy and hope, but there will be sadness, too. We will look around and miss the faces of our friends who won’t be with us. But there will be joy.
What are you looking forward to with hope?
Elizabeth McBride is the director for digital engagement and editor of Boldcafe.org, Women of the ELCA’s online magazine.