It's sad when your best friend moves away.
I remember when I was a kid, one of my best friends moved from Murray to Wellsville. While it was only a distance of 90 miles from my town to his, at the age of 10 it may well as have been 10,000.
I remember I had this big empty feeling inside when he left town. Fortunately for me, about two years later he moved back to a house just down the street from my mom and dad's home. I was glad to see him back.
I have that empty feeling again now, though it permeates me at the age of 57. In the last year two of my best friends moved away; not far, but far enough to give me that hurt in the pit of my stomach.
First came my youngest son who moved to Roosevelt last year to work for our sister newspaper, the Unitah Basin Standard.
Now my oldest son, who moved here nine years ago from Salt Lake has made his way to Vernal. Both are only at the most two hours away, but even at my age now, I am not sure it is any different than when I was 10.
I miss them both, a lot. I spent a great deal of time with them over the years, and I am not only thinking about the years when they were kids. I am thinking about them as adults. We will still be able to ride ATV's together, go hiking together and enjoy other things, but they just aren't down the street now so I can see their smiling faces any time I want to.
The other day I drove by where my oldest son had been working for a few years and I wanted to turn in and say "hi." But then I remembered he wasn't there any more.
There went my stomach.
Some would say that it is hard to have kids leave home. I didn't have a problem when they left home; it's when they leave the area where we can all be together at the drop of hat that bothers me.
This isn't about kids; this is about friends who I cherish and love. Sure, they are my kids too, but now as adults they are a support and a help. They have helped the old man when things are too heavy for me to lift and they used their talents to fix things I couldn't. But it worked both directions too. I often helped both of them in things they either couldn't or didn't know how to do.
The phone calls for advice and help will still come I am sure, but not being there, face to face with them to talk over whatever needs to be fixed will be tough from now on.
I guess I am just a sentimental old slob, but I went to bed with a stomach ache last night, and woke up this morning with that same feeling.
They are both young and in their eyes there is so much time in the future to do things they want to do. But for older eyes, eyes that have compressed the years that have fallen behind into a few memories, the realization is that time to be around people you love is short, and more importantly, you never know how long you will have to do just that.
In 1987 I left Salt Lake to move to southern California because I was offered a very good job. At the time I left my parents behind, and in some ways my dad lost his best friend too. I remember him telling me how he understood that I needed to do what I wanted to do, but that he would really miss me. I now realize what he must have gone through, something I didn't understand then. A couple of years later I was back in Utah, but I had missed a couple of the final years of my mom's life becaue of that move, and I will always regret that. For me the move was a mistake. I hope for my sons it is an opportunity.
Life goes on, but for those of us left behind (and there are a lot of us in this area) where even many good jobs can't compete with the outside world's lure of more money or chance for advancement, it is a tough road to travel.
Worst of all I doubt they will ever come back like my friend so many years ago did. In fact I think both will eventually move far away pursuing their lives in a different direction from where I wanted to pursue mine.
Nonetheless that is the way it is. You just have to live with it. And with that big lump in the bottom of your stomach.