Last night, I went to dinner with all but one of the members of my Growth Group (referred to as “My Monday Night Group” in Found Art). The absent member is exactly half-way through her first pregnancy, and last night was the night she and her husband went out to dinner to look in an envelop (secretly stuffed by the ultrasound tech) and find if they will be welcoming a baby boy or baby girl. Tonight, a huge group of us will gather at their house to be let in on the secret. I’m leaning toward blue (As in powder blue, Tatum, like the Charger’s uniforms).

But back to last night . . .

The seven of us met at Il Fornaio in Del Mar, and we sat in this tiny little back room, barely bigger than our table, and we ate a great meal and said goodbye to one of our members. Kara (KJ) and her husband Eric (EJ) and daughter Annika (AJ) will be moving to Nor Cal in a couple of weeks, and I realized last night I’m not as ready to let them go as I might have convinced myself I am.

Kara and I were pregnant together (our babies are one month apart), we walked through the harrowing days of infancy together, our husbands have started a business together, and over the last couple of years we have always spent Monday nights together. As was said last night, you can never replace a relationship like that.

Letting her go, though I know this move is absolutely the right thing for her and her family, is hard. Kara is a stabilizing force in all our lives. She’s like a steady keel that cuts through all the things that don’t really matter. I love that about her, and you don’t find women like that every day.

I have this wonderful picture of Kara sitting on my couch when she was 9 months pregnant and my twins were newborn. Lane is wearing a pink and red velour striped dress with little black leggings and she’s draped over Kara’s belly–arms and legs spread out and wrapped all the way around as if her body is palming Kara’s basketball-tummy. Lane has fallen sound asleep.

Every time I look at that picture, I’ll miss Kara. I’ll think about the many times she has fed me delicious food, the absolute life-saving introduction to the zella pants, the long weekend we spent in Tahoe with three crazy babies who didn’t know how to sleep yet, and the assurance I feel when we exchange a glance and I know — in that split-second moment — what it means to be in the presence of a real friend.

We love you, KJ.

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