A Letter to the Friend I Cannot Keep


To my many beautiful friends I have met along the way:

You know who you are. We held tight to one another through a season.

You were my neighbor, we sat next to each other in church, we played games on the lonely days, and we grew alongside each other.

© Jillian Knight 2015 www.jillographyblog.com

We helped each other. We kept each other busy on the long nights, weeks, and months we were apart from our husbands and families. We shared Thanksgivings, Easters, Valentine’s Days, anniversaries, birthdays; you name it – we’ve shared it all.

You were my family.

I held your baby before your mom and sometimes even before your husband. I took you to the hospital when you were sick. You sat beside me when I found out my grandma passed away. You brought me Ben and Jerry’s when I had a bad day.

You carried me through.

This life. This Army life is so hard, yet so good because I have you.

And then I move – or you move.

Our hearts break bit by bit as we help each other clean for that final house inspection. Tears stream down our faces as we say our goodbyes. We have every intention of continuing to care and invest in each other just the way we did before.

But then we make a new family. We find new running buddies and neighbors.

And while that makes me ridiculously happy and thankful, it makes my heart break and my conscience grow with guilt.

© Jillian Knight 2015 www.jillographyblog.com

I do my best to stay in touch by calling, texting, commenting, and visiting. And so do you.  

I receive your Christmas card every year, and it’s the best gift I get by far.

I see your Instagram pictures, and I feel like I’m in a room with you.

But it’s not the same; you know it as well as I do.

So, dear friend – hold our memories in your heart and love that next friend the way you loved me. Because you carried me through.

Your forever friend,



  1. This was so lovely to read. It brought happy tears to my eyes. As I was reading, through my mind, flashed the faces of all those amazing women I met along the way of my husband’s 20-yr career in the Marine Corps. They came from all sorts of backgrounds, some were so very different from me that I may never have had the pleasure of calling them “friend” if it had not been because of that crazy MC life. My husband has been retired over 10-years now and you will be happy to know that your friendships with those amazing spouses you met along the way are cemented forever! You will keep in touch, and you will go to the graduations and weddings of those babies you held before their daddy could hold them. You will rejoice when they call and say “hey we are coming to visit!” when you are living on the other side of the world from them. You will shed great tears when your dearest of friends is diagnosed with cancer. There will be so many more memories made with these “sisters”. And your life is richer because of it. So while it’s true you can’t keep them near you in miles, you will have a forever friendship that keeps you close together in spirit.

  2. As a Navy wife, I was thinking the same as Natalie as I read your beautiful piece. In my husband’s 22 year career, I made many friends who were like family. As military wives in all branches of the service, we have such similar experiences. Yes, there are many friends that I have lost through the years, but they remain in my memory and heart, and there are also many who remain a part of my life even tho we no longer share the same location. We still keep in touch and share our joys and struggles, Our first duty station was Guam, 1972, and I have two very good friends that I still am in touch with. Our children who were born there are grown, our grandchildren are growing too quickly, but over the years, our friendships have remained.
    There is at least one family from each duty station(Guam, Sicily, Jacksonville,FL, Petersburg, VA, Philadelphia, Hawaii, Japan, San Francisco) that I hear from at least at Christmas. We all share a bond that is difficult to understand if you have not been a military wife. Even though I do not know you, in reading your story, I feel that bond. Thank you for reminding me of the friends we made, the life we lived, the joys we shared, the times we were there to support each other, and the forever bond that we will have forever.

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