My best friend moved to China today.
Ah, yes, my noble adventure buddy and the first mate of my pirate ship embarked on a grand expedition and I shall not see him again for at least a year. It's weird. I still don't think I've fully processed it yet.
I remember when he told me that he was planning on leaving. I'd known for months, years even, that it was his plan to one day leave the States behind and discover what life could be like in another corner of the world. But I was still somehow caught off guard when he told me he was beginning to solidify plans to teach English overseas. China of all places. And a whole year? I'd always known his insatiable wanderlust would catch up with him one day but nothing could have really readied me for the announcement he made on my couch one snowy afternoon.
Now, I am all to accustomed to this pattern. Dozens of acquaintances and friends and close friends have shipped out to see the world and find themselves, to taste adventure and chase down thrills. But many of them have never come back. I become close with people very quickly and find it hard to let them go due to rejection issues, abandonment issues, and fear of the unknown. But I couldn't be so selfish as to ask them to stay. I couldn't be so selfish as to ask him to stay, not with what a great opportunity it is for him.
So I spent the past few weeks preparing for the inevitable. I wrote a series of letters for him to open when he encounters particular circumstances. I prayed a lot. I worked with him to set up a last day to hang out together. I prayed a lot. I spent Sunday afternoon with him watching (500) Days of Summer and talking about adventure. I prayed a whole-freaking-lot. In in the midst of all my prayer and preparation, something occurred to me.
But I'm not just afraid that he will leave and never return to me or that our relationship will make a permanent, negative shift over this coming year. I'm afraid that he'll get hurt because I was unable to protect him. It sounds stupid right? I'm not his guardian. I should not feel responsible to make sure he's taken care of. But I'm a firstborn. I am ridiculously over-protective of everyone who matters to me. If he's on the other side of the world, he's out of my hands.
God and I dialogued about this yesterday afternoon.
"Charity, what are you so afraid of?"
"I'm afraid he'll get hurt, Daddy. I can't be there for him."
"You know it's not your job to make sure He's okay, right? It's Mine."
"I know that . . ."
"You are not his protector. I am. I will take care of him. I promise you that. He's Mine. He's always been Mine. Let Me handle this."
Something about His voice just makes every care of mine melt.
So, last night, just like every other Wednesday night, I went over to his house to watch an old movie with some of his roommates and a handful of our other dear companions. I sat up in his room with him as he stressed and packed and unpacked every last essential into a suitcase and then into a camping backpack. It wasn't long until the room became crowded with masses of people who adore him and wanted to see him one last time. Come a few minutes before midnight, this Cinderella decided it was time to depart so I pulled him out of the room, presented him with the bundle of letters, and prayed for him before I left for home.
I barely managed to leave his street before I realized that I had forgotten something horribly important and called him on his cell.
"Hey, I didn't get a picture with you! Can I swing by in the morning?"
"It'd have to be pretty early . . . like 4:45 . . ."
"Okay sounds great!"
"Holy crap . . ."
"See you in the morning!"
I hung up the phone as I realized that I would not be sleeping much at all. But I didn't care. He's my best friend. He's my priority. I'll sleep when I'm dead.
I crashed around 1:30, my alarm went off at 4:00, I tried to make myself look decently presentable. And yes, for everyone wondering, I did leave my house at 4:30 this morning to take a selfie with my best friend. Deal.
We ended up taking six. Lighting issues, him being goofy when I was smiling for real and the reverse, you know, just your typical selfie problems. We talked a bit while he put a few last items into his carry-on, he gave me some CDs and a book he was leaving behind, and his mom - being super adorable as is her default - gave me a little packet of tissues just in case I needed them. He straightened his tie and laced up his shoes and the three of us carried all his stuff out to the driveway to load into the Subaru in the dark of 5am. I hugged him goodbye in the freezing cold and he lept into the passenger seat of the car.
I turned to walk back to mine and, as I pulled my gloves back on I looked up at the endless sheet of black velvet freckled with sparkles and took a breath. I only live twelve minutes east of his house, but his view of the night sky is always so much more beautiful than mine. And what should I see spiraling across the sea of ebony?
A shooting star. The brightest, most beautiful one I have ever been so blessed to witness.
I looked back as he leaned out of the car, waved, and shouted his goodbye. I turned around again and kept my eyes glued to that now empty space that had just been filled with so much glory as I crossed the street and climbed into my Cortez. Key in the ignition, radio off, I left his headlights in my rearview mirror, knowing I wouldn't see them again for a long time.
I understood right away that it wasn't a wishing star. It was a promise. A promise that Daddy will take care of him. A promise that we're both going to be just fine. A promise that I get to see him again, and that is more than enough to carry me through this season until I do.
Here I am now, hours later, with a splitting headache and a happy heart and I am so darn proud of him.
For so long he dreamed of travel. For so long he longed for adventure, but he didn't stop there. He's chasing that dream halfway around the world, and I think there's a lot we can learn from him.
"To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life."You go rock China, Kid.
I'll see you soon.