Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Day of Good-bye's

One of my best friends from high school came to visit me today. I thought that Josh was just coming to visit for the heck of it...that we'd reminisce about fun times in the past...and that we'd then catch up on our lives in the present.

What surprised me first was that I had forgotten how very deeply Josh knows me. Even with the passage of time, he can still read me like a book. There's nothing to hide and I'm nothing new to him; I'm like an old pair of comfy shoes that his feet has known from the inside out. It felt good to be seen through and recognized like that. And it made the advice I sought from him invaluable.

But the second surprise dropped like a bomb. He made sure I was sitting, and then I could see the emotion well up in his face as he explained that he was to be deployed to Iraq this Sunday. Today would be the last day I saw him for a YEAR.

You know that feeling you get when you fall off your bicycle and the handlebar accidentally juts into your gut? The wind gets knocked out of your lungs, your diaphragm paralyzes, and--for a few moments which feel like an eternity--you can't breathe. That's what it felt like, only we were sitting on my couch and it was words that had pierced me.

How could this happen to a man who had just returned from a few years stationed in South Korea with his faithful wife Katie and had finally purchased a home and a puppy dog? He was on the cusp of living the great American dream, and now this! His last of the 8-year commitment was to be in the Reserves, but the sorry state of our Military was causing them to reactive him. Argh!

But while we both could have bogged ourselves down in sorrow, Josh's happy smiles and positive outlook immediately adjusted my attitude, and so I tried my best to amplify the goodness that we had. I armed him with a Brown Scapular, a promise to pray for him every day that he is gone, and the reassurance that God's protection would surely go with him and bring him safely home. He has SO MUCH to look forward to when he returns and he has a beautiful life ahead of him waiting to be lived out. Putting that on hold for 13 months is an excellent opportunity for him to offer sacrifices as very powerful prayers for his intentions and loved ones.

Today I also said good-bye to my friend Vivi who will be returning to her home country of Indonesia this Sunday after a 3-year stay in America. She has been a wonderful blessing in my life, and I have loved learning about my Catholic faith from and with her. It is so hard to understand why God "gives and takes away" when he does, but all of this must be part of His Divine plan for our lives.

I don't understand it, but I must accept it. And I cannot wait for the happy reunion which will surely come! My prayers are with you, Josh and Arivia!