Well, this is really real. I'm sitting on my mom's bed in Swansboro with an entire U-haul of stuff unloaded into our garage.
These sweet friends, Zack, Nick, Nicole, Ricky, (and Summer who I accidentally forgot to get a picture with but will get one next Saturday) came over and helped me load a whole room full of stuff into the Uhaul in about 35 minutes. They are wonderful.
It wasn't hard for me to say bye to them because all of them are planning on coming down to my graduation party.
The one hard part about today was seeing this kid for the last time...
I knew that if I was going to cry at all today, it would be when I saw Austin. Thankfully, he's seen me cry before, and I only teared up a little bit. It was really, really sweet. He gave me the biggest hugs he's ever given me and told me that I wasn't allowed to be sad. He told me we could FaceTime some this summer (so "I could see his beautiful face" hahaha). He made me laugh and forget about the sadness. He prayed with me one last time and made it explicitly clear how he feels about me and how grateful for and proud of me he is. He even told me he loved me, which is rare.
What I can't get out of my head, though, is what he told me when I reiterated that he was my hardest goodbye of all. "Goodbyes don't exist between friends. Goodbyes only happen when you stop being friends." He refused to say goodbye to me. I think he and I have always known that this wasn't going to be the end for us. But that was much more than a reflection on how we feel about our friendship.
It's a reflection on so many of the friendships I made here. There are so many people that have become my family in the past few years, but especially in this year, that I feel in my gut are going to be in my life for many years. Heck, Ryann is more than 4000 miles away and we just spent almost an hour texting each other (thank you iMessage) like we're still at Campbell. I sort of have a list in my head, looking at my Campbell family, of the people that I really don't want to say goodbye to and people that I don't think I will have to say goodbye to. People that I know are my family for the long-term, not just for those years.
They're the kind of people that I longed for and dreamed of growing up. The people I was told time and time again that I wasn't worthy of calling mine. They're also the people who see my heart past my screw-ups and know that I love them the best I know how.
They are my family. My brothers and my sisters. And with love like that, goodbyes don't exist.