I've been having a lot of dreams lately that involve my CU brothers, both soccer boys and Reformation boys. In one way, it makes me smile because those two sets of guys are part of some dear memories. But in another way, it makes my heart ache because every time I wake up from one of those dreams I have to remember all over again that that era of my life is over and I don't know when I'll get to see any of those boys again.
Don't get me wrong, I am so unbelievably excited to be moving to New York City, so thankful that God is giving me this opportunity to not just further my education and pursue my career goals but also to live out a dream of getting to be a resident of that great city. I would do anything to make this come to fruition, and I can't wait for Mom and me to figure out exactly when I'll be moving so I can start counting down the days.
But all the excitement in the world doesn't negate the fact that change is hard. It still hasn't totally sunk in that I'm not going back to Campbell next month. That school was more than just a school, a place for me to get an education to me, it was my home, it was where I found the family I'd been waiting for my whole life.
I miss my brothers in a very unique way. I used to think that there was no part of me that Matt hadn't seen, that he didn't know, but those boys saw me in a way Matt never has. I talked to them about things I don't talk to Matt about, largely because all but a few of them are Christians. I believe that praying together bonds people, and I think that's a large part of why I feel so bonded to them. They know pieces of my heart that Matt doesn't, and there were so many days that they pulled me out of a dark place and pointed me back to Jesus.
My Reformation brothers, they helped keep my eyes on God when I felt like I was drowning in the weight of all the medical confusion this year. I've said it before, they showed me that I didn't have to try to be enough for them, they loved me mess and all. They were the hands and feet of Christ to me when I expected to be shunned, simply because that was what I'd become accustomed to. They showed me that God can use me for something bigger than myself even when I feel like I'm barely hanging on. I could talk to them about where I was with my faith and my fears and doubts, and every single time, I left seeing God more clearly. They had such steadfast faith as they walked with me throughout the craziness of the year, always willing to be there to have confidence when I felt like I was losing it. With some of them, that still happens. Those 15 crazy boys absolutely changed my life. It may sound ridiculous, but it's true.
My soccer brothers, they were a whole different kind of light. They decided they'd adopted me as part of the family before it ever occurred to me that they would see me like that. On my bad days, if they had a game, I forced myself to go if it was at all possible just so I could be around them and their energy. Just by talking to me and taking me in, having them around and knowing how much they cared about me, they did a lot to help keep me motivated, and they did it without even trying. Their friendship and loyalty to me helped encourage me to push through all the health issues, to not let myself stay feeling down on the bad days. I used to tease them that girls like me don't usually get to hang out with "the good-looking, popular, athletic boys", but they never once made me feel like I was different from them. Even when they saw me have a seizure, it didn't shake them or scare them off. I never could have dreamed how important and special they would become to me, especially not in such a short period of time.
I got to talk to Ricky for a little bit last night, because I wanted to wish him safe travels before he headed back to Panama today to visit his family. During the conversation, he mentioned that he had faith that God was going to lead people to me up there in New York City so I wouldn't be alone. He said he prayed I would find another family up there. But the most moving thing was that he said he didn't just pray for people to come to me to be my family, he prayed that God would lead me to the people I needed to impact, just as I impacted him and the team.
I never could have imagined that this last year would be better than the ones before it, simply because Ryann had left. But because of these two groups of brothers, and the stories that go along with them, this year was beyond my wildest dreams. And that's why I miss them so badly. They voluntarily went on a roller coaster with me when they could have gotten off and left anytime, I would have understood if they did, and never let go of me for a second. They were Jesus with skin on. They were my Aarons and Hurs when I was fighting so desperately to hold myself up. (And the craziest part is they'd thank me for letting them do it!) I felt a very special sense of safety any time I got the chance to be around any of them. And right about now, I'd really really love to get that back.
But I can't go back in time. And I feel very strongly that NYU is where I'm supposed to be next. I just have to pray and have faith that I find my next family up there, and believe that experiences up there that await me will change me and my life for the better, too. Nothing and no one can replace my brothers or the memories and love that we share, and I remind myself again and again that bonds like that surpass time and distance.
That doesn't mean I can't pray for a chance to go and visit them, though. :)