I sat at tables, on floors, on couches, and in booths.
I looked into eyes brown, blue, hazel, gray.
I ate pizza, had dessert, drank coffee, or simply sat.
I spoke in Spanish or English with a Minnesotan, Californian, or Iowan accent.
I cycled through my hopes and fears, my victories, defeats.
I laughed and cried and sighed and remembered.
I felt your love, your joy, your sorrow, your pain.
I watched your smile, your quivering lip, your sparkling eye, your trembling hands.
You called me teacher, brother, hijo, son, or uncle, roommate, godfather, friend.
You filled me with your peace, your faith, your gentleness, your sight.
You challenged, loved, encouraged, edified me.
You helped me feel things I’d forgotten, squandered, broken, lost.
You gave me water, food, medicine, and healing balm.
You embraced me fully, washed my feet, bandaged my sores, and lifted my head.
You reminded me I’m not alone, not ungrounded, not untethered, not adrift.
You served me with hands and words, with nods and understanding.
From the most joyful heights of my satisfied heart, thank you.
From the lowest ravines of this aching soul, thank you.
From the widest scope of my wildest dreams, thank you.
From the deepest parts of who I am, thank you.
By the time you read this, Laura and I will be somewhere in the middle of a 26 hour plane ride to the other side of this ol’ world of ours. Even as we leave so many family members and friends behind, we don’t leave without hope, hope so many of you instilled within us, and we’re grateful.