“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” – Anais Nin

I’m one of those people who has a few really close friends. I’m terrible at returning phone calls and prioritizing my schedule, so I’m pretty sure that God had this in mind when he created me. I actually like it this way, because even though I will be twenty-five this year (it’s ok, you can gasp in shock, I know I do) I can remember most things about my friendships, whether the memory is happy or sad.

a newly-graduated me with Mike (next to me) and Randy (in the baseball hat)

a newly-graduated me with Mike (next to me) and Randy (in the baseball hat)

I’ve known Randy longer than I’ve known my husband. I’ve loved Randy longer than I’ve loved my husband and I can just hear Randy right now saying “such is my life” in response to that comment. Because I married my husband, and not Randy. (I didn’t want to assume you got the joke) Randy is the male version of me, and even though I’ve known him for many years, I’m still surprised when I discover something else that we have in common. Like our love for Allison Kraus, or the fact that we both like the name Jackson for a boy (my luck is that I married a man who hates that name, Randy’s luck, he’ll end up with a woman who hates it as well).

The greatest part about Randy is that every single person who knows and loves him can say exactly what I’ve just said. Randy makes you feel like that – that YOU are his best and closest friend.

I’ve “known of” Randy since 1994, (he sings, and is on our worship team at church) but his impact on my life began somewhere around 1998. The year I started High School.

Randy was my youth leader then, and I can still remember when he approached me for the first time and said “Hello”. I didn’t want to be at youth group, because  the size of our church building and the sheer amount of students scared me into a stupor. Randy melted all my fears away.

Well, kind of.

He was friendly and warm and welcoming, and I remember thinking that life in youth group couldn’t be so bad after he welcomed me there. Even still, I had better things to do on a Friday night than to hang out at church, and tried as hard as I could to get out of going to youth group as frequently as my parents would allow.

Like most teenagers, I was a rebel without a cause, and about 2 years after that “chance” encounter with Randy, I got into some shady business, and finally youth group became mandatory in my life.

Soon after, I gave my life to Christ, and eventually, become a (willing) regular youth group attender. Randy was there through it all – bad boy decisions, (ok, most of my problems were in that department) butting heads with my parents, and just general teendom.

He listened intently, and never once told me what I wanted to hear, only what the right thing to do was. I hated that. I never took his advice, and only in looking back, and now being a youth group leader myself, can I truly appreciate the fact that he must have wanted to chop my head off to use as an example to all other stupid youth. But he never chopped my head off – he persevered, kept listening, kept giving great advice. I am proud to say that most of the gray hair on his head came from me; proud because it wouldn’t be gray if he didn’t care.

Randy has watched me grow from a rebellious, skeptical, angry teen to the somewhat compliant, trusting, relatively happy adult I am today. I’m not so sure that Randy knows just how great a part he played in that transition. In case you don’t Randy, I’m telling you now – it was HUGE.

Randy is moving away. To Columbus, Ohio.

Something about a job or something. Like he needs one. Like he couldn’t just move in with one of the hundreds of people who would gladly let him mooch off of them if it meant keeping him around. Myself being one of them. (because my parents’ house isn’t crowded enough, apparently) I will forever blame this move on Barack Obama and his cabinet for not pulling the economy out of the hole it’s in now. For not making more jobs available IN DELAWARE where all of the people are who love the wonderfulness that is Randy.

Like I need another reason to not like Barack Obama.

Randy tells us that he won’t be there long. That we should just think of his time in that strange land as him being away at college.What Randy doesn’t realize is that he’ll leave a hole in our hearts after an absence of one day.

I think about all of the new students in youth group who will never know Randy the way that we – those whose lives he’s touched – know him. It breaks my heart. They’ll never get those little nuggets of wisdom, never see that smile, or hug that man, never look back on their teen years filled with love and respect for someone who contributed to who they are now.

I remember, after I graduated high school in 2002, my parents had a party for me and Randy was there. At one point, my dad walked up to him and asked “So, are you gonna be here for the rest of them?” (my four younger siblings) and we all laughed at the idea that he might not. That it was a silly notion, Randy not being here. Now I wish I didn’t laugh – that I never took his presence in our lives for granted.

It just won’t be the same without him.

celebrating the Steelers 6th Super-Bowl victory! (me, Randy, and my sister)

celebrating the Steelers 6th Super-Bowl victory! (me, Randy, and my sister)


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