I met him 16 years ago. He was in a huge hurry that night - moving way too fast for his own good. I waited by his side as he rested and gained control of his breathing. As he settled in for the night I made my way home for a quick sleep. I knew we would catch up again the next morning.
The clock in my car put the time well into the wee hours of the morning. I drove to the first stop light on my way home. The roads were abandoned. Was it supposed to be this cold in March? Positively freezing if you ask me! Perhaps I'm just not used to sitting in my car at 3 am in the morning... The light turned green but I did not move. In fact, I put my car into park. I just sat at the light. Moments flew past, I could not drive. I kept thinking about the new friend I had made - hoped that I'd be worthy of his friendship. Three or four green lights went past before I put the car back into gear and headed home. I drove slowly.
The next morning I introduced Mackenzie to my new friend and she fell in love. It is a reaction that I would come to appreciate as the years flew past. His is the singular ability to charm. Over the years, at various points in time he has reminded me of friends and relatives, but he always grows past the stereotypes. His own man.
A few years ago, I had the occasion to travel with him to New Zealand. My how he had grown. Tall, lanky and a fast climber with grace that could only be interrupted by approaching puddles. How did you not see that! For the most part it was a great trip full of laughter and good spirit but it wasn't without its challenges. And when there are troubles you want your best friends beside you. He was there.
It has been a privilege to watch him grow over the past decade and a half. He has only averaged 4 inches a year, but the cumulative effect has been startling. Those who know me realize that my friendship comes with a cost; I am so profoundly drawn to change that those closest to me must always be ready for a new adventure. But like a true friend he has risen every time to meet my needs and exceed my expectations.
Today officially marks the longest period of time that the two of us have been apart since that chilly day in March 16 years ago. As I forge forward, I have left him behind to clean up in my wake, responsible for all that I hold dear.
A few more weeks and we'll be together again; laughing and scratching the way we always do. I'm looking forward to catching up again, my friend. It's been a positively frigid March down here, the coldest I can remember in 16 years - but the sun will shine strong again soon. Oh - and the picture, that's the first place we're heading.