Dear Mr. Daniel,

I dropped you off at the airport just a few hours ago. You left a trail of personal belongings through the apartment and in the Stormtrooper. I guess I'm supposed to deal with those things? I suppose it was better that you were putting your attention toward making sure you knew where your passport was. And we're all really proud of you that you were able to get out of the house on time to catch your flight. So I'll let the rest of it slide.

I'm not sure what life has in store for you next. And it seems like you don't really know either. I'm not sure how much I'll see of you in the coming years. Maybe a lot. Maybe a little. I know you'll have some great opportunities to do something fulfilling. I know that whatever it is you do next, you're going to be successful at it.

You can accomplish whatever you want. You have to listen to me when I tell you that because I know you better than anyone who might try to tell you otherwise. People like you don't just grow on trees. You're special. And not in the way that everyone is "special." You're special special.

I hope you'll be surrounded by people who encourage you to do good and who appreciate the good in you. There are going to be plenty of people in your life who will try to take advantage of you because of your kindness and generosity. They may even pretend to be your friend even though they are actually poison to you. I wish I could protect you from those people, but I know you're wise enough to figure out how to protect yourself. And that's comforting to me.

There are so many memories that I have of the great experiences I was able to share with you over the past two years. I will always remember riding spin bikes at the gym in the dead of winter for six straight hours on a Saturday, wondering if this was actually effective training for the Ironman. I'll remember walking through the streets of L'viv Ukraine with our backpacks at 5:00 in the morning, singing at the top of our lungs in opera voices a song from Sister Act that we were both embarrassed to realize we knew word-for-word. I'll remember hiking through the dead of night with the Annas at Arches National Park. Leaving an airport on a long layover just to get a passport stamp. Repeatedly making enough borshch to last for five days but consuming it in two. Buying thirty pots from "you like-a Shakira" in Mexico. Running the Palau Marathon through the jungle in the middle of the night on little-to-no training.

I will miss so many things about you. Seeing you interact with the kids at church and teasing them about the crushes they admit to having on each other. Hearing your unbelievably horrible attempts at faking any kind of accent. Having the almost constant aroma a freshly baked cookies in the apartment.

There are some things I won't miss. I won't miss being late to everything, just like I'm sure you won't miss having to stay up late every night to listen to me talk about "trivial" nonsense. I won't miss wondering if you're going to back out of plans at the very last minute, just like you probably won't miss me getting upset about it when you do. But I'm sure that when I reminisce, none of the things that at one point seemed like a really big deal will actually seem like that big of a deal. Because they'll be overshadowed by all of the reasons I called you my best friend for so long.

Thank you for being present when I needed your presence the most. Thank you for teaching me what it means to be generous and truly considerate of friends and strangers. Thank you for the countless hours of entertainment courtesy of your curiously goofy comedic timing and unrelenting awkward hijinks. Thank you for encouraging me to try difficult things and believe that I could do them. Thank you for letting me share your life and your friendship with thousands of people you've never met who feel like they know you and can call you "friend" too.

You'll probably never read this, because you don't think this blog is interesting. And I've never really understood that, although I can respect it. But in case you do read it, I just want you to know that I'll miss you, pal.

So long.


Auf Wiedersehen.


Your friend,


P.S. Please remember to refrigerate your deviled eggs before you feed them to other people.

~It Just Gets Stranger