Thursday, July 20, 2006

my faraway friend

We bid good-bye to our 19-year-old son yesterday. Today he spent his first full day learning Russian. He'll do this for 12 weeks, and then he's off to Novosibirsk, Russia for two years. I've done this drill only once before, sending our eldest off to East Los Angeles more than half a decade ago. Back then I wasn't that sad on the day we parted. After all, I thought, we'll have letters and tapes and photos. I didn't realize how much I'd miss him and how long those two years would really be. But this time I had a reference point and it made me a little less brazenly proud, a little more soft-hearted.

While Joe was gone, I wrote a kid's story. Back then I thought it was about my daughter's friend Kara who had to move out of state, but now it seems to be more about loss in general, and the hope of redemption and reunion.

    My Faraway Friend

    My good friend said, "We're going to move."
    I was so sad, but I thought and
    thought and thought some more.

    I thought...
    We can write letters.
    We can talk on the phone.
    We can visit each other someday.

    Before my friend moved...
    We talked and talked and talked some more.
    We said we'll write letters.
    We'll talk on the phone.
    We'll have a visit some day.

    When I got lonely...
    I wanted to visit, but couldn't.
    I wanted to phone, but didn't.
    I wanted to write, so
    I wrote a long letter.
    I drew pictures, too.
    Writing felt like talking,
    but not quite the same.

    After I mailed the letter...
    I waited and waited
    and waited some more.

    While I waited...
    I played with other friends.
    I made a new friend, too.

    Then one day when I thought I didn't care
    anymore my letter came back all crumpled and torn in a special plastic bag.
    "Sorry your mail got mangled" it said.
    Somehow my letter got torn up in the mail machines, but
    was rescued and sent back to me.

    That day I called my faraway friend.
    We talked and talked
    and talked some more.
    We planned a visit together.
    That afternoon I played
    with my new freind.

    We laughed and laughed
    and laughed some more.

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