Whenever I talked to him, there was this coating of being carefree. Whenever I saw him, he greeted me with a smile as if I could make his day better despite what else was happening. Whenever I laughed with him, it felt as if nothing else mattered but being happy with where I am in life right that second. For the first moments in a what felt like years of endless worry and stress, I felt okay to live in the present without any worry about the rest of my life.
There’s always been something about him that stood out to me. He was driven, unlike many of our classmates, and determined to no certain extent. He was always smiling and conversations flowed as if we had memorized the lines ten thousand years ago. He had always been a little different from the rest of the crowd. I respected him.
Then, I find out he’s been in the military and I couldn’t help but smile. He had held such a position due to his character and his personality. I couldn’t imagine what kinds of stories he had to tell, but I knew each and every single one of them had molded him into the great soldier he is today. I was so proud of him.
Then, that night happened.
He asked to talk to me outside, after class, with a certain tone in his voice I had never heard before. I followed him outside, after lagging slightly, and found this seriousness in his expression I wanted to avoid for as long as I could. We started talking about how beautiful the campus was, lit by the countless number of white lights throughout the area. I couldn’t help myself when the nervous butterflies within made me nauseous with anxiety. I knew my mouth wanted to ramble but I did my best to remain silent.
But when he finally got to the topic he wanted to speak about, I immediately knew where the conversation would go. I heard the words come out of his mouth but didn’t really know how to react. I was facing the father of a little girl, and the husband of a wonderful young woman. I was talking to one of my classmates who had been making such an impact on my life as is. I didn’t want to lose what there was, but I knew there was no way I would take a part of his life.
I remember how he joked around as he asked if I’ll walk away from him because he turned down dinner. I remember how he laughed, a little nervously, as he made sure I was okay with us being friends. I remember the countless of times he asked if I was okay, in general, and made me smile. I remember talking about relationships and how I’ll find someone someday. I remember the hug that left me wanting to still be in his arms because I knew he cared about me. I remember having to brush off how nauseous I was. I remember wanting to stay there the entire night because you could never get sick of how beautiful the campus was. I remember…so much about that night.
The countless times he made me laugh that night, the countless times I saw the smile on his face brighten with the spark of light in his eyes, the countless times I wanted to just hug him and tell him how proud I was of him…
He had taken his life in his own hands. He defied any statistic that said marriage straight out of high school didn’t usually last. He proved to everyone around him that you didn’t need to wait for your thirties to find your “happy ever after”. He showed everyone how perfectly wonderful a world can be if given the right amount of determination and faith, and patience.
I am so, so happy for him.
I see him walk in and out of class. I watch him work hard to understand the materials. I notice how tired he may be but never hear him complain much. I know that the rest of our classmates see him too, but maybe they simply see the part of him that is a student and a peer. I know that he’s not only a wonderful friend, but he’s a great father and husband. I know that he is in that portion of life that the rest of us have always wanted to be. He found love. He made his family. He got there. He made it. They made it. And I can’t be more happy for them.