I met a friend for lunch this past week who has since boarded a plane for Kenya. He’s going to live there for at least two years. The journey has been a long one for him. For four years he resisted asking people for money to help him go on mission, as he described it. But, his last week to worry about that was finally here.
The thought that he was spending his last week in America was surging through both of us. I’m assuming especially through him. But, I was envious. What must it feel like to be him? I wished I was him, only me and going to Italy. We were both smiling through our entire conversation. I was studying him and celebrating with him at the same time.
The last few months had been a series of Lasts for him. Last days on a job he’d held for years. Last Thanksgiving with family. Last drive in his pickup truck. Last Sunday to attend his church. Last time we would have lunch together for who knows how long. He slept one last night at his mom and dad’s house. And, today, he emailed his friends for the last time before taking flight.
The finality of all those lasts weighed on him while we were having our lunch. He couldn’t find many words to describe what he felt, which I understood. I liked how speechless he was. It meant alot that i was sharing this moment with him, as he searched for words.
Then, he said something that stuck with me. He said, “I’m about to begin alot of new firsts in my life!”
A whole bunch of lasts can be disconcerting. It can really mess with your brain. From what I’ve heard, you can even lose a sense of your own identity as you struggle to adjust. I guess missionaries deal with this alot as they detach themselves from their own culture and take on a new one. Too many lasts might be depressing.
But, as my friend explained, he was exchanging lasts for firsts. All the lasts were concrete though his feelings were hard to describe. The coming firsts were muddy. He couldn’t even imagine all that he would be asked to do for the very first time. And, this thought was like electricity in him.
I look forward to the lasts we will experience as we are closer to the day of our departure. I won’t rush it, but I also long for it. I know we will be much like my friend, stumbling for words. Giddy with excitement. What a day that will be!