I know it’s pretty cliché to say that you don’t know what you’re missing until it’s gone. However, for the past six months, I have realized this while one of my very closest friends has lived life away from campus. I met my sweet Emily during my first semester at DBU and we became instant friends; we sat right next to each other in choir and even performed alongside each other in a musical. I felt like we were growing exponentially closer – then she joined the Disney College Program.
DBU is a school heavily founded and raised on fellowship. We are not a “small” campus, but everybody within a degree program knows one another. In a music program of around 300 students, it is not hard to acquaint every person by the end of your first year. Much like roommates and suitemates, a music major grows close (or gets to know) those who sit around them in ensembles, which is what happened when our director placed the Soprano 2 and Alto 2 sections next to each other – fostering a friendship in Emily and I. This pretty, friendly, quiet senior all of a sudden took a chatty, awkward, energetic second-year freshman under her wing and made said freshman feel cared for, prayed for, and listened to. Emily still does that for me, despite our geographical distance.
When you grow close to a person, you start to become attached. Your heart, energy, and devotion is gravitated to those who are closest to you. I knew that I could look up to Emily as a friend and sister-in-Christ. To say that we were bonding would be an understatement. To be quite honest, when she announced that she would spend Spring 2016 in Walt Disney World in accomplishing one of her wildest dreams, there was a slight jealousy and greed that comes with wanting your loved one all to yourself. I wanted to see our friendship and sisterhood grow into the spring semester, but that would have to be done over occasional texts and Facebook messages. Our friendship would seem to have to wait.
There were moments when I wanted to run across the choir room before class to tell her about my latest improvement in music theory, my hardest class. There were times when I looked across the room habitually when our director cracked a mediocre joke (sorry Dr. H). At the cast party for the most recent musical, there was a phone being passed around set on video chat with her on the other end and I about cried. I knew this girl was experiencing one revelation and blessing and opportunity after another, but so was I. It was actually painful knowing that she was pretty much the one person that I would most want to include in my memories of Spring 2016.
Seeing Emily live out one of her biggest childhood dreams was so bittersweet; I lived vicariously through her in seeing photos of her and a few new friends with Tinker Bell and Donald Duck, while wishing that she was here at DBU learning awesome music in Chorale. She fangirled over Peter Pan and Gaston and took pictures of her food, while I hid in bathroom stalls at work to text her if that’s what it meant to get an immediate reply among the hustle and bustle of Disney life. I even called her on the way home from our Harry Potter-themed Spring Banquet to gush about all of the details. Even despite our best attempts to keep each other updated, pictures and phone calls can never replace a hug.
This article seems selfish and childish, like a toddler waiting for their blankie to come out of the washer. There are moments of confusion and impatience. There are moments of frustration and anger. There are moments of exasperation and longing. Nevertheless, there is that sweet certainty that you will be reunited with the warm comfort you have longed for. I have realized that “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). When Emily and I, students at the same school and followers of the same Lord, began to live separate lives temporarily, I didn’t exactly feel like I lost her. We still kept touch and we still prayed for each other. That is a true friend; that is a sister. That is a reflection of the purity and strength of Jesus Christ, and that, my friends, is the sweetest relief to any emptiness we can endure. The love of Christ always heals. “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16).