“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” ~Winnie the Pooh
 December 
No one warns you about the world when you first come into it.
That there will be regrets and tears and fears that consumes your every bone. No one sits you down and straight up tells you that there will be some things that just kill you inside.
Not only is there that perspective, but no one bothers to exclaim to you the joy there is in living. How one person can change your life forever, their presence forever with you. That no matter what, God gives us a blessing to be grateful for.
I wasn’t told that leaving would be so heartbreaking.
In that moment I was leaving, I couldn’t believe I was. We had sold our house pretty fast, so we had to move pretty fast. Grandma is coming with us, since both of my parents will be working. The chaos around my house feels like something good for once. Even if none of us want to go, it’s unspoken that we have to.
The weeks after I returned home, my father and I slowly but surely built our relationship’s foundation. He let me talk to him about why I believed and wasn’t so harsh toward me. Whenever I told Alivia about our conversations that felt normal, she’d grin and her eyes would light up.
“God answers prayers Fletcher,” she’d say, linking her arm through mine. “Never forget that.”
I, of course, told her I was leaving. The news devastated her and her family alike -- all of us have grown fond of each other. When I told my family about Alivia being my girlfriend, they wanted to see her more. So for the three weeks I still had to be with her, we were at my house as much as her’s.
My parents fell in awe of her, how gentle and accepting she was. Pearl treated Alivia as the older sister she never had. It was great to watch them become such good friends.
Sawyer and I studied as much as we could. On the night before I was moving, it seemed to hit us all for the first time. I was actually going, probably not to see them often, if at all.
“Now what am I going to do, pick up another person off the side of the highway?” he joked after we finished studying one day.
I laughed, my heart a little heavy. I would miss him.
“I suppose so,” I answered. After a moment of silence, a thought popped into my mind. “What about Ace?”
“Ace?” he repeated, sounding confused. “What about him?”
“He seems to be needing some encouragement. You know, in faith and stuff,” I elaborated, shrugging.
“Huh, never thought about it. But I guess so,” he said.
Ace and I never became best buddies. For some reason, I felt bad about leaving him behind. With Sawyer looking out for him, I saw it as taken care of.
I said goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Olson, hoping to come and visit with them as much as I could. Alivia and Sawyer were going to see me leave, wave goodbye one last time.
All that flashed before my eyes as I stood in front of my car, preparing to drive off into the sunset with Pearl in the passenger seat. Alivia and Sawyer both were walking over from Mom and Dad’s car, making sure to say goodbye to them.
As soon as I laid eyes on Alivia, it occurred to me we wouldn’t be the same after I moved. We agreed to be committed to trying a long distance relationship, and I was confident we could do it. But I had grown to be fascinated by her more and more, there was no denying that.
“I’ll miss you,” Sawyer mumbled as he pulled me into a hug.
“You too. Take care of everyone for me, and make sure to visit,” I said.
“Well, I wouldn’t just let you leave without showing up in your life a little bit, would I?” he laughed. “Oh, and here’s this.”
He handed me a brown bag stapled shut at the top, I took it, grinning.
“What is it?”
“A going away present,” he replied, shrugging. “A rubik’s cube. I had one. Whenever I found myself wondering about who I was or what life was, I’d just try to solve it. It’s the same one, already messed up for you to go insane trying to put it back together.”
“Sweet, thanks,” I said, giving him one last hug. But he had introduced me to a bigger present. The gift of grace, and that was more than enough to thank him for.
“Well, I guess this is goodbye,” Alivia said, grinning up at me sadly. Tears filled her eyes, worrying me a little bit. She hadn’t been this upset when I first told her.
“Hey, it’s not goodbye,” I said, taking both of her hands. “I’ll still love you.”
She smiled, swiping at one of her tears.
“Goodness I’m such a girl,” she laughed.
“That’s a good thing,” I replied, hugging her tightly.
For a moment, there was just the two of us there, in each other’s arms. It ended, all too quickly. I knew we would be okay though. By God’s will, we’d make it work.
“I’ll call you every night,” I promised.
She blinked, nodding. Her blue eyes stared into mine, trying to smile at me. We were both upset, but I think we knew it was for the better. I had explained to her about my desire to make mends with my family, so we could be loving and supporting toward one another. She supported me in that and didn’t try to hinder me from going. Even if neither of us wanted it.
“You have the painting, right?” she asked, sniffling a bit in the cold.
“Of course, I wouldn’t leave without it!” I said, smiling sadly.
“And... When you go to your new school and meet new people-- you won’t forget about me, w-will you?” she managed to get out, now letting tears fall.
She didn’t bother trying to hide her emotions at this point, and I didn’t either. Her words struck me in the chest. I would be insane to forget about her.
“There is no way,” I started, pulling her into a hug, “no way, that I could forget about you, Alivia Lilly.”
She nodded into my chest. The cold stung my eyes just as much as the tears, but I didn’t mind. Our last moments together I didn’t regret. When we finally pulled away, I gave her hands one last squeeze.
“I’ll be okay,” I told her and Sawyer, grinning weakly.
“I know you will,” Alivia replied.
We stared into each other’s eyes before saying our goodbyes. Pearl and I retreated to the car, hopped in, and I began driving after my parents. In the rearview mirror, I saw the pair of them waving, I honked, laughing to myself a bit.
“I’ll miss them,” Pearl stated after a couple miles.
That’s the thing about life, I suppose. You can’t have everything. It’s either this or that. Love or hate. God or the world. There’s never room for all you want, always another step.
If it were up to me back in September, I would’ve been the most popular person in school. I would’ve beaten the record and had Shelly as my girlfriend. I would’ve pranked Alivia Olson with no shame.
I am thankful to my God above that it wasn’t up to me. I felt shame and guilt, I was one of the outcasts now. I didn’t care, I was a lot more content. I had a Savior who save my life in more ways than one. Sawyer saw something in me and took the time to teach me. I fell in love with a beautiful girl, one of my best friends was now my sister, I was starting to depend on my family.
None of this would’ve happened if it were up to me. I wouldn’t know what real love felt like or looked like. I couldn’t have known that in the ignorance I was living in. God knew I couldn’t, so He woke me up by my own wrongdoing. If I had to go through it all again to get to where I am now, I would.
Had I been the one in charge of everything, none of that would’ve happened. I realized I didn’t want my life to be any other way. I still wanted to do things and go places, but in that moment I was content.
That’s why I’m thankful God is ultimately my grace and the One directing my path.
That’s why I can’t rule the world.