My friend Ruslan and I had an inside joke. While I enjoy people, I am not always sociable. I prefer small groups of friends or spending time one-on-one with people. Ruslan and I were part of a small Bible study group, and I confided in him that it was hard for me to faithfully attend because of my introvert-tendencies.
Somehow this brought about an inside joke: whenever I would see Ruslan at small group, or church, or a birthday party, or any sort of social gathering, he would immediately greet me with,
“Why Emily, what are you doing here?”
When overheard by those on the outside of our joke, Ruslan and I would receive curious and bewildered looks, for Ruslan was an extremely kind and sweet person, and such words and tones were not characteristic of him.
But together we would just laugh.
I woke up yesterday morning, and I thought about Ruslan, and then I realized what day it was.
Or, rather, what day today was.
You see, on April 7, 2010, my friend Ruslan died.
He was 23 years old, and he got sick. For a little over two months, Ruslan was in the hospital. For most of that time he was in a coma.
I never got to say goodbye.
Ruslan was a Christian, and I know that he is in heaven today, alive and well and happy. I know that one day I will see him again, and it won’t matter that I didn’t say goodbye.
On that day in heaven, I will look up and see Ruslan, and his eyes will widen and he will say in that deadpan way of his,
“Emily, what are you doing here?”
And we’ll laugh and catch up.