eHarmony didn’t find me my husband, but it did find me a friend named Michael.
I had been single for almost two years and decided that I would try this ‘online dating’ fad that seemed to spread like a hormonal rage of a wildfire. I was uncomfortable with exposing myself to the hungry eyes of single men across the online hemisphere, and I didn’t know whether to fear for my life or to bounce around with excitement at the potential of meeting my future partner. Either way, it was a brand new experience that I was willing to try out.
The first thing I noticed about Michael in our messages was the absolute positivity that exuded from his charisma. I remember telling my friends how intimidated I was because he looked like he came straight out of a cover of Bodybuilding Magazine, but at the same time, it was so refreshing to talk with someone who carried himself so well and he knew exactly what he wanted to pursue. He spoke of his dreams and executed them with that wonderful smile on his face, and simply didn’t care what obstacles lay before him.
He was so determined about his dreams to become a Korean pop star. He had a vocal coach, let me listen to his tracks, and went on and on about every minute detail of what would get him to that finish line. The twinkling in those eyes shut up any doubts or uncertainties within me, and I really had no choice but to be in awe of his mindset. I shared about God and he had tons of comments and questions, all without any judgment or bitterness. Seriously, it was one of the most interesting first dates I had ever been on. I’ll never forget that day of easygoing freedom to share wonderful stories with each other.
We became friends, and I invited him to check out my church. He came in with his sister at his arm, and the love that he expressed to and about her was a quality I rarely saw, and the two of them held such a high level of respect and selfless care for each other that it almost seemed like I was getting an insider’s exclusive look at something very intimate and raw. He would share about the battles that his mother’s body faced everyday with such a steadfast faith that even though I felt shaken by mere words of what she was going through, he had a fierce commitment to making sure she was always in good hands and always knew how much her son loved her.
We had lost touch for a little while, and I started attending a new church. Imagine my surprise when during a holiday presentation, Michael ran into the sanctuary in the middle of a flood of children. They mimicked his moves as they all danced quite messily (but the messier it was, the cuter it seemed), and the pure state of elation on Michael’s face moved me into a sense of pride and a spidey-sense inside of me indicated that Michael had been transformed in some way and I wanted to know what it was. We caught up and he shared about how he was going to go to seminary, his relationship with Christ had been restored, and he had finally found a home church to call his own. I was so happy for him, and we had a great time of reminiscing about that night at Yardhouse when he was solely focused on becoming a superstar in Asia.
It was awesome seeing Michael here and there at our church and seeing his group of solid friends grow. He was serving and loving on people as naturally as he knows how. He had found his niche in showing the world his extraordinary dance skills, and during one of his performances, he had one quick moment to sit right by me and I remember so distinctly a quiet smile that was traded, and it said, “How far we’ve come.”
I invited him to a mixer I had helped to organize, and we exchanged plenty of hilarious dialogue about how stupid online dating really is, and how these mixers could possibly be even stupider. But lo and behold, he had found a girl there that he was attracted to, and he had hit gold with her. If I had an older brother and he had brought home a girlfriend, I would have felt that exact same feeling about Michael and this new gal.
I moved away and didn’t see him for a stretch, but we had recently started talking again because I wanted to help him find homes for his pups whom he adored. Through all of that, I thought I was the one who was looking out for him, but he always managed to sweep in a “How are you doing these days? What can I pray for you about?” This guy who had gone through surgery, was so far from home, and a lot of crap to deal with, cared about anything about me? It blew my mind the depth of his love for people, it really did.
It was an honor for me to have been able to call Michael my friend. I’m going to miss him, and I’m so thankful for these wonderful moments that I got to share with him. He was one of a kind, and such a unique and talented individual who loved passionately and infected people with his childlike zest. It makes me so sad to think upon this loss, but I know that this is not the end.
See you later, Michael. You’re so loved.