Goodbye to Lu.
My best friend, the best friend I ever had, is leaving tomorrow.
He came from Brazil, three years ago, and is going back, to his home, and his family, and the life he knew there.
His life in America was far from living the American Dream. It was hardship, from start to finish. But I feel SUCH immense pride in him, and I hope he feels that pride in himself. He came with nothing, and is leaving with almost nothing, materially. Just a few things he accumulated over the years, through his almost slavelike work. However, his honor is intact. In fact, I would say, that perhaps he learned, and grew while here. Lu singlehandedly smashes all of the horrible preconceptions and stereotypes of today's "Immigrant"...stereotypes and preconceptions that I battle each day in my struggle for Immigrants Rights.
He learned to speak English, Fluently. He paid taxes with a tax id. He never took a false social security number. He never drove without a liscense, or even applied for a liscense "illegally". He "assimilated" very much, despite the fact that he spent most of his time around Brazilians, almost exclusively, with the exception of me, and the one friend I introduced him to. He wore Abercrombie, and Fitch. He loved Evanescence, and Nickleback, and Beyonce. He loved technogadgets (though that is more a Male thing, then an American thing, I suppose). True, he still loved Futbol, and probably had never watched a baseball game. True, he still preferred the spicy/salty Brazilian food over american food. However, he loved American Movies, loved going to the mall. Read American news headlines. Played "Uno" with me (Which, despite the spanish name, is an American favorite). He loved America, however little of it he actually got to see. He maintained the best features of his culture, the friendliness, and warmth, the generosity, the laughter, and zest, and blended them into this culture.
When I look at Lu, I see the face of the future American. Despite the fact that now his own chance for becoming "American" is gone, I am able to see what future waves of immigrants will be. When I hear the racists and xenophobes decry the changing face of America, I think of Lu, and I think "I wish they could see, what I see. I wish they could see the beauty.". Evolution happens, like it or not. And our world, our entire global society is indeed involving. Lu is the example of what that face would look like. The strengths of his culture, mixed with the strength of ours. It was beautiful. I have never met a more sincere, and honest person. A more caring and warm person. A more respectful, and concerned person. Never. And the intelligence! The Bravery! To have endured the journey he made to come here, To have learned and absorbed all that he needed to learn and absorb. To have endured all that he endured while here, the life of an undocumented immigrant, always pushed to the shadows, struggling against predjudice, working slave hours, for slave wages, living a life which had one foot in each country, etc. My God..what a beautiful spirit.
I have such pride in him. And I will miss him so, so much. I know he will be okay. Such a brave spirit, will obviously survive whatever is thrown his way. In fact, I believe that one day he will be very successful, and be the envy of his neighbors. I know he will be okay. And I am happy that now he will be able to hold the daughter he never held before. I am happy that he will be amongst his family again. I am happy that he will not have to deal with the Cold New England weather, and suffer racism, and predjudice anymore. I am happy he will not live the life of a fugitive, despite living a blameless life. But oh, will I miss him.
His smile, his laughter, his quick whit, and intelligence. His concern, and compassion, and his playfulness. And his hugs. His warmth. The way that I felt when I was with him. The knowledge that you were safe with someone. We didn't always agree on everything. But I can safely say that we didn't try to change eachother. We appreciated eachother for just what we were, for who we were. And loved the spirit of eachother, above and beyond all. Knowing someone truly knows you...all your strengths, and all your faults, and loves you as much as I know he loved me, and appreciates you as much as I know he appreciated me, is an experience that we should all have once in our lives.
I will miss him. A part of my heart goes with him. And I will love him, always, my best friend.