Easter Sunday three years ago, we went over to Joe and Rita's for lunch and egg hunting and such. We were getting drinks and saying hello when strangers walked through the door. A woman with long blonde hair, a short, stocky man with black hair and one eyebrow stretching across his forehead, and a large, strawberry blonde boy.
ZBoy was introduced to Jesse and they promptly ran outside and began doing whatever it is that boys do in the great outdoors when it includes woods and a swimming pool.
Z was always a rather social child in theory, but in reality, he's quite shy and has one good friend at a time. We'd recently moved from Wakulla and maintaining his friendship with a pal down there was proving to be near-impossible.
Enter Jesse. They had a blast running around, but when the day was over, I figured we'd never see them again.
A year later, we moved into our current house with a change in school zones - and in ZBoy's new class was Jesse! They became best friends quickly, spending time at each other's homes, sitting next to each other in class. They were similar enough in appearance that people often mistook them for brothers. I know they FELT like brothers.
The dark-haired man was no longer a part of their lives, but a new addition in the person of a baby sister was on the scene. Jesse's mom is a teacher and after a round of budget cuts, found work in Georgia but still lived in town so Jesse could continue at this school.
The boys joined Cub Scouts together, spent the night together a lot and shared a love of Bionicles, Legos, and video games.
Then came another round of cuts, and Jesse's mom was looking for another job. She found one. In Nevada. They went "home" to Ocala for the summer before moving. Last weekend, Jesse called and we arranged to have him come spend a couple of days here before he, his mom and little sister began the trek west.
The boys had a blast. Swimming, fishing, eating pancakes and playing video games. And today, it was time to go. Jesse packed up all the stuff he brought with him.
The boys posed for a picture on the couch before it was time to go.
A final goodbye to the dogs...
And they climbed in the car for the 90 minute ride to meet Jesse's mom. Email and snail mail addresses were exchanged with promises to keep in touch. He may be moving far away, but his family is back here in Florida, so we know he'll be back next summer.
Until then... Bye, Jesse!