I have a very good friend, let's call him Rick, who I have been acquainted with for the past 5 years. Our relationship was strong enough that he often told me that he was my best friend, and I often reciprocated as well. That being said, there is an "in joke" among my friend group where we tell Rick to "get lost". For example, if we're just hanging out and chatting, and Rick says something, one of my friends will sometimes respond "Rick, why don't you just get lost?" and then everyone else echoes this in turn and we all have a good laugh. Rick seems to enjoy this joke as well and takes it all in good fun with a smile and is not bothered by it. Or so I thought.
Last year at a birthday party thrown by my friends, I blew out my candles and someone chimed in asking what I wished for. While I know that making a birthday wish is just silly superstition, I decided to play along and maybe make a joke of my own. With a big smile on my face, I proudly exclaimed "I wished that Rick would get lost!" The joke went over well, as everyone had a good laugh (including Rick), but a few months later Rick moved to another city roughly an hour and a half away to live with his girlfriend.
At first I thought that this may be just a temporary arrangement and that Rick might move back after a few months (with or without his girlfriend). However, that is seeming increasingly unlikely as he has now purchased a house there. Normally I would not make a connection between me telling a friend about a birthday wish that they would get lost, and them actually "getting lost", so to speak, but now others from my friend group have started saying that Rick moved away because I told him to get lost.
Now I have begun thinking that maybe me telling Rick to get lost did contribute in some small way to him moving to another city. I of course never meant it when I told him I wished he would get lost, and I highly value our mutual friendship. I want to make amends and let him know that I was just joking when I said I wished for him to get lost, and if possible ask him to move back, as I rarely see him in person anymore (most of our interaction now consists of online group chat and occasionally playing video games online together). How do I go about making such an apology and let him know that he is welcome to come back whenever he is ready?
TL;DR: I told my friend to get lost, and a few months later he moved to another city. Some other friends are blaming the fact that he moved away on me and I feel like I may have contributed in some way. I would like to apologize to him and somehow make amends, and let him know that he is welcome back at any time.