Loss. That word hasn’t left me recently. I keep coming back to this concept of loss. What loss means as part of my life now. There are so many losses. And so many more to come. Some losses are ever present, looming over me like that impending storm on the horizon, where the sky is so dark and ominous. I know they are coming. I know I am not prepared. Some losses are hidden in my previous life of compartmentalization. These are the losses I pushed deep into my psyche and buried. My life of compartmentalization is over. And now these hidden wounds are surfacing.
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time at my aunt and uncle’s house. The only interaction I had with anyone was with a guy named David, who was a couple years older than me. My aunt basically arranged for him to come hang out with me so I wouldn’t be alone. Fortunately, he was kind and caring, the older brother I yearned for and didn’t have at that time. I actually looked forward to the time there because of the friendship I built with him. He included me in his group, took me with him and his girlfriend to parties and with other people. I felt wanted not just tolerated.
The summer after my freshman year in college, I was struggling. I was in an unhealthy relationship with an older woman who really wanted to be with me because of what she thought she could gain from me. I didn’t know how to stay away from her. My parents did what they normally did when they didn’t want to face difficult situations: they sent me away to Colorado to work for some acquaintances. I lived in a tent with no facilities. I spent 12 hours a day hauling rocks to clear a road. And I was isolated. Again.
Weekly calls home and to my friend David were the only touch points I had. David told me that he had proposed to his girlfriend and that I was to be one of his groomsmen. The wedding was the weekend after I would return from Colorado. I spoke to him on the phone a week before I was to fly home. He was excited. He told me he was going to Jackson to buy her some pearls as a surprise gift for the wedding. He was going to ride with another guy we knew, one that I really didn’t like too much. This guy was known for drinking and partying too much.
I got a call the next morning. David and the guy he went with didn’t show up that night back at his house. They found him early the next morning, dead and trapped under the car when it flipped. The other guy was driving. He was legally drunk and unharmed. I couldn’t mentally process all of that and at the time I just didn’t.
My father is in bad health. He has been in a downward spiral the last few months. The impending certainty has surfaced the loss of my friend, David. A loss I never really faced the past 30 years. One I pushed deep down into my memory so I wouldn’t have to remember it. The impact of his absence in my life is stifling. I can’t breathe as I dwell on what him not being in my life has really meant. And I weep as I face the loss of my father to come. Emotions I haven’t allowed myself to feel for 30 years. Until now.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18