Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Touch of the Master's Hand

So I’ve been thinking about Joe lately, as his birthday is coming up at the end of this month. He has been gone for 17 years now (geez has it been that long?) and I still grieve at least twice a year. The birthday, of course, and the anniversary of his death. Ironic that someone so sweet and kind and selfless would die at the age of 20, trying to save someone else. Well, actually not ironic I suppose, as that’s how it tends to go.

I suppose so recently losing J has fueled the hollowness I am feeling as I remember Joe and how difficult it was to lose him, and during finals week of freshman year. I’m surprised I didn’t drop out of college. I can remember sitting in art history class, thankful the lights were low for the slide presentation so I could privately allow the tears to roll down my face.

I freaking hate crying in the presence of others.

I remember calling K to tell him. He was stationed in Shreveport at the time and getting hold of him was next to impossible since buttheads never gave messages. But whomever I left word with must have sensed the urgency because K called me not long after. I told him and we cried forever on the phone. The 3 of us had such a strong bond that there were just no words. We never fully got over it and not a conversation went by that we didn’t mention him.

I don’t know where K is now.  So weird how people, even ones you think you could never live without, can one day just not be there.

I think back on that week at youth camp and the roots of our friendship and I practically long for those days. As sucky as getting through our teens was, and I would never want to go through that mess again, we were untouched by the tragedies of life then – and of losing things which would be so valuable. You never appreciate what you have when you have it. That was the summer that Joe taught us that song, "The Touch of the Master's Hand". Actually we learned it just from making him sing it over and over. His voice was velvet, it was his gift. One of many, really.

If I block out the world and think really hard, I can still feel his hug. Is it real?

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