I’m driving a rented Toyota Corolla on North St. Joseph Rd. It is a Sunday morning in the midst of a Midwest thunderstorm, in Evansville, Indiana. I have spent the last 24 hours visiting with my best friend from High School, Richard. 53 years ago, Richard’s parents opened up their home to me so I could finish high school.
Richard’s wife, Donna, passed away 6 weeks ago. Richard and Donna built a life together for 55 years. As I drive, I feel waves of sadness. The tears are flowing from me alone in this rented car.
Thunderstorms and tornadoes touch down and do some real damage before it is done. The windshield wipers are on high. The GPS Waze on my phone offers me directions. I turn the sound off, as I prefer listening to the country music at full volume. I am dressed in my Usual Suspects T-shirt that was the uniform of the day at the Men’s Spirituality Workshop I was attending in Nashville, about 3 hours away. I left the workshop on Saturday morning to be with a friend in grief which is about as spiritual as I know. We see God in each other, I figure. The rain clouded the visibility and darkened the sun- an appropriate atmosphere for my flowing tears.
“I visit her grave every day and tell her about my life,” Richard says. She is buried right next to their first-born son, James. James was named after me. He died in 2002 from a fluke hospital borne infection. He was 40 years old, a high school football coach, and loving father of his two children. Richard and Donna took on raising the grand kids. Richard now has two loved ones in the graveyard to talk over life with each day.
It’s now Sunday morning and I continue driving South through Indiana, Kentucky and back to Dickson, Tennessee, to complete the workshop. The recurring message of the workshop is that all of life that’s important is about personal relationships. What is important today is our personal relationships from our history. Our parents, brothers and sisters, friends, teachers, enemies, exe’s and currents; these all shape what we want and consider important.
Richard and I are best friends. We lived in the same house, briefly, 54 years ago.
The spirituality workshop was a great success.