Friday, November 13, 2009

The First Moments

(Continued from part 2)

I can't put a finger on when exactly I came to know Melody's younger brother, Richard. Since then correspondence has been lost and memories have been blurred, because at the time neither of us knew there was anything significant happening. I do, however, know that much of it wouldn't have happened if it weren't for a choir we were both involved in. We practiced at different rehearsal locations, but when the whole choir would meet together I couldn't help noticing the outspoken boy on the back row of the guys section.

While I don't remember the exact order of events, there are several "moments" in time I remember as defining the course of our friendship.

One was around the Bush v. Gore presidential election of 2004. It was the first election I'd voted in, and I was determining my voting policy. Some of the voting practices followed by people I knew troubled me. It bothered me more that when I questioned these issues my friends (both peers and their parents) took offense rather than answering my questions. I felt as if I was expected to automatically toe a certain party line, and when I stepped outside the box nobody knew what to do with me. I remember saying in a forum discussion that I just wanted someone "reasonable" (ie. Willing to listen and think through my objections before answering) to answer a few questions. Richard was a part of the forum as well, and when he saw that comment he PMed me. There followed a lively discussion, where he willingly listened to and answered my concerns. At the end of the conversation our conclusions still differed, but I remember being very grateful for his helpful--and "reasonable"--assistance.

Another time I remember was when I was at my grandparents house. I believe this followed the elections a few months. Richard and I had kept up sporadic correspondence since the elections, and one e-mail he asked if I had any prayer requests. There was something weighing heavily on me at the time. While I don't remember the exact problem, it probably had to do with my grandmother, whom I was caring for as she prepared to meet her Savior. I remember sitting at my granddad's rolltop desk and writing out a short email describing the issue. I clicked the 'send' button, and immediately felt a sinking feeling as if I'd revealed too much of myself in showing him this area of concern. I didn't know Richard well enough to know how the prayer request would be received. I anxiously watched for his reply. When he wrote back he was all kindness and concern--melting away my fears.

I admired Richard from a distance. Even though he was only 14 at the time he demonstrated spiritual maturity above what I expected to find even in young men my own age. At the time he was suffering from several mysterious health problems which doctors had been unable to diagnose. Even though he was often in pain he didn't complain, choosing instead to accept everything God gave--both the seemingly good and the seemingly bad. I remember hoping that someday he'd count me as one of his good friends, but I really never expected it to happen.

Part 4

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