Sunday, January 9, 2011

David and the Gift of Dependability

I seem to be on a roll in writing about my PCC friends, so I've decided to write, next, about my friend David Samuel.  David and I are different in many ways, one of which is that I don't think I've ever known him to show up late.  If you know me, you know timeliness is something with which I really struggle, so--if David could bring this out in me--everyone I know would thank him, but especially Carter and Karen, with whom Cade and I sing in the Fine Creek Baptist Church choir on Sunday mornings. 

David and I met when we attended a PCC class, taught by Kevin Salyer and Jim Wheeler, on finding our SHAPE (an acronym for spiritual gifts, heart, activities, personality, and experiences).  The class was held in the library of Pocahontas Elementary School, and--when I walked in--I saw David sitting all by himself at a children's-sized, round table.  Being the extrovert I am, I assumed he was sad and sorry to be alone and needed not only a companion for the moment but a friend for life, so I joined him at his little table and basically took captive his space and time: not only on that day, but on days to come.

I invited David to come pick me up and take me with him to this conference at Atlee Community Church, because, you know, I didn't want him to be lonely on the long drive.  Shortly thereafter, I invited him to fix a door on my bitty house which--due to an unfortunate set of circumstances--had been banged, knocked, or ripped half off its hinges.  I came home from work just a couple days later to find the door fixed, and--in order to thank him--I invited David over for dinner and a movie with Cade and me. (Because what could be a better thank-you than two happy voices talking to him, non-stop?)  And dinner with David became a weekly thing for what seemed like forever but was, in reality, probably only a few months.  Cade and I went to David's house a time or two, but mostly David ate with Cade and me in the bitty house.  Cade always piled on top of David to watch a movie in the chair, while I stretched out on the couch.  Then, inevitably, Cade would go to bed, and David and I would move to the concrete stoop in front of the door David had fixed, where we would sit side-by-side and talk while I chain smoked into the dark.

Times with David are always happy times, but the period of time during which I came to be friends with David was not, overall, a happy time.  I was a single mom in a bitty house in the middle of the woods on one of the last four, unpaved roads in Powhatan, and--although not a person prone to fear--I did not feel entirely safe, always.  Before I became close friends with David, my only close friends in Powhatan had been Christy and Alan.  They lived less than a mile away on the same gravel road, but they have always gone to bed with the chickens, and they don't always answer their phones.  So, honestly and all melodrama aside, I felt much more comfortable and secure in my house after I came to know David, who carries his cell phone everywhere, keeps odd hours, and knows every fireman and policeman in the county.

I don't see David very often anymore because life has become busier and more complicated: I married Jim (whom David loves) and had two more children; David married Dorothy (whom I love); each of us moved into a different house; and I no longer attend PCC on Sundays (although I still serve, proudly, on its Care Team).  David did come to meet both my babies just after they were born, and I joked with him that I was having babies only because I knew he would visit me in the hospital.  When David visited me after Charleigh's birth, he had gone twenty-four hours or so without sleep and was dead on his feet, but he came, anyway, because he knew how much it would mean to me.  He's just dependable like that.

Despite our limited interaction, I continue to count David among my closest friends for several reasons.  First of all, to this very day, he is the friend I would call if I needed help in the middle of the night.  I have never called David in the middle of the night, but I would, because I know he would answer, and I know--if necessary--he would sound the alarms and send countless firemen, policemen, and men of the church to my doorstep.  Clementine has actually called David twice from my cell phone (a happy phenomenon, since--to my knowledge--she's never called anyone else, also because David's name doesn't come first, alphabetically, in my list of contacts), and both times, David has checked in right away to make sure I am ok.

The second reason I count David among my closest friends is that (and you can test me on this) if anyone were to ask me, on any given day, ever, whom I would like to run into at the post office or in Target, my answer would be: David Samuel.  Hands down.  No hesitation.  Every single time.  Which kind of bleeds into the third reason I count David among my closest friends: he always looks happy to see me!  When I say that, I mean he has this way of smiling with his whole heart, through his face, sometimes while shaking his head as if to say: you are so silly.  And, truly, I can just imagine Jesus looking at me the same exact way, like: Girl, you try too hard to fill empty chairs and pauses in conversation, and I saw you chain smoking at the bitty house back in the day, but I really, really like you, anyhow.

I don't mean to put words in David's mouth; I've done that too many times, already, over the years.  But if any of my friends knows I love him, it's David, because I light up like a Christmas tree every time I see him.  It's not about the length of the exchange, the topic of conversation, or even whether or not we have a conversation.  I just feel glad for having seen his face.  Oftentimes my eyes well up, and that's probably the part he doesn't get, but my best translation of the wordless language in my heart goes something like this:

Thank you for being my friend when I felt heartbroken, lonely, and sad.  Thank you for letting me sit beside you when you probably could have used some alone time, and thank you for letting me talk your ear off when you probably could have used some quiet time.  Thank you for making me feel like I could sleep in peace--alone in my bitty house in the middle of the woods on an unpaved road--because you were on call.  You will never understand what an important gift that was, but it was everything at the time, and I will never forget it.   

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