It's been 34 years since my father's suicide, but the wound on my soul still finds healing moments thanks to the grace of God.
Recently, such a moment came in an innocent phone call with a long lost friend. Lee Jay and I became friends in junior high. He's Jewish. I'm Catholic. We clicked. We enjoyed each other's company greatly at tender moments of transition in each of our lives.
One of my favorite childhood memories was the honor of being invited to Lee Jay's Bar Mitzvah. It was a grand event filled with religious majesty and wonder. My friend Lee Jay became a man before my very eyes as he read from the Torah in the tongue of his ancestors. I felt the presence of God in the moment the same way I felt His presence at my First Communion and Confirmation (I have no memory of my Baptism, but I'm sure God was there too).
My father's death came early in my 9th grade year. After his death, I struggled to maintain meaningful personal friendships. Perhaps it was a loss of trust precipitated by my father's actions. Perhaps it was the great sadness that descended on me and everything around me. But all close personal friendships ended at that moment. In high school and college, I had many acquaintances, some close acquaintances, but no close friends.
As I transitioned to adulthood, I tried, sometimes desperately, to reconnect with good friends of my youth. But none were open to reestablishing friendships. In many ways, I felt I had failed these friends and, I'm ashamed to admit, occasionally I would wallow in self-pity.
Fast-forward to early 2009, I noticed a friend from my Bellevue days searching on Facebook for Lee Jay. And thought, I wonder what happened to him? Within a second or two, thanks to Google, I found him. He's an attorney and expert in conflict resolution and lives on the west coast (What a perfect fit for his many personality gifts). I found his email address and sent a message his way. He immediately responded with a call to my voicemail that made my soul sing. Within hours we were reunited via cell phone. It was as if we had not been apart for 30+ years. Lee Jay was still the genuine, earnest young man from my youth and so filled with joy. He heartily welcomed me back into his world. As we were finishing the call, I shared with him how much his Bar Mitzvah was one of my most vivid and significant memories. Then what he said floored me. Lee Jay told me of how touched he was that I wanted him and his family to be at my father's funeral.
That's right. He was there. Perhaps it was my desire to block the painful memories of my father's death, but I had forgotten.
We promised to stay in touch and eagerly look forward to reuniting face to face.
As I ponder the conversation, I realize God had opened up an old wound and sprinkled his healing grace on my soul. I am constantly amazed at God's love for each and every one of us. Amazing grace how sweet thou art...