Mom could barely choke out the words.
"Mr. Davenport died this morning..."
Silence only broken by her soft, deep sobbing. I sat still, dazed by this sharp blow. My throat ached, tears burned, welled, dropped and poured out. He was one of my Dad's dearest friends, a well loved family friend, my dear friend...
It was early morning, and my mind was swimming, thrashing, trying to tread water in high, crashing waves. "What? How... what?...".
We are deeply affected by those who love us well, we trust them with a part of ourselves, and now that part was suddenly, inexplicably gone.
He had joked with me, smiled at me, talked with me, listened to me and made judgements but never judged me my whole lost-little-girl-trying-to-be-a-woman life.
And when this scared, scarred, lonely girl admitted to unwed pregnancy at nineteen he did not break me with his words but broke down my fears with Truth and Love. He immediately made a self-proclamation to be the child's godfather.
My daughter was barely making her presence seen, only a tiny bump that was changing my world... now he was gone.
She would never hear how his voice smiled. She would never hear the jokes, the laughing at his own jokes, or the velvet-tipped arrow questions followed by treats and movies and time together.
She would never get to hug him.
He loved to hug people, break through those barriers we set up so well. He hugged with his arms and with his words. He rightly called fellow Christ followers "brother" and "sister", and treated them as such. He loved Jesus and walked with Him and talked with Him and shared their conversations with anyone who would listen.
I remember the last time I saw him, I got a call from my Dad that he was in the hospital. I had visited him in the hospital often, many times over many years. He was in for something different this time, not as serious as others. I've never liked hospitals, but he had a way of making them seem less scary. I was sure he would have new stories to tell, especially if he had a new nurse that didn't know him. He loved to yell "ouch!" when they would try to give him an IV or shot then he would laugh and try to joke away the panic he had caused. Needless to say he was popular and well know by the staff.
I almost didn't go because I had really goofy hair from a photoshoot I had just done. It was my last pre-baby shoot, and I was self-conscience and worn from having worked all day in white clothes(that emphasized my shameful secret) and tired from not having eaten well. But I knew he wouldn't care what I looked like, though I was sure he would tease me about it. He sincerely complemented my hair almost immediately after we greeted each other, disarming my insecurity and leaving us open for real, undistracted conversation.
He had an infection so he wouldn't let me hug him. Especially since I was pregnant. So he hugged me with his words the whole time, me the injured and him the whole, laying in the hospital bed happy, hopeful, and just beautifully himself. When the time came for our normal goodbye he smiled warmly and waved saying "I'll hug you next time I see you!...". He promised.
I know he'll keep that promise.
It was surreal, but had to be true. I had rarely seen my mother cry. I hugged my swelling belly and grieved beyond words for this man who had loved me so well. I gave my daughter his name in the center of hers and promised to tell her of his love for her though they would never meet face to face on this earth.
I wondered if he knew how much I loved him. Had I told him enough? Had I told him why?
Life's brevity struck me to the core and inspired the Love Letters I write to my family each year...