Today, I want to talk about my friend Adrian. He’s dead now.
Let me recap.
Around the beginning to middle of December 2015, my good friend Adrian posted on Facebook that he won’t be on Facebook for a while; and he was in the hospital with double pneumonia. He said it wasn’t that big of a deal and he would be out but that he wanted prayers for healing. It turns out, it was a big deal. It turns out, he died. In fact, he died on New Years Day.
So not only has my friend died, he lied about why he was dying, and he died on New Years Day. Now New Years Day from 2016 on forward will have the death of my friend chained to it for the rest of my life. I bring all of this up now because Adrian’s son just had the memorial service last week (on Adrian’s birthday).
I’m talking about this because I really want closure. I’m mad at Adrian. I’m mad that he was such a stubborn fool as to not really tell me or anyone he was dying. It obviously hasn’t been a year yet and I am beyond hurt. Still.
Let me go back further to the beginning:
Toward the end of the 90’s, I had just started coming off of (some, not all) drugs and was moving to a new addiction: alcohol. I was 21 and I was an absolute hooligan. I got a job drafting modular homes and that is where I met Adrian, who was much older than me. No one really paid much attention to Adrian, in fact, no one at the office really liked him. He was super nice, but he did sort of give off this creeper vibe. I never saw him creep though, he was just very private.
He was at the beginning of a divorce from his wife whom he was married to for at least two decades. It was one of those things where, as soon as his son turned 18 and moved out, they realized they didn’t know each other anymore. The only thing they had in common was their only son.
Adrian, over those years, lost himself. He became a dad, a husband, a total nerd (he was a computer programmer). I think he hated who he had become because he had so much to give. So much knowledge, wisdom, kindness and love. But the caveat was that no one let him, no one liked him. People pretended they did, but he wasn’t stupid; and yet he went along with their charades just to be around people. I think the changes he started going through was around the time he became a youth leader at a small church. He and his wife were a powerhouse team and they loved the Lord and they loved the youth. After all, it was a chance for them to mentor their son and his friends too. But I think, in that time, Adrian realized he could relate more to these kids than his own wife. So when the changes he was making started happening, it caused major ripples. He was going through a ridiculous mid-life crisis. It wasn’t a bad one because he was breaking out of the last cocoon he could make. One thing I need to say about him: he loved people. He loved being around them. He’d do anything for anyone. He didn’t care what people thought of him.
So when I met him, he had gone through that and was on a train to continuing his journey. He thought I was interesting. I dressed different, looked intimidating, and didn’t care what people thought about me. He was attracted to that; but more so, attracted to witnessing to this lost and tortured soul – Me. Little did he know there was nothing he could say that I hadn’t already heard.
He starts bugging me at work: “What do you do for fun?”, “Do you go to church?”, “Where do you hang out?” I blew the guy off. I’m thinking in my mind, “Dude, go away.” Then one day I give in and talk to him. I knew his son from middle school years before and I saw his pictures in his office and of the youth group. He was telling me about all of them and their personalities. It was attractive to me, but I still wasn’t going to go to his church.
The one day, he asked me where I hang out on Wednesday nights. He was probably trying to get me to go to church again, because I knew church had services on Wednesday nights.
To ward him off I said, “Well, I go to this club that has “one dollar you-call-its” between 9 and 10. I get trashed on $10 and hang out until I’m sober, then I go home.”
He said, “Cool. Maybe I’ll see you there sometime.”
I am at the club that night and I am drinking my usual, what was called a “Lights Out”. The drink was three ingredients: Punch, Malibu Rum, and Bacardi 151. How it was prepared was in this order: Malibu, Punch (which floated on top), then the Bacardi 151 – no stirring. You’d stick a straw in to the bottom and drink from the bottom up, so when you hit the 151, well, it was lights out.
Imagine me walking through this club in some tight rolled up jeans, boots, Fred Perry polo, and flat cap. Wading my way through a bunch of sweaty club kids that were dressed like whores and homies. I was only there to get drunk and be entertained by the whores and homies. I loved to people watch. I’m drinking my drink, pinky out, and I look around the place.
The way the club was set up was where the dance floor was, it was almost like a large scale galley. You had the floor that was elevated about 6 feet up and you had to go up a set of small stairs to get to it. The DJ was in a booth that was above in a small mezzanine that overlooked the dance floor. There was a larger set of steps to get to that and you could stand on the mezzanine and overlook everything. Below, on the floor, was a walking area upon which I roamed around with one eye open like a rum filled pirate.
I’m walking below and I look up and this is what I see: Adrian, in the balcony. YES! He was there! But this was the most impacting memory I have of him. Adrian on that balcony changed my life forever because of what he was doing on the balcony.
When I looked up and saw him, I could see his arms (both arms) stretched out over where I was. His eyes were closed and he was praying over me. I remember seeing his face getting hit with strobes while Alice DJ’s “Better Off Alone” played on in the backdrop of this moment. His face was full of concentration. He was praying hard for me. FOR ME! I’d never seen such a thing before, raised in church and all. Never had I seen such a thing.
I will never forget that day, ever. It changed me. God used this creepy, nearly divorced, midlife crisis suffering of a man to water the seeds my parents labored over for years. He certainly wasn’t my father, but I consider him the last “father-like” person in my life that I latched onto before I embarked on my first marriage. He and I had many adventures. We were close. But over the years, as time went on and I had my life with my ex-wife and next wife, and kids and so on; we just didn’t have the time to hang out as much.
I never thought he would die. He became this icon in my life. He was the beginning for all of the changes I had to go through to get to who I am today. This man kick started Jesus in my life and I had no clue at the time. I wish I could tell him thank you. I wish I could have been as good a friend to him on his death bed as he was to me in the grave he helped out of. I never even got to say good bye because I believed him. He was sick, then he died and I didn’t get to say bye to him.
I had the privilege to share that story with his ex-wife and the people that loved him at his memorial service. Standing there, I was so broken. I thought I had gotten over it; but remembering what he did for me, it broke me all over again. But, as I was standing in front of those people, it hit me that God had been in my life from the beginning. God had tasked specific people to impact me in specific ways; and all for His glory.
Yeah, I’m hurt and mad and angry at Adrian. I’m sad I didn’t get to say bye to him. I feel like he took that from me. Yet, I know, after I get over it all, I will see him again. All thanks to him for being obedient to God. I will see Adrian in a new body and never see him miserable or concerned for anyone ever again; for all eternity. Right now, as I write this, he is in the presence of the Lord, singing out the name of Jesus.
In his humanity, maybe he just wasn’t himself in the end; but he had great taste in music, which trumped any of his flaws. He loved music. His passion for David Bowie was subtle and and erosive at the same time. He passed that virus on to me and I thought I’d end this eulogy for my friend with these lyrics from his favorite of records by Bowie – Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars:
“You’re too old to lose it, too young to choose it
And the clock waits so patiently on your song
You walk past a cafe but you don’t eat when you’ve lived too long
Oh, no, no, no, you’re a rock ‘n’ roll suicide”
-From the song Rock N’ Roll Suicide by David Bowie