It was the summer of 1990 and I was home from college. I was working two jobs, trying to keep up with friends, and managing a few hours of sleep a night. As you might imagine, the summer seemed to be flying by.
On morning I got up, made a cup of coffee and started to read through the paper. For some reason I chose to look at the obituaries. Now, this was not a common thing for me to do, but that morning I just felt moved to take a look. And as soon as I opened to that page I saw a picture I recognized.
The picture was of a friend of mine from high school, Bryan. Bryan and I had spent quite a bit of time together. He was big into music and had a "kickin'" stereo we would jam out to. Oh the heavy metals days of my youth...
He was a master with his hands. He rebuilt cars, did landscaping, and could refinish and repair just about anything. There was a landscaping waterfall in his backyard that was an amazing sight to behold.
When I went to college, he entered the military. While he was there, something happened. Nobody knows what, exactly, but something snapped. One day Bryan took off and committed suicide.
That's when I saw his picture in the paper.
Later that week I went to the visitation and the funeral. I spent time with his parents and his sister. I gathered with friends from school and met people he had been friends with as well.
I mourned in my own way.
A couple of weeks after the funeral I was driving home from work. I happened to drive past his street and I felt an urge to go to his house, so I did. I parked in the driveway where he and I repaired a dent in my 'vette (that is my Chevy Chevette:), rang the doorbell, and almost immediately his mom opened the door.
She quickly recognized me, welcomed me in and brought me up to their kitchen. She was making salsa and the smell permeated the house.
She sat me down on one of the stools at breakfast bar, put a bowl in front of me and said stir. So I did.
I must have sat there for a couple of hours, making salsa. Most of the time she would just tell me what to do and I would do it. Sometimes she would say something about Bryan, a memory, a funny story, anything that would pop into her mind. Other times we just worked in silence.
After a few hours all of the salsa was in the jars, so I stood up, wiped off my hands, and started to head to the door. Before I got too far, she grabbed me, gave me a massive hug, and then, with tears streaming down her cheeks, she said Thank You.
Thank you for coming, for being with me, for remembering.
Thank you, you will never know how much this means
I promised her I would come back, and I did. And then I got into the car and drove home.
I will never forget that day.
It was a day when she and I got to grieve, to say good bye, to gather in our grief.
It was a day when both of us were comfortable enough to let our emotions out.
It was a day when I received a blessing through salsa.