Friday night, January 7, 2011
Josh and Lindsey invite us to their house for drinks. Toph and Melissa, Katie and Timmy, and me. David and Toni aren’t here, which isn’t unusual since it is the holidays and the band isn’t on tour. Josh waited before we were all back in town before calling the meeting, but wanted us to know that even though it was informal, it was important.
We sit around the table and Josh tells us plainly: David is resigning.
After a short time in Waco, he and Toni will move to the southeast to be closer to David’s record company and community of artists and Worship Leaders that make up a large Christian “student movement,” and a design school that Toni will attend.
We sit around the table, stunned.
We are silent for what feels like an eternity. UBC without David is a category of reality none of us has ever imagined. We sit there with our jaws dropped, looking like we are trying to figure out how many sides are on a circle.
Once we regain our mental and emotional footing, questions about the future. How do we tell the church? What will happen with music in the meantime? How do we replace David?
I am as shocked as anyone. But given my history, my mind probably leaves the past and the present quicker than anyone else’s, as I begin to think about how the church will be different moving forward.
We go home disoriented.
Saturday Morning, January 8, 2011
I sit in my recliner, waiting for the truck to deliver the washer and dryer I purchased earlier in the week. 8-5 window, so I could be sitting there for a long time. I ponder and process the news from the night before. Who saw this coming? Just a month after they pushed for, and got us to vote on, moving away from 17th and Dutton and into an imaginary building that was bigger, better, and out of our neighborhood. What now? How do we go from having one of the most gifted artists of his (and, arguably, of any) generation, to not? Would this drive people away? Would it drive others to us?
My phone rings. I assume it is the deliver driver, but look at the screen and see it is from my mom. Since I haven’t talked to her in at least a week, I fight the urge to hit silent.
It’s not mom, it’s my sister. She’s panicky, obviously looking to someone else, asking what she should say. The man near her says I’ll talk to him.
It’s Robert, a long-time family friend.
Craig, you need to come home. You’re dad’s been in an accident. He didn’t make it.
I know immediately I should pack for several days and a funeral, but instead I just walk out the door and to my car for the two-hour drive. I’ll want a reason to come back to Waco, and leaving my clothes here will suffice for one.
I drive east on Hwy 31, the road that brought me to this place. I’ll remember every moment of the drive. Every song, small town and poor railroad, cotton and ranching community—Hubbard; Dawson; Corsicana; Powell; Kerens; Trinidad; Malakoff; Athens; Murchison; Brownsboro; Chandler.
I’ll will myself to remember it all, for some strange reason.
I arrive at my sister’s house. I’m met outside by mom, Robert and my uncle Johnny. The fire department is on the back property, taking care of his body. We don’t know what happened exactly, they say, and it will turn out that we will never know. There was a fire. Some heard an explosion, some didn’t. He was pinned under his truck, in the fire. The autopsy will eventually list several causes of death, with no one knowing which on the list caused the other.
The Justice of the Peace is in the house, finishing up paperwork. Sue, also a long-time family friend. When I walk in she gets up, gives me a hug and says I remember this guy. Used to pick him up on the church van and take him to Sunday School.
There will be a visitation and a funeral. In the next few days there will also be snow, and faces from my past will reappear. But on Monday, I return to Waco for the night to get my clothes.
It’s the National Title Game night, and many of my friends from UBC are gathering to watch it. What do I do in a situation like this? I want to go, but I don’t want to be the center of attention, which I am bound to be. I decide against it. I need to wash clothes, but don’t have a washer and dryer, as I missed the delivery. Josh tells me I can do laundry at their house, though they will be going to Adam and Molly’s to watch the game.
I arrive before they leave, and he asks me one last time if I want to go. I assure him that I’ll be ok, would rather watch it alone so people don’t feel awkward around me.
I start the laundry and begin to watch the game. Oregon vs. Auburn. I have no dog in the fight, and really just have it on for background noise. Shortly after the game begins, Josh returns. He doesn’t know what to do. He wants to be with the crowd, but he also didn’t want to leave me alone. We sit there for a few minutes, and I reassure him that I’ll be ok. Lindsay will need him to help with the kids. I thank him for his concern.
In the next few years Josh and I will have many difficult moments together. But this act of tenderness and care I will remember and hold closely for the rest of my life.