I can’t pinpoint exactly when you first showed up in my life, but I do remember when we first came face to face. Now that I think about it, it was inevitable that we’d eventually meet; you’d been skulking around the edges of my life for a while.
I was 10, and my friend’s dad was dying. He had been one of those unquestioned adult figures in my life since the pre-memory days of childhood. He was a close family friend and an elder at my father’s church. Early on, just after his diagnosis, a church group met to pray for him. They prayed for healing, but ended with, “Your will be done.”
“How could this be God’s will?” you whispered from the far corner of the room. I caught a glimpse of you, but we hadn’t been introduced.
With only a decade of life experiences behind me, death was an abstraction. So was God. I was curious and stubborn and not overly fond of attending church, but I’d never really thought to question what I’d been taught about faith. When a friend at school told me matter-of-factly she didn’t believe in heaven or hell, I was shocked.
Within a few months, my friend’s dad was in a wheelchair. He was 40, which seemed old to me at the time, but I knew it was too young for his body to be so rapidly breaking down. Suddenly, I was seeing you everywhere, but I still didn’t know your name.
That September, a week before my eleventh birthday, I watched the Twin Towers crumble on TV. The next day, my friend’s dad died. You stepped out of the shadows to formally introduce yourself, and I haven’t been able to shake you since.