Thursday, March 12, 2009

hold on. hold on to me.

"Hold On"

Hold on hold on to me hold on hold on to me
Sometimes there's no easy way
Got to cause somebody pain
Watching you you hit so hard on yourself
Cos you need someone to blame

Oh now what will you do
Oh now what will you do
Can't help the way you're feeling
Don't want to leave him so alone
Lisa cries her red hair streaming down feels like her heart is made of stone

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

aaron huffstetler

I was asked to say a few things at the funeral yesterday, and some have asked for a copy. here it is:

I have two brothers, and I love them. and in my life I've been fortunate to have a few - just a few - friends who I have loved like a brother, and aaron was one of them. aaron and I have been friends for a long long time, and thinking back on it now, it seems like almost every memory I have that is significant, aaron has been apart of it. from girls and figuring out girls and not figuring out girls to going away to school and getting married, trying to figure out a way to make a living, trying to navigate through life and marriage and families and temptations and loss and hardships - aaron has been a friend I have leaned on frequently and consistently. he never let me down, he always showed up, he always kept his word. he was honest and he was quiet and he had a grand memory, which he used often to recall stories that were always just what we needed to hear and remember. and his smile. his smile was reserved but it was broad, and when it came, it washed over you, carried you, and brought joy; he had a smile that was as invasive and unavoidable as the morning light. and it was good.

aaron was the kind of friend who would not only join you for a road trip, but he would enthusiastically plan it and count down the days. and the time on the road, whatever the destination, would be filled with long talks, good music, and an eagerness to be known. he was a safe person to talk to. he was open minded. he was never judgmental, but he was principled.

he loved his daughters well. I watched them come to him and talk to him. curl in his lap and fall asleep. it was a beautiful thing to watch - my friend with his children.

aaron loved ashleigh well. I watched him carry her quietly and fearfully, and he never wavered. he never took his eyes away from her. and I know if he were here today, he would say "hey, its okay." he would want all of us to be comforted. he would want me to stop talking so much.

aaron and I talked often about faith. in large part because of my own dark, plaguing questions and fears. and aaron was always patient and kind. (and it might be this quality of his that I will miss the most)

it is sad to me how lacking so much of the language of christianity is in providing comfort and hope during time of grief and loss. prayers seem cold, and isolating. scripture quotes seems too mysterious, too out of place. god feels so far away. I find myself wanting to be allowed the space to not justify, to not reconcile, to not attempt to explain. I find myself longing for the freedom to be sad, to weep, and for the freedom to grieve, for what may be a really long time.

and for some reason, on friday, I remembered this story of lazarus. which is actually kind of amazing because I've been avoiding the bible for a really long time now. and I recall how in this story, there is a guy who dies, and jesus comes 4 days after he is dead. and jesus is there to raise him from the dead. to bring restoration and life and hope. not just in the long term, but immediately. and jesus arrives and instead of saying anything comforting, instead of any sort of spiritual explanation, or prayers, jesus weeps. he just cries. even though moments later, her performs a miracle and brings life, and restores everything, he first engages the pain and weeps. there is this profound notion that the god of the universe engages pain and restoration simultaneously.

and so while there is hope that in the long term, sad things really are being made untrue. maybe there is also hope that in the here and now, jesus weeps. and maybe there is hope that the pain and grief and the guilt that we are all quietly carrying alone (or with a close friend), is actually being carried for us and with us.

to aaron - I will miss your friendship, your smile, your loyalty, and the quiet, countless ways you carried me. to aaron's family - thank you for allowing me to be apart of your story. it is an honor I will be forever thankful for. to ashleigh, audrey, anna grace - you are surrounded today by people who love you and grieve with you, and my hope is that as our story continues, we can maybe carry you a fraction as well as aaron did.

may the hope that is the wide, deep river of mercy and grace cover and wash over all of us. and may we never forget the beautiful people we've lost.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


one of my best friends died tonight. aaron huffstetler. we've been friends for about 16 years, and we shared a lot of memories and a lot of life together. he was a good man and a good husband and a good father. and he was the kind of man who just knew when to show up. he knew how to laugh, he knew how to open up his home, he knew how to be generous, and he knew how to be a good friend. he carried me in those quiet ways that only those who have logged a lot of years with you know how to do. he loved my music and came out to hear me play every time I had a gig. he came to my birthday parties. he had every record I've ever made, and he would talk to me about them. he had beautiful children, and I told him that every time I saw him.

I've lost a few best friends now, I really have, and to be honest, I'm really angry about it. and I'm really sad about it, too. I held aaron's widow, ashleigh, tonight, for a really long time. I told her I was so sorry. and I just stood there with her for a really long time as her body heaved in grief. I hugged aaron's parents and I told them I was sorry, too. I hugged my friend frank and I told him that if he dies that I am going to fucking lose it. and then I told him that I loved him. and then I went home and drank a bottle of wine and sat with my dogs and I've been playing piano (as frank predicted) for several hours now. brooke has been good to me. she has been quietly staying with me, even though I've been angry and upset and unkind to her.

tonight is a dark night. and I'm tired of people telling me that they are praying for me.

aaron was my friend, and he never fed me any bullshit like that.

thinking about that, and missing aaron, and weeping as I type.

and missing my friend.