It’s Christmas Eve, and this year I’m getting it out of the way BEFORE I drink a vat of wine.
A few years ago (I’ve lost count of how many, I’m afraid), my friend Paul died from Hodgkin’s Disease on Christmas Eve. Paul was the bass player of a band I loved called Potter’s House. He played bass and harmonica like his life depended on it. He was kind enough to always let me play his bass for a while when I saw him—and at one gig (a New Year’s gig), I played a bluesy thing and he played harmonica on top of it. It was a lot of fun, and a great memory. The last time I saw Paul was at some Christian teen-convention that I was attending and he was playing at. At that time, he was already sick, but I’m not sure if anyone including him knew how sick—and he didn’t mention it to me at the time; I didn’t know that until later. He was very kind to me, joked around a little bit, and gave me his phone number, telling me to call him so we could hang out. And I didn’t, because I was nervous about calling a cool, kind, wonderful person that I looked up to and respected. And I still have that piece of paper with his phone number on it. One of my great regrets.
Years later, while I was working at SLCC, a girl wandered into the Library and told me her name. I recognized the last name immediately and asked if she was Paul’s sister. Of course she was. Why wouldn’t she be? Funny how life provides resolution sometimes. During the time I was there, I was able to give Helen a copy of “Potter’s House: Live,” a more-or-less bootleg tape they’d recorded and sold at gigs. Somehow, she didn’t have a copy before then. I got to give her something that had her brother playing bass and harmonica on it. And that was kind of awesome. Helen and I are still friends, and even this past week when she changed her Facebook profile pic, I commented, “Woah. From the thumbnail, I thought you were a young Audrey Hepburn.” (Which was meant as a compliment, of course…but it’s not like that—she’s married to a good guy and also way too young for me.)
So anyway…here’s the part where it gets a little sad and a little sweet.
Paul — I still miss you. I think about you every time I plug in a bass, and I’m still working on trying to copy your tone. I think I got closer to it this year. Thank you for being who you were—who you are. Thank you for making an awkward, geeky teenager feel like he was cool every time you saw him. And someday, when you see me headed up there, get your harmonica ready. We’ll need to jam. And this time I’m DEFINITELY going to get in touch. Merry Christmas, Paul. Helen has turned out awesome, by the way. You’d be proud of her.
Okay! Now let’s all go Christmas our asses off!