A voice spoke to me and it slowly started saying

Where to start?

We’ll start with my friend John.  I met John in the title business.  He’s a deal through a deal guy, always looking for the next big thing.  He works hard.  Very hard.  He’s a tall man around 6’4″, very well put together with the biggest smile of anyone I know.  He loves Jesus, his wife and his family.  And me.  And likewise.  When he calls he starts with “VEEE CEEE!”  And I respond with JAY BEE!  We never talk about it but as a relatively dark skinned black man, I know he fights fights that I will never have to.  I know the cops regularly shake him down over his sleek 7-series BMW.  What was a black man doing driving a 7-series BMW in Danville?  That really pisses me off.  And I’m certain he can’t hail a cab on his own.

John didn’t see the mortgage thing coming.  He lost the home that he had built especially for his family.  He lost his job.  He lost everything.  And then he dusted himself off and rebuilt his family’s life, because John hustles.  He never lost his big beautiful smile through any of it and when he called it started with “VEE CEE!”

Last Saturday night John suffered the most devastating of losses.  His eldest son was murdered at a club in Oakland.  Naturally nobody know nuthin’.  He was shot.  That they know.  I know John and I know how he raised his sons.  Once the police are done figuring out what happened it will be a wrong time wrong place situation.  It was a private party at a more upscale club.  He wasn’t hanging at Dorsey’s Locker.  He was at decent club in Jack London Square.  And now he’s gone.  Just like that.  And my friend John is dealing with an unimaginable loss.

Sadly my friend John is not the first one of my friends to lose a child.  My friends have lost sons over drugs, suicide and car wrecks.  And God only knows what else.  One friend who had the means to give her son everything couldn’t give him the cure for addiction.  He ended up dead in some flea-bag motel in Oakland just when they thought his addiction was finally beaten.  She suffered from lung cancer and once he was dead she started smoking again and essentially killed herself too.  From that I learned that once someone loses a child their life is never the same.  And no one will understand.  I also learned that you lean into your friends when they lose a child.

No one knows what to say and they abandon their friends.  They don’t mean to, but what do you say to someone who just lost their adult child?  I don’t freaking know but I do know it’s worth it to sit and drink coffee or wine or whatever with your friends.  You don’t have to talk about the loss, you just have to listen.  That’s what friends do.  I know the loss in unimaginable.  And I know all you have to do is be there.

I don’t think I’m going to be able to deal with the funeral next week.  I do know that when that part’s over and everyone has gone home, I’ll call John.  And I’ll keep calling John.  Because that’s what friends do.

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