A verdict is going to be read this week. I feel so far removed from the man on trial, that time, and those involved. I feel weird saying that because people I love are intimately involved and invested in the outcome of all this. They deserve to be heard, but what has been heard by me are just second and third-hand accounts, for years. That doesn't make them false. That makes them all a little less real, at least it did until last week when I could read his name in the paper, read about this trial, this real trial, in which my best friends are taking the stand and facing this man and his problems head on like they have never been faced.
My friends, my brave friends and family even, are presenting him with a side of himself that he even refuses to come face to face with. I don't know what is best for this man. Years and years of isolation? Maybe. Maybe not. A chance to do it again? No. Freedom? No.
I guess what he has left in my life is a swath of confusion and hurt. And maybe that is all I will ever recognize it to be. I knew a kind man, invested in my upbringing, and concerned about my health. I knew a friend.
A friend I could vent to any time I wanted.
A friend who bought me a hundred Chipotle burritos.
A friend who absorbed my tears and anguish on the morning of August 13, 2000, when in front of a house that my friend had just killed himself in, hugged me. He was there. He didn't ask questions. He knew I just had to scream and sob into his shoulder.
A friend who always signed off with "Grace and Peace."
A friend who signed a Bible that rests on my nightstand to this day with "Bryce, May God's words always direct your life."
A friend that I sent this to in an email, my last ever contact with him:
Who seeks for heaven alone to save his soul
May keep the path, but will not reach the goal,
While he who walks in love may wander far,
But God will bring him where the blessed are
A friend that made me choose between him and the rest of my friends. No matter how much I may have loved him, that was an easy decision.
The friend became a stranger in stories, mugshots, and newspaper clippings.
He became a great deceiver, a splinter, a fissure that is to this day splintering a once solid and calm church family.
He became that confusion and hurt.