In a previous post I wrote about the death of David Wells. He was my best friend and he committed suicide. Why? I may never know. There are plenty of rumors and innuendo, but frankly, none of it matters. Someone I deeply cared about died and left a massive hole in my heart. No he wasn’t gay, nor do I blame my homosexuality on his death; that would be a cop-out. We were just barely teenagers, more worried about grades, videogames and when the next episode of You Can’t Do That on Television would come out.
They say time heals all wounds, and as I wasn’t depressed anymore, I assumed I wasn’t in mourning for him. I was wrong.
I do ancestry work on Ancestry.com. It’s pretty fascinating stuff. For instance, I discovered I am directly related to the accountant of the Pilgrims, who made the voyage to the colonies in the second wave and was brother-in-law to William Bradford. Whoopie. In February of 2016, I happened to be on a second website I use for research called findagrave.com. David just happened to be on my mind that day (which happens periodically (funny, you would think that someone who died 31 years before would just drift away)). I entered his name and expected no results. Instead I got a picture of his grave and where it was located.
I was in shock. It was just three miles from where I worked! He had been there all this time and I didn’t know (I had gotten sick at the news). This was on a Wednesday. I was urged to go by the Holy Spirit, but to tell you the truth. I was pretty scared. Could all of this just end if I went? I had my brothers pray for me at the men’s Bible study that Saturday. I was really cryptic about what I was facing, only that I had to deal with it.
I went with no flowers or anything. I wasn’t even sure of the actual location, only that it was in a specific cemetery called Resthaven. The people there were real nice and looked it up on their computers. I had the location and a map of the plot in ten minutes. I went, nearly shaking.
Two minutes later I found his grave near a tree. I collapsed and wept over the grave for nearly twenty minutes. A huge torrent of emotion escaped from me, all the sadness, frustration, anger, the sense of loss that I felt. After 31 years I was still in mourning. While I was there another sudden burst of memories came back from before the stroke. These were childhood memories, from when I first met him and how he helped me adjust to the alien world of junior high. Before I recovered them, I only knew that someone named David had taken his own life.
One of the memories I recovered was that he had a brother. I remembered him walking through a room and giving me a wet willy. Did I know his name? The Holy Spirit told it to me. Steve. David probably mentioned it in passing. There was no way I should have remembered it, as I was just the dorky friend of his kid brother. But was Steve Wells a real person, or was I just making things up.
At home I went through the student directory from 1982-83, where I kept David’s picture. I poured over it and its tiny font. And then I found Steve’s name and that at the time he was in the 9th grade. I Googled his name and found a prominent Steve Wells, pastoring a church in Houston. But that couldn’t be it. Could it? I toyed with this possibility all weekend. Finally I sent a cryptic message to the church website, for this Steve, that had too much information concerning his brother, if he was indeed the Steve Wells I was looking for, which he probably wasn’t.
About an hour later I got a call on my cell phone that I didn’t recognize. I answered it absently, expecting to be informed that I had won a fabulous vacation to the Bahamas. Instead it was Steve, and yes, David was his brother. I was at work so I excused myself to a more private place. I explained to his brother that David had been my best friend, and that I was sorry for not attending the funeral.
Steve forgave me. He didn’t have to do that. I was a perfect stranger to him, someone who he had given a wet willy to in passing 33 years before. He didn’t even remember me. In that forgiveness, he released the mourning that I had been in for 31 years. He also gave me a bit of scripture that helps him get through (I suppose losing a brother would be harder on him than me) “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Matthew 22:32
I started the grieving process with my friend Bryan, who is a Christian counselor trained in psychology. He told me that I had a lot pent up anger and frustration at his death. He was right. I went to his grave on the 32nd anniversery of his death. I let all the anger I had kept back at his selfish act. I must have wept for an hour. I had gone there with two red roses. On the grave was a single silk white lilly. I took it home.
I still have a bit of sadness at David’s death, and probably will till I go Home. I will always be angry that David was lied to and that he had no hope. But I am no longer in mourning.