Ok, reviewing the “love story” posts I’ve written for the blog I realized that I missed a pretty crucial part of our relationship...right in between when I found out David’s name and when I left for the East Coast.
Someone told me once that the song “Ironic” was misnamed and really all the frustration Alanis Morsette spends 4 minutes 6 seconds outlining are really just “unfortunate” events not ironic. As an English teacher I have to disagree. There is some amount of dramatic irony in a man overcoming his Pteromerhanophobia (fear of flying) only to die in a plane crash. Although I admit that the irony of finding a black fly in my chardonney still eludes me. In any case, the tragedy that struck David Lauda only weeks after I met him makes the misfortunes of Ms. Morsette look like mere annoyances.
Probably a month after I first laid eyes on David our church held baptisms. Now, the church connotes a whole host of images, from cathedrals to big tent revivals. Let me assure you that whatever you are picturing is not what our church was like. We met in homes, on the beach, in a theater, wherever people let us really. We were a band of college kids and young adults on fire for Jesus. We’d worship anywhere and everywhere. So, these particular baptisms were held in a friend’s backyard in his hot tub, which was exactly as awkward as it sounds.
The first thing that amazed me was how many people wanted to baptized. We held baptisms every season and each time there would be 5-10 people whose lives had been completely turned upside down by their new faith. The second thing that amazed me was that David chose to wear tie dyed zebra print short shorts and what James refers to as a “hoop ball hat” (aka a sweatband). I’m not sure if anyone had told him that this was not traditional baptismal attire but he stood up there without a care in the world.
|Oh yeah, those are the shorts..yikers:)|
After the service was over I somehow I finagled a way to get a ride back to school with him. On that 40 minute drive he talked more than I have ever heard him speak at one time. He told me all about his faith and his family. He told me that since becoming a Christian he had forgiven his dad and was back in contact with him. In fact, his dad was getting released from prison in only a few months. He was super excited because he and his dad had been inseparable before the 10 year sentence came down.
I got back to school and I got caught back up in school...obsessing about making B+s into As. I didn’t forget about David, in fact every time I saw him I felt more and more amazed and taken with him. But we didn’t get a chance to talk. Until I was talking with a friend, weeks, maybe a month later. “Did you hear about David Lauda’s dad?” she asked. “No,” I answered hoping that maybe his release date had been moved up and I could meet the man, the myth and the legend Jim Lauda.
“He died this week,” she announced. And I felt sick to my stomach. Just before getting released? It couldn’t be true, she couldn’t know this. But when I saw David later that night I knew it was true. I didn’t know what to say or do. We were all acting like he had the plague...too awkward to ask about it, too big a deal to not ask about it. I finally ended up talking to his sister and he came over. I held my breath. “You know what song I have stuck in my head?” she asked him. “Don’t pull on superman’s cape, Don’t spit into the wind and you don’t mess around with Jim.” Kalli quoted. David laughed.
It took days, weeks, years to piece together Jim’s death. He died fighting wild fires in Northern California (Inmates on good behavior can volunteer to do that in emergencies). I wasn’t close enough to go to the funeral. But I was at the spreading of his ashes the next summer. We built an ebenezer of stones up at Lake Shasta so as never to forget him. 5 years after that our first son was born... James, after Jim.
But back then, back when the grief was so fresh and raw, I could only marvel at David’s courage and faith. Two qualities that only those who've lost loved ones can understand. They are what held us together that long summer and our first year of dating. They are what hold us together still.