Monday, June 27, 2016

Passing Angel

When I was sixteen years old I was enamored with a friend I met volunteering at Camp Aldersgate. Her name, Kallie Byrd, was befitting; she sang like one. She was incredibly beautiful and bold in ways I could only imagine myself to be. We would drive around in my Jeep on nights and weekends off like we ruled the world.

I don't remember how she met Brent - must have been in a bar singing, maybe one night with Tim Sullivan, one night with Steve Christie, another night there he was. I like to imagine I was with her. He was short and stocky with a cherubic face and a constant twinkle in his blue eyes. When he sang I got goose bumps, and it wasn't long before they tumbled into love despite an 8-10 year age discrepancy.

I cannot count the number of times I heard him sing - probably in the hundreds. I remember one particular haunt - My Friend's Place in Levy, Arkansas near his small white house where we would drink wine after the show until the middle of the night, talking about our dreams and our pasts. The sun was shining through the trees overhanging the deck that was built like a treehouse on this early Friday afternoon and he took the stage with the swagger of a professional. Stormy Monday was one of his best songs. I wish I had cell phone footage to share here the but technology at the time renders me incapable of sharing anything but my memories.

Kallie and I would drive back and forth from her house in Allen,TX to my house in Little Rock, AR that summer. We haunted bars in Plano, playing pool and flirting with boys after she got off work waiting tables at The Mustang. I'm not sure if that was the name of the high end bar, but I remember the large bronze Mustang statues out front that I would stare at while I waited for her to be free so we could claim the night.

She invited me to their wedding in Phoenix, AZ. I flew there and was startled by the desert air; how fast water dried from my skin. I'd never been to that part of the country. Either before or after the wedding at her parent's home we drove to the Grand Canyon. I was amazed with how rapid the landscape changed - from forest to desert. Sedona was stunning. We arrived at the Grand Canyon just as the sun went down and toasted their union.

When I got married she already had her daughter Annie Laura. Life circumstances tore our friendship asunder but we periodically kept in touch. Last year we reunited on Facebook after a long hiatus. I remember her sharing her daughter's youtube channel. I watched one night. It was haunting and thrilling; her daughter being the same age as as Kallie was when I met her. Looking and sounding incredibly similar. I still some nights will pull it up and watch it. It's like I'm sixteen years old again staring at my sun.

When I talked to Kallie last fall she told me that Brent had died. I think he was in his early 50's. I felt profoundly sad, but also incredibly lucky to have been a witness to all the good and light that was peaking in him at the time of their love for each other. Their marriage did not last long, but what they created will forever tell the tale of their hearts. I can't wait to meet the adult Annie Laura. Looks like Kallie has done an amazing job. I'd expect no less of one of my best friends on the planet.

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