One of my best friends and playing buddies, Bruce died this past week. He had had a long battle with an illness. I was playing piano in church last week and Bruce came in a little late using a cane and I looked down the aisle at him and looked in his eyes. We exchanged so much in that look (for example usually he plays with me in this church).
Today, at Bruce’s funeral I had moments of love like that one I had with Bruce. When I arrived, I saw Bruce’s granddaughter, our eyes met and she walked over to me and gave me a hug. She was all dressed up. When she shows up to our gigs, at the bar with her parents, I always embarrass her by calling out, “Millie’s here!” she sometimes gives me a dirty look when I do that.
During one of the hymns, I was leading, I looked up at the congregation and saw Laura, a woman that has known me all these years that I have shared with Bruce. She knew both of us and knew our friendship. She smiled at me in that moment and cheered me up. It was a look that meant so much. It said, “I know, Todd. I was there, I saw it.” I got a joyous hug from this look. Which I needed as I was having trouble singing and playing while crying.
My buddy Nick and I along with Bruce founded a band twenty-five years ago. Now Nick and I feel like a two-legged stool. Nick was playing his guitar right next to me. Just like it should be. Nick told me about his son who also played with us for a few years and how he had talked this week about Bruce and how grateful he was to have had that opportunity. I could see how grateful Nick was. And so was I.
Nick and I accompanied a beautiful fiddle song. We did not have time to practice it. But it went great and had a particularly sweet ending that we improvised. I looked at Andrea the fiddle and we shared a “Well we pulled that out of our ass” smile. Just like I had done with Bruce hundreds of times through the years.
During the lunch after the service, I looked across the room and saw Bruce’s son in law, Jesús. I’ve known him all these years. Seen him at weddings (his), at Bruce’s house, at landscaping jobs, all sorts of random places. His wife used to baby sit for me. We didn’t need to say anything. We knew the score. I felt close to him for a couple seconds and super grateful for his friendship.
Also during the lunch, I was sitting with another buddy, Craig. We go way back and have done pretty much everything you can do with a buddy. Well, one of us told a story and the other said, “Yeah, I’ve done that an even more.” And we both looked and realized how hilarious we were and had a good laugh. Then more old buddies showed up and we just talked and talked.
Is live a moment or a journey? Today it felt like a moment. These times when your eyes meet another are the look of love.