I bought a book in 2001 “Art & the Bible” by Francis A. Schaeffer with every intention of reading it. But, it’s 2013 and I FINALLY finished. Will Gray (who would laugh that I finally finished a book…) is who I thought about as this paragraph unfolded::
“No work of art is more important than the Christian’s own life, and every Christian is called upon to be an artist in this sense. He may have no gift of writings, no gift of composing or singing, but each man has the gift of creativity in terms of the way he lives his life. In this sense, the Christian’s life is to be an art work. The Christian’s life is to be a thing of truth and also a thing of beauty in the midst of a lost and despairing world.”
Amazing that Will had all those. What a beautiful life! And, this is so hard to compose, I have deleted and rewritten this 10 times because I’m not sure how to even say how much Will meant to us – I’m sure you all feel the same.
Will would come into my office when he was a student at Union and we would talk and laugh almost daily – about art, music, life, love, silly things, serious things, faith, everything. (Dr. Dockery if you happen to read this, we actually did work, too.) Will quickly became like a little brother for me. I have a brother, but he lived far away, so Will filled that void while there – and my brother’s a musician, so we instantly had that connection.
When I got to see Will and Angie in June this year, he said, “So glad you could come Mel. Tell me some stories.” I had no real words for once in my life as his friend. But I realized he needed to laugh and I did too. So I told him some “funny” stories of Aiden, our little boy. And then we started talking about the funny times we’ve had with life – moving, art stuff, just everything – as if we were 10 years younger and he wasn’t sick. It was so good to see that smile.
He and Angie reminded me that my apartment had been the place of their first date. It cracks me up because honestly, I can’t remember little details from life before having a son… But we all had a great time laughing about raspberry drizzle and bruschetta that we made for Angie. I love that he snickered about it because we both know we made it to impress her. And it worked. :)
One time when he was traveling to play at a music venue here, we were all out until late. The next morning I had a 6 mile race to run, and Will had said he would be at the finish line to cheer me on. I left early that morning, and was so shocked to see Will ready to go. What a friend! I thought for sure none of the guys would wake up that early. At the finish line, I saw over all these heads… a tall Will cheering me on to finish. I really am not a good runner, but it helped to have a dear friend there to just finish.
Afterwards some friends that were running with me, along with Will, crammed into my little car (and we’re all tall so we looked so funny) and went to breakfast. Will was so funny when I asked, “Oh, should we roll down the windows?” He politely laughed and stopped holding his breath… we were all so sweaty and stinky! Those people still remember him and how kind and intentional his friendship had been – just over a simple breakfast. Funny things like that is what I remember most about Will. His funny self, but his intentional self. His wit and sweet spirit.
Just last year when I took a friend to see Broke* in Lexington, she said that she felt like she’d known Will forever. That’s just who Will was. A forever kind of friend to whomever he met. He impacted all our lives deeply.
Will Gray, I miss you “little brother.” You are truly missed with the depths of our hearts. Not a day goes by that we don’t think about you and pray for Angie and your family. I know you’re waiting at the real finish line. Please cheer us on…
~Melissa (Mann) Bean