Angie recently told me that Will had over 700 drafts in his email. Drafts. Never sent, never perfected, never read. As someone who only has three drafts in her email, and knows exactly to whom and for what those drafts are purposed, I wonder, what is Will teaching us from this seemingly insignificant, yet most unique, detail from his life? I have to ask the question, because as much as Will was a friend, musician, husband, athlete, philosopher, and creator, we all know he was a teacher.
I’m not sure I ever fully realized how much Will taught me until now, as I reflect on my relationship with him.
Will and I talked….well, okay, I may have done more talking, but we had great conversations. After a day in the studio, Will was always up for a debrief of the day. Will had an incredible way of showing those he spoke with how much he valued the conversation; he wasn’t checking his phone or computer, or looking out the window or at the television. When we talked, he made me think about what I was saying because I knew he was really listening–his deep, concerned eyes rarely dropped eye-contact and his responses were thoughtful and intentional. I know, now, Will taught me how to be a better listener.
In between recording sessions with Ben, as we made dinner or decompressed from the day, Will and I would embark on philosophical and theological conversations. Although we didn’t always agree, his kind and respectful demeanor always left me knowing we were still good….even though I was wrong ;). He had an awesome sense of humor that always lightened the mood; he usually connected our 17 inch height difference to the underlying problem we were having with our communication. And through the tension and comedy, Will continually challenged me to think critically about my faith.
Will was my friend, but he was my husband’s friend first. His best friend–and no one knows my husband the way Will did; I learned so much (especially in the early years) about Ben, through Will. Will was a dreamer and Ben was always included in his dreams–the first dream, of many, was concocted at Martha’s Vineyard, over 12 years ago, and revealed to me (and Ben) in a late-night-left-over-Bubbles-mac’n-cheese-binge in the CMC kitchen. Will went on and on (in great detail, of course), about all the adventures we would have in the coming years–mostly of music and friendship. It was in that moment that Will & Angie Gray became part of my family, part of my lifetime picture. I knew they would always be a part of my life. In the years to follow, Will taught us about friendship, telling us that he loved us; texting, calling and dreaming with Ben on a daily basis–he never let us go, despite time, distance, and all that is life. I called Will Ben’s second soul mate because they finished each other’s sentences and made the most beautiful, meaningful, and creative music I’ve ever heard. They could calm each other and make each other laugh. They completed the others creative puzzle.
Due to work schedules, I would frequently be the airport taxi picking up Will when he came to St. Louis to record. He always laughed at me because from the moment I picked him up, I would talk a mile a minute, while moving around and doing 16 other things–there was always so much to catch up on! He would shake his head and laugh at me; then, he’d hold up his hands or pat the chair next to him and tell me to slow down, take a seat, and relax….I was stressing him out. He thought it was okay to slow down. It was okay to wait….maybe not share everything at once…
Will always reflected Christ’s love and taught me about the His steadfast patience (despite reactive and impulsive tendencies in my life). The importance of Will’s relationship with Christ was observed as he read his Bible, and prayed with and for us whenever we were together.
To me, his email drafts are a representation of his enduring patience. Even as he struggled for his life, his theme was patience. “Wait on the Lord”, he would say. Slow down. Take a seat. Just wait. His faith was manifested in his ability to wait patiently……He knew and trusted God’s timing in everything…even if it meant never clicking send.
Make me to know your ways, O Lord.
Teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.