This is E. He and The Man were close. They had this play fight for years where E would pester The Man about his Sunday attire. “No! Get church pants!” For example, he would come into the library (we were the church librarians), look at The Man’s shoes, (usually brown hiking boots or tennis shoes), and make this grumbling sound, then yell at him for not having Sunday shoes.
They would banter for a while and then The Man would give E some candy. Even on Fast Sunday (when Mormons don’t eat for 24 hours and donate the money they saved to feed the poor). E would panic if he heard his mom in the hall when The Man was giving him candy on Fast Sunday. Sometimes he would run out and then come back for it later when the coast was clear.
Our last Christmas together, I got The Man a couple Sunday shirts, ties, pants, and dress shoes that would meet E’s high standards. (We hadn’t bought The Man dress shoes in over a decade.) The Man was so stoked to wear them to church and impress E with his dapper manliness.
The pride on E’s face, the firm handshake and pat on the back E gave him when he saw The Man dressed “like the priesthood” that Sunday, was something The Man talked about for months afterwards.
He loved E.
E had a hard time after The Man died. For the first while I would often see him staring at me with a confused look on his face. He would tell me he missed The Man and ask when he would be back. Often he would stand wordlessly in the library doorway looking around, trying to understand what had happened. He would do this for several minutes and then leave. The first Sunday after The Man died, I glanced out the window and saw E standing across the street looking at our house. He stood there for about 20 minutes. I think he was waiting for The Man to come out.
The Man wanted a closed casket funeral, which he had, except for E. To try and help E understand that The Man would never be coming back, I had the casket open for a few minutes just so E could see The Man. E looked from me to The Man and back again several times. Still, it took some time for E to truly comprehend the permanence of death.
It was hard watching him struggle to grasp this….but I loved that their relationship really meant something to E. We both love E, and The Man looked forward to their Sunday sparring matches. While we were getting ready for church, The Man would talk about what E would say if he wore this shirt that E liked or that tie that E hated…
Some Sundays I think it was the whole reason The Man came to church.
After The Man died, for E’s birthday, I gave him a couple of The Man’s ties. The ties we bought specifically with E in mind. I remember looking at clothes in the store, ties in particular, and talking about if E would approve.
E wears one of The Man’s ties almost every Sunday. And, pretty much every Sunday, he comes up to me, grabs his tie, holds it up, tells me in his thick voice “it’s [The Man’s Name here]’s”, and then he tells me he misses The Man.
If he sees me during the meeting, he looks at me very seriously and holds up his tie to show me he hasn’t forgotten.
There are those who give little of the much which they have–and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
“And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
“There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
“And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
“And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space. Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.” – Kahlil Gibran
E is the last kind of giver described here.
E provided friendship and fun, but the most important thing he brought to The Man’s life was his ability to see The Man for who he was and love him. E loves with his whole heart. It’s his greatest talent. That’s exactly what The Man needed most. It’s what we all need most.
I love this kid.