Today I have lost one of the greater loves of my life. Anthony was a light that guided me through the darkness I’ve become so familiar with. He knows things that no other soul ever has. In all of that knowledge, there wasn’t an ounce of judgment.
We met over two decades ago, when I was dating a rabid football fan. I despise football, but had a bet going just to poke fun at this guy’s amped up rant. I called in repeatedly to the local radio station asking for the score. Finally came “I have to know… why don’t you just check the tv?” I didn’t have one at the time. When the end came, and the DJ asked why I was so interested for someone who hated the sport, I explained that a dinner was at stake. His reply; “Girl, if this were a couple of points difference, I’d say you win a Big Mac. If it were even a ten point spread, he should buy you a dinner at Denny’s. But with this score, brother oughta be flying you to Milan for dinner with breakfast in Paris!”
It was a year later that we actually met. I won a contest to be a DJ for a day. Anthony was the hosting jock, and I carried my nerves on my sleeve when I walked into the studio. I didn’t realize it was the same guy until months later. He gave me a quick tutorial of the mechanics, and then switched on the microphone. I knew it was my voice, but I never figured out how I managed to speak. But I did. A couple of hours in, me still shaking in my heels, someone called in requesting a song from a daughter to her father. I began to rattle off all the fitting titles I knew and he stared at me, eyes wide. Twenty years after that night, he said it only confirmed what he saw when I spoke my first words; “You were a natural. I watched it, and everybody heard it.”
Anthony encouraged me to follow that dream, and I did. Like a butterfly who at last believed she had wings, I fell in love with the power of reaching people through music. Of stirring the same feelings I found in the notes of a song. It was a quietly turbulent time in my life. I was the wallpaper that nobody noticed in a full room. Many midnights I walked from the pizza place I worked at to the station, spent hours at his side or in a production room somewhere writing bad poetry about the lovesickness I was beginning to feel toward this tall, vivacious man as he bounced off of the walls, sometimes literally, making up silly words to songs he played – and he just happened to be married. He would give me rides home across town in his beat up van but never let on if he knew of my schoolgirl feelings. He instead gave me wings, and as I flew he migrated away when the station was sold.
It was sixteen years later that we reconnected. Anthony was no longer married, but I was. He had gone into ministry, and I saw the natural fit. We met, and we reminisced about the industry and then I asked a question that had burning inside of me for half of my life. “Christians claim there is a peace at the end, that you go into God’s kingdom rejoicing in this Heaven that was promised. Where was that peace when my mother died?” Anthony didn’t try to sell me the Bible, he simply looked at me with his kind brown eyes, and took my pale hand in his dark ones, and said “There is no proof. That’s why it’s called faith.”
He was the only person I’ve ever allowed to talk to me about God. He accepted that we didn’t share beliefs. Over egg rolls or pancakes or as he snuck a shrimp from my plate, I often said “You know the Bible is just a work of fiction created by man, right?” just to see the fire in his eyes as he launched into a sermon. He wasn’t correcting me, he was simply being Anthony.
I was a believer in Anthony.
And he was a believer in me. I was just beginning to find myself as a writer, and again he reached out his hand as I took each step. He didn’t pull me along, rather he gave me balance. I trusted him when he said my courage was contagious.