Monday, June 3, 2013

In which I remember and post a favorite

Friday made twelve years.

How can so many years have passed already?  

On May 31, 2001 my dear friend Frank Pendergrass passed away at Athens Regional in Georgia, after a long battle with a brain tumor.  Actually, he was my best friend.

For a time.

Who was Frank?  He was twenty seven at the time of his death.. a student, son, brother, nephew, beloved grandson and friend.  I know this because I met most of those people in his life, his family and friends. 

But who was he really?

Frank was 

serious studious goofy loyal kind wise

full of faith grace vision hope humility 


wounds from his broken past still visible

And yet

always focusing on

God's sweeping redemption shattering the darkness in his soul.

He was patient.

*From Frank's Facebook Remembrance Page, The High School Years.

I met Frank the second day of my freshman year of college, at Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, GA.  A town so forgettable it boasted only one stoplight, an entire police force of two officers...and a college so conservative shorts were only allowed to be worn after 4pm, and never ever ever to classes. 

Frank was a local boy who grew up about a half hour from the college.  He sat behind me in remedial math class first semester.  Yes, remedial math...let's not go there.  Frank had a crush on a girl who sat three rows over from us, a local also.  I encouraged him to ask her out but he never did.  We attended prayer meetings together...almost everyone at Emmanuel did...we hung out on the quad and stared at clouds, finding shapes in them.  I saw dinosaurs, he saw armies.  We drove the backroads of North Georgia.  He was the first person to tell me I am stronger than I think I am.  

I have five hundred memories of Frank...I could fill ten pages of blogging with them.  We lost touch twice...both times due to my pride over silly issues.  I was so immature at times.  I regret the wasted years, never realizing how fleeting they would be.

The morning I found out about his death

before I found out about his death

I heard God's voice in my mind telling me I would

see Frank in heaven.

That message annoyed me at the time, because I didn't understand it.  It seemed something tactless spoken at funerals, when one didn't know what to say.

I didn't get it at all.

Three hours later when I spoke to Frank's mom on the phone, I understood.  I realized God was preparing my heart for the news I would hear.  It was a small comfort in the grief.   

It was also comforting because Frank always talked about heaven.  Endlessly.  What it would be like, what he would do there...he even signed my yearbook at the end of our Freshman year with a drawing of how he imagined to be surfing the Sea of Galilee in heaven one day.    

When Melissa and I took our road trip in 2010 we visited Frank's grave. Or rather, we tried.  Frank's family was unable to afford a headstone at his death, so we visited the cemetery, but searched in vain for his place of interment.  We were still there though, crunching the red Georgia dirt under our feet.  As we drove away, Melissa rolled down the windows and yelled

"We love you Frank!"

I will remember that moment forever.  

To Frank...
You are in my heart.  I will see you in heaven.

My best friends from Emmanuel- that is me in the front being strangled by Melissa while she stuck her tongue out...I have no idea why.  Frank is standing in the back. 

I would like to share a blog post which resonated deeply with me today, by one of my favorite bloggers, Sarah Bessey.  It is beauty and truth.