Thursday, February 24, 2011
My Soul Brother
I immediately smiled. It’d been a long time since we’d run into one another here at St. Martin’s. Now, both back in our hometown at the same time, we’d made it to the same Mass. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I whispered to my daughter, “My best guy friend from high school is here! See the tall guy over there with the red sweater?! That’s Paul !!” She smirked at me. I imagine it is pretty funny to see your Mom getting so excited to see an old friend. She knew of him. I’d long spoken of the several Pauls in my life who had been very special to me. Father Paul Stefanko, Eric’s grandfather Paul, and my dear friend Paul from high school. It’s no surprise that I’d been easily convinced to name my son Paul eleven years ago. It’s a very special name.
After Mass I couldn’t get out of my pew quickly enough. “Mom, just wave to him already”, Emma pushed. So I did. And then he saw me and the biggest, warmest smile came over his face. His eyes lit up just as I remember them doing back in high school. I didn’t have more than a second to wonder if our conversation would be awkward. It took only the time it took for him to meet me at the front of the church for him to envelop me in a big bear hug. Ahhh... Paul. How I love this guy.
We were never anything but close friends. Paul was my “Soul Brother”. We affectionately referred to one another that way, as “Soul Brother and Soul Sister”, undoubtedly because we were always at church together, but also because we had a certain closeness, a bond, that was so natural and so strong. I trusted him completely and I always felt safe with him around. I used to tell him that someday he was going to be an incredible husband to someone very special and a wonderful father too. I do believe I was right for I saw the way his two daughters looked at him when I spoke to them. “Your Dad was always so funny back in high school. I bet he’s still very funny, right?!” “Yeah. He is” was their unison response.
But my absolute BEST memory of Paul is of he and his Angie at their wedding. I had not met Angie before their wedding day. At the ceremony I remember little other than Paul giggling, just as he had always done since I’d first met him back in Middle School. And the best part was that Angie giggled too. The two of them giggled throughout the entire wedding ceremony. Their joy was so apparent. So beautiful. It was the happiest, most loving wedding I had ever witnessed. To this day, I don’t believe I have ever attended one more naturally beautiful.