my friend david passed away a few days ago. maybe looking at the picture you wonder "isn't he kind of old to be her friend?" probably, maybe... so this is why i say that: i met david when i was 16. he had just moved from rwanda, in the aftermath of the genocide. i can't remember if i knew anything about it at the time - i assume i probably didn't? but one day when i went outside to the shop, he was there. he was hunched over in the cold working on his car (my dad had lent him some tools). i came out and brought him a piece of chocolate cake - not really sure why. i remember he looked at me with this slow smile and said thank you, and ever since then he greeted me saying "hello my friend!" (always with that smile that anyone who knows him remembers and loves.)
so that is what we always called each other. that was ten years ago, and since then i've heard bits and pieces of his stories (never had the guts to ask much of anything.) all i know is that he is one of the most compassionate, brave, strong, and generous people i have ever known.
upon arriving here, he could've laid low -- looked out for himself and his family, forgotten what he left behind. but he never did. his house was like a hotel of refugees coming and going. he gave them a roof over their heads, a hot meal. he helped them find work and get on their feet.
he is also one of the most forgiving people i have ever known. he didn't carry a heart full of anger or resentment, although he certainly would have the right to do so. he chose to forgive. he chose to live a life full of grace.
when i heard he passed away, i cried and cried, because the light he carried in him helped make this world a little less dark.
A visit home to Washburn Wisconsin
6 days ago