I said goodbye to a friend earlier this week. I wasn’t able to attend his memorial service, and being honest, we’d not talked in years. But I still considered him a friend. Most definitely someone who influenced my life during some of my most formative years.

Goodbyes suck.

Because they bring back memories. And while the memories bring joy, they also bring pain. I say all this not because memories of this lion of a man bring me pain, but because they Delorean’d me back 20 years.

I grew up in a very (so I thought) typical white, suburban, religious, household. We went to church, I had friends, we lived in the suburbs. Everything was normal.

It wasn’t until around 2000 that the paint covering the cracks in the foundation of my family unit began to peel, and the true nature of our home began to show itself.

In September of 2001, just two days after 9/11, my family left for what was supposed to be a two week trip to Texas. My youngest sister was fighting, and losing, a battle with an eating disorder and my parents were trying to find her help. By mid-October, it was clear this wouldn’t be a two week trip.

The years leading up to this were some of the most amazing of my life. I was a leader in my church and serving as a sound-guy regularly during worship services. I had two jobs I loved. I was really into the contemporary christian music scene and by the time I was 20, I was working full time in christian retail and christian radio. I had my own christian music radio show.

Music and worship. I loved music and I loved to worship. And I did all I could to surround myself with them.

Throughout 2000 and 2001 I’d been heavily involved with a prophetic worship group. We’d meet each week on Tuesday evenings and worship till 11 or 1130 some nights. Throughout that time, I was able to run sound for some of the most gifted musicians and vocalists I’ve worked with (including the friend I had to say goodbye to this week). I still count it an honor. Even as my familial world was fragmenting, this was a beacon of light, much needed normalcy as my life was fast sinking into chaos.

Our efforts culminated in an actual CD. We’d recorded an album. A release party was scheduled, we’d invited a choir to join us, it was without a doubt the most important event I’d ever run sound for and I was so incredibly excited.

November 2001, I can still remember the moment my phone rang. Soundcheck. I never answer my phone during soundcheck. But, it was my mom.

The floor dropped out.

Dad had left them. In Texas. He’d abandoned my mom and sisters in an empty apartment.

No jobs. No furniture (they were sleeping on the floor and using lawn chairs someone had donated. No money. No food.

During counseling, my sister began to talk about the abuse. The molestation. My other sister confirmed it. His depravity came to light and he fled, like a coward.

I hung up the phone and continued with soundcheck. What else could I do? But I was on autopilot. I was devastated. I was stunned. I was shaken.

I ran sound.

I went to the after-party.

I couldn’t see straight.

I left a few minutes into it.

That evening, forever stolen by the actions of my father. And I had no idea that this was just the beginning. Everything from that point forward, would forever be different.