I got a call yesterday from my mom…she was hopping around all kinds of subjects, which is not unusual for her and then she finally got to the point of the call. “They found Danny Gilstrap” pause…”Jil, they found him dead”. Silence…
I have loved very few men in my life but those that I have loved, I have loved fiercely. I loved Danny Gilstrap. We met at church our sophomore year in highschool and we became fast friends the day we met. It happened just that fast. We crushed on each other badly but were too shy to move in that direction. We expressed our love for one another through the lyrics and songs we wrote: to, for and with each other. We were close friends for years. His parents used to tease us all the time, asking “if we were married yet” because that is how close we were. We didn’t have to use words, sometimes the silence between us spoke more to who we were than anything we said out loud. Although we went to different schools, Danny took me to my senior prom. He was such a handsome guy. Dark brown, almost black hair, wavy, always a little on the shaggy side and piercing blue, blue eyes. He was also smart, like crazy smart. In all the time we knew each other we never had a single argument. There was no reason. I was the lyric and he was the melody. When I left the church we eventaully just drifted apart. I left the church when I was 20, we were intense friends for 5 years. I didn’t see him for a number of years after that. The last time was about ten years ago. We saw each other across a pool hall and the years just slipped away. He was seeing someone as was I but it was still there. In that moment together for only a short time, we were still who we had been. He asked if I was still writing, I asked if he was still singing. We exchanged numbers but we never spoke to or saw each other again. I think we both chalked it up to ‘what might’ve been’.
I would think about Danny every now and then. Wonder what he was doing. If he had married. You know the things you wonder about the people that you have loved that have passed out of your life. I always hoped he was happy.
It had been some time since I really thought about him. Then last week, for some reason he was on my mind and I told Laurie our story. We tried to find him on MySpace and Facebook…but I knew that he wouldn’t be there. It just wasn’t who he was and now he has died.
Although our friendship was long ago, he remains an indelible thread in the tapestry of my life. He colored things in a way that no one else did and my life is richer for having had his music pouring through my soul. I can only hope that I somehow did the same for him. The 17 year old in me will always love Danny Gilstrap and the grown woman in me will mourn the loss of a gentle soul who spent the better part of his life trying to make peace with the world he lived in.
So Danny where ever you are, Godspeed my friend. Godspeed.
All of my love, Jil