The past four days have been the hardest of my life. A dear childhood friend of mine has passed away…he was like a brother to me. His name was Rafael Garcia. He was an amazing guitar player, and I truly believe that music was one of the elements that created such a strong and solid bond between us.
I met Ralphy when we were in fifth grade. I had started to take piano lessons that year, and he had started to learn to play guitar. I really didn’t become aware that he played guitar til much later, but I just think it’s a pretty cool thing that we were both learning our instruments around the same time. Along with Ralphy, there was Leo Rodriguez and Jonathan Brann; that group lasted all the way to 7th grade. After that, Jonathan’s family moved to San Antonio, and we lost contact. Leo just started to hang around with other friends. Ralph and I remained friends.
As we went into High School, our freshman year, Ralphy joined the football team. Man, everybody loved him because he was a big guy and nobody could knock him down. It was during that year that music would start creating a bond that would makes us true brothers. Its just funny how things turn out in life, although we were friends, we had never really talked about church or God. I remember that it was during our English class that he asked me what I thought about God, angels, and demons. He had just watched the movie The Exorcist and it had made such an impression on him that he had trouble sleeping for a couple of nights. I invited him to church and he made the decision to accept Christ as his Savior. I remember the night he went up to ask Jesus into his life…when he was prayed over, he just plummeted to the ground. It was an incredible sight, I mean, like I had mentioned, he was loved in football because nobody could knock him down. Yet, God decided to reveal himself in that particular way. I watched as he tried to get up 2 or 3 times, only to fall back under God’s presence. I later realized that it was God’s special way of giving him “proof” that He existed. I remember Ralphy telling me that NOBODY could knock him down! Wow, doesn’t God know exactly how to reveal himself to us when we seek him?
It was that same year that I had started to get involved with praise and worship music, so naturally, when he saw me up in the altar playing the keyboard at church, he told me he played guitar. It was from that point on that we almost became inseparable. We would get together at home to “jam” and play worship. As the years went on and my family and I got more involved in other church-related activities, he would faithfully follow and help me out whenever I needed to do worship. He was the most faithful friend and he LOVED to praise God with his guitar.
He had an incredible talent for the guitar and was gifted in many other things, but most of all, I loved the way he played guitar. We finished High School and our friendship remained. We would still get together regularly to jam. He was such a humble person, he never really played for others. I would constantly put him on the spot because I recognized the caliber of musician that my friend was. He would always say he “could play some guitar.” During the last 5 or 6 years, Ralphy introduced us to Raul, his brother. It was quite the surprise to know that Raul and Ralph were almost one and the same; they played guitar alike, they liked the same video games, they just shared everything together.
Of course, Raul became a brother as well. I have enumerable memories of my friend and us sharing many incredible moments. There were countless nights that we would just talk at the dinner table until 3 or 4 in the morning, and it seemed like it was always about God. Ralphy had a hunger for others to get to know God just as he had known him. There were countless nights that we would jam worship together. I am the oldest of 5 brothers and during those years, we all took up after an instrument. We had an entire band put together: me on the keyboard and vocals, my brother Edel on the drums, my brother Edrei on the bass, Ralph and Raul on guitars and vocals…memories that I will cherish for eternity…
I share this story in memory of my friend and brother Ralphy…music, worship, and God’s presence created a brotherly love between us that has been extremely hard to let go of temporarily. I am comforted to know one thing: that is that I KNOW my friend knew Jesus as his Savior, and therefore, I KNOW I will see him again one day.