Below is a small first glimpse of hopefully many from David, Ian's best friend, who has been a more faithful friend than we could have imagined.
I'm at the Vinegar Hill studio and I'm tap dancing. Ian is watching me, silently, a face that says "I'm completely unamused..."
I finish my routine and look to Ian. "What do you think?" I ask. Ian's response, completely deadpan: "Stop dancing."
We both laugh.
Ian and I hatched the idea for Vinegar Hill in 2006, less than 2 months before his accident. We had both returned from summer internships (Ian had crewed on an independent film and I had worked for a TV production company) and were dying to make a film together. I wanted to dive in, start writing, start prepping, and figure out the money thing later. But Ian was smart. He said that we needed to start company, to learn business, to get a good reputation (it's not that we had a bad reputation, we just had no reputation). I reluctantly agreed.
But then Ian had his accident and everything changed. I was faced with a decision. Go get a job at a production company out of town (there wasn't much film happening in Indiana, PA at the time)...or stay in town and start to build Vinegar Hill while Ian began working towards recovery. I stayed, compelled by this thought: if it was me who was in the accident, Ian wouldn't leave...
That was five years ago and by God's incredible kindness, Vinegar Hill is continuing to grow. There are four of us now: Ian, Mike Hartnett, Shep Ahlers, and myself. Ian comes in to the studio every afternoon. We drink coffee, listen to music, and hang out while I work. I've stopped asking Ian who he wants to listen to because he always says the same thing — "Switchfoot" (sorry Ian...I'm Switchfooted out right now...I need a break...)
God has done so much more than I thought possible that day of the accident, the doctor's said my best friend was going to die and now we get to spend time together every day. But there's still much sadness. Ian isn't able to play as active a role in the company as we would like. I think this is probably the hardest on Ian. Here I am, doing what both of us spent our childhood dreaming about, and in many ways Ian can only watch...
It would be so easy for him to be bitter and jealous. I probably would be. But here's the thing — Ian comes to the studio every day full of joy. He comes ready to laugh and joke and drink coffee and encourage the guys and me. How is that possible? It's possible because Ian has been transformed by Jesus. It's possible because he's not living for the things of this world, but for heaven. It's possible because he considers others more significant than himself.
I am so grateful to have Ian as a business partner. Every day, he is a picture of Jesus to me. I'm so grateful to have him as a best friend.
I finish my dance, Ian gives it the thumbs down, we laugh, and I get ready to dive back into work. I ask Ian who he wants to listen to. Without giving it a second thought he answers: "Switchfoot..."