My friend's son died last Thursday. He was 21. He was her youngest child. He was battling drug and alcohol problems, among other things. The sheriff came to her door after identifying his body -- he died alone. Was he afraid? Did he know? Did he fall into an inebriated sleep and slip peacefully away? We don't know. Could we have helped him? Could we have stopped him? When was the last time I prayed for him? (if ever?)
I watched this boy grow up, although I didn't know him well. I have worked with his mother for 11 years. He was 10 when I started. My friend was a single mother who was a major mover and shaker in my company. She basically created a position for me when I decided to give up full time work to spend more time with my kids. She has always applauded my choice, and always reminds me that if I can, I should focus on my kids. If she could have, she would have.
Her office is a shrine to her 2 beautiful boys. I am familiar with every phase of their development. Her baby, Michael, was a magnificent cherub faced, curly haired, pot bellied toddler baby. Simply lovely. He grew to a an "all boy" kind of boy. I remember him hobbling around the office in cleats with a baseball bat in hand. The next thing I knew he was tall and handsome, and just as suddenly he's gone. Like a dream. I can't imagine what my friend is going through. Her whole life has been about those boys. (Rachel weeping...)
My own son is quickly becoming a young man. He is so lovely these days. His face is almost child like still. His voice is deep. He is taller than I am, yet doesn't look like a man yet. He is in between. Tinkerbell told Pan "you know that place between awake and asleep, that place where you still remember dreaming? That's where I'll always love you." I look at him and love him so much it hurts me. I burn him into my memory, as I tried to do to the toddler and the cub scout. But he passes by and the next phase is more lovely and delightful, and I am smitten again and forget the boy he was yesterday. He is like the wind -- passing by, uncontainable. I pray for his future and God's plans for him. And I whimper and beg, "please spare his life. let him live to have marriage and family and grandchildren and great grandchildren. let him live to bury me when I am oh-so-old." As if God is a henchman. I should be calling on God the comforter -- for her, for me.
I can't bear my friend's loss. I see her as one mutilated. She will never be the same. It seems to me a sign of the times, and I can't help but wonder as I look at the faces of the people I know, "who will be next?". I suppose in this day and age when we are attending 90th birthday bashes and 70th wedding anniversaries, I expect longevity. Children should not die before their parents. I am feeling less shocked by this event, however, and that is worst of all.
There have been other losses I have avoided mentioning this month as I notice my peripheral life is reading a bit like a Kurt Vonnegut novel. (So it goes). Every time I turn around, it seems there is another big loss. I just don't have the heart to talk about it anymore.
I just have to leave this one out there for You, oh God who really sees.