I sat quietly in the rear of the chapel. I dared not move any closer, since it was all too heart rendering.
I am fighting back tears and I am losing this fight. It is said that energy cannot be destroyed, but an untimely or early death of a teenager surely comes close. One can conclude based on those in attendance that he was loved, but it is the absence of those who should have loved him best that provides a glimpse to the source of his constant sorrow.
There is no father or grandfather here today.
The teenager’s former roommate spoke of his competitive nature and neatness and the minister shared letters written by the young man in the coffin.
I cried. I thought about all the milestones that are considered important and precious – milestones that he would never experience – and I cried some more.
He was smart, athletic, handsome and troubled. To the outside world he appeared fine. He excelled in the classroom, socially and in sports, but his Achilles’ heel was forgiving. How do you forgive those who you feel are responsible for the hardships you endure everyday? You awake each day to the consequences without ever really being able to confront the cause. To say it was an overwhelming struggle would be an understatement. No one said, “This is my beloved son.” It ate away at his peace and unsettled his heart and created within him a wandering spirit.
How does a young man cope with things that would bring an adult to his knees? He self-medicated, he prayed, he found comfort in fair weather friends, and he ran. He had more wanderlust than a nomadic cowboy. On his brightest days when he was happy, the dark clouds of unforgiviness were never far away. And he would run when the root of bitterness closed in around him.
I often wondered if he ever really knew whether he was running from something or to something. When asked, he would only say, “I want to be free. I only want to be free.” And now he is, but his freedom had the same results of a train leaving the tracks or a kite void of string.
My last words to him were, “I love you.” Had I known it would be my last time seeing him alive, I would have said more or tried harder to assure this time things could be better. My one solace is that he became a Christian, but I regret the world will be denied all the gifts and talents he had to offer. I wish that there wasn’t such a huge void left within him requiring him to be Fathered by God.
In the days following his death, I spoke to someone who had greater insight into his struggles, and it reminded me of this poem.
“I walked a Mile with Laughter and
She chattered all the way but never a thing learned I
from her for all she had to say.
I walked a Mile with Sorrow
and never a word she said
But oh the things I learned that day
That sorrow walked with me.”
That Sorrow walked with me.”