And this is Lent…
Thursday started off well.
I visited a woman 101 years old. Despite her age and sleepiness at the time of my visit, she was able to flash a twinkling eye and a sweet smile as we conversed.
It slid pretty much downhill from there.
About an hour later I found myself staring into the face of a young man in a coffin, who had been cut down at 20 years old by a drive-by shooter. His peers and family members wailed and contorted their bodies with a grief they could not contain. Some found it hard to catch their breath. Some fell to the ground in limp agony.
I had visited the home of this young man’s grandfather the day before where many of the same family members were mourning the older man’s death. I sat with them for about 3 hours as waves of alternating emotions flowed through the house. In the end, when they removed the deceased, a parade of people shaking in holy pain followed the body to the coach.
Today, they gathered before the grandson’s casket. Even I, an outsider, was numb.
Over the next few hours I got a bit of a “break” as I engaged in a couple of “normal” visits. Normal, that is, if you consider that what I do is sit and talk with people who are sure to die soon, and with their loved ones, who are soon to take that dreaded walk up to the front of some morbid chapel to view a lifeless body they once embraced as a living, breathing, loving family member.
Then it was back to another of those funeral homes for more consoling of families and friends saying goodbye to (1) a World War II veteran who was in the Battle of the Bulge, (2) a Shriner who devoted himself to showing charity to children everywhere, but whose own children were left wondering why he never showed it to them. Death can raise a lot of dust too.
I went to my car and was doing some paperwork when I received a phone call. One of our best friends, barely able to talk, told me his son had just taken his own life. It sucked the breath right out of me. For a moment I couldn’t push any words out.
Gail and I spent the rest of the evening with a group of stunned, red-eyed, helpless feeling friends as we gathered around dad and mom and tried to just be with them best we could. We finally shuffled our way out the door and drove home in silence. I turned the TV on just to distract me for awhile and then went to bed.
And this is Lent. Dust to damn dust.
I am so over it all.