My husband and I had planned to reach out to the young man. A year and a half ago, he seemed to be doing well, joining the Road Committee in our small neighborhood association, blowing leaves out of ditches on his mother’s property and others’, attending neighborhood meetings. Then we saw signs he was struggling.
Though he waved when passing Cato and me as we walked the mountain road to and from the mailbox, he didn’t stop anymore. He didn’t show up at meetings and didn’t respond to group emails. Strange people drove up the road to his house or hung out at the foot of the driveway after he’d installed a make-shift barrier. Since his mother no longer lived in the house—she had moved to a house nearby, outside the neighborhood—I called to express my concern. Concern for her son, for what might be happening on her property, for the safety of our neighborhood. Reaching for the light within, I was guided to curb my anger, offer grace, and listen as she shared her worries about her son’s health and welfare.
After prayerful consideration, Keith and I decided to invite the young man to our home, this time by himself, and/or to accompany us to church. But since our new Subaru was still in the body shop—I’d hit a deer two days before Christmas—and our other vehicle is essentially a two-seater truck, we waited. We also needed the SUV to transport the new dog we’d adopted after Freya died. Two weeks ago, Wally the Subaru Wilderness came home along with new puppy Mac.Preoccupied with the adjustment of this new pack member, we put off inviting the young man again. And missed our chance.
He died last Friday.
On a cold, rainy day, along this stretch of the mountain road.
Exactly five weeks after I’d spoken with his mother.
Guilt is the most common feeling after this kind of death—and confusion about how to respond. All our “reasonable” delays sound like a bunch of poor excuses, leading to selfish regrets and endless what-ifs. So, how to respond with grace? Reach for the light within and pray. Ask others to pray for this family. Send a personal note and/or sympathy card, call, and listen. Reach out to neighbors who are feeling confused, too.
Not the “reach out” we had planned, but the one we’re called to now.
Linkup with Five Minute Friday: https://fiveminutefriday.com/2023/03/02/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-reach/
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