It was cold and the winter wind stung my face, yet the sun peered through the morning sky as if to remind me that the warmth of its rays would find me soon. As I hurried to get my kids to the bus, a friend stopped me in passing to share the news of his wife's ultrasound appointment. He recalled the detailed report of his first baby's anatomy scan. I slowed down to take in the joy and wonder of his report. "It's amazing," he repeated several times reflecting on the intricacy of each little tiny part that was growing and developing. As I turned to leave, I responded, "It is amazing that all those little parts are a person that you will very soon know and love. One day it will be you running your little one to the bus." When I got to the bus stop, my husband was there to share with me a different kind of news. It was not news of the beauty of a person or possibility of life, but rather news that seemed to momentarily reduce life to meaningless chaos. The wind seemed to be blowing harder and I searched desperately for that warm ray, but the clouds blocked even its smallest glow.
* * *
He was fresh out of college and just starting law school when we first met him. Tall, outgoing and kind, we noticed him as a new young face in the pews of older members at our church. He became very involved in both school and church and quickly made many friends. He and my husband played basketball on weekends and he was soon invited to family parties, baptisms and events. I can recall conversations that we had regarding his hopes for the future. He was interested in the International Justice Mission and shared with us his passion to use his law degree to help others. He was an only child and spoke fondly of the supportive parents he had left behind in Florida.
After law school, we lost touch with him aside from Facebook posts on our news feed. We waited for news of his blossoming career or meeting the wife he had been hoping for. We were, however, met on the morning of March 4 with a report in the newspaper that this friend had taken his own life after shooting his widowed mother a few days after Christmas.
This is disturbing on many levels. I cannot make sense out of how an accomplished person, who was once so full of hope and desire to change the world would turn around and destroy the two people who brought him into the world, the people who watched him take his first step, saw him graduate grade school, and witnessed his great strides in pursuit of a noble career. To hold a gun to the face of the woman who once zipped his coat before he went outside, held his hand when he had a bad dream and nursed him back to health when he was sick is beyond my comprehension. Then to hold a gun to his own face and pull a trigger to end himself is an act of utter desperation and despair.
I did not know him well enough to know the intricacies of his story or family life. I do not know the motive or what was behind these acts. I do know, however, that darkness consumed him and he lost sight of the vision he once shared with us so fervently. Financial debt, singlehood or mere uncertainty may have led him to doubt that his life could be used to change the world for the better. A previous article I wrote, "Implications of the Interplay Between Light and Darkness," alludes to this kind of despair.
This winter has been cruel and cold. Senseless acts of violence, born out of individual despair, are making headlines yet again. Though the wind blows and the clouds loom, we must trust that the sun is not gone and that seasons will change soon, that the new life hidden from our view will soon burst forth, that the radiance of spring will beckon us to focus on Life and that which we know to be true.