Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Watching my Community Mourn

My thoughts have not been completely present lately as I have watched the bits of mourning on Facebook. I needed to write, so here it is.

A young man died in my home community last Thursday night. I found out the next day. We were going to meet my aunt so the cousins and I could return to her house when the text from Dad came in on Mom's cell phone: the son of Dad's close friend had gone to meet the Lord.

I gasped when I read the text. Mom, who'd let me read it since she was driving, reacted immediately to my reaction. "What?" She asked, "What is it?"

I told her, and the tears came immediately. I thought that I might have to drive so she could cry. I was still in shock. Lil Sis had talked to him only days before. He'd expressed surprise when she told him who she was: "You're that little five year old girl who talked a lot?" Yep, Lil Sis leaves that impression on a lot of people.

I didn't really know this young man well. The last time I interacted with him, I was a young, painfully shy kid, and he was a teenager. I doubt I said more than two words to him. But I know his family. His dad and my dad, like I said, are pretty close. His mom is a kind lady who gives me hugs whenever I see her (which isn't very often, unfortunately). The older of his younger sisters talked to me when I was having a little bit of a hard time in middle school: she's a trustworthy, beautiful young woman. The youngest sister is only a year older than me. She was my playmate at one point.

He's five years older than me, so our social circles never overlapped beyond our families, but I still know plenty of people who are mourning him. Even I, who didn't really know him, feel the hole left in the community. I won't ever stop thinking of his family as a family of five. The only change will be remembering that only four are still on this earth.

Life goes on. My cousin is getting married, and I'm playing the Bridal March for his bride. I'm going off to college, and my sister is starting her senior year. But it's weird. How can I post about these exciting things on Facebook when my home community is grieving? It's hard. I'll post statuses about my life again soon, but not yet.

I talked on the phone with Mom earlier today and expressed my mixed feelings about being unable to make the memorial service. On the one hand, I want to be there as a silent (but empathetic and thus tearful) support. On the other, I'm relieved of the potentially awkward situation - I didn't know this guy, and I don't really have any business trying to comfort those who did. Mom caught the idea of my sympathies and suggested I send a sympathy card. Nope. Not happening. It's too sensitive of an area. I don't know the social expectations, and I don't know the family well enough. I'll just send my thoughts and prayers from afar.

I might only be an outside watcher, but I'm still affected. I had to pause Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood just a little bit ago because my thoughts were back in my home community, not on my own entertainment. This is the third time in four years that a young man from my home has died, and the second in this particular group of family friends. I've already said it, but I'll say it again: it's hard. I think all three were Christians, which is some comfort, but there are still three holes on earth that weren't there before. Granted, I didn't know any of them personally. The few times I met any of them, I was a shy young thing and hid behind the nearest friend or parent. But I know and love their families, so the holes are felt.

[There was a fourth young man, actually, a kid who would have graduated with my class. But I knew him even less that I knew the other three. My class grieved for him thoroughly, and there were lot of tributes to him throughout the rest of high school. It was hard, and I felt the hole, but for some reason, it hasn't persisted as long as the others.]

But life still goes on. The contrast between deaths such as these and the joy of my young cousins around me is striking. One family mourns; another celebrates a marriage. One buries their son; another sends their daughter to college.

These words were on my heart, and they had to be written. Unsurprisingly, a Bible verse pops to mind, though its content my surprise a few of you: "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever." (Psalm 136:1) This is not a verse to comfort those who mourn. It is simply a praise to the God whose love endures, even in this broken world. It is praise to He who has conquered this world, and who will destroy it and rebuild it as His good kingdom. It is praise to the One who give me hope and salvation, who can make something good even out of what sin has corrupted. It is praise to the One who recently welcomed another young man into His presence.

The blog post is written and the Bible verse remembered. The melancholy has not left me, but I will push it aside and try to watch some anime before I go to bed. I will not forget this young man's family, but nothing good is to be gained from letting myself dwell in sadness.

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful and meaningful piece, Annalyn. Thank you for sharing.


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