Thursday, September 03, 2009

About a Boy

The young man squirmed in his folding chair--slouching, turning, sitting up straight, until he finally turned the chair around and straddled it, his tattooed arms folded on top of the back rest. His leg bounced up and down fervently, moving so quickly that his entire body seemed to be vibrating. His dirty-blondish hair was covered in a baseball cap with a rim that at first faced forward, then sideways--first to the left and then to the right--until it found its final resting place facing down his back. As I observed his somewhat uncomfortable behavior, I wondered if his demeanor was just as awkward. It was my first night at a church meeting intended for people with “broken” lives due to addictions, disorders, family issues, and any other of a hundred reasons we as people fall apart. I was attending at the request of my husband, who had been going to these meetings for just over a year to deal with some of his own demons.

I listened intently as various members of the group shared their experiences; some painful, others triumphant. And then the young man spoke up. I can not remember exactly what he revealed that night; I only remember that the young man who I first judged as being a hyper, vague, “tough guy” was nothing more than a kind, vulnerable, struggling boy whose main concern seemed to be not hurting his parents any more than he felt that he already had in his life. My heart broke for him and his struggles. My husband introduced us after the meeting. His name was Tim.

Over the course of the next few months, Tim would attend our weekly meetings with his parents—two lovely people whose devotion to their beloved son’s healing was nothing short of remarkable. Although Tim seemed to be in a state of uneasiness throughout each meeting, he would become amiable and funny once it came to a close. His charm and humor were endearing, and when my daughter, Kayla, started to attend the meetings with us, I knew that Tim would be appealing to her as well.

Kayla and Tim hit it off almost immediately. After one of the meetings about two months ago, Tim ran up to me with the enthusiasm of a five year old, his blue eyes lit up like a child on Christmas morning: “Can me and Kayla go bowling??” he asked. They both giggled like kindergartners, a far cry from the 23 year old boy and 19 year old girl that they were. “Of course!” I told him. “And how nice of you to ask my permission!” I said, almost sarcastically. Tim said thank you, my daughter said good-bye, and off they went.

At home a little while later, my husband and I heard a gleeful ruckus coming in the front door. Tim and Kayla bounded in, laughing about a joke only they were in on, and looking for something to eat. My husband was very comfortable around Tim, and didn’t care to change his stunning outfit of sweat shorts, black socks, flip-flops, and a very hairy chest. Upon viewing this lovely sight, Tim snorted, “HEY, SEXY!!!”, and we all broke out in a fit of laughter. Before long, Tim and my husband were having a “moonwalking” contest in the kitchen. Gas was passed and being blamed on the dog. In all of this craziness, I thought to myself, “I have never seen Tim in this light-hearted before. What a far cry from the person I thought he was the first time we met. He’s truly one of a kind.” The kids decided to watch a movie, and my husband and I turned in. I felt happy and at peace that my daughter found such a wonderful friend. I felt hopeful for Tim and encouraged by his journey to find God’s true peace in his life.

Sadly, Tim passed away in his sleep last weekend. As a person of faith, I struggle with the question of “why” and the feeling of “it’s not fair”, and every other thought that goes through one’s head when a young person dies. It just seems so very wrong. The only comfort I can find now is the knowledge that he was truly seeking God every week at church and at the meetings; he was letting go of the demons that took control of him for so long. He was in a place of preparedness to meet our dear Lord…I’m not sure if he was in that place a year ago, or if he would be in that place a year from now. But for today, in the here and now, he was.

Tim lived life on the edge. He was extreme in everything he did: some things were fun, such as surfing and snowboarding; other things could almost border on destructive. But the one thing he did to excess—the ultimate extreme—was love his family. And my soul aches for them today, as the object of their love can no longer be physically seen and touched, but only felt inside of their broken hearts.

As I looked at the grave site—the grey metal coffin, covered in surfer and skater stickers from top to bottom, the rainbow of flowers strewn all around it, and the sun gleaming on it so brightly that it hurt my eyes—I had a vision. I saw Tim looking down at all of us with a huge smile on his face, saying, “That is the most AWESOME coffin!!”

…And he was the most awesome person.

God bless you, Tim. You will be sorely missed.


Young Werther said...

One can't judge a book by its' cover. Only by diving in can can we appreciate what's inside.

... like all good books, that too comes to an end :(

I'm sorry ((hugs))

Dust-bunny said...

Thank you, Young. The sympathy card I bought spoke of a butterfly and it's beauty, how it lands in front of us and we're so happy to look at it. But as much as we want it to stay, it eventually flies away. We are just left feeling lucky to have seen it at all. It was perfect for this situation. Thank you for reading!

Take good care,

Anonymous said...

It was extremely interesting for me to read the blog. Thanx for it. I like such topics and everything connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

Dust-bunny said...

Thank you, anon. I haven't posted in a while, I might start again soon...

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Shimmerrings said...

I hope the family is doing well, Dust Bunny. This was such a tragedy.

I hope you are doing well, too. I think of you, these days, because I have been working, thru a temp agency, as a receptionist for the county mental health center in my town. Though I never was able to get back to school and study psychology, at least now I am working in a place where I can still, at least, show compassion to folks who are suffering in many ways. I remember you saying that you drive these folks around, and I know exactly what sort of position you fill, because we have folks, here, who do the same sort of thing. It can be a challenge, and my hat is off to you, for that. Some of our folks get pretty burned out, and that's ok, too... it can be a tough job. Are you still working there or did you change your life? How about your artwork? Any progress there?

Love to you... Shimmerrings

A Who said...

Hey Lisa,

I just read this -- Wow. heart wrenching...

Anonymous said...

Keep on posting such themes. I like to read stories like this. By the way add some pics :)

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Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear this story- and hope that sorrow will reach you after over a year of comment spam which this seems to have attracted.

We corresponded through your blog, and an occasional entry on mine, back when you were posting more regularly and we discovered an East Meadow connection. Earlier tonight, I made a connection with a newer, more nearby-now blogger on this site, and that reminded me of you, enough to check what you'd been up to since I last checked in.

This entry about Tim, is what, which made me smiley at first and quite wibbly by the end.

It also came to me on October 2nd of 2010. A year ago tonight, I had my first reunion in well over a decade with a long-lasting friend of mine (from Levittown, but we met in an EM church) who came to Buffalo for a conference. I never saw her again, for she passed away this past February. Apropos of that, but also of your post here, I share words I posted months after even that, when another East Meadow friend got in touch with me in case I hadn't heard "the news" of her death:

Be well, and hold those close to you even closer, for Jan's sake as well as Tim's.


Anonymous said...

(Answering your comment to me here so you'll get it):

I discovered you and this blog, a couple of years ago, when I was trying to explain "Heraea" to our daughter. Then as now, it comes up in a googling of the term with "East Meadow" in front of it.

I also scrolled down after posting last night, and saw your earlier post about Kayla going off to college. We just did that for the first time ourselves, and had many similar moments.