Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Funeral

I went to a funeral yesterday.

I'm not sure why I went.   I didn't really know the person who died.  I didn't know what he looked like. I didn't even remember his name.

What I did remember, although vaguely, is his mother bringing him to church many years ago, when he was just a boy.   He didn't like going to church, and would frequently walk out during the Mass.   Eventually, he stopped coming, along with his dad and brother.  But his mother didn't stop.  For 30 years now, she has come to Mass, alone.   And last Friday, it was that boy, her son, who died.   And so, I went to the funeral.

He was younger than me by a few years, which means he was way too young to die.   It was the kind of death nobody will talk about.  Some say suicide.  Some say drug overdose.   Maybe both.   Only those closest to him know, and will probably ever know.   But it doesn't really matter, does it? 

The story is all too common.   It's the story of a conflicted soul, tormented it seems, since childhood, maybe even since birth.  It's a story so common that it has become irrelevant.  And surely, this young man felt that.

His mother tried to save him.  She came to that fountain of grace for years, maybe with only one single prayer on her heart.  A prayer to save him.  Maybe she did save him.   Sitting in that funeral parlor yesterday, it was hard to know.   These things are not mine to know.   

What I do know is that, like her, I have two sons.   Will I lose them both to the world?  Will the demons who whisper in their ears "this will make things easier," "this will make things better," speak louder than my prayers?  My words?   

I don't know.  

They had a hard time finding someone to do the service for this young man.   At the last minute, an elderly priest agreed to make the fifty-mile drive for the ten-minute service.   There were only a handful of people in the pews, mostly friends of his mother, and a few members of family.   Two songs, a couple of readings from scripture, some kind words, and it was all over.  

But it wasn't.   

Because sitting in the second pew, with only his mother by his side, was a young boy with bright red hair and cherub cheeks and freckles on his nose.   And as the priest gave the final blessing, the young boy who had previously been smiling and joking with his mother, started sobbing.   He held his head in his hands, hiding his face, and his body shook.   The priest walked over to the young boy, put his hand on the boy' shoulder, and stood there.   If words were spoken to the young boy, I couldn't hear them.   I didn't really want to hear them.  

The boy looked up, and his mother took his hand and led him out of the parlor.   Out of the parlor and back into the world.   Now it is his turn to be tested.   

The priest walked to the back of the room, found a chair, and sat down.  I watched as he opened his prayer book, and he seemed oblivious to everything else around him.    He seemed deep in prayer.

The rest of us walked to the front, formed the obligatory line, and gave our condolences to the young man's family.   "I will pray for you," I told his mother and she nodded.  

And I will be praying for a red-haired little boy who, through God's mercy, has a daddy in heaven now, praying for him, too.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful post. I really got lost in your experience as you describe it, so real and vivid. I feel so sad for this poor boy, who lost his daddy far too early, and for the mother who spent so many years surely praying for her son to revert to the faith. Hopefully she will find some peace with what has happened, and consolation in the Lord. I also hope and pray that the little boy will grow up on the straight path and not imitate the life that doomed his father.