Why Wouldn’t He?

For the most part when I write my blog I want it to be uplifting.  Happy.  Comical-preferably at my own expense.  I want to share things that others might get a kick out of.  Or that others might just read and think, oh, that’s nice. And for the few seconds or minutes they spent reading….maybe take their thoughts off of work, or chores, or bills, or fighting or what to make for dinner.  Even if for that moment only.  I want to write about things I want my children and their children to know; things I’ve thought about, things I’ve experienced, things I’ve enjoyed and been grateful for in my life.

I know I haven’t done that with every single post.  But  for the majority of them I hope for a positive spin about something.

Tonight, I just can’t do it.

I have been trying to write for the last two hours.  Because I’ve needed something, myself, tonight.

But I can’t do it.  At all.

Instead of trying to create something I just need to share something.

Today I had a man tell me about the heavy burden he carries in his heart, in his thoughts, in his memories, and in his nightmares.   I wasn’t prepared for it.  It shocked me and shook me up.  It happened almost 25 years ago.   He told me about opening a door and finding his son, shot.  He opened a door of his life and I  stood there with a glance into his world.  A glimpse that stopped me in the moment that I sat there, at 3:58 p.m., and heard his words.  Discovered his pain.  Saw in his eyes what he still sees.

Just this morning, this morning, before work.  I read a blog.  It was by a parent who lost a child.   It was a very beautiful piece of work addressing grief and grieving and how to help, and not help someone going through grief.  I read it.  Even commented on it.  There were certain phrases she made that I thought were beautifully written and made me think it would be a great piece to come back to if I ever needed guidance if a friend of mine was grieving.  But, as I finished reading it I also had the passing thought I don’t need this now.  And felt a bit of a blessing for not needing it.

Now, all these hours later, I wish I had printed it out and carried it with me today.  Because when he told me, my brain and my heart drained.  I was grasping at emptiness where my thoughts and comfort should have been.

Because I did not have the grace, and she used the word grace, to share with this man what he needed, while he was still grieving.

When this man opened that door in to his world, he cried.  And I found it difficult to not cry.  I didn’t fight it but I wasn’t sure if it would help him.  Sitting there in an office with the world going on around me, around him, around us.  A world oblivious to his pain and suffering.  While I listened to this man I could see that his life is still sitting in that room  with his son.   I realized the vision he has taken from that room and carried in his heart has replaced the life he left outside of that room before he opened the door.  He told me what he saw.  He told me what I could never imagine seeing.   And I don’t know how he managed to get from that day, to this day.  He has existed.   But I don’t think he has survived.

I can tell you what I said to him.   But it means no more to you than it did to him.  I told him I was sorry.  I told him I could not fathom what he has gone through.  I did listen.  I wanted him to know I was listening.  Because there wasn’t anything I could actively do or say that mattered more at that moment, than just being right there to listen.

And he cried.

Oh God how he cried.

And in those moments his world was explained to me.

Before this, he was a man who made poor decisions.  A man who’s life was only a shell of what it could be.  I couldn’t understand.  I couldn’t see the point of ruining one’s life.  On purpose, it seemed.   Why is he doing this to himself?  Why doesn’t he make better decisions?   Why would anyone live like that?

I look in to his life now and I ask… why wouldn’t he?

We never, truly, know another’s experience.

Even in his telling me this, there is no way for me to comprehend his life of suffering since then.  I only knew for seconds, and over twenty years later, yet it changed my day.  My perspective.  My blessings.   My shames.

It is night time.  My world is dark.  Never to be as dark as his.  It is quiet.  Never to be as quiet as his.  My nights have been shaken by anxieties.   But never haunted as his sleep is.

Tonight when I pray, I won’t just thank Him for all that I have, and all that He has done for me.  I will thank Him for my burdens.   Because my burdens, they are nothing.   And I will ask that this man’s burden, be lifted in some way, to help him find the grace he needs.   To heal.  I will pray that he still has that chance.

I still feel like the world has tilted.   Most days I go to work and feel good about checking things off of my list.  Get the phone calls made.  Try to find help for someone who needs something.  Do what I do.  Write notes about what I do.  Then as I drive the short route back home I switch from work mode to home mode.  And by the time I get home I am all about living at home in my world.  I leave work at work.

But not tonight.   I could not stop standing at the door he opened.   And I stand there still, weeping at what I see through that door way, where he left his life behind.

I pray for any grace I may have earned today to be sent his way.  And I hope that those who are better at praying than I, will send up a prayer for him as well.

I wrote this going on four years ago.  I still wonder….why wouldn’t he?  God’s grace be with him.

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36 thoughts on “Why Wouldn’t He?

  1. Sue Vincent says:

    We never, truly feel another’s experience. How could we? But sometimes we get those glimpses and perhaps, because they stay with us, they too are a grace.


    • I learned (too late) to not say things like “I know how you feel”. Because you are right Sue, we can’t ever know how anyone else feels. Even going through the same events, joys, sorrows together….our absorption of and experience of events is unique. He, himself, did create emotions in me. I wish the sorrow I did feel for him and his son, was of some kind of help to him. I know it’s not. But I wish….


  2. Paul says:

    Thank you so very much for sharing this Colleen.


  3. ksbeth says:

    in reading what you wrote, and this man’s story, along with your greater understanding of him, i feel your grace.


  4. Jim McKeever says:

    Wow. That’s one if the most powerful things I’ve ever read, Colleen. What an invaluable lesson for the rest of us. Thank you for re-posting that. Grace indeed…


  5. I can’t imagine opening a door and seeing one of my children shot (or dead by any means). It gives me shivers just to think about it. My heart goes out to all parents that have had to face something like this. Very touching post Colleen!


  6. I feel both the man’s pain and yours, with him, but I will never know the extent of his. Bless you for being the good listener you are, Colleen. Still, I wonder how you carry on, holding all the stories you hear. ❤ ❤ ❤


  7. Thank you for sharing this. And thank you for listening to him.


  8. Colleen…sometimes it feels like ‘sorry for your loss’ just isn’t enough, and there are no words, but grief is a part of life, and people just find their own way of dealing with it. A friend posted the following article on FB the only day and it really reminded me of this blog. Hopefully you will find the time to read it.


    • Thank you for the link Marissa, I did read it. And I have seen it posted many times since. And for reason. I have long believed that no one should be telling others how to grieve. That it is different for every person. And grief is NOT something that can be regulated, “normal”, or timed. Powerful piece. I am sure it helped many. How sad is it that we need to give ourselves permission to grieve, because others will not?


  9. NotAPunkRocker says:

    ❤ to you for being there for him in whatever way you could in that moment.


  10. April says:

    Sometimes we need to be heard and to cry and sometimes we need to let someone else cry and tell their story.


  11. mewhoami says:

    I agree with April. It’s okay to weep and to share. Sometimes we need that and in doing so we could be helping someone else. I can’t imagine the pain that he’s gone through. It’s not something that ever needs to be forgotten, but it should be let go of. Holding that kind of pain inside of us only does for us exactly what you said – it helps us to exist, but not to live. I feel for him.


  12. Heartafire says:

    It would be next to impossible to ever get this experience out of one’s head. To lose a child this way (or anyway) is unimaginable. There is so much suffering, we distract ourselves out of self-preservation, but for the grace…go I , as they say. It is heartbreaking.


    • It is Heart. And how judgmental I had become, wondering why he chose to live the way he did. He didn’t choose, he just couldn’t muster up a different way after that. And I try so hard now to remember that ….. we don’t always choose what happens to us. And when some things happen, we don’t see a choice of living while trying to cope. Exist. So we only exist.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. niaaeryn says:

    Just the depth and humanity of all of this, I am weepy too. Also, oddly through some universal quirk I too had just read read a blog in my blogs I follow that discussed how to help with the loss of a child from one who has. What helped and didn’t. Divinity I suppose, and having just read it, you do say and do what the lady advised to do, just fyi.
    As to the rest, I love the positive that you put into the blog world and world in general, but sometimes there is a time for sorrow and catharsis, and this assuredly is assuredly such a moment. :hugs: Colleen, as is am not there but I too will be sending some positive thoughts to that gentleman’s way.


  14. Thank you for sharing this story Colleen.


  15. markbialczak says:

    I hope your blessings from four years ago are still helping this man find more peace within his world, MBC. This story touches me so. I’ll send my prayers his way tonight.


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