I had a friend that seemed alright. He was always happy and cheerful. He was encouraging to almost anyone he was around. On the outside he looked like he had a mountain of confidence and vision. I spent a lot of time with him and drew from his almost inexhaustible energy. He always wanted to get together and fellowship or go out to lunch and just share time together.
We had a small group of Pastors that met mostly in his office and shared some of the struggles we were having and some of the solutions we could try. Lots of positive ideas came out of that small group. I made several friendships that last even till this day.
Dark clouds started to appear in my friend’s life as time went on. I noticed he started to sink emotionally. Not a lot, where you would suspect that anything was horribly wrong but enough that you noticed it. We go through times of struggle, every one of us does, and that’s what I thought this was. I had no idea that what was about to happen could be a possibility.
Darkness invades people’s lives and a lot of the time we don’t see it. We can’t really tell what’s going on in the recesses of their minds. Sometimes it’s really obvious and sometimes it’s not. I wish I would have paid mote attention to the signs of serious issues when I had the opportunity. Of course you don’t see things coming but we can see little hints of what is about to happen.
I started to see the sadness and the desperation coming out of him and honestly, I don’t know exactly what I could have done. I can’t really blame anyone, including myself, for what happened because I really don’t know the circumstances behind it. I don’t know if there is blame to be assigned to anyone personally. I just know I lost a friend one day and I wish I could have been there for him.
I really didn’t know what to say to him when he called me that day. It’s kind of fuzzy in my mind. It was a long time ago, but I do remember telling me this was goodbye. I thought to myself that I hoped he wasn’t planning anything stupid. I even said something like that to him before we hung up the phone. Something like, “This isn’t the end of the world. Don’t do something stupid.” That was the last time I heard his voice.
One of my friends called me later that day and said he had disappeared. That he had indicated to his wife that he wouldn’t be back and went out, got in his car and drove away.
I can remember a feeling of panic came over me. His indicators started to flood my mind. The way he was talking in the last few days told me what was happening. I got in my van and started driving around and praying, “Lord, just show me where he is so I can talk to him…so I can be with him.”
I remember as the time passed that day, the desperation in me rose to higher and higher levels. The night time was filled with thoughts and prayers that he would come home and be reunited with his family and friends. Then I got the phone call that I absolutely dreaded.
They said that they found him dead in a hotel room in a nearby city. He had drank a bunch of alcohol and took a bottle of over the counter sleeping pills. He had done the thing that he had talked many of his clients and parishioners out of doing. This long time agent of hope became hopeless and made a terribly wrong decision.
I would have to say that if he knew the issues that his actions would cause in his family, church and community he wouldn’t have done what he did. I miss him dearly. I wish I would have listened and understood more. I don’t know if it would have made a difference but I wish I could have been more conscience of the messages he was sending.
Pay attention, you might have the opportunity to save a life today. We can’t blame ourselves for the decisions people make. All we can do is reach out when we see struggle. Everyone has a battle going on in their lives, that’s one thing we all have in common.