My friend was killed this week.
I remember when he chased my sister through her house with a garden snake; it was hysterical! I remember when he was a bouncer at a local bar and kept an eye on my sister and I while we danced. I remember when my husband and I were having lunch at a diner 2 hours away from our home, looked out the window, and he was there.
He and his then finance’ were on their way to visit her daughter at college. Funny, it was the same time of the year then as it is now. We invited them to eat with us. We caught up on old times and dreamed about times to be as we drenched delicious French fries in ketchup and wiped burger juice from our chins. This happenstance meeting has been etched in my memory because of his parting words. He said, “I want what you guys have. Family. Love. A long-time relationship.”
At one point of his life, he was with the wrong crowd and wound up doing 18 months in a prison in upstate New York. I wrote to him often trying to keep in contact, encouraging him, and giving him hope for when he completed his sentence. When Christmas came around I asked everyone I knew to send him a Christmas card at the jail. How lonely it must be in prison. Hearing from his friends brought up his spirits and covering the walls of his cell with Christmas cards brought him joy.
His life turned around when he got out. He got a job with a local tree trim contractor, got married, and was surrounded by people who seemed to love and respect him. A few Christmas’ ago, we met friends at a local pub. He and about 10 members of his family were there and he looked great! He was retired, having a blast, enjoying his family and seemed to be very happy.
A few short months ago, he posted on Facebook that he was leaving his family and moving to Florida.
Last Tuesday, he was shot and killed.
I don’t know why. I don’t know the circumstances. Honestly, does it matter? It really doesn’t. What matters is if he knew Jesus or not. Is he in heaven or hell?
Maybe the “thing” he saw in Rob and I was Jesus. Maybe the piece of our lives he wanted was the security of our Savior. Maybe the Christmas cards he got in jail had messages of hope, joy and the love of Christ.
I can only pray that he accepted our Lord’s gift of grace.
I can only hope.
Linda GutereOctober, 2016