And I’ve never been more ashamed in my life.
It had been a long day. I’d been waging a war with a monster bureaucracy a good portion of the day. It would take an entire day just to explain it all. I hadn’t been allowed to take any sort of nourishment because I needed to have my annual blood draw from my physician, so I’d been ordered to fast for 24 hours. To be quite frank, I was exasperated and cranky. We’ve all been there I’m sure.
When the call came in from my friend I didn’t even hear it. Unlike him, he didn’t leave a voicemail. I assumed I knew what he wanted and also considered it to be trivial, thus my justification for not returning the call. Like many people, “I’ll give him a holler in the morning,” was what I muttered to myself. The second time he called an hour later, I noted, as a second call with no message was uncharacteristic of him. That’s simply not his style. He calls, leaves a message, I listen to the message, and I call back. Period. The additional text message an hour later to give him a ring should have been a distinct indicator something was amiss.
My phone was already placed on “silent” mode and I’d made the decision that I couldn’t be bothered for the evening. I slept well, arose, and began my day as any other. I took some time after breakfast to call my friend back. We made small talk and visited about the monsoon rain we’d experienced in the neighborhood and had essentially made it to the end of our typical conversation when he mentioned that his only sibling had driven out into the wilderness last night and killed himself.
I was quite silent for a time and responded as we all would, with the standard, “I’m so sorry” bit. I listened to the story. Having some experience with this kind of thing I offered some tiny bits of understanding and a minor personal relate, but nothing one can do will bring much solace to a man that loved his brother and had just lost him to self inflicted mortality.
Even the writing of this blog has me torn in two. I can’t seem to find a way to help my friend. I’m equally upset with myself because I believe I might have been what he needed when he tried to get in touch with me the night prior. I have to eventually let go of the notion that I’m a real jerk and crappy friend for my inaction. But I also know that when your intuition pecks at your temple you better be listening. I found it odd last night and I knew better, but ignored what my tiny little brain was telling me.
I’m darned sorry for that. I’m not sure what role is necessary when these things happen. There is no guide book – no road map for how to best navigate the course of post-suicide travel. I understand all too well there is no expectation that one have all the answers, but there is the need for one to be present. …And I missed the boat.
I know deep within me, showing is better than telling. Just exactly how did I show my friend what a Christian man does for others in need? I haven’t. Not yet. The only thing I can think to do is admit to him I’m unhappy for not having been there for him when I suspected he needed it. I wonder if apologizing and asking him to forgive me that is both appropriate and prudent. He’s not the kind of guy that goes down through his phone until he finds somebody to talk to. I’d bet I was his only outreach last night, and I cannot express how disappointed I am about leaving him alone during a time like that.
I searched scripture and didn’t really come up with what I believed would fit here. I always seek out a verse or two that helps me relate after I search for the context and make sure it is correct for the premise of my blog post. Either I can’t find what I need or I’m searching incorrectly.
I’ll have to park this for the time being and resume when I wrap my mind around it all. Not only do I find myself lower than whale dung over being a lousy friend, but how selfish I sound over what this makes “ME” feel like. Who cares how I feel?!?! I should be solely focused on my friend.
The world is upside down at the moment, and I need to continue the search for answers in the places I know are concrete…
(I’ve had this just setting there in my blog drafts for a few months now. I didn’t have the guts to even schedule it for publication. True to my intent, I left it laying there, discarded and unseen, in an effort to forget about what I wrote when I felt so terrible. I stumbled across it today. I need to suck it up, own it, publish this, and resolve to do better, thus…)