Saturday, April 11, 2009

Poor Boy

They lowered the casket into the ground ever so slowly, careful not to drop it. The wet eyes and endless sobs echoed throughout the cemetery. How had he been led to his eternal resting place? Why had the gates of heaven swung open so eagerly? His friends sat silently reminiscing about how great he was. They remembered the calls to service he had more than filled. He was always there to help them with their chores and activities. He loved this service. He was so unselfish, they reminisced. He was their tutor when they needed help or their ride to the weekly dance when no one else would drive them. He had been their friend and they loved him. What had happened?
The casket gently rested on the dirt beneath it. The Pall Bearers backed away from this sacred ground to go stand with their families. Over four-hundred people had come to see the boy go to his final resting place. The local flower shops were all out of flowers. These flowers covered the grounds of the cemetary like a colorful carpet. The bulk of them were roses, his favorite to give to others. So many people he had lifted from sadness with those, they couldn't be counted.
His brother sat by the hole gazing down. This would be the last of his immediate family he would bury. His parents had died in a hit-and-run two years earlier. He had kissed his brother good bye moments before he was lowered down. He was alone now; very alone.
This tragedy came unexpectedly. No one had been able to foresee this. It just happened. He was doing a service, pulling weeds the day before and was found dead the next day. It just happened in a flash, then he was gone. Many began to wonder why it had happened to such a boy as he. This boy had good grades, a blessed heart, and a spirit of love for others. To many he was the ideal boy. He tried to never say a cruel word to people, though he did slip once in a while. He never cursed and was always one to open the door for the women of all ages. Few got the opportunity to go on a date with him, but those that did would say that he was a perfect gentleman. Never a better boy, many said.
The Pastor began his words of peace for the ground that this boy would rest in. Many drifted back, remembering what a great speaker the boy was. They remembered the talk he had given the week before, during church. He had talked about how much everyone should remember to always cherish life, because one never knows when it will end. Never was any part of America cherishing what they had had, more than this group today. The fall leaves had never looked so great nor the air smell so good. Many were inhaling deeper than usual.
Many students from his school had attended out of respect for him, because of the respect he had always shown for them. He was always willing to share his worldly possessions with them, such as binders, pencils, pens, his locker and other things. In fact at one time he had seven different occupants in his locker because the school was out of lockers. He also almost always gave smiles to strangers in the halls if they looked weary or sad. For these rare acts of kindness from others, these students came.
His swim team also came to see him buried. He had never won a race, but he never stopped cheering for his teammates. He was always there when they lost, with a good word to keep them from getting down. He was always the first one at the meets and the last to leave, once everyone had gotten safely home. After training all Summer, he was a contender for the championships this year. Oh how they would miss him!
The Pastor finished his remarks, followed by a moment of silence. Many of his friends thought back to a time when the boy's turtle had died. This turtle was his favorite among all his others. The friends began to giggle as the silence lingered. When the turtle had died, a ceremony was held. At the end the boy had asked for a moment of silence. The boy was the first to burst laughter, followed by his friends. The thought of looking down at a pile of bricks that covered the final resting spot of a turtle had seemed somewhat funny. Who would ever pay tribute to a rock that moves? The "moving rock" was becoming fertilizer. As the friends giggled about a last moment of silence for fertilizer, they noticed the disapproving looks of those around them. They quickly hushed themselves.
When the seemingly long moment of silence was over, the Pastor walked over to the open hole and threw his own flowers in on the casket. The Pastor remembered how great the boy was. He thought about how the boy would come to church early just so he could sit by the door to welcome the crowd. He would offer to help the elderly with their wheelchairs so that they didn't need to use up their scarce energy. He remembered the boy, also, saving seats for the elderly and the disabled so that they could see and hear the speakers during church.
The Pastor asked his brother to talk. The deceased's brother stumbled to the microphone and opened up a book. He flipped it to an already marked page. He began in a quiet, calm, mourning voice, "I was reading my brother's journal last night, looking for a reason for his death. I found this page:

'I woke up today still crying. I miss Mom and Dad. They seem so far away now. I try to feel them near me, but all I feel is pain. I watched the old video tapes last night. I looked at the old photos last night. I saw how much they loved my brother and me. Oh how I miss them!
'I miss the nights of games and mom-made dinners. My brother tries to cook but is constantly messing up. I wish that alcohol would have never been invented. That way I could still be with my parents. I miss their love. I don't feel very much love, now, except from my brother. I go to church early so I can meet new friends and grow new love. I try to help the elderly so that they might love me. In both situations, I feel that I come up short. Most of the elderly are too old to remember me; just a boy who pushes their wheelchair and gets them good seats. I yell and scream for swim team, but it seems like when I enter the waters the yelling comes to a close. I try to help them feel better when they lose, but I only do this so my tears of failure don't show. I don't feel the love even from my friends. I give them rides places and when they're at their destination, I'm lucky to get a thank you. I'm going to take one last effort to find love.'

"It goes on." His brother said. He flipped the page. Then he flipped another. The whole cemetery remained silent. Almost all the four-hundred people were examining their shoes and the leaves on the ground below them. It began to sprinkle, but not one person's thought went toward the umbrellas next to them. His brother began again, "This next entry is from a few days later and also a few days ago:"

'The day has once again come to end. I went up to at least twenty people the past two days, asking for a date for this weekend. Not one said yes. It's amazing how many people wash their hair on Friday nights. I never realized a date was so much to ask for. This was my last-ditch effort to find love. There is none. The world is lost. I doubt they'll miss me. My brother is the only last love. God bless him. I hope he may live, still loving, without me. This world will need him if it is to survive. I don't think it will. I only hope that people have enough love that the few that come to my funeral will remember my request to have Amazing Grace hummed as they leave. Where I'm going, I think that will be the only thing I'll be able to smile at. Dearest journal, I love you for listening to me as I complained and now I must leave you. I have some bullets to load and fire.'

His brother closed the book and set it on the pulpit. He walked over to his chair, picked up a single white carnation and threw it on the casket. He then started to his car. As he walked, the crowd at first hummed, then sang, "Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found...". It was heard through out the town and for about three-hundred miles around.
Never, was another act of kindness forgotten or unnoticed.

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