An essay I wrote quite a while ago has been published on the Effectively Human website. It’s a piece about a young man I knew when I was volunteering, one that I often think about and hope he is doing well. It still breaks my heart to think he might not be.
Here’s a small piece of it but I hope you will click through to read the rest.
Maybe the question I need to answer is not what went wrong, but what might go wrong. How long before the young boy’s eyes in the young man’s face grow cold? Will the day come when he will look at me with a glazed gaze: wild, cruel, daring someone for a reason to vent his anger and frustration at what he has become? He will sit on our stained blue couch and I will mix hot cocoa for him, or maybe pour coffee, extra cream and extra sugar. He will stuff packages of cookies in his pockets and ask if we have any clean socks, any hygiene kits, any sandwiches, any more coffee. Anything? The dark hair will be streaked with gray, the zipper on his coat will not quite close and he will carry a plastic shopping bag with the corner of a frayed airline blanket poking out from its tightly packed interior.
If this is Eric’s future, will I find courage enough then to look past his rage to find the human being inside? Will there be one there? Which would be the worst case scenario: a cardboard box or a coffin?
A cardboard box, and then a coffin?
No, I think. The worst case scenario would be not looking for the human being. If I stop looking, if everyone stops looking, the human being dies while the body continues to breathe. And the little boy in the church pew, the face he makes as he tugs at his tight top shirt button, the wide-eyed dream of someday drawing comic books, or pitching for the Yankees, or winning the Indy 500, dies also.