He was a beautiful boy who became a beautiful man. He wanted to be a police officer from the time he was a toddler and he began by protecting his younger brothers from bullies. He was a fighter who taught people how to love. He was driven by a passionate nature that endeared him to everyone that he met. We was wise and kind and the funniest person in the room. He was there one moment and gone the next, leaving a trail of tears from the hundreds who were forever changed because they knew him. His generous heart seemingly burst from the exertion that he poured into every aspect of his life.
He was the son of a woman whom I have known since we were both six years old. We became instant friends from the moment that I moved into the house across the street from hers. We rode our bicycles up and down the streets, singing songs and playing silly games like B and G, Boy and Girl. We explored the woods and dreamed of our futures, fantasizing about the wonderful things that lay ahead. Eventually I moved and we attended different schools. It became more difficult to stay in touch, but we persevered nonetheless. We both married at about the same time and our eldest children were only months apart in age.
I used to visit her, bringing my beautiful girl to play with her beautiful boy. They had fun together and she and I talked of the challenges of being mothers and wives. Work and daily obligations had a way of impeding our get togethers. Weeks went by and then months and finally years. We had mostly lost track of one another. That boy and my girl grew and were joined by siblings with whom we had little contact. We knew of each other but not much more. Somehow we still felt that magical bond of childhood friendship. When Facebook and Google provided a means of finding almost anyone, I managed to learn of her whereabouts once again. We talked on the phone as though we had never been apart. We promised to find time for a reunion, but this and that got in the way. She lived in Austin and I was still in the Houston area. She sometimes returned to visit her beautiful boy who was now a beautiful man and meant to come see me as well, but we just missed each other over and over.
Then came the private message from her brother. The beautiful boy, now a beautiful man had died suddenly. On Thursday he seemed fine but by Friday he was dead. It was his generous heart that had quit and there would be a memorial service to say goodbye.
He had become a Deputy in the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Department. He had worked there for twenty years. In fact he had just celebrated his hiring anniversary. He had won numerous awards and citations of excellence. He loved his work. He was doing what he had always wanted to do. In turn those who encountered him were taken by his sensitive and friendly nature. They came by the hundreds to mourn his passing, filling a large auditorium. They wore their uniforms and solemnly held a vigil over his casket.
Big strong burly men broke down in tears of emotion as they spoke of how special he had been. Mighty women sporting pistols on their hips cried unashamedly for the friend and coworker who would never cheer them with his lighthearted jokes again. Partners who had faced dangers side by side with him were barely able to speak. They all knew that he was a beautiful man and that it would never be the same without him.
His brothers wondered how they will be able to carry on without him. He had been their teacher, their bud, their defender, their cheerleader, their inspiration. They had hunted for Easter eggs with him, celebrated birthdays with him, wrestled on the couch with him, acted silly with him, shared stories and secrets with him. He was their big brother, the beautiful boy who had become a beautiful man.
His wife was bereft. He had loved her as madly as any man might do. Everyone who knew him heard of his passion for her. He worked endless hours to provide for her. She was the center of his universe and together they had created children who are as beautiful as he was. His wife had kissed him good night on Thursday. She might have lingered longer and opened her heart to him had she known that on Friday he would be gone.
His little boy is about the same age that I was when my father died. I know full well how much he will miss his dad. He is the image of that beautiful man. At the memorial service he was confused and still dealing with the reality of what had happened. The wound of loss will never really go away for him. It will rip a scar on his heart that will bleed from time to time but he will also remember the goodness of his father and it will forever guide and console him. He will be proud to be the son of that beautiful man and he will remember and love him for always.
Then there was his mother, a woman who had raised him mostly alone. She had done so well. He was a very good man, and much credit for that must go to her. She worked to provide for him and his brothers. She did her best to keep him safe and teach him how to become the beautiful person that he was. She could not possibly understand why he was so suddenly gone. It was not supposed to work that way. A mother should not have to bury a son. It was all too terrible. There was nothing that I might do or say to ease the pain. All we could do was hug and cry.
I remember being two little girls with no hint of what might come in our futures. We would both endure tragedies and enjoy blessings. Our bond of friendship remained eternally strong even in long seasons of absence. I struggle to know what I might do for her now, and so I simply grieve for her and pray that she will be comforted in knowing that she brought a beautiful boy into the world who became a beautiful man who changed everyone he knew for the better.