Did you ever wonder how people today survive the craziness, and evil that’s in our world?
I do, but a few days ago I saw three young men who gave me great confidence that in spite of some unbelievable tragedies in their lives they survived and are doing great. These three young men made for a somewhat emotional day.
Tragedy, read “evil”, doesn’t care who it strikes; it cares not one bit about age, race, sex, religion or whom you sleep with. Like evil, I’ll not use these men’s real names.
Jim was 29 and had served honorable in the US military and planned to return to the service he loved. During our time together I asked if he was married or had any kids. The smile fell from his face, he looked down and answered, “Not anymore.”
His sadness filled the room. For a moment I was silent, “Not anymore?” I asked. “Can I ask what happened?”
He pierced me with his deep brown eyes and said, “While I was at sea someone broke into my house and shot my wife. She was holding the baby and he killed them both. Baby was only 5 weeks old.”
I froze. “God, I’m sorry. How are you doing?”
“It’s been a tough two years, but I’m getting over it. I’ll be alright. I just need to get back with my buddies and get to work.”
We talked some more while he and I both regained our composure. He qualified for re-enlistment. I thanked and congratulated him for his service, asked him to take care of himself, as well as us. And I added my usual farewell. “Keep us safe, keep us strong, and keep us free. God bless you.”
He smiled, shook my hand and left. But he didn’t leave my mind. I’ll see him there often in the coming years.
Later that day Joe came through the door. He was a young man barely 17. He had graduated from high school and wanted to, “Make something of myself.” “I’ve wanted to be a soldier ever since I can remember and in the army I can get some money for college,” he stated.
He had one of those “smiley” faces that makes everyone, including me, like him at once. After I looked into his eye, ears, nose and mouth I gave him one of my off the cuffs remarks, “Tell your mom that you have inner beauty, I looked inside your head and saw it.” Then I added, “Of course she’ll just say, ‘Oh, Honey, I know that.”
We shared a short laugh and he replied, “Naw, she won’t; she’s dead!”
For the second time that morning I was struck dumb. I took a deep breath touched his shoulder and said, “I’m so sorry.”
He comforted me, “That’s OK, I’ve got a good stepmom. My dad finally married her.”
He went on to tell me that five days before his sixth birthday “they” found his mother dead in a chair. ‘’She had bruises on her neck and ‘foamy blood’ in her lungs, so they thought she was choked to death. She had some drugs in her pocket – she was a coke head – but no drugs or alcohol in her blood.”
She and his dad weren’t married and Joe lived with her until she was killed. After that Dad took him. He was a bright boy. I didn’t ask his ACT or SAT scores; he said he made all As and Bs. I told him he had about 10 degrees of scoliosis and said that 30 degrees or more is disqualifying. “Do you know how much 30 degrees is?” I asked.
He surprised me by saying, “Ninety degrees is a right angle, and 45 is half of that, so it’s about a third of a right angle.”
I was glad to have met this smart kid but his tragedy stayed with me. Fortunately, for him, it was part of his past and he chose to live in the present with his goal of being a US Soldier driving his future.
These two men faced killing of another in both cases, a loved one. But, Tom faced it personally. Tom was 19 and set on joining the US Airforce. There was a serious problem, though, he had had heart surgery when he was a few days old and the hospital no longer had the records. He had had no problems with his heart since then; his growth and development had been normal, as was his physical exam. He would have to be disqualified until we had an evaluation and echocardiogram by a cardiologist. In the meantime, it would be helpful to let the cardiologist know what kind of surgery he had had.
“Any chance your mother would know something about that surgery?” I asked.
“Not a chance. She doesn’t know anything about anything and I have no idea where she is or if she is still alive. And”, he added. “I don’t want to find out any more about her than I already know!” He looked at me with determination in his eyes.
I felt I should know what caused the estrangement and the complete change in his attitude as he discussed his mother.
“How is it you don’t know your mother?” I asked. Thinking maybe he had been kicked out of the house or had some kind of evil streak in him.
“She’s the reason I was born prematurely and only weighed 1 pound and 10 ounces. She aborted me with a coat hanger. But I am strong and I survived, so did my sister!”
I gasped, “Were you twins?”
“No, she also used the coat hanger on her three years before she did it to me. She weighed more than I did and lived, too. But, she was able to kill our brother the same way.”
What can I say? Three in one morning.
“Man, I am so sorry you had to go through all that. At least you didn’t have to live with her and never knew her.”
“Actually I did. I lived with Dad until I was five and she had to pay child support to him. But she kept trying to get me to live with her so she could get money from him. It was all about the money. When I was five she found a judge who made me live with her and Dad had to send her money. Dad tried all he could to get me back but the judge always made me live with her until I was 11. Then, I told Dad I would not live with her anymore no matter what the judge said. Dad’s lawyer let me talk to the judge alone. I was a little scared, but I didn’t let it show. I just told him everything and how bad it was there. And he let me live with dad. I don’t know what happened to her. I never heard from her again.”
I completed the paper work, explained how to get the consultation with cardiac, and told him I was more than 99% sure he had had patent ductus surgery. Then I gave him my card and asked him to call me after he saw the cardiologist. I thanked him for what he wanted to do, and bid him farewell telling him how proud I was of him, how strong I though he was, and asked him to take good care of us, keep us safe, keep us strong, and keep us free. I extended my hand to him, he grasped it, then gave me a big bear hug. He put his head on my shoulder and sobbed. Then he pulled himself up, smiled and said thanks.
What a morning! These three young men made for a very emotional day.
Back to the opening question, “How did these men survive the evil that’s in our world?” You tell me, I have no idea. I guess they are just a lot stronger than I am! Let me know your thoughts.