I spent some of this afternoon at the wake of a fifteen year old who took his life Sunday night. That morning, he went to church with his family. He sang in the choir. He went home. He went to his room to take a nap and took, instead, the pills that killed him.
I didn’t know him. I’d met him once when he was six or seven. My program used to run out of the upper floor of his father’s church. I went to the viewing out of respect and sadness for his dad. And by being there, I got to meet this amazing boy who seemed to have so much love and compassion to give others, but maybe couldn’t find enough to give himself.
One by one the kids who knew him stood up and told funny, touching, revealing stories about him — stories he might not have wanted them to tell but which brought him, vividly, into the room, stories that made me feel I knew him and made me sorry I didn’t. I loved how open the kids were — turning to the casket to talk directly to him, reciting poems they had written for him only moments before, holding and checking in with one another, sharing themselves as they shared their stories of him.
Afterward, I gave the pastor a hug. I had no words. I could and did say, “I’m so sorry for your loss,” but it really means nothing, you know? There just aren’t any words.