Many years ago there lived a beautiful boy, greatly loved by his mother. He never knew his father, but no matter – He grew into a talented boy who loved to paint with oils and acrylics. He loved music, and as he grew, he would dream of a future filled with all the things that he loved. He had a kind heart for others, yet a mischievous side that drove his younger sisters a bit crazy.
His mother would come to marry a very difficult man full of anger and rage. As the beautiful boy grew into his teens, he faced many hard days and nights of brutality and fear. The mother became a shell of her former self, overwhelmed and lost, unable to protect the boy. As time went by, the beautiful boy became the focal point for the difficult man’s alcoholic rages. There were days the boy didn’t know if he would live to see the next sunrise. He didn’t know what hurt more, the abrasions of the skin, or those on his heart and mind………..
He lived in that constant fear daily, and eventually, it killed the very light within him – that beautiful, talented light. As you know, first the heart breaks, and then the mind. The boy’s hopes and dreams were blowing away like fragile dandelion seeds, caught in the wild wind, a maelstrom of destruction.
He left home as soon as he could, a teenager on the streets. And as the adult years grew closer to him, he grew further away from everything and everyone. His family lost track of him. The entire world lost track of him. No one remembered his birthday or sent him a gift for Christmas. No one invited him over for Sunday dinner or a Friday night movie. It was as if he never even existed. It was as if he had died.
And then, one day, he did.
On Christmas Day in 2010, he collapsed on a sidewalk in a seedy part of town, in a state far, far away. Methamphetamines raged through his body until his heart exploded. He didn’t use his heart anymore anyway, not for a long time. His heart had felt no love, no hate, no joy for a very long time. He made sure of that. It was just easier to exist that way, finding comfort in the numbness of oblivion.
He was still young, just 50 years old. The police found him there on the sidewalk. He had carried no ID in his pockets. No one knew him. Police searched databases and neighborhoods for information until they identified him. His body lay in the county morgue for over a month until the police were finally able to locate a family member thousands of miles away.
His parents had died years previously, but a sister had been found. The eldest one. The one that had searched for him for several years, but could never locate him. The sister made the arrangements with the out-of-state morgue and a distant funeral home. The beautiful boy was cremated, and his ashes shipped back to his home state.
She had sat at a table of a local mortuary to accept delivery of the beautiful boy. As she waited, she wondered how many times a heart could be broken – one hundred times? One thousand times? Why were some people able to recover and move forward, when others were not? There were no answers.
Eventually, an employee passed her a box of ashes no bigger than a package of flour. A plain white box full of all that was, all that remained of the beautiful boy. She gathered him up in her arms to take him home.
Alone, with just his sister present to say words of prayer, sorrow, and regret, his ashes were scatted. She poured out all that he was into the clear, icy blue waters of the Cook Inlet – well, all that he was here on earth.
Because the beauty of him will forever remain in heaven.
I am that sister.
And I ask that you be kind to one another. Our very lives depend upon it.
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