Remembering after an Overdose

“Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.”  (Isaiah 40:1 NRSV)

Until Tuesday morning I had never heard of the young man.  By Tuesday noon I had met him through stories his parents shared.  Today, I’m preparing to preach at his funeral.

A drug overdose.

He’d been in rehab and was doing so well.  Relatives commented at his grandfather’s funeral just a month ago.  He looked so good.  So clean.  So clear.  (“Clear” is such an interesting description.)

Addiction is a disease.  An illness.  Brutal – for addict and loved ones alike.

“Comfort, O comfort, my people.”

Tomorrow we’ll name the ugly, the gut wrenching, the heart breaking.

We’ll turn to the words of our faith  and to the One who offers comfort like no other.  Nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39 NRSV)

And we’ll remember this one particular child of God.

As an elementary student he welcomed a new kid in the class.  Befriended him.  Helped him fit in.  A decade or more later, that kid remembers.

As an employee he was glad to cover for a fellow worker – to the extent management made him take a day off a week.  His associates remember.

As a member of the family, he loved to cook.  Great food.  Leaving an equally great mess in the kitchen.  His parents remember.

As an uncle he took delight in children.  “Uncle X” they’d squeal in delight at the sight of him.  “Where’s X?” they’d ask, over and over and over until he appeared.  Siblings remember.

He’d strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere.  Strangers may not remember him exactly.  But the smile, the kindness, the few moments shared surely are held in more than one heart.

He was one of those who’d give you the tie-dyed shirt right off his back.

“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”   Matthew 25:34b-35 NRSV

We’ll remember with tears and laughter.  We’ll give thanks for his life.  We’ll pray for strength and comfort.

And we’ll go out, I hope, to gladden the hearts of those we meet, resolved to love, and practicing kindness with ourselves and others.

“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us.  Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”  (Henri Frederic Amiel, Swiss Philosopher, 1821 – 1881)

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