The past twelve months have seen a lot of hidden changes in my life. I stopped serving in youth ministry, and joined the stage crew. I wrote — and discarded — fifty thousand words of my first novel, and built a lot of connections with writerly types in my community. My technical career unfolded into mostly management with no change of title or position. It hasn’t been specifically good, or bad, just different.
And I realized, while cleaning up my Facebook timeline, that the start of this cycle was the death of a young man I knew from church, and whom I considered a friend. Even today, I find myself wondering if his life would have ended differently if I as a leader had been more engaged, better engaged, in his life during my years of influence. In the end, his life choices were his own, but still.
By way of retaining the vital memory of this man, I post here a poem I composed the afternoon of his funeral. It’s not terribly good, but it’s honest, and in that way it reflects the subject better than Homeric verse could do.
This post should be about the man who as a teen
in football, blocked my neck and took my voice away.
My lost falsetto scar is now a badge of pride
remembered every time my children criticize.
And I should talk about the one who burned a mix
CD for me because my tastes were too mundane,
and tell of how he loved the music trade instead
of how I listened on the road when I was sad.
I ought to mention how he somehow lodged his foot
beneath the pastor’s rolling tire, or what he said
to make us laugh, or how he always made me smile.
All true, but still my selfish heart says there is more.
For he is young, and I am not, and he is gone,
And I am not. He leaves me crying out “Unfair!”
In selfishness I skip the thing I ought to do,
And weep for me instead, and wish I wept for you.