Thursday, March 12, 2009


As I was tossing and turning last night, trying to find the one position comfortable enough to let my hurting body fall asleep, there was an interruption. I heard a noise and looked up to see a silhouette in the doorway.  "J?" I said. (I actually do call him J, rather than his full name, most of the time!) "What's going on?"
"I have a problem," he answered. "I think C (his ex-roommate and very good longtime friend) is going to kill himself tonight."
Without saying a word, I leaned over and nudged Beve awake.  This is a Beve-sized problem without a doubt.  Beve has dealt with all kinds of suicide situations, once kept a kid on the phone who had overdosed and didn't know where he'd wandered to.  Has visited families of successful (though it's a little backwards to call it 'success', when it's really the ultimate failure!) suicides.  One spring he asked we to go with him to a motel in town where the family of a dead son was staying because they couldn't bear to be in their house until their blood-splattered bathroom had been fixed.  He'd made them cinnamon rolls and we listened to the mom tell her story from every which way, while the 8 year old younger brother--the one who'd found him--sat in a glaze staring at the TV on the far bed. Beve inhabits this world with kids and their families, he's trained for it, and by nature, is calm and thoughful.

So he was definitely the parent of choice for J.  J told Beve he'd been talking online with his buddy, and was pretty sure he wasn't just joking around. As he read the dialogue, we realized J had every reason to be worried. C offered J his music, said he knew it was the most selfish thing he could do, but he'd been thinking about it for a long time and couldn't see any other way out of his miserable life.  J said, "Let's go get something to eat, take a drive."  But when ten minutes went by without a response from C, J came to us.

Beve offered to call the parents (Like J, C moved home last fall), but there was no answer (of course, I mean, who answers their phone after midnight?).  By this time it'd been 20 minutes since he'd heard from C, and that's about a lifetime when someone's planning to end theirs.  They thought about going over to C's house, but as Beve said, "The police can respond faster."  Beve offered to place the call, J said, "No, I'll do it. I know the situation." So he dialed 911 (for the first time in his life), and explained the situation very clearly.  Suicide is not something law enforcement officers take lightly, thankfully. Afterwards, J worried that C would be mad at him, but agreed that there hadn't been a choice. Saving C's life was more important. Though the police dispatcher told J they'd call when they got to the house, our phones must not have been working (I'm not being facetious--our phones are notoriously temperamental, cut out on J as he was talking to the dispatcher, actually) because we kept waiting and waiting to hear something--either way!  Anyway, finally--almost an hour later--J got a text message from C. "I'm having a mental health evaluation." Safely at the hospital, beginning the long trek toward health.
"Are you pissed at me?" J asked.
"Maybe a little, but I understand why you did it."
"You can be pissed at me," J told his friend. "As long as you're alive."

I'd spent that whole time praying.  From the moment the first sentence came out of J's mouth, until I drifted off to sleep, I'd been doing the only thing I had any expertise in (and let me tell you, I'm a long ways from being an expert at prayer).  Inviting--pleading with--the Holy Spirit to interrupt this young man from his self-appointed task, asking Him to participate in Beve's conversation, J's call, the police's actions.  Sometimes when I hear of the difficulties people are going through, I feel impotent and useless, unable to offer any real help to them.  "I'll pray," I say, feeling slightly lame.  I know--I KNOW--that prayer isn't lame, that it isn't the aid of last resort, but sometimes it feels that way, when others around me are doing something.  But last night, it felt powerful and important.  Exactly as important as calling the police, actually.  As they intervened, so did the One who holds life in His hands.   Thank God. Really, thank God.

I'm proud of J today.  I'm proud that he was an instrument of God last night, keeping his friend from such an end.  It was a hard, hard night for our son, but he passed with flying colors.

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