I'm enjoying Mother's Day sitting in Beacon Hill Park. The fountain in the middle of the pond is fountaining, the frisbeetarians are exercising the freedom of their religion, a baseball game is in full swing (as are the mini golfers), and some kids are getting a kick out of a soccer ball.
Families are enjoying the beautiful day. Mom pushes the empty stroller while Dad gives junior a bird's-eye view of things from atop his shoulders. Grandma gets a wheelchair tour, and the dogs are investigating every tree and rock.
A mallard is preening itself at the water's edge (until Grandpa and grandson come too close).
It's all quite idyllic, a perfect setting for a family values photo shoot.
But my heart is back at the memorial service for Darcy a couple days ago. Perhaps his liver gave out, but that was only a passing comment. If true, it would be a logical sign of the decades of street life and alcohol.
At the service in his memory, a number of people testified that he had been their best friend—and that would be no exaggeration. He was that kind of guy. He partied hard and often, but he also loved with the same intensity. Loyal, generous, experienced, protective.
The last time I saw him was 4 weeks ago at CARTS. I didn't realize then that his days were numbered. Looking back now, I am grateful for all the conversations. Love given, love received. By both of us. He cared, he cried, he loved. And over the years, we connected often through CARTS.
As I process my thoughts, a few things come together.
--Not everyone has the same idyllic life I can see happening around me here in the park. Many people have more painful memories of their childhood than happy ones. Physical, verbal, emotional and/or sexual abuse, missing fathers, stressed out mothers.
--A kid learns how to cope, how to bury the pain. But it is always there. So the cycles of self-medication begin. Something to deaden the ache. Alcohol or drugs become medicine, not just party or mood enhancers.
--Even though the troubled one recognizes the physical and mental effects of his substance use, what is he to do? When he isn't at least partly buzzed, it just hurts too much. So, even if he enters a rehab program, the pain probably remains when he comes back home.
--As Dr. Gabor Maté notes, every hardcore addict he has ever worked with has experienced some trauma/stress in their early years. In Dr. Maté's experience, it is the long-term, ongoing treatment of love, acceptance and affirmation that heals the inner pain. Sure, miracles can happen, but those are beyond our control. What we can do is play that loving and affirming part.
When it is easy,
when it is hard.
When our friend can articulate his feelings clearly,
and when he is so messed up you can only sit with him, hug him, love him.
--I don 't know if this was Darcy's story or not. Our conversations never really went to that depth. I only know that several times he and I did share some deep moments. Love given by both. Love received by both.
You are now at peace, Darcy. The pain is over. Rest in the arms of the one who has always loved you, always held you.
And I will go forward, endeavoring to be the arms and heart of Jesus to others whose hearts are crying for hope, and love, and peace.
5 hours ago