The Last One To See My Son Alive
April 4, 2020

In the midst of what is supposed to be social isolation, I saw the man responsible for providing the drug that took my son’s life.  He’s also the man that waited 10 to 12 hours before calling 911 to report the overdose death that had taken place on his sofa in his living room in his home in his presence.  And there he was.

Right in front of me. 

I stopped dead in my tracks and grabbed Weston’s arm.  My chest burned as my heart hammered.  I fought to breathe as memories and emotions of March 19, 2019, threatened to overtake me.  I fought the urge to run, while simultaneously fighting the urge to walk boldly up to him just so he would have to look into my eyes.  He was my neighbor who I tried for over a year to help, so there was no doubt that he would immediately recognize me, but did he deserve that?  Did I?  I wanted to ask if he saw Hagen each night before he fell asleep. Did he feel any remorse?  Any responsibility?  Anything? Had Hagen dying on his sofa been a catalyst to his sobriety?   Had any true good come into his life as a result of his actions?  Or had others died because of him.  Hagen wasn’t the first, or even the second, but I have prayed that he was the last.

We continued shopping and saw him more than once.  Each time he was in my line of vision I looked, really looked at him.  I tried to gauge if he was healthy.  Had he put on weight?  Was his color good?  I tried to gauge if the heaviness he had carried when I tried to help him had lifted somewhat.  I tried to gauge, as if with physical eyes one can, if he had changed.  If he was walking in sobriety then I could somehow come to terms with the fact that he was still walking while my son was not.

As we checked out, I looked at my baby boy and said “we’re ok.”  It was less a statement and more a command because while I watched this man, so did he.  He knew him, too.  As we scanned our groceries I remembered all too well the anger that Weston, along with other young men that loved Hagen, felt towards this man.  And while my emotions threatened to take over, I remembered what I told Weston and those same young men when they wanted to act on their anger.  I told them there were two people in that room that night.  One knew Jesus and the other didn’t.  The one that knew Him was now standing face to face with him. The other lives on to hopefully and prayerfully receive Him.

Wise words.  Although they came from my mouth, they weren’t mine but words from my loving Savior.  Today, in that emotional moment I didn’t “feel” them.  I felt the need for justice, recognition, and acknowledgment, but had I followed my emotions, acted out based on what I was feeling, there would have been a scene.  A scene that would have affected me, my son, and innocent people that were edgy to begin with.

Emotions are real and important but they are also prone to lead you away from reality.  We “feel it” so it must be true, but oftentimes that isn’t the case.  Emotions go beyond happy and sad and can flip you into an instant summersault of overwhelming feelings that begin to consume you.  As with all things in life that can be good or bad.  If we aren’t careful, our emotions can control us, instead of us controlling our emotions.

Not many years ago I read somewhere that in order to avoid making an emotional decision, it was best to remove yourself and look at the situation practically, as if you were on the outside looking in.  Through trial and error, I had gotten better at doing that prior to Hagen leaving, but because the emotions that accompany grief are foreign until you are grieving, I had to start all over.  There were new emotions that had to be first identified, then dealt with (taking as long as it took) and prayed about until they became familiar to me.  Through the last year I’ve had more emotions to control than ever before. Some days I succeed and some days I don’t.  On the “don’t” days I have the love of a Savior to comfort and lead me whileI sort through what’s eating at me, and grace to know I messed up.

I would like to say that I took control of my emotions today, but I didn’t.  Had I taken control of them I would not, hours later, still be shaken.  Seeing him, the last one to see my son alive, the one that could have done something but didn’t, opened the well of traumatic memories that made it absolutely impossible for ME to control anything.  As I wrestled with this cloud of emotional confusion and talked to Jesus all afternoon, He reminded me of the dream I woke from this morning and I’ve come to a few conclusions that have helped ease the burden of that encounter.

It was not me that chose to remain silent today, but the Lord pressing upon me His power, will and might.   My emotions were/are real and justified but they aren’t my reality.  I am sadly not the only person that will experience something like this.  Each day approximately 200 families find themselves in my shoes and one day may come upon the one person that could have changed the outcome of their lives.

The drug pandemic has taken a backseat to a more “pressing” pandemic. I am not comparing the two because you can not compare apples to oranges, and insinuating one is more important than the other is ludicrous when people are dying in both, but today I forgot that COVID-19 existed for a moment.  Today I remembered only the pandemic that claimed my son.

The dream I woke from this morning was Jesus kneeling in prayer and tonight I think I know what He was praying for.  He showed me before it ever happened that He was interceding on my behalf and praying over the encounter He knew I would have.  There is no other way that I could have handled that situation the way I did.  He wasn’t just praying for me.  He was praying over all of His beloved and He was praying over both pandemics.  In the dream He rose from prayer and walked off.  Where was He going?  Was He leaving the ninety-nine to go after the one?  Was the one the man that I wanted to confront?  Was it you? 

Either way, you were prayed for today by the One who knows exactly how to pray.


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