i miss the way
That said, I’ve had a lot on my mind over the past few days, nothing more so than the suicide and apparent loss of reality’s grip on an old and dear friend of mine. Many of you will know of whom I speak.
Ken, along with his family, was somebody that I loved very much. I dug out an old photo today of he and I wearing grass skirts and coconut bras for a youth event we did together about fifteen years ago. Ken helped me work out the details of a car purchase my wife and I made about ten years ago. I spent many a nights in his police cruiser, and many a nights in the company of his children and lovely wife Maya.
I remember when Ken went to prison for the first time. I remember visiting him in jail, after his first night, and seeing the hopelessness and despair in his eyes. In his latest mug shot I could see that same despair, only more so. It brought me back to that place. It’s been a heart breaking place to visit. As always, it’s even harder to deal with 3000 miles away.
How do you get to the place where Ken was? The easy answer is that it is a series of choices: a series of compromises. And I suppose that that is true. Still, that’s not a good enough answer.
Mind you, this is, by no means, a sermon or even a full take on the matter. This is me very much trying to work it out in my own head. But there was always a desperateness just below Ken’s surface. I could never quite put my finger on it, but it was often manifested through Ken’s desire to find some way in which to get rich quick. He always seemed to have some little deal in the works. Many, many times those deals went bad. After his first fraud case came to light, several past stories and events began to fall into place for me and I began to understand them more clearly. Ken was desperate and, I say with all love and respect, but also in the interest of learning the lesson that he apparently never learned; monetary wealth, in particular, was his seductress. It was an evil demon that he chose to worship alongside his maker. So, even as he bowed before the cross, to his right there was always the seductress.
Times like these always make you reflect. At least they do me. And I’ve been wondering two things since Ken’s suicide; (1) I continue to make my own series of choices that clearly can be headed in only one direction. How many choices away am I from finding myself in a deep load of trouble? What is my seductress? And how does one rid himself of that seductress? (2) It’s easy to read a story like Ken’s and, if you don’t have a personal connection, fold your newspaper up and go on with your life in the knowledge that there are very bad people out there. But behind every horrific story like this one, there is a life, a soul, and a home full of friends and family who are now left to try and find a way to go on. Ken’s solution was suicide, but this is not always the case. Our prisons are full of people who have just made very bad choices, often due to circumstances way beyond their control (though that was not the case here), who are now left to deal with what society is very willing to chalk off as a throwaway life. But certainly there are lives, much like Ken’s was, that are not throwaway lives. And surely those lives are worth saving? But, and to put it mildly, that is not what our prison systems are doing. And what about those who are left to pick up the pieces of somebody else’s decision?
Ken and Maya were long time members of my childhood church. And though they have not attended that church in quite sometime, I hope that those from that church that read this blog will make a strong and very concerted effort to reach out to Maya and Morgan. Can you imagine what they must be going through right now and can you imagine the difference just five people from a past church family could do if they decided to take care of her (emotionally, spiritually, physically) over the next year or so. We should be bringing them meals. We should be driving out to pray with them several times a week. We should be pouring out love and support on them at this time. I’m heart broken that I’m not there to do it myself. I hope that several of you will hug them for me.