“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
[edited slightly on Jan. 12, 2013]
My son is sleeping now, after having not slept last night and feeling ill for a couple of days. He’s a teen and visits his dad, and they had a roommate that was an older man and who was often difficult to deal with – though my son and him talked all the time. My son last saw him yesterday before 1 pm. It was to be this roommates last day at the house and he was packing boxes (the dad told him he couldn’t live there anymore – part of my son’s stress-related illness, I believe). When my son and his dad came back, the roommate was gone but his stuff was all there. The dad got a call from the Sheriff’s department saying that the roommate was at the hospital, but upon contacting the hospital, and going there, nothing could be found out about the roommate. He couldn’t be visited and the hospital staff said they couldn’t relay any information until the next of kin were contacted.
Doesn’t sound good.
Some background about this older man. He’s a veteran with epilepsy, and while he had health care through the veterans program, he had to drive far away to get care. He had married a few years ago, but after he and his wife both lost their jobs and their house, his wife filed for divorce. He didn’t have a place to live and ended up staying in a room at my son’s dad’s house.
He called his ex-wife everyday but it seems that she didn’t really care for him (she lived very far away, too). While he seemed happy enough, he argued a lot. He snored loudly. He had an old dog that kept peeing everywhere because it just couldn’t hold it in. The dog was in bad shape but the roommate hadn’t had the nerve to take the dog to the vet yet . . . who knows how much he could afford, as his work was off-and-on. He had taken to sleeping with the dog. I imagine he was saying good-bye to it, and making his last days as good as they could be. His dad had died a few days before Christmas and the funeral was on Christmas day; after this he became ill.
His dad just died; he lost his job, house, wife (I’m so sickened that this has happened to a lot of older people in our country); he was older, with epilepsy; he was sad that his dog was dying and he had to deal with that; he was kicked out of his residence. Is there some reason why you would think that this person was actually dealing with life OK, even though he didn’t want to talk about stuff much? As Christians, are we to just keep going our own way and not actively asking and helping people who are having a difficult time in their lives? As Bonhoeffer said, we need to look beyond the superficial stuff in people’s lives, what they do, what they hide, and reach out and help the suffering. Does a curmudgeonly guy deserve help any less than a sweet woman? No.
I’m not trying to say in this essay that I wouldn’t have wanted the roommate to move, I wouldn’t be able to say. But I am saying it seems that more could have been done to ease this person’s burden, emotionally at least, so that he could deal with life’s circumstances better. I think I and others need to try and live what the NT writer said more proactively: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus . . .” (Phil 2:3-5).
I don’t know for sure that the roommate is dead. I just don’t know why my son’s dad wasn’t allowed to see him or find out anything about him if he was alive. But I will update later. Thanks for any prayers.
Update (Jan. 12, 2013): The roommate died in surgery. He had suffered a severe epileptic event while driving, which resulted in a very very bad accident. We are not allowed to know the details of the accident, other than his car rolled over many times. Apparently the roommate forgot to take his epilepsy medicine that day. Both stress and age can contribute to forgetting things like taking one’s medicine, though my son thinks he may not have taken it on purpose (he had never forgotten before). Anyway, his wife (or ex-wife) had come to see him before he went into surgery, so I’m glad of that; he used to call her everyday.
Update (Jan. 29, 2013): I keep looking to see if a death notice or obituary is published, but there has been nothing. I don’t understand this. Can’t anyone who knew him or is related to him file something, out of respect? This world is fallen, indeed. It is easy to find two notices of when his dad died, but nothing about Dennis, but it’s as though he never existed.