Thursday, February 25, 2016

Remembering Death 5 Anonymous

I'm not supposed to know about this. For this reason, I give as little context as possible.

There was once a man whose circles overlapped with mine. He and I were in the same room at the same time on more than a couple of occasions, but I cannot say I knew him well. I did know he was looking into working with youth as a career.

He took ill suddenly and fatally. I don't recall the illness, but in a matter of days, he was dead.

A friend of mine, who was where our circles overlapped, got together with a couple of other people to go to this man's apartment, to pack it up for his relatives. The man was living alone at the time of his death.

What the packing friends discovered was that the dead man had a stash of child pornography. In a panic and in disgust, they destroyed it all, to protect the dead man's family. Really, I suppose, to protect the dead man's memory.

One of the group that went to pack up the apartment commented on how God had saved some kids from this man's ambition to work with them. All of them felt queasy in the days ahead, as friends and family praised the dead man's aspirations and how his desire to work with children had been denied.

If God "killed" this man to prevent him from working with kids, then God misses a few others. I think it's fairly bad theology to say God picked out this man to die while letting other consumers of child porn and child molesters live on.

What remembering this death brings to my mind is all the ways that we're unknown to one another. All the ways we will be remembered will not be the full picture.

Who knows, maybe this story got out and his family knows all about it now. I wouldn't know how to find out. But what would finding this out about their beloved son, brother, uncle, friend mean to them? What end would it bring? A reinforcement that we're all under suspicion as being awful people? Or that even the people who harbor horrific urges are still lovable---and I do recall this man as being much loved. Hopefully---surely!---not all of us have such deeply disturbing secrets to be discovered in death (or covered up in death), but what do we do with it if we do discover such? 

Nothing is simple. Few things are in sharp focus. I relay this story of foggy grey not to reassure but to call into question. The reality is that we will all be remembered differently by different people. I certainly remember this man differently than how he was eulogized at the time of his death. How should I imagine him held in God's love?

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