Cry Tom Cry

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Cry Tom Cry

Chris Haagen

I am crying for you Tom. I am not crying because I am sad you are dead, or sad that you are gone. I am sad that you can't see the tears you should be crying. I am sad that you can't see that the chains you think you remove are just being replaced with others. Run Tom. It's just not time to try and understand.
Last week, I learned that Charles had died. I had attended Quaker Meeting with him for eight years. We had always been in the same youth group. He was always one of the older ones in the group. As it is natural with any mixed age group, being one of the older kids mean he was part of a group that was better at everything. As is natural with any situation such as this, there is a natural jealousy and admiration of the dominate and more successful individuals. Many times this is aided by a natural desire to overcome the other groups' rejection, but this was not the case with Charles and his friends. While, one or two years are a big difference during elementary and middle schools, Charles was always up for including me and the other younger kids in our group.
Most of the time I want to love you Christ. I want to be able to open my heart to your light and realize through you all happiness is possible. I believe in your commandment to love one another , I believe heaven exists not for the select, but in the hearts of all men . I believe in the Word and that the word is god. I believe that, most of the time. But some times I just want to say fuck off. Right now, I don't feel much like prayin'.
Charles was the liberal intellectual before we even knew what that meant. He was overly nice in a time when it was lame to be nice. He was anti-corporation when we all were demanding to go to MacDonald's. His maturity was far beyond ours, but saying that he couldn't quote lines from the Simpson's as easily as I could, I didn't think as much of him at the time. Thinking back, he probably could, but just choose not to.
Tom, you say the lord han't forgotten you . You say god is everywhere . You say yes mas'r to a man who is the devil . You tell others that the lord will save you, but now you lay beaten and dead. Maybe if you suffer with him, you will also reign. But you won't understand that you throne is in front of you. Take the salvation of Eliza and George. They are together and happy. They had so much faith in their faith, that they knew when to violate it. Their betrayal set them free, but it was because they knew their betrayal was what god wanted of them. Your devotion is your exploitation.
After I went to High School my parents stopped making me go to meeting, and I stopped seeing Charles. I would occasionally see him at concerts, but nothing more than a few passing hellos. When you move on from a person, you stop thinking of them as individuals. You imagine that he is at a party, still hanging out with the people he hung out with when you spent time with them, still laughing at the jokes he laughed at back then. He is your past, and your untaken potential. He will represent your feeling of inadequacy. There is some reason you two didn't make it. We leave our hometowns not just to make it in the big city; we go because we can't face to stick it out back there. There is some reason why you parted, and both of you, deep down inside, are ashamed to confront that point. No matter what happens, there is that feeling that the other knows your running, not because you want to, but because you have to. You say your hellos and look happy, because that way neither of you feel guilty. Neither of you show your regret. Hearing he was going to Cornell was anything out of the ordinary. A lot of smart kids from my community end up going to good schools, and I had always thought he was real smart. I was happy for him less in that it was unexpected, but in the way that it you are pleased when your expectations line up with what you actually happens.
I can't look at you now Jesus. Your face reminds me not of love, but of how much I can hate the ignorance you make me believe. I am a Christian, but that doesn't mean I ain't having my doubts. There is just too much now, too much to try and explain. No, I don't go to you for the easy of explanation. I turn to you because I love you and I know you. But now, I look at tears and suffering that provide no salvation. This death won't help anyone. Are souls maybe cleanse of sin because of your death, but that ain't gonna stop people from shooting themselves in the head. There is no order to this chaos, there is no way to justify why some hurt has to be. The whip stings and doesn't make we want to open my arms. I am not running for good from you Jesus, I'll be back soon enough. I just can't stand to be with you right now.
The next time I saw him, it was like seeing a ghost. He was no where near the world I had imagined him in. He wasn't playing soccer with Noah or acting in a play with Hunter. He was willing to show the deep honesty that was piercing to witness. I had heard he was taking time off from school, but a lot of people take time off. At times during college I thought about coming back home for a while to re-center myself and come back to school with a new sense of direction. That wasn't why Charles came home. He had a darkness that was cast over him. His eyes were glazed over like he had looked over the edge and seen the dark hell on the other side. The look on his face was not of a man that was seeking any re-direction, but only some air to breath.
I am not being whipped by no Simon Legree. My wife and children are not being sent to other slave owners to be raped and abused. I don't know that pain, your pain. How do you see your child be ripped from your arms and be content to replace it with the idea of faith. Faith is allowing Simon to Kill you Tom. Your Faith won't end slavery. Your faith is allowing you to live in a world that is horrible. You are taking the Devil as your master as you believe the darkness we live in is light . Stop loving the Darkness tom.
I found out later from my father that Charles had become a Paranoid Schizophrenic. In High School he had been diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder. I had not been made aware of this, partly because I did not see him very often, and partly because it was such a common thing. To put your worries in every person with bi-polar, you wouldn't have time for anything else. People can take their medication and appear perfectly normal. Hell, there are enough people with it that it becomes also normal to have it. Anyways, after leaving Durham, he went through a hard transition. I don't know if he got into hard drugs, or just the environmental change was too much for him, but his condition got worse. I don't know if the Schizophrenia had always been there, just looming in the corners of his mind, or if it came out of a hard intense experience. All I know is that when he came home, he was nothing like that boy I had known.
Peter denied you Christ for a reason. You knew he would deny you. He didn't deny you because he hated you, he denied you because he loved you. The only way he could keep loving you was to try and forget this moment. Seeing you suffer on the Cross is too much for anyone to deal with. We have to deny some moments in time so that we can go on believing that the world is a place with so much beauty. Some moments are too horrible, to powerful for us to be able to conquer with an idea like faith. You knew, you understood. That's why you forgave him, and that is why you die alone for us.
I saw him the month before he decided to die. He was out eating with his parents, just like I was with mine. I learned latter that it was odd to see his parents out like this, saying that they had divorced a few years before. As I sat with my parents eating our barbeque sandwiches, talking about what the Duke backcourt needed to go to sure up their defense, I saw that Charles' parents were talking with one another as well. They were laughing about some issues, probably discussing how tough work had been that month, thinking of what might happen once the weather was going to get better. Charles didn't say anything. He sat there eating and staring. He had headphones on, but I don't even know if he was listening to anything. On his end of the table, he existed in a totally different world than the one his parents existed in. I think neither world was really aware of the other, or the ability to interact with one another. I don't think it was out of negligence or lack of trying. I think it had come to a point when it just got to be too hard.
Tom, you never complain about how he treats you. I don't think you even understand your faith. Your faith should be able understanding your escape. God has parted the red sea for you, but you continue to wait for more signs. Quit your sin of negligence toward yourself. It is killing you. It is killing your children. It is killing me. Tom just get up and run.
I was at work when I heard about his death. Before I even looked at the email, I knew what it was about. No subject line with his name in it could be anything positive. I found out later that he had tried a couple times before, and that this time, he went missing on Duke's Campus for a few days. His medication made him very depressed and so sedated that he was completely unable to function in daily life. He need others to help him with basic tasks and normal functioning. While he was a rational thinking person, he was a shell of his previous self. However, when he stopped taking the medicine, the depression lingered, and he no longer was a rational person. He was not mental able to distinguish between life and death, and found the most sense in trying to commit suicide.
Don't try and tell us that this is any different, Jesus. Tom is carrying your cross, taking your lashes. You know he don't deserve that. No man deserves that. You can have the world spit in your face and take it as your baptism. But that's cause you ain't no man. Tom isn't suppose to be you Jesus. Golgotha isn't shaking with his death, the curtain ain't ripped. Please Jesus, tell him he is free. Tell him he can curse your name and cry. That what he needs now Jesus. He needs it, because he loves you.
At the Memorial Service, my father found that Charles had Overdosed on drugs, and died in the midst of trying to burry himself. Ironically, it was a failed attempt at what he had been trying to go for the past four years. People could only remember the past few years of Charles' life. But it wasn't Charles' life they were remembering, it was all of the people who had been hurt along the way, all of the sadness the community had experienced as a result of this horrible disease. People wanted this over, wanted this to not have happened. It also seemed as if the earlier memories of his achievements only made this experience harder. There was no celebration of a person's life at this moment. Only a sad and realized sigh of relief.
Tom, yous a free now. Take Cassy hand and run. Just run. Before you go, cry a little. You gotta cry because God done you wrong. But don't cry cause you hate him, cry cause you love. You will reign someday, you just need to know what reignin' look like.

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