Sunday, February 01, 2009

A tragedy

One life was lost and one probably destroyed by this sad event. In the town where I live there was a man who was something of a picture. He rode around town on his bicycle collecting cans and picking up trash. He opened doors for people and always had a kind word. He left flowers and little gifts for those who came to know him well. His name was John. He suffered from schizophrenia but chose not to take medication because he didn't like the way it made him feel. He lived with his brother and sister-in-law and their two daughters. He was a good person, the kind of person we should all try to be more like. Everyone in town will miss John, but for his family this is an especially tragic loss.

The woman who struck and killed him with her car this Friday was not an evil person. She didn't do it on purpose. She made the ill-informed decision to drive while on a prescription medication that made her tired. She fell asleep at the wheel. She will probably be charged with vehicular homicide. Her life is ruined. I saw her photo in the paper. She is a tired-looking person who looks as if she's had a rough life. Perhaps she didn't have anyone that she could turn to who could take her places. Perhaps she didn't know that the medication would affect her as badly as it did. Whatever the case, her bad decision will remain with her as long as she lives.

I also remember a man named Billy who was John's friend. Billy was not a bad guy but he got involved with cooking and selling meth, probably out of desperation for money. Another bad decision that ruined a life. Billy still has a chance to turn things around, though, and make better decisions when he gets out of jail. I hope he'll do so, in memory of his friend who didn't judge others.

Maybe the rest of us can learn something from John too. Don't judge others based on their disability, including a mental disability. Don't judge others based on the mistakes they make. I know that John forgives the woman who struck him with her car. I would have a hard time forgiving someone who made that kind of mistake and killed someone I loved.

People like John should be remembered. He was what the rest of us should aspire to be. Of all people I have known, I am sure that he is blessed and at peace and in one of the good places that the souls of someone like him belong. He was loved by all whose lives he touched. We who knew him even a little were blessed.

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