I was standing in the backyard early this morning, the way I do most mornings when I let our two dogs out to do their business, when a man in the neighbor’s yard on the other side of our privacy fence said hello.
I remembered talking to him several months ago, when he was here from Colorado visiting his relatives who live in that house. So I walked over to the fence and asked how he’s doing. I’m okay, he said. Are you here for Christmas? I asked. No, he said, I’m here for my cousin’s funeral.
Oh, I’m so sorry, I said.
My cousin was the one who was shot and killed a couple of weeks ago, he said.
Then I knew who he meant. A man only in his thirties, the father of eight children, who was killed at his job, where he worked as a restaurant manager. It was a murder-suicide. It happened less than a mile from our house.
I hadn’t known that relatives of the murdered man lived right next door. Is this why our big dog kept going over to the fence between our two houses and crying yesterday, every time I let her out into the yard? Could she sense the sorrow coming out of that house?
No children live next door, but there were several children playing in the yard yesterday afternoon, which would have been after the funeral. The little girl I spoke to yesterday, when she went to retrieve a ball that had gone behind our fence — was she one of the dead man’s children?
Last Sunday, our church pastor said that this town is too small for all the murders and suicides that happen here. But even one murder and one suicide is too many.
Yesterday I wrote a post, inspired by a post I had read on another blog, about reaching out to the hurting who are “lying at the gate”. I wrote in my post about the saddest, hardest Christmas I had as a child. Eleven people liked it. One person commented on it. But, before I went to bed last night, I made that post private, because I thought that my personal childhood Christmas story was too sad for this festive time of year.
Then I woke up at sunrise, I took our two sweet rescue dogs outside to do their potties, and I learned that I have a hurting, broken family literally at my gate. Dear Lord Jesus, please help me to bless them, the way my siblings and I needed someone to reach out and bless us, all those Christmases ago…
I have taken my previous post off of the private setting.
For anyone reading this who is hurting this Christmas — my heart goes out to you. Here’s a big grandma ((HUG)). I wish I could give you a real hug. And some milk and cookies, too. If you don’t mind gluten free. 😁