I met John a couple years ago and talked about him in a blog post. Last week I was back in John’s camp. He isn’t doing as well as he was the last time I saw him.
He is very soft spoken, so much so you have to almost read lips to follow what he’s saying. When he wants to make sure you hear what he says, he clears his throat and his voice gets stronger. During a pause in our conversation, he looked me straight in the eyes, not something John does very often, and asked me, while shaking his head yes ever so gently, “It gets better, right?”
Understand that on John’s best day, it is hard to tell whether he is completely cognizant, through all parts of the conversation. Every once in awhile though, there is no doubt he is in the here and now, and this was one of those times. There was no fogged sight or stumbled speech. He knew exactly what he was asking and so did I.
When you’re in the middle of a conversation with someone whose focus tends to wander back and forth between what’s being said and something or somewhere else, when they break through all the clouds and mist to ask a question as serious as this, it can startle you. It is kind of like talking on a cell phone when you’re right on the edge of dropping the call and then having it come in loud and strong. It can startle you. Johns’s question startled me.
I stammered and stuttered a little but then tried to recover. In the end, I guess I did all right by most standards, but not by John’s. As much as I shared my Faith and as much as I shared the differences it has made in my life, as much as I said all the right things, it didn’t do what John needed done. The mist came back into his eyes. Though it bothers me and makes me feel like I failed John, I’m not sure words could answer John’s question.
I made sure I shook his hand, touch is important to someone who feels a little like a leper. I made sure I looked him straight in the eye, when he would look up at me. I told him I would pray for him if he prayed for me, he said he would. I don’t really know where John is in his walk with the Lord, it’s kind of hard to find out specific things from John.
I walked away feeling like there was more that should have happened, more that should have been said, but I sure didn’t know what those things were. John certainly needs some counseling and some rehab, not necessarily for substance abuse. I think John needs treatment because of the abuse of life. I think he needs rehab so he can find his way back because if there is one thing I know for certain about John, it’s that he is lost.
Don’t get me wrong, John has made decisions along the way that were probably not the best, but I’m not sure John has ever had, what we would call, a normal life. He doesn’t have that air about him that he had a family once.
John’s question still weighs on me because in John’s case, I’m not sure that it does get better.
I don’t usually ask this on here but I would really appreciate a prayer or two for John. And if you could pray that next time I get asked a question like that, I have a better answer, that would be great too.