ANY HOW...I've read this posting in multiple places here locally. It touches me just as a book I once read.."Prayers for Bobby." opened my eyes and life to attempting to be the one that made it. I have a strong christian background and upbringing...one of ignorance and evil hatred of so many of the things that makes life...worth living. So...beyond suggesting you someday buy that book...here is the reprint.
The Plain Brown Rapper by carl brown
originally printed in LEO Weekly,
My son killed himself, I just learned, with a .357 magnum. Jeff was separated from his wife of 12 years. Overcome by despair, he took a gun to her office and threatened to kill himself if she didn’t come back to him. Instead, Jeff went home. And put a hole through his chest the size of a fist. A .357 magnum can do that. The coroner said Jeff never heard the shot that took his spirit into the void. Jeff was the son of my wife, a marriage that died 20 years ago. The law deemed him my stepson. My heart deemed him my son. The memories he gave me will last my lifetime. It aches writing this. But I must. For Jeff.
Let the simple words that follow erect a monument in print that will outlast this writer’s life.
Jeff stood tall and lean, a handsome young man of 18 some 21 years ago when we first met. My union with Sarah brought with it bouquets of blessings — the greatest being her three children.
My children. Jeff was my only son, my first son.
Blonde-haired, blueeyed with that wisp of a young man’s moustache, Jeff walked forward that day of our first meeting and shook my hand, hard, man to man. He looked me right in the eye, unaffected that he was meeting an elected
official and the Republican nominee for Congress. Jeff was showing me something, some inner masculine strength that shouted with unspoken whispers: “I don’t care about your station, your ambitions, your aspirations, Carl Brown. You are just a man, an older version of me. You are now my father. I can deal with that. Can you deal with me? As a man? As your son?”
Deep beneath the outward show of strength stood before me a young man who also yearned silently for his want to be wanted, need to be needed, love to be loved.
Jeff would deflect overt signs of tenderness from his mother, from me, with his wry wit, splendid sense of irony and shy smile. He could stop you dead with a joke he just heard. His infectious laughter could ignite a roomful of strangers. As he chauffeured me on the campaign trail, Jeff’s piercing intellect often gave me pause during that blistering hot campaign summer of 1982, pause to think about the observations of this young man who was barely old enough to vote. Jeff personified and voiced the idealism of youth hard tempered by the tough road he trod to maturity.
Jeff’s mother called me from California, racked with Catholic fear and guilt. “But, Carl, Jeff killed himself. He’s lost entrance to heaven. Suicide is the ultimate victory of despair, one of the seven mortal sins. He can’t even be buried in a Catholic grave ...”
“Sarah, stop right there,” I said across 3,000 miles. “Some old, white medieval Catholic men at the Vatican put imprimatur on the socalled seven mortal sins, offenses against the almighty that send to hell those who break them. You know, I think there might be nine mortal sins. Maybe even 12.” I continued sardonically, trying to hammer with reducto ad adsurdum (reduce to absurdity) reasoning. The patriarchal Catholics just got it wrong. Lame theology.
“Sarah,” I said, “let me give you this mystic Christian’s take on suicide. Mine is a God of compassion. He loves us, really loves us, so much so he offered up his only son as a sacrifice for the raw sins of humanity for all time. “Don’t you know God looked down and saw the torture chamber pain that racked Jeff and understood it was too much for your son, our son, to bear? God just let Jeff come home early.” May God enjoy the excellent company of my son, Jeff, for the balance of eternity. Jeff was loved here and will be missed with the intensity of blue flame. It just looks like God gave Jeff a pass from pain, an early trip to some celestial mansion built for him, one of God’s children. Jeff, I miss you like the son you were. But I must release you to your true Father. He just needed you to come home.