Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

15 August 2014

Significant Deaths Do Come in Threes

So,  like everyone else, I was stunned to learn
of Robin Williams' sad passing.
Ironic, shocking, tragic, but 
not totally surprising.
It made me think of my family and friends
capable of extreme highs and energy;
I know the dark places they are also capable
of going.
Dear Robin, Rest In Peace.

It was almost as if Robin was holding the door
for the next famous exit (or entrance,
depending on perspective)
when the news of Lauren Bacall's passing flashed across
my Smart Phone.  
Another familiar face, another sadness,
but also not so shocking.
She was an old woman, after all,
with plenty of accomplishments.
My she too rest in eternal beauty.

I began wondering:
who's next?
Significant deaths do come in threes,
don't they?
It took me a couple days before I realized
the heavens had demanded the most significant first.

It was Michael Brown.

That's right.  Take a good look at his face.
He was the young man who was wrenched from his life,
ripping open the door of heaven,
creating that vacuum that 
sucked in the souls waiting to leave.

Michael Brown was not supposed to leave.

His passing has made him famous,
and the manner of his sad death
-- the saddest of the three --
reminds us that American society still
is fighting its greatest demon.

As a college instructor,
when I saw Michael Brown's face, I could easily
imagine him
sitting in the back of a freshman English class,
a little frightened, but excited,
ready to make new friends
and move forward.
Ready to make his parents proud.
There are thousands of Michael Browns walking the streets of the United States
of America,
armed only with dreams of a better future.
All those Michael Browns
run the risk 
every day
of being mistaken for a wanted man.

I'm sure they'd love to be anonymous,
as anonymous as I
writing whitely on my white screen with my white fingers.

I can get close to Michael Brown's family as easily as I can get close to Robin Williams' family.
Try as I may to share my deep sympathy with them,
I can never fully understand the road they've traveled,
from generation to generation
on their road to this undeserved fame.

Dear Michael, May the importance of your passing
not go unnoticed.  Just as Robin Williams' death
has demanded that we gain sympathy and understanding
for those who struggle with deep depression, may 
Michael Brown's passing 
demand that we gain an equal understanding
for the struggles and misunderstandings
black men face everyday they walk out their door,
in their sincere attempt to just get beyond it.

(this is about 25 minutes long,
but it's really worth watching)