There are times when expressions in a space like this are necessarily personal. This is one of those times. However, the purpose remains the same: to share insights that may be helpful to anybody who takes time to visit the us at The Progressive Pugilists. Love drives the personal revelations that follow, not vanity or self-promotion. TPP is all about dealing with difficult issues in a constructive manner and no issue demands that more than when we lose a loved one.
Any of us who have experienced the tragedy of the sudden loss of a loved one know the insane and unbearable roller coaster of emotions that comes with it. And just as arduous as the emotional turmoil is the mental torment- you keep asking “why?” and answers never seem to come. Should you happen to be a person who is naturally inquisitive or fixated on figuring out solutions to problems, the process is perpetual torture. Loved ones and well wishers offer condolences and well-intentioned platitudes about the mysterious workings of God and how everything happens for a reason. But that is cold comfort when you are in a mortuary standing over your brother and best friend in the entire world waiting for his body to be cremated and returned to you in a box.
All you can think is that we JUST talked a day ago, texted a day ago, clowned around on each other and about each other a day ago. We had plans for the weekend, for the holidays, for next summer. We just prayed together two days ago for our mother who we just took back to her Ohio hometown to celebrate the end of her life’s journey. And then some old guy who has only been in America for two years and has only been licensed to drive a car for one year confuses his brake pedal for his gas pedal, jumps the sidewalk and kills my brother on his afternoon jog less than 100 yards from his front door. Just like that, he was on the other side of existence.
Had my brother left for his run 10 seconds earlier or 10 seconds later, he wouldn’t have been in the path of that car. Had that old man left his house a few moments earlier or later, he wouldn’t have mowed my brother down on the sidewalk. Turns out Kev never saw or heard it coming. He had his earbuds on, as was his custom, and the car crossed the street over light traffic to hit him from behind. So one minute, he’s listening to his hip hop Pandora station and the next, he is face to face with The Creator.
Regardless of my feelings about it, it is evident that God decided it was time for Kevin Maurice Harris to pack it in. He died running but apparently his race was done. It has been over two years and I finally had a revelation that I believe answered my question of “why?” albeit on the millionth time I asked.
Kev had enormous ambitions- ambitions that could very fairly be characterized as dreams. And they really did consume him- entirely. He obsessed over bringing the visions of his imagination into the realm of reality for years and years. He wanted his own media outlets- a television station and radio station and anything else that comes with it. Kev had no interest and even less patience for touching all of the bases before he scored by touching home plate. He only swung for the fences and so for the better part of 25 years he drove himself and all of his loved ones crazy in pursuit of this grand design.
But he was no fool- he had studied mass media in trade school after he got out of the Marines and periodically worked in jobs in furtherance of his vision. But it was never enough and in my heart I did not believe that it would ever be enough. Kevin died two months shy of his 50th birthday and as far as I could tell he was no closer to fulfilling the dream than he was 25 years earlier when he announced to some girls at a party on my college campus that he was shooting a video promotion for his network and they were all invited to come.
The sad truth is that it wasn’t going to happen for my brother- despite his determination and rabid obsession. The fundamentals just were not in place and his refusal to acknowledge that made for a frightening future. His dreams were soon going to turn into delusions that would pull him away from functioning in reality and it had been happening for years although we did not want to see it.
My revelation was that God closed the book on my brother to keep him from suffering through a painfully disappointing life as an unfulfilled but obsessed old man. He looked fantastic on the outside but I knew he was hurting inside and did not know how to turn the tide in his favor to bring his plans to fruition. And after two and a half decades of unrelenting obsession, the hour had gotten long and the human resources had gotten short. I couldn’t help him despite my dedication to him. Twice divorced, he had no wife to support him. Cancer had just taken our mother, who had been his touchstone for years.
It took me a long time to realize that maybe God was merciful on the day that Kevin left us. It sounds awful and horrible but that doesn’t stop it from being true. Besides, is that assessment anymore awful or horrible than the reality of what happened?
I am not suggesting that my personal revelation has any bearing whatsoever on the loss that anyone else has suffered. The narrow point that I am making is that sometimes answers to impossibly difficult questions may very well be revealed to us but we cannot see them through our pain and our tears. Moreover, the answers may not be anything that we would want to hear, see or acknowledge. The worse the pain is, the more difficult it will be to see and the longer it may take.
But I encourage you to keep asking as long as the question burns inside of you- so long as your asking does not paralyze your own life and block today’s blessings that are yours to enjoy. In short, keep asking God “why?” and I believe that eventually, He will answer you.
∞ Thanks for checking in- Do your thing today and I’ll see you tomorrow π