Sitting alone...me on one bench. Him on the other.
I didn't notice him at first. I was too busy having my own pity party.
Here I was...seaside...on the Jersey Shore. Alone. It's too long of a story to go into what brought me here to begin with (nor does it really matter), but the point...I was at my favorite place...the beach (any beach)...but without my husband by my side.
The ocean, the sand, the sound of waves crashing, the seagulls soaring, the sun...pieces of a puzzle...creating our "sacred place". We loved the beach, but mostly - we loved being at the beach together. I often dreamed of walking hand-in-hand along the seashore with my true love...that day came true. I often dreamed of sitting on the sand with only the moon lighting our space snuggled in the arms of a man that loved me so tenderly. I did that too. Now...those are just bygone dreams. Granted, they came true for me, but I didn't get to enjoy them for long. And now...Chris is admiring the beaches of heaven in the Presence of his True Love...the only One to ever love him completely. To ever love any of us completely. Does the man on the bench know that?
It was then that I noticed him. The other one...alone on a bench. He crashed my party by sequestering my attention with what looked to be a pity party of his own. But, then I took a closer look...
He was talking to himself. Or was he praying? I got up from my bench and went to discreetly stand behind him to possibly hear a little better. He intrigued me. He was sweating profusely, and it wasn't that hot outside. He was uttering words...prayers...or maybe just words under his breath. He looked nervous. He looked sick. He looked...
And, then I noticed it. The back of his shirt displayed the words, "mental illness...misunderstood...". That's all I could read, because some of the words were blocked by the back of the bench. But, then I began to wonder...was he mentally ill? Could this explain the odd behavior?
The thoughts instantly flooded my mind. Did Chris ever do something like this? In the days leading up to his suicide...he spent a lot of time alone. His behavior was unusual, to say the least, but I just thought he needed some "Chris time". He was always happy. Never a problem. Everybody's entitled to some off days...right? But maybe had someone seen him during those times alone...like I was now looking at this man...would they have noticed any eccentricities?
I now knew why I was on the boardwalk sitting alone on a bench moments before. To notice him...
And, so I prayed. I have no idea what was going on in his head. I have no idea if he was the one mentally ill. But, all I know is what I saw with my eyes, and something wasn't right. And...so I walked...paced about 20 feet behind him...and prayed. I didn't know what to pray for really, but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this man needed a bold prayer covering. And who knows? Maybe my prayer was the only that would be offered up for him that day.
I've thought of him several times since I first saw him yesterday morning. Is he okay? Did God deliver him from whatever ailed him at that moment? I don't know. I just knew that I had to pray...for the man on the bench.