Christian Short Stories

Somewhere Along The Way
By Web Ruble

Web writes: "As a newspaper reporter I once in a while had the task of trying to get comment from the parents of a young murderer. They were so beside themselves with grief and shame, that they could barley talk. It was the end of the world for them. So I later came to feel to deeply about it, that I ask prayers for all such people who are devastated beyond belief."

We slowly plod up the meadowed hill behind the house.

A lone oak testifies to our aching hearts. Our walk is stumbling but we barely notice that or the weak fall sunshine. We are depressed beyond despair. My wife and I are almost devoid of any feeling but dreadful, near-death misery and on-going confusion.

Spreading there below a low, north-leaning limb is a wooden cross. Our son is buried there. He is one for whom we can take little pride if pride were worth anything. We are long since beyond caring about pride or accomplishment, or what friends and neighbors may think. We are despondent -- beyond understanding.

He’s been there a few weeks. Wife Alice and myself visit there daily, languishing, sorrow-worn and beyond being disconsolate.

Josh, you see, was 42 when he died -- shot by “state deputies” as he tried to shoot his way out of state prison. How he got a gun, we don’t know. It doesn’t matter. His soul was in the sewer when he died, and from what we have learned in our Christian walk is that he will have no salvation.

Terrible. Somehow -- we still don’t know why permission was granted -- the state allowed us to retrieve his body and to bury him on our property. We remember a sweet little boy; his delightful childish face; his flaxen-hair; his pre-teen enthusiasm for life and love; his teen drive for sports, his brilliant mind, and his situation analysis born of surprising common sense.

We remember his successful first months in the army.

Then came his mental change to that of a criminal mind. Because of it, Josh got a mediocre-to-bad discharge and when he got home he stole from us and others over and over. His fiancé left him. He became glib. His attitude worsened to where he consorted with thieves, druggies and would-be killers. He became a hoodlum wannabe. Probably because I somehow led him to believe that I once was a vengeful hooligan. And he emerged a mean thug.

Oh, there were some moments. We thought we saw some improvement while in jail, but it was either short lived or a sham.

The tragedy now extends beyond his death. You see, we will never see him in glory when we pass on, probably in a few months or years. And we, too, may never see glory. We failed, I am sure, in God’s sight. He may forgive us. But he may not.

You see, we obviously didn’t raise him properly, all but ignoring his sometimes outrageous sin, hoping that someday he would mature, see the light, and go the shining path.

Lord knows we tried to change his attitude, and we prayed over him. He lived under our roof. We were, therefore, indulgent.

We tried to throw him out once. It didn’t work. We eventually got him in a dandy program (thanks to his hard-working parole officers), but he walked away from it after a few weeks. The years went on. Things got worse.

Finally one day they came to get him (again). This time it was for good. A man was killed in the execution of a crime. Josh got 20 years.

By this time, all he wanted was out – and obviously to do in those who put him there. That may have included us, because several times while living with us, Alice and I feared for our lives.

What’s more, we could do nothing to get him out of prison. I am sure the latter was something he didn’t believe. He just thought that we were unwilling and therefore we were worthless.

Through all of the years, he lost all of his old friends and we lost a lot of ours. Our daughter wrote him off years ago. She doesn’t want anything to do with him nor us, because we apparently indulged him so. Consequently we don’t see our grandchildren.

It is harder on Alice than on me. However, I am not faring well either.

I don’t know why we do it. We just do. We daily go to his grave. My wife weeps. Sometimes she howls. I agonize. We don’t say much to each other. Sometimes at night when I can’t sleep I go up the meadow in the moonlight -- sometimes in the rain -- and sit at graveside and try to talk to him. I cry. It may help a little. He’s still our little boy. I try to forget the long in-between years.

I pray some. I ask God to have compassion . . . to take care of him. Because basically he has a good heart. Basically? I also ask for sanity and to find some good in all of this.

This balmy autumn night I sit at graveside so long that I doze. I awake in the early dawn cold. Then, as the sun rises and a stirring light breeze sweeps the meadow, I begin to stumble down the hill. Somewhere along the way a warm feeling of gladness comes over me.

It is as if God is saying, “Why are you crying and so despondent? Lo, I am with you always. Go. Tend to your wife.”

Moreover, the notion comes to me -- at the last minute, Josh may have realized his gross mistakes and sought forgiveness.

From this moment I will cling to that hope. Of such is the salutation of each dawn.

(© 2011 Web Ruble – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)

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