Below is an email I received from a co-worker. He tells the very sad story of a former student of ours who was recently killed. Literally struck down on the day he was finally getting his life together. I share this story as a reminder to you that have a part to play in the body of Christ. You never know whose life you are going to impact….
Our Joe needs our help…
In my 32 years in the district, I have never made a request like the one I am making.
On April 14, in the early afternoon, Joe texted me and asked if we could talk. He knew that he wasn’t permitted on school property because of an expulsion that he was serving. He also knew that he still belonged to me. Over our two years together, we had become family. So when Joe called, I knew I needed to listen. We met in front of the school – away from students and staff.
Joe told me about the funeral he had just attended. He was so proud of himself… “I didn’t break down, Mr. Day. It was hard but I did it!”
He told me about being accepted to Job Corps. “They want me, Mr. Day! I start next month!”
Joe was headed downtown to go to the celebration in honor of the young man whose funeral he had just attended. I gave him bus fare. He gave me a bear hug that lingered a bit… “I love you Mr. Day,” he whispered.
“Love you, too, kid!”
As he left to go, he turned back.
“Mr. Day… you are my pillow.”
“What are you sayin’ kid? You makin’ fun of me gainin’ weight?!” I teased.
“Nah… you be my pillow, Mr. Day. Pillows are there when you are alone at night… and scared. Pillows are what you cry into when nobody is around. Men need pillows, Mr. Day… dontcha think?”
I gave him a hug… “Yeah, kid… you’re right…”
Then he was gone.
Joe got on the metro that was going north instead of south. He got off on Northland to cross to the other side. He ran in front of the bus because he saw the other bus coming. He didn’t look as he ran into the lane of traffic. The car hit Joe going about 40 miles per hour… his chest and head took the brunt of the blow. Joe went into a coma from which he would not return.
For the next week, Joe was on life support at UC Hospital – ICU – Trauma Center. His lungs were irreparably damaged… his brain traumatized and forever changed. The extent of the damage to his internal organs was never fully determined… the liquid coming from the eight drainage tubes leaving his body was always colored in various shades of red.
My hugs were exchanged with holding his fingers… my voice, if heard, was through very badly damaged ears.
I last saw Joe on Monday. As I held his hand, I knew his kidneys had shut down and his heart was showing signs of fatigue. As I held his fingers and rubbed his swollen hand, I thanked him for being the blessing in my life… I thanked God for a life well-lived.
Joe passed about four hours later.
As I write, Joe’s body lies on the cold metal table made famous by the many CSI shows. His parents need help covering the funeral and burial expenses.
I know these are difficult times – some of the worst I have seen this district experience in over three decades, but if you are able and willing to help our Joe… I thank you.
In all of my years, I have never written an appeal such as this, although I have walked with many families through some horrific circumstances. Why now? Why Joe? Well… I don’t really know… maybe it’s because that’s what pillows do…
(Read more to learn the result of Mr. Day’s appeal)