"Come see me” Nick used to say. He would look up at me with a smile that spoke of an admiration he had for me. It’s heavy to be looked up to. Sometimes it seems I can only maintain while fearing to fail and disappoint someone: or worse, turn them from the faith. I would hope that anyone who chose to look up to me would see my frailties and my scars too.
Nick was not the church favorite, but he was usually there willing to help. However, no one really wanted him to. I don't know, maybe Nick wasn't churchy enough or just wasn't part of the group. Nick was different. He was a Viet Nam veteran and the experience had taken its toll; his weathered face spoke volumes of the sordid life he had led. His family had more or less disowned him when he became a street person. Now he was living in a run down, falling down trailer back in the woods not far from the church. The road to his house was an adventure trek. Once I did try to go see him but it had rained and the road was downright dangerous. He had no electricity and no heat in his trailer. All he had was a vagrant dog that frequently went into a rage and chewed Nick’s arms up. He usually showed up at church with cuts, bite marks and occasionally bandages on his arms from the mauling of his dog.
I sat by Nick in church as much as possible. He wouldn’t tell much about his past but he seemed to enjoy hearing the Word from what he called “the Good Book.” And it always hurt my heart to hear Nick volunteer to do something then watch the smirks form in the corner of the eyes and lips of the members of the congregation. I wonder how I looked when he asked me to come see him?
I left that church and Nick - you might say. If there was one good reason to stay, it would have been for Nick. Once he called me – I am not sure how - and told me how much he missed me at church, and if I wasn’t coming to church could I “come see me sometime.” I didn’t. Nick died.
He was found dead in his cold, falling down trailer by a neighbor who had not seen him out in a few days. And I wonder, did his death even make a ripple in the church or community conversations? I wonder, how many others felt the guilt, the shame, the heavy heart of one who calls themselves a Christian and yet failed to love my brother as I could have. I can still hear him saying, “Come see me, Marvin.” One day, when I am called home - at the appointed time - I will come see him – finally.