By Bob Comeans
Many years ago I knew a fine young man.
He was popular, had a great personality, and could play the piano so well he could make you cry. We would go to the movies, get a pizza, or just hang out. He was about my height, with blonde hair and brown eyes.
He had a wonderful sense of humor, and especially liked to tease with his parents. He was a great kid who dressed as Santa for the younger neighbor children at Christmas. He always had a big candy cane for the little boy next door.
Norman Rockwell would have loved to paint this family. This young man had loving parents, two brothers, and a sister. God was good to this family.
I was eight years older than him, but he was one of my best friends.
This normal, well-adjusted teenager entered high school, but he didn’t finish. He entered ninth grade, but he didn’t finish.
Four days before his 15th birthday this young man was abducted from his front yard.
My father, brother, and I found him within the hour. He was lying facedown in a ditch, his winter scarf tightly knotted around his throat. My brother cut the scarf from around his neck. My father and I did CPR until an ambulance arrived.
It was no use. This fine young man had been abducted from his own front yard, strangled to death, and left in a ditch. He had left this world surrounded by violence and a cold, dark, winter night.
This ideal family had been devastated by something truly evil coming into their lives,
Murder. No motive, no suspects, no arrests.
Where was the God who had so richly blessed this family?
I tasted vomit from that young man’s mouth, in my mouth, for two years after I did CPR on him. His parents kept his half-eaten bowl of ice cream in their freezer for three years. I looked at that bowl often.
In his loss I became an angry, lonely person. My emotional walls were impenetrable. I would have no relationships, no friends in my life for years. Family was all I cared about.
I would visit his grave often. I would fall to pieces. Through anguished, sobbing tears I would tell him that I was sorry, that I missed him, and that I hated whoever took him away.
Until their deaths, his parents lived in the same house, on the same quiet street, in the same quiet neighborhood where nothing ever happens.
I finally moved from that young man’s hometown to try and save my own life. I couldn’t outlast the anger, frustration, hate, and loss that I had felt for so long.
I restarted my life in Colorado. God went with me. I met a woman who would help change my life. Who would become my wife.
We came to Georgia. I felt as if I was leaving some hurt and pain behind with each new chapter in my life.
My life began to change. I now had a wife and two sons. A family that was dependent on me. A family that I had helped to create.
My prayers began to change. Gone were the prayers said in hate, vengenance, and anger. Prayers for a fine young man, who was taken in such a horrible way.
I was now offering prayers of thanks. Thanks for my wife, my two sons, my family, my life, my strength, my church. Prayers of forgiveness for that awful day so long ago.
I often wonder how this all happened and why. I think God knows why, God stayed with me whether I wanted him or not. He’s allowed me to grow through incredible loss. To grow first into a husband, and then a father. To grow through hate into forgiveness.
I now try to lead my life by following. Following God’s word, attending church, participating in a small group, and singing on a praise team.
I try to live my life to honor God and my family. My wife and two sons. I also do it to honor the memory of that fine young man I will never forget.
That young man’s parents celebrated 53 years of marriage before his mother was called home. Called home to receive her son, to receive her answers, to receive her place in eternity before her loving God.
That young man’s father suffered through two and a half lonely years, supported closely by his loving daughter, and family members, until he too rejoined his lovely bride and a long lost son.
I was honored to preside over each of his parent’s homecomings. To share of their love, for God, for each other, and for their son. To pray and give thanks for the lives that they led.
That fine young man’s remaining brothers and sister were all there. They recognize the presence of a caring, loving God in their lives.
By God’s mercy and grace, and by the death on a cross, a son was reborn and then reunited with his parents in heaven, while his family was reborn on earth.
It has been over 33 years now.
Murder. No motive. No suspects. No arrests.
When I finally open my eyes in heaven, when I begin my eternity, I hope my first sight, my first smell, my first embrace is of that fine young man. I don’t think God will mind. It’s been so long since two brothers were together. So long since I’ve been with that fine young man,
My youngest brother…William Joseph Comeans.
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