I was trying to take a nap, even though it was only ten in the morning. The baby has a cold and I was up a lot with him last night. We are planning on doing late night outreach tonight, and I knew I wouldn’t make it through the day graciously without a nap.
Just drifting off when I heard the ambulance sirens coming closer, closer, turning off seemingly in front of my house. I thought about getting up to check but knew that Iven would call me if there was something happening that needed our response, so I went to sleep.
When I woke up an hour later, and called to check in with Iven, I asked if he knew anything about the ambulance. “The drunk guy in front of 7-11 apparently had a heart attack – they tried to resuscitate him and it sounds like it didn’t work.”
“A drunk guy or THE drunk guy – the “baby” one?”
“Yes, the baby one.”
Argh. This is annoying. I feel horrible that “annoying” is the word that comes to mind when faced with a man’s death, yet another neighbor that we know, but not well.
For years this man has harassed our kids, with the best of intentions, but (almost?) always drunk and unwilling or unable to take their cues asking him to stop. He sells second hand stuff (alongside dozens of other people) across the street from our house, and staggers around hollering loudly. As long as we have had kids, he has approached us, reached out his hand to touch our kids and practically shouted at them with a drunken grin, “Baby!” I have always gotten the impression that he doesn’t remember us, even though he sees us everyday, and that he is always surprised to meet a foreign family with a bunch of kids on his corner.
Last year there was a classic moment when we were walking past him and he was following Izayla trying to touch her and shouting “Baby! Baby!” repeatedly; she spun around on her three-year-old heels and shouted back at him, “I am not a baby, I am a kid!” I have to admit I was quite proud of her. It was a welcome change from the normal response of whimpering, crying, trying to hide when this man, or others aggressively tried to touch the kids.
So, on to the annoying part…
About a month ago I felt like the Holy Spirit convicted me of my heart response to this man. For years now I have followed my “mom instinct” response, rather than been open to the Jesus prompting of seeing him as a beloved child of the King. I have worked to avoid him at least when I have my kids in tow, passed over him with my eyes, and very rarely ever tried to actually engage with him, telling myself he probably wouldn’t be sober enough to carry on a conversation anyhow.
In enters conviction from the Holy Spirit. And, alas, that is where the story stops. My heart changed a few weeks ago (at least some) towards this man, but not all that much. I haven’t seen him hardly at all this past month, but I also certainly haven’t sought him out either. And now the word on the street is that he is gone, and I am left with that nagging feeling that maybe Christ wanted to use me to speak life to him in his last days and I missed it. Dang it.
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