Sometimes All Saints day and All Souls day can be brushed aside in the Dayton bustle of costumes and candy. This year with the recent newspaper article on more suicides, I’ve been thinking a lot about souls and those who have passed. I’ve been thinking of the lost sons and the fathomless grief so unspeakable it leaves you numb. Six kids in three years from our high school chose to take their lives. The pain we feel for these families is raw. The first boy in particular is one our family speaks of often. Losing him was, I guess, the greatest shock because he was the first.
His story was the one my daughter wrote about in her college essay. Tim’s story changed my daughter. She never met him but speaks of him as if he was her friend. In a way he is - it is because of this boy that she began to pray. After he died, her thoughts often went to him. For two years he would periodically pop into our conversations. Two years after he died she had a moment. She was on a train, and very upset as the train hit every bump. It was then she made a decision. She prayed for Tim, for his mother and for his family. Her faith journey became her own at the instant she decided to pray for someone she had never met. It changed her. A year later those changes gave her the strength to call my husband and me on our son’s dangerous evening out. She saved her brother, and in a way a round-about way, what she learned from Tim saved my son.
Two years after my daughter’s life changing commitment to her faith, I have finally met Tim’s mother. I knew her just a bit from the hours spent on the sideline watching soccer, but enough to chat and hear of how she journeys in this life after such a horrible tragedy. I have felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to offer to paint Tim’s portrait. I’m very careful with such an offer, sometimes the families aren’t ready, or it's too forward of an offer. So I wait, and I pray for the right opportunity. The other day she made a comment about how working on the book she is writing gives her energy and purpose but makes her miss him deeply. I knew it was the right time. I sent her a note and offered. She immediately accepted and told me that God knows when she is slipping downward and needs a reminder that He’s there.
Maybe if my daughter hadn’t been so moved by Tim’s story the painting wouldn’t have entered my mind. But I don’t think any of the story is a coincidence; my daughter's journey, my son's near-miss, meeting Tim’s mom, the painting. I think Tim is very aware of his mother’s grief. We are all woven together in communion. The boys and their families, all of us are one in Christ.
- by Melissa Dayton (2010 ILEM - and artist)