(Picture: Carl leading Communion at Southport Baptist Church)
Every time I drive by Carl’s place of work, I think, “That’s where my son died.” It’s an automatic reaction.
He was a father, husband, son, friend, nephew, grandson, brother, and my biggest supporter. He was the one I told my “good” news to first. He told me he didn’t like listening to other women sing, but he loved listening to me because he felt I had the most beautiful voice. He thought I was the prettiest woman he knew (other than his wife). Only a son thinks that way about his mother. (If he had seen his daughter he would label me as 3rd most beautiful).
He was also our associate Pastor at Southport Baptist Church. He and his dad (the senior Pastor) clashed often, but he was fiercely loyal. He was a gifted preacher and singer. I always believed he could go so far. He wasn’t so sure and to my frustration didn’t cultivate his gifts as I felt he should.
Carl had his struggles. For years he struggled with cigarettes. His desire to quit was hindered by the constant pain he experienced from a car accident that happened years earlier. Unbeknownst to him (or the doctors), he had broken his back and it hadn’t healed properly. He lived in excruciating pain almost constantly. Because of this pain, Carl went to the pain clinic which prescribed for him some major narcotics for relief. His smoking gave him some relief and it became its own pain reliever. Between the two he was able to endure.
As his mother, I grieve over the fact that I wasn’t as aware as I feel I should have been to his pain. Add his back pain to the recent heart pain he was experiencing, pneumonia he was struggling to overcome, and sepsis (from the lingering pneumonia), the poor guy suffered greatly. The biggest problem was his youthful arrogance. No 33-year-old young man thinks he is going to die. Where he should have been seeking help for all his issues, he shrugged them off. I wish I had paid more attention.
The heart pain turned out to be Atherosclerosis (ASVD) which is a thickening of the arteries and often begins in childhood. It is hereditary although no one else has been tested for it. That, combined with the smoking, combined with the Prescribed drugs, his pneumonia, and sepsis took its toll.
I feel like I let him down. I should have been more aggressive. (Mentally I know Carl would have shrugged me off), he was annoyingly stubborn and made jokes about everything. But, still, what if . . .?
If I’ve learned anything, it is to be more involved, be more aware of the people around you. You can’t care too much. Love pays attention!