We arrive at the hotel and my husband pays for K's room. I can see he is anxious to get himself settled and very likely, showered. Though, in my heart I want to stay with him, to love on him, I know he needs his space. Before we leave though, he shakes my husband's hand and thanks him for his kindness. I quickly pull K into another embrace, and once more, I am overcome with love for this boy. And it is beautiful, and it is painful, all at the same time.
The next day as the hours pass and the evening approaches, I wait anxiously to hear from K about his meeting with the men's transitional housing manager. But, instead of a text from K, I receive a call from the manager. K has not shown up for the meeting and he wonders if perhaps I have heard from him. I send K a text, asking if he needs a ride perhaps, but I don't receive a response until the following morning. He tells me has given up his job and he is leaving town. His text is wrought with despair and my heart is heavily burdened with fear for him.
Me: I just want to you to know, no matter what, you are loved.
When I asked God for an opportunity to love someone that morning, He brought me to you.
So now, because of that, I do love you.
And I am praying that you will have hope and a GOOD future.
You have much to give to this world.
K: I am grateful and I feel it.
I'm sorry I've let you down.
I've just given up on myself.
I truly appreciate everything you've done for me though, and I won't forget it.
Me: You have not let us down.
Please don't give up on yourself.
K: Just for now.
Gunna go see my dad for a week and figure stuff out.......
I am not sure where this last text stands. He had relayed to me before that he has not seen his dad in 11 years. I wonder if he is being honest with me. I wonder what his future holds. And I wonder if perhaps this will be the last time I hear from him. And I weep. I weep for K, but also, I weep for me. I know that K does not physically belong to me, but, he does belong to my heart. He is not mine to keep, or to protect, or to save. But he is mine to love. So, that is what I do. I love him from afar. I love him in my heart, and I love him with my prayers. For now, it is all I can do.
One week later, I receive another text from K.
K: Hi Melinda. I want you to know I wore the shirt you gave me to church yesterday.
And I am thrilled to hear from him! He has indeed met up with his dad after years of not seeing him. He has even made an effort to see his sister and visit with his mom. He tells me that he has not touched a drop of alcohol, or drugs in a week, and he thanks me again for all we did for him. He expresses regret over picking up that needle again after five months of being clean, and throwing it all away. But, he has decided that he will not give up. I tell him that I am proud of him, and I can tell by his response that he is pleased by my words.
We spend some time texting back and forth, and I am so relieved to see that he is in a much better frame of mind. He currently has a place to stay, and he has a job lined up. K has hope for his future. I am able to "hear" that hope, through his texts. My heat rejoices and I too, am filled with hope for K.
But that hope would not be realized.
I would not hear from K again.
"Hi K. You are often in my thoughts and prayers.
I hope you are healthy and doing well.
I want you to know that I love you.
You were brought into my life for a reason.
You are planted in my heart and there you will remain."
K will never read that last text.
On August 23, 2017, he breathed his last breath and departed this earth, leaving behind him, broken, those who loved him.
I am one of those broken.
I have struggled much with K's tragic, untimely death. I cannot make sense of any of it, and at times, I have felt like I have somehow, failed him. I wonder if there were things I could have done better, or if there was more I could have said. And I confess, in the darker moments of my grief, I have even wondered if loving K was all for naught. I berate myself thinking, maybe if I had done more, I could have saved him.
Except, K was never mine to save.
He was only mine to love.
This is what I know.....
Loving K has been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, and I wouldn't change one single, painful moment of it. I only knew him for just a little over a month, but I loved him nonetheless. Love, you see, is not measured by length of time. Nor is it limited to family and friends. It transcends all barriers and strongholds, and love cannot be bound anymore than the stars in the endless sky, could be. Love cannot be explained but for this one thing. Love exists because, God exists. My love for K will remain, because it was the Lord God Himself who opened my heart to loving K in the first place.
The God of the universe, chose to love K through me.
And I am eternally grateful.
Once upon a Summer day, I sat in a dingy, dirty hole in the wall, and ate lunch with a beautiful, broken boy. He poured out his brokenness to me and I told him,
"I know that you are in a difficult place right now, but this does not have to be the end of your story. This is just a chapter in your book. There is more for you. You don't have to stay here."
I also told him that one day, his story might change someone's life for the better. He looks at me and says,
"And then this will all have been worth it?"
And I tell him, "Yes, then this will all have been worth it."
I didn't know, I couldn't have known at the time, that K's story would very shortly, also include his death. Had I known that it would, I don't think I would have said those words to him.
But, what if the whole reason God prompted me to ask Him for an opportunity to love someone that very specific morning, was because He knew K would need to experience His love before he died? And what if K's death is not the end of his story? What if his death was just the beginning of his story?
And what if K's story could still change someone's life for the better?
I want you to really hear this my friend, because this is my heart's desire. That by sharing mine and K's brief journey, your own heart will have been challenged and broken, and prompted to ask the Lord to give YOU an opportunity to love someone as well.
Because if you ask Him, He will answer.
And K's story will have indeed, changed someone's life for the better.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:
just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
1 John 4:7-8
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God,
and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
His name was Kyle and I loved him.
Will you help me tell his story?
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