Being there was enough!

Fitzroy, Judith and their teenage son Shane were next door neighbours of ours for several years.

They were an easy-going Jamaican family that always enjoyed engaging in conversation with us throughout the week. Both our family’s moved into our new neighbourhood at the same time, so natural opportunities to connect were always there…sod laying party (including other neighbours), BBQ’s, sharing a lawn mower between the two of us, watering plants and shoveling driveways when the other was away, etc. …our boys would often sneak up on Fitzroy (a large muscular black dude) while he was out in his yard and either squirt him with a water gun or pelt him with a Nerf gun, as they laughed and ran away, he’d chase after them in close pursuit as a war would break out (of course I’d join in too). We had built up a good ‘neighbourly’ friendship that included sharing meals together and exchanging house keys in case of emergency.

Fitzroy and Judith only had the one son (Shane) together. We knew him first as a junior high kid and over the years watched him grow up and graduate from high school. After high school he wanted to go to university, but he had to work for a year in between to save up for his education. He was a fairly quiet kid that was always fun to be around

Late one winter night we got a grieving call from Fitzroy…Shane had been stabbed and killed.

Shane had been downtown on 17th Ave at a nightclub in Calgary just hanging with some friends on a Friday night and he had been mistaken for someone else and got caught in the middle of a drug war. The killer came from behind him and slashed his neck. The ambulance was too late. Shane bled to death.

Jennifer and I will never forget showing up to their house the next day where relatives had gathered inside to grieve and mourn together. Seeing Fitzroy, this big muscular black man, just begin to weep when he came to meet us at the door, is a sight we will never forget. He simply fell to his knees and wept uncontrollably…we all began to weep…together…some on the floor and some standing…there wasn’t much anyone could really say…their son’s life had been stolen away by a senseless act of violence.

Because we have 3 boys ourselves, we could imagine the severity of their pain and loss….this was their only child. As we simply embraced them, we asked if we could pray with them. They had known we were people of faith, but more than that, we were their friends…we had lived normal life with them…we had invited them into our lives, and they in turn had invited us into their lives.

But on this devastating day…the Holy Spirit moved ahead of us. As we prayed, both Fitzroy and Judith wept…and grieved…and prayed with us…and cried out loud to God in the middle of our desperate and floundering prayers. Over the next week or so, as there were various gatherings revolving around the funeral, we were overcome with emotion and simply tried our best to enter into their suffering as friends.

It was natural…it was real…it was confusing…it was heart-breaking…

Daniel & Jennifer Schuster

~ by blueporch on December 8, 2010.

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