Saturday, November 26, 2005

"Am I the Devil?"

I get used to a lot of questions here at the bookstore. Book questions, and questions from tourists, and questions from lost kids and street folk. But today's question was unique. The woman in the long velvet dress, with a silver necklace around her neck, and her sad brown eyes, is one of Champ the pitbull's favorite people. She gave me my goldfish. Well, really, she gave me three goldfish, but that's another story. She brought by sunflower seedlings for the parking lot garden last summer, and routinely stops to check on Champ. She calls Champ "my dear brother dog".
Carrie has struggled all her life with psychological problems, but mostly she makes it okay through the day or the week. She has a house, and a bunch of chickens, two dogs who adore her, some rabbits, and a vast tangle of gardens.
She drinks a lot, and is probably no stranger to other forms of self medication. When drunk she can be loud, or very sad, grieving for her lost children and her innocent youth. Today, when she rushed in the door, she said "my friend is dead, she's dead, how can this be?"
Chrissy died a few days ago, at home. Results of the autopsy aren't in yet. Speculation includes drugs; speculation always includes drugs. Chrissy was in her late 40's. Her brilliant little girl--well, the young woman who is her pretty daughter--has been studying this year in Denmark, and as I type is flying home to our community.
I'm so sorry, I told Carrie. I didn't know she was close to you. We talked a while, and Carrie cried and cried. "What is happening to her body?" she asked, and I explained the little I know about such things. In a sudden death there is an autopsy. I told her my own experience with the coroner and the morgue up north is that they are caring and respectful; this body is in good hands.
But Carrie wanted to be beside her friend. The folks at the hospital gave her the phone number of the morgue, and blinded with tears and confusion Carrie went to a local pastor. He's her neighbor, she said, the new guy who just took over one of the Christian churches. She asked if he could help her call, if he could talk to her a while.
He told her no, Chrissy was a devil and so was she.
"Am I the Devil? I'm not the devil, am I? You know." said Carrie. This is when I started to cry, and I took her in my arms, and I told her "No, you are not the devil. I know this with my whole heart. You are a much loved child of this universe, and so is your friend."
"But if I'm not, why would he say I was? Do you know about prayer?"
I told her I didn't know why he'd say that, yes, I know about prayer, and maybe we should consider praying for him, because he is obviously so very far from his Christian teachings.
"I wanted to hit him" said Carrie. "But I didn't hit him."
That's very good, I said.
"Am I the devil because I wanted to hit him?"
No, I said, you are not. And you didn't hit him. I would have wanted to hit him myself, I think.
"There was no blood" she said, going back to what the people at the hospital had told her. "How can there be no blood?"
Well, said I, when my father died, there was no blood; he just took a long last breath and was still, while I held him in my arms. Sometimes it's like that. Remember Samantha? She died at home in her bed on Christmas Eve, when her heart just stopped beating.
"I'm not going to do that, am I?" asked Carrie.
I said no, probably not, though we all do die, finally. Chrissy is okay, I told her.
"She wants us to be okay, I'll bet" said Carrie. I agreed.
"You're sure I'm not the devil?" she asked. Very, very sure, said I, hugging her again as she said goodbye to Champ and went out into the bright November afternoon.


Blogger Dr O2 said...

In my openion sths are just being pushed too far! whats this calling a person a devil!!?? Ain't preachers suppose to guide people through rather than setting them further apart from what they belive in??

I just can't stand it when they easily play others emotions with such words of sensitivity. :-S

that was a clear explanation. Had me standing in the scene the whole time.

7:40 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

I agree--I was stunned that a preacher would be so harsh.

8:39 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger David said...

There are many Southern Baptist preachers in Alabama (where I mostly grew up) who would have probably behaved in a similar manner toward your friend. I have always found it hard to believe that someone who professes to represent the teachings of Jesus can behave in such a callous and hypocritical manner!

10:18 PM, November 26, 2005  
Blogger Dr O2 said...

in the end they are just normal people & like any profession there are not many who know what they are doing ;-)

The sad part is when they just go to crush one like this woman carelessly! this is really unbelievable.

10:42 AM, November 27, 2005  
Blogger Kimia said...

If there is someone like the preacher who plays with her emotions, in contrary, There is someone like you who knows what to say to make her feel better :)
She knew exactly to go directly to whom to ask her question.

11:53 AM, November 27, 2005  
Blogger Rhianne said...

Thanks for the comments you leave on my blog. I'm going to put some stories on my blog that I've written. Hope you like them!

12:24 AM, November 28, 2005  
Blogger Amy Branham said...

It's good you were there to comfort and help your friend the way it should be done.

That preacher needs to go back and re-read his bible...

11:22 PM, November 28, 2005  
Blogger Rhianne said...

You were right it was the itallion golfer!
U b a smart cookie!

12:27 AM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger Dr O2 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:14 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger Em said...


He is a man of the cloth and so INSENSITIVE...

Im annoyed by people like that ....Couldnt he SEE that she was already so upset...

1:44 PM, December 01, 2005  
Blogger LiVEwiRe said...

It's for reasons like this that I tend to shy away from so many organized religions. How could this preacher justify that sort of behavior? Especially given the circumstances? That is when kindness and understanding is needed the most. I'm glad she was eventually able to find that... =)

4:23 PM, December 04, 2005  

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