rubshoulder

On an ordinary Monday morning, Richard Hardy meets an ordinary young man – who feels lost.

It was an ordinary Monday and I was waiting on the platform of the station for my one-stop commute to work. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a young man hunched over, groaning, in the shelter.

I went over and asked, “Are you all right?”

“Yeah, mate, I just had a heavy night,” he replied.

“Oh, I see,” I said, and stepped back.

Immediately his head shot up and he looked at me. “No, you don’t,” he said. “On Friday night, my best friend died, asphyxiated in her own vomit, after drinking too much. She was only 19.”

And then he told me how he felt.

He was angry. Angry with her so-called friends who led her into an alcohol problem and stood around her slumped body laughing as she died at their feet.

Guilty. Guilty that he didn’t do enough to make her see the error of her ways and didn’t try harder to pull her back from such a destructive path.

Sad. Sad, not so much for himself, but for his friend’s parents. “They’re good people,” he said. “They loved her; they did everything they could for her.”

And then he said, “If anybody should have done what she did, it should have been me. I’ve never known my father; my mum brought me up on her own and we’ve never had much.”

Then, speaking very quietly, he said, “I feel lost. Completely lost.

I don’t tell you that story because of its tragedy, tragic though it is. I tell you because of its utter ordinariness. All I was doing was going to work. He was just an ordinary 21-year-old. Had he not been groaning, I wouldn’t have noticed him.

Why should we engage with community? Why should we connect with family?

For the sake of those who count themselves lost. Who feel they have no future; who lack hope or a sense of purpose. For the people who carry their scars and suffering in silence, thinking that no-one cares.

If you were that young man, hunched over and lost, where would you turn? Where would you look for help?