After dropping Christina home, I raced back to my house worried that I had left it in messy condition not expecting guests so late that evening. Even though I knew the guest bedroom was in showroom condition, I had left unfolded blankets and pillows on the couch, dishes in the sink, and personal effects strewn all over the living room.
When I arrived the home wasn't too bad and I breathed a sigh of relief that my version of "messy" is still cleaner than most. I saw and greeted my guest, Max at the top of the stairs as he was getting ready for bed. I welcomed him, apologized for the mess, and told him that I would see him in the morning. I could tell he was a large young man and that he was respectful. The next day I met him downstairs and got to know him better. He was from California and had come down to live with friends who were "fixing up" his room and that he needed a few days before the renovations would be complete. We talked about his mother who also rents rooms out on Airbnb. He told me about his family, his sisters, and that he was the youngest only son. He shared that he worked in restaurants, that he studied Culinary Arts, and loved to cook. Together, under Max's suggestion, we watched and laughed at Bill Hicks' stand-up comedy special on Netflix before we each went about our own business.
I didn't get to spend too much time with him as I let guests interact as much as they wish, but try not to be a bother. I shared with him that I may not be home when he checked out on Sunday and to simply let himself out, to which he replied that he may extend his stay based on the progress of his remodel. I said "no problem", and recommended that he speak to his mother to book more time through the Airbnb app.
After I felt reasonably assured of the guest staying in my home, I decided that could ride my motorcycle up to Dallas and spend time with my parents. Even though the temperature was cold, I wore my protective "wind suit" which makes the rain and cold bearable. I reached Dallas in record time, I took a hot bath and went to a birthday party with my parents at one of their friends nearby homes. We celebrated life, ate delicious food, and had a great time.
The next day was Sunday. I checked in with Max via text asking If he was checking out. I heard no reply, but decided to give him more time. I also realized how much my parents missed me and that I needed to attend Sunday Mass which means that I would have to postpone my ride back down to Austin in order to go to the evening service. I spent the day with my folks catching up, laughing, and watching my younger brother work on his truck. I went to mass on my motorcycle, saw many of my parents' friends from the party, and headed back home to have dinner together as a family. Later that evening I made a visit to my old roommate and respected friend. I was amazed at his beautiful new home and was happy to see both he and his wife after so long. We sat and had tea like old men, while laughing over old stories, people, and generally good fellowship.
The next day, I had breakfast with my parents, packed up my belongings, and set out on my motorcycle back to Austin. The day was warm with the wind on my back which made for excellent riding weather. I reached home around 3:30 in the afternoon and noticed that my guest room was locked and that Max must still be here. I knocked but heard no reply. I texted and called, but heard only unanswered rings. I decided not to worry and took a much needed relaxing shower to unwind from the road. While I was relaxing on the couch afterwards I decided to message Max's mom to see if she could reach him. We spoke for a bit and agreed that she would reply back if she heard anything. Once again, I heard the familiar ring tones from earlier. Around 7pm his mother messaged me and asked if I could check the room. I made my way up the stairs to his door and knocked loudly stating that I would be entering. I used my key to unlock the door and upon entering I saw his lifeless body face down on the floor next to the bed.
It was surreal. I raced outside to call 911 emergency services who asked me to check if Max had a pulse and was breathing. I reluctantly went back into his room but when I touched his body it felt hard and cold. I was at a loss for words. My own blood ran cold as I waited outside flagging down the fire engine charging down my street. A brigade of fire-fighters entered my home and quickly discovered that Max was beyond saving. Next, the EMS (emergency medical services) along with police officers, counselors, and crime scene investigators made their way up into the room. I waited downstairs while they sorted things out, but could hear whispers of a drug overdose. The remaining officers and counselors were incredibly compassionate. They informed his mother which I was dreading to have to do. I shook their hands and thanked them for everything. By the time everyone was gone, it was close to 11p. Christina and I decided to head to our favorite comfort food restaurant, Wingzup, and have a light dinner and a beer. We couldn't make sense of the madness. We came back home, watched a movie, and fell asleep on the couch.
The only other time that I have seen a lifeless body has been at a funeral. The body obviously belongs to the deceased; however, there is a tremendous difference between the living and the dead version. I can only describe the lifeless body as an inanimate object that resembles a wax sculpture of that person. I couldn't quite explain it, but I felt the presence of death even before I witnessed it with my eyes. When I last saw him he possessed a soul, and afterwards there was only a shell of his body.
We are truly in possession of a most precious gift, our soul. It is what animates our bodies, gives life to the waxy sack of flesh, and essentially makes us who we are. We don't think too much about our soul until the inevitable passing of our bodies, and even then I don't think we care what happens when we are gone. It will be someone else's problem who must deal with our corpse.
The body goes through quite a transformation when our heart and lungs fail to pump blood and draw breath. Bacteria almost immediately begins to breakdown the body causing bloating and odor. Muscles stiffen and eventually relax, our eyes even lose color, and blood pools as gravity pulls it toward the lower extremities.
The mind is the processor which commands the body while it is awake, but the soul is the essence of the individual and keeps everything in balance. It is what allows us to laugh, to cry, and to love. In spite of all the darkness in our lives, it is reassuring to know that we have a soul. Because if our soul exists then so must God. Not that I need much convincing, but knowing that God exists offers me profound comfort which realigns my perceptions and calibrates what is important. When Television, Music, Society, Drugs, and Alcohol present constant content to distract and keep us addicted to lifestyles from which others profit, then I simply remind myself to unplug and recalibrate which brings me back to figuring out my soul's purpose with the time that I have left with my mind and body. That purpose is to remind others that we have the gift of a soul and to use our minds and bodies to the fullest while helping others who get distracted along the way.
Thank you God for my loved ones which includes both family and friends, but also for my soul which I believe comes from Heaven and is a part of You.
Lord, please help my friend Max as he makes his way home... Amen.