Tuesday, while busy at work, I received an unexpected call from Evan.
“Hi Evan, what’s up?”
“My friend Doug died. They just called to tell me.”
That morning on the news, I’d heard about an accident at Utah State, but the student’s name hadn’t resonated with me.
The media reported his real name — Eric — not the name he’d been given by his circle of friends — Doug.
“We called him that because we decided there were too many Erics in the world and he looked like the cartoon character,” Evan explained.
Doug was part of the group that Evan ran with at Utah State. They were close friends who supported one another through school and life and developed a tight bond. And now one of them was gone.
Evan felt the loss deeply and had already been given permission to return for the weekend for the funeral.
“You’re part of a community back there,” I said. “Embrace them and let them support you.”
And the Paulist community did, indeed embrace Evan. They modified the retreat to include a prayer service for Doug (from the Paulist prayer book). They have supported Evan and helped him with ground transportation.
Once Evan had the time for the funeral, we set about arranging his air travel. Given that it was the Wednesday before a holiday weekend and Evan had to leave from Albany and return to New York, I was not optimistic about finding available seats. Praise God, Expedia coughed up a flight that matched Evan’s scheduling and geographical requirements. We booked it and sent him the confirmation. He’ll be arriving late tonight and leaving early Monday.
This experience, too, is part of Evan’s formation. I’ve been reading Just Call Me Lopez (a sort of novel that serves as an introduction to the life of St. Ignatius and Ignatian Spirituality) and I was struck by this passage from the introduction:
Miracles so often happen in the midst of brokenness, inadequacy, and failure. In fact, those experiences would seem to be God’s preferred location for the work of transformation.
So I pray.
I pray for Eric and his family. I pray for Evan and all of Eric’s friends and ask God to use this experience to let them feel the embrace of His love.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. Requiescat in pace.
Edit: Forgot to mention. Please join us in praying for Eric and his family and, if you want to express your condolences please click here to access the obituary and guest book.