My friend Myra showed up late to our monthly girls’ night, clutching her martini shaker as usual but looking flustered.

“It’s been a crazy week,” she said. We all nodded. Everybody’s week had been crazy.

“My cousin,” Myra said, draining the first of what would be many cocktails, “killed himself. They found him two days ago. The funeral’s tomorrow. I’ve been trying to figure out who’s going to keep the kids.”

Um. What?

Myra continued. The cousin had been in and out of jail, in and out of rehab, married and divorced twice. Myra described his death as tragic, if not altogether unexpected.

The kid had gone to college on a baseball scholarship and the family thought he might go pro, but an injury his freshman year ended his sports career. He dropped out of school and began a downward spiral that ended behind the wheel of a running car in an enclosed garage.

My eyes filled with tears as she talked. I’d never met this child but my heart broke for him and his family. The other girls sprang into action, arranging meals and childcare. I was too stunned to say or do much.

“If you’d met him,” Myra said, “you’d never have suspected a thing.”

While the boy’s family diligently sought counseling his friends were all shocked. Their buddy had been bummed about the whole baseball thing and did seem to have trouble staying out of trouble, but as far as they knew he was a pretty happy guy.

As I grieve for this tormented soul I never met I am reminded that there are hidden hurts within everyone. My pastor closes each sermon with a benediction I never thought much about until now: “Be kind. We never know what pain others are suffering.”

We don’t, do we?

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