SAUCIER — What you hear in darkness


I was making a pinhole projector so our granddaughter could experience her first solar eclipse like her grandparents did back when both the sun and the moon were much younger.

While racing against the celestial clock, someone came to the door. It was a young man we had been helping, and I’m sure my impatient “What’s up?” sounded more like “What do you need? Can’t you see I’m busy?”

My wife was the first to notice something wrong. A shy kid, he now seemed deeper within himself. Always quiet, his words were now little more than a whisper.

“My mother died,” he told us, trying to hold back the tears.

We knew that she had been sick. She was in the hospital when we first met him.

He came to our house, asking if we had any job he could do to earn some money.

An induced coma, an operation, therapy, and we thought she had turned the corner.

He thought so, too. Soon she would be eating, living at home, being his mother again.

“I feel like my soul has left my body,” he said, confessing a darkness that no 15-year-old should know.

It was humbling and sad that we were the first people he came to after learning of his mother’s death.

Humbling in that we were invited into a sacred moment, called to be the love and listening he so desperately needed.

The sadness was not just the shattering loss of his mother, but that he had no one else but two relative strangers from whom to seek some comfort.

He has no brothers or sisters. His father died when he was 5 — shot and killed in an act of vengeance and mistaken identity.

His mom has a cousin in town, someone who has been good to the young man, but a “tough love” kind of guy. He would not do well with the tears and tenderness this moment required.

So today, we’ll get him on a train to travel to southern Mississippi, to his Grandma’s, to where his mother’s body has been shipped.

After the funeral, he will live with her, joining the menagerie of grandchildren she cares for because of death, prison and poverty.

We still got to see the eclipse. When the sun seemed nearly extinguished, we could only pray for our young friend, knowing that his “totality” was going to last far longer before light is restored to his life.