Monday, July 10, 2006


What do you do when you say hello to someone you know only peripherally and he tells you about an unspeakable tragedy?

Do you know Vernell the handyman at the law school? His son was murdered last month. Vernell says he was shot and that the cops know who did it but haven’t caught the killer yet. I’d guess that most students don’t know Vernell or even know his name. He’s a big guy but he moves around with quiet stealth, especially in areas crowded with students. It’s like he’s invisible sometimes. Maybe it’s an awkward dynamic in his mind because he feels like he doesn’t fit in among the students. I don’t know. But a friend of mine at the law school introduced me to Vernell last semester and we talked a few times. I found him to be one of the nicest, humblest people I’d ever met. He has a good sense of humor and is a huge sports fan. He’s an ordained minister and is deeply religious, although not to the point of imposing his beliefs on you or forcing you to talk about religion if you want. In fact, he even came over to my house once because he was thinking about lending his expertise as a handyman/jack-of-all-trades and helping me out with a project. (It never materialized).

And now, this.

There isn’t much you can say to someone who experiences this kind of tragedy. If there is, I sure don’t know what it is. So if you’re the praying type, keep him and his family in your prayers. And if you’re not the praying type, say hello to the big guy next time you see him.


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