When I was 17, I was involved in some pretty dicey things and thought I was invincible, even though I was scared of my own shadow. I was out drinking and smoking marijuana with friends one night and felt ready to go home but my partner wanted to stay. As we lived in a caravan around the corner and it was a small country town, I decided to go it alone. It was probably only a 200m walk but it felt long and I was trying to concentrate on staying upright. There were plenty of street lights overhead and at some point I noticed I was being followed. I saw a large, bulky man not far behind me and, in my fear, I imagined myself being in danger. I knew who the man was, because he had been at the house I’d just left. Although I loved my friends, I did not trust them. I was unable to trust anyone much at that time and my friends were involved in activities I did not approve of and did not want to be involved in. This man was someone that my friends did not trust either, which made him seem dangerous to me. One of my older relatives had known him many years before, but I had not had anything to do with him and did not want to now, either. This man had a big reputation for drugs and nastiness and his behaviour certainly came across as hard. I had seen him at my friend's house a few times lately and while I kept a watchful eye on him, I’d also noticed that something about him was like my grandfather, too. He appeared really tough and as if he meant business but there was a twinkle in his eye, also—a softness that was not always easily apparent. I’d known this man’s family a little in childhood and I found them all a bit too much for me, yet I didn’t know them at all really. Everything I knew about any of these people was formed from judgments I’d made on hearsay and gossip. I was about to learn a very valuable lesson that I have never forgotten and that I thank them for often.
As I made my way home that night, high as a kite and unsteady on my feet, I kept looking back in terror at this figure behind me. I wondered why he didn’t just attack me, why he was on the other side of the street, and why he didn’t just get it over with and rape me. I figured it was because of all the houses and quickened my pace as best I could with so many drugs in my system. When I finally made it to my front door, I stopped to look back for the thousandth time and he was across the street just watching. I quickly ran inside and went to bed, throwing my middle finger up once in my room where he could not see me. Although my mind was racing in fear, I quickly fell asleep. The next morning, I answered a knock on the front door to find this man standing there on the bottom step. He looked as if he didn’t want to come too close and I can still see the look of fear I was wearing on my own face at seeing him there. He apologised for bothering me and proceeded to tell me why he had been following me the night before. He had been best friends with one of my uncles many years before and said he had a lot of respect for my grandmother. He found her enchanting as she was tiny and yet still stood her ground with anyone. He had thought he was tough but found my Nanna was tougher and he liked that about her. He had seen me at my friend's house the night before and was worried about my safety out of the respect he had for my Nanna and, when I left, he had seen someone else get up to leave, too—a man. He saw this man follow me home so he followed us both, meaning to protect me if needed. He had appointed himself as my guardian angel that night and I had been terrified of him! We all had a laugh when I explained that the man who followed me home was, in fact, my boyfriend, was more intoxicated than I was, and probably needed more protection, too. My “angel” was apologetic, sincere, and apologised profusely when I owned how afraid I had been of him. He swore he would never imagine harming me in any way and added that if he ever did want to harm me, he would be too afraid of my Nanna, anyway. We laughed again at that. He left and I never saw him again.
That man taught me a very valuable lesson about not judging a book by its cover and about not believing everything I hear or see. I was devastated to hear that he was brutally and viscously murdered some years later. I cried for days as I remembered the day I got to see into the beauty of his soul, down in the depths that he did not let many see. I have not forgotten the lessons he brought to me that day and I hope that I can touch hearts the way he touched mine. It reminds me, too, that it doesn’t matter who we are, what we do, where we go, or what anyone thinks or says about us. We still leave a mark in this world when we go. There are many people who were sadly touched by harm from this man and he paid a very high price for the pain he brought with him. I was one of the lucky few whom he brought a different kind of gift to. Even a known and feared hitman managed to bring at least one moment of love into the world through my heart and his, and we barely knew each other. He taught me to look for the light within the darkness because the Light is everywhere and not only where I expect it to be. As I continue seeking out the darkness within myself, I recognise the inner hitman in me and I have compassion, respect, and love for that, too. This man taught me not to fear everything so hastily and to pause before I judge. I had forgotten him for a while but have never forgotten his lessons. Regardless of the darkness he brought, he left at least one mark of good here, too. I believe his murder is still unsolved and I pray his soul is at rest. He paid for all that he had accrued and more and I remember instead his cheeky laugh, the twinkle in his eye, his big heart, and his courage on one dark night many years ago, wanting to protect a silly girl he didn’t even know. I remember the Light I saw within the dark. May we all remember that Light is within us when we feel dark, and within everything and everyone if we only look for it.
Picture sourced from: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/palaceofpeaceradio/2015/07/21/light-within-the-dark-the-purpose-behind-facing-our-darknessshadow 25 September 2017 1001 AEST