Porch Lights (Continued)
I was pretty certain that wherever Jimmy was couldn't be too far away because I could feel him, watching over me, over us. And when the world grew still, deep in the night, I could literally feel enormous regret gushing from his gorgeous big Irish heart, regret about leaving us. But I'd never believe it was his fault for one minute. He'd been stolen from us, ripped out of our lives like a bad tooth. Jimmy's death was another victory for the Dark Side. Plain and simple. At least that's how it seemed to me. I mean, I was not some crazy religious fanatic at all, but I believed in God. And the God I believed in would never sanction such a senseless, violent death for such a righteous man.
Jimmy McMullen was a righteous man who loved his church and never missed Sunday Mass unless he had a fever of a hundred and three. On his days off, he took Charlie and his toolbox over to the rectory and hammered loose boards back in place or unclogged a slow draining sink or put a coat of paint where it needed to go. Father O'Quinn would ask Jimmy if he could help him out on Saturday at nine in the morning, and Jimmy would be there at eight thirty with a bag of old-fashioned doughnuts and a disposable cardboard tray, two large cups of coffee wedged in the holder. That's what he did in his free time when he wasn't taking Charlie to a Yankees game. That was just the kind of guy he was. Faithful to his family, his church, and his word. And generous to a fault. You would've loved him. Everyone did. Charlie idolized him, absolutely idolized him. And Charlie's despair was the cause of the deepest, most wrenching concern and worriation I have ever known. No matter what I said or did, I just couldn't seem to bring him around.
It was completely understandable that a child of his age would be traumatized by the loss of a parent, even depressed for some period of time. But the changes in Charlie were alarming and unnerving. After two months or so I kept thinking he would somehow make peace with our new reality because life goes on. He did not. Jimmy's Aunt Maureen was the one who made me see that something had to be done.
"This child is severely depressed," she said. "He's not eating right or sleeping well. We've got to do something, Jackie. We've got to do something."