You Remember What You See – I Can’t Forget This

Or, What I Can’t Get Off My Mind


Sometimes you see something you can’t shake.

I can’t shake what I saw last week. 

It was Monday morning, 9 a.m. I drive down my street to go grocery shopping. A half a mile from my house is an empty lot. A slightly overgrown field.

In this empty lot on that morning is a fire. A small pile of something in flames.

We’ve been in a drought. I wonder, Where is the person who should be guarding this fire?

A small car is parked on the curb by the empty lot. But no person is near it either.

I drive on. I buy bananas, pancake syrup, cheddar cheese, Lean Pockets.

I drive back home. It’s now 9:45 a.m.

I pass the fire again in my neighborhood.

  • It still burns.
  • Still small.
  • Still no one is watching it.

Here’s what I didn’t know.

But now that I do know this—what I was actually seeingI’ll never forget it.

A neighbor directly across the field is also watching the fire. Around 10 a.m., she sends her husband over to check it out.

Call 911! That’s the message he returns with.

What is burning?

I hate to tell you.

It’s a person.

A very depressed man got up last Monday morning and decides this is it. His last day.

He drives across the street from his neighborhood to ours, 100 yards away. To this empty lot he sees every day. Around 7:45 a.m, we guess.

  • He parks his car on the curb.
  • He douses himself with gasoline.
  • He strikes his lighter.

There’s much more to this story. I’m sure of it.

But I don’t know it.

What I know is sadness. I pray. For his friends. His family. His dog that I used to see him walk.

I’ll never forget him. Because I saw him.

Even when I didn’t know it was him.

What we see, we remember.

What will we see today?

Among everything else, Lord, let it be you. Let us see you. Please, you.

* * *

What have you seen that you can’t shake? How have you seen God? Please share in the comments.

22 thoughts on “You Remember What You See – I Can’t Forget This

  1. Kristine

    Lisa, what a heartbreaking reminder of how badly some are hurting. This must’ve been so hard for you to write about, but I’m thankful you did. I want this man’s precious life to be a deep reminder for me about the gift of each day and the knowledge of how much pain others may be feeling. Thank you for pushing through the difficulty and sharing your story…and his.

  2. Mary Geisen

    Oh my goodness! The image of this alone is horrific but to have actually seen it must have been something you will never forget. You left us with something to consider. What we see we will remember and then asked “what will we see today?”

    Will I open my eyes and drink in what is right in front of me rather than put on blinders with the hopes it was all an illusion? Will I stop when I do see and make a difference? Will I allow God to teach me during these “seeing” moments? I answered my own questions with more questions but this helps me to process better. Great way to begin my day!

  3. Bill (cycleguy)

    WOW I can only imagine what was so distressing that led him to do this. It really reminds me how I often walk through life with blinders on when I need to be seeing people with “Spirit eyes.”

  4. Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours

    Oh, Lisa… I cannot imagine the burden you feel. This poor man, his friends and family, his neighbors—your neighbors. I guess you realize the trajectory of your world just shifted a bit; you will never be the same again. Neither will I, because some stories read cannot, should not, be forgotten. This is one of those rare ones.

    God once taught me an important lesson about “seeing”, and I tried to learn it well. But your story is a reminder that it’s actually not a lesson that can be learned once but rather requires an intentional choice every day: People around me need God, and I must be available to be His hands, hugs, and listening ears if called upon. But first, I must SEE the people before I can see their needs…

    Father, comfort Lisa and all lives affected by this tragedy. I know only too well how one man’s “giving up” can bring unwanted pain and confusion and seemingly endless tears for a very long time. Right now there are no answers, only questions; perhaps guilt. Please bring healing and protection to each loved one. In time, may good somehow come from this horrific loss. Thank you for using Lisa to call each of us to live every day with open eyes and willing hands.

  5. Jerralea

    I can’t imagine feeling how hopeless this man must have felt to think this was the best thing to do … Let us really see the people we come in contact with, let us notice when they are in pain and let us point to Jesus. He’s the only one with answers.

    And may I also say, when we feel hopeless, let us reach out to someone. We may be hiding it so well that no one really sees.

    Prayers for you, Lisa, and your community.

  6. Susan M

    How sad! One thing we do know–Jesus also saw the man that morning. And I dare say He was crying too. Crying because of the pain that was in that dear man’s heart. Crying because the man didn’t know how much he was loved.

  7. Tiffany Parry

    Oh, Lisa. How heartbreaking. Praying for all the lives involved and for the touch of comfort that Jesus can provide – and the opportunity for His love to be shown through this loss. Hugs to you.

  8. Elizabeth

    What a horrible thing to witness. I feel sick thinking of it and can imagine it must be haunting you. What horrible hopelessness and torment he must have been in to take his own life in such a painfully, torturous way.

  9. ~ linda

    Ohhhh! Lisa, (and all of those who also saw him) I am ever so sorry. I was just reading another post on cynicism and how the world today is affecting us each in different, far different, ways than it once did. There are so many things that keep happening, again and again, that take our hearts to new places. Most of those places I do not like. This would be one of them. Yet, as you ended your post, we know that Jesus will return and we call to Him…soon, Lord Jesus, soon.

  10. Pam

    What an impactful story, Lisa! I can understand very much why what you saw, but didn’t see has left a profound imprint on your heart, mind, and spirit. It reminded me again that we have so much to learn from the Lord. He always noticed and saw what others didn’t see. We need to allow Him in us to help us see as He sees.

  11. Kristi Woods

    Oh Lisa, I am so sorry. I’m sorry the depths of despair grabbed and destroyed this man. I’m sorry you became a part of the story. I’m so sorry. May the God of all comfort truly be your (and your neighborhood’s) comfort now.

  12. Lux G.

    Oh my goodness! Such heartbreak that must have been for him to decide to end his life and leave everything and everyone behind. Including his dog. His dog must have felt it. Dogs are like that.

    I wish he was found earlier.

    Oh, if only we can do so much more to ease the sadness in this world.

  13. Debbie

    Oh Lisa, how horrible it is that you went through this and what you must be feeling. I wonder what made this poor soul do such a thing. How does one’s life become this bad. I hope that you may find some peace eventually to erase this memory but never forget there are so many hopeless people among us that desperately need saving. So very tragic 🙁

  14. Trudy

    Oh Lisa, this is so heartbreaking. I’m so sorry for this man’s torment that was so deep he lost all hope. I’m so sorry you and your neighbors had to witness it. I pray God will comfort and strengthen you, your neighbors, and his family. Hugs!

  15. floyd

    Wow… Yes. Somethings we can never un-see. My heart breaks for a person that obviously didn’t know God… May our Father use this event to change lives and for His glory.

  16. June

    Oh, Lisa, how awful! Yes, there are things I’ve seen that I wish I hadn’t. But the things God has shown me of Himself far outweigh them, by His grace. Sometimes we see things we can’t control, like you, but often we do have a choice about what we set before our eyes. Definitely, something to think about. Praying for you, sweet friend.

  17. Margo Mohney

    I have no words. The wounded souls in this world are just overwhelming. As one who lives with depression and struggles daily to not listen to the negative in my mind, I can understand this man’s need to end the pain. Not his life, but his PAIN. People who live without depression don’t really want to die, but they can’t find another way out of the pain. I’m so sad you have that vision now in your heart Lisa, I’m praying for comfort for all who knew this man. I hope he has comfort now.

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