Mourning in the Morning

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

My wife and I were staying at a bed-and-breakfast on the Connecticut shore, refugees from a freak autumn snowstorm that had brought down trees and power lines throughout much of the state. I had lain down for an afternoon nap. Apparently we had not locked the door to our room. Suddenly there was a bearded man in a yellow sweatshirt standing in the doorway. “I will be mourning in the morning,” he announced. Still half asleep, I stared at him in disbelief. “What?” He said it again: “I’ll be mourning in the morning.” Since his words were spoken rather than written, it was not immediately clear whether he meant “mourning” or “morning.” The way I have rendered them here is the only way they make any sense, albeit only marginally so.

By the time I had gotten up to close the door, the man had disappeared. My wife chained the door but neglected to lock it. A short while later, the door opened again partway, but the chain prevented another intrusion. My wife was upset, and I went off in search of the proprietor. When I went down to the common room, I found our would-be intruder talking to another guest and confronted him. “Was that you who tried to come in our room just now?” I asked. “Don’t you know enough to knock before entering?” The man cowered before me. “I tried to,” he said meekly. I found the proprietor, who told us the man was a guest in the bed-and-breakfast but had been behaving strangely since his arrival. The proprietor went to speak with him, but the bearded man had disappeared once again. In short order, the police were called. The man was found and escorted from the property, his possessions stuffed in a paper bag. He had no suitcase and had paid cash for his room.

The proprietor’s wife felt sorry for him. "The police will find a good place for him," she said. A half-empty liquor bottle had been found in his room, and she assumed he had been drunk. He may have been drinking, but I saw no signs that he was intoxicated. He did not slur his words or stumble, and there was an odd sort of coherence to what he said. No doubt it would make perfect sense if we saw the world through his eyes. Whatever his mental aberrations, he understood on some level that he was a lost soul. And wherever the police took him that day, he must have known that when morning came he would once again be mourning the loss.

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