Rod Dreher

Woke up this morning to the shocking, awful news that an old friend was killed yesterday in a car crash near New Orleans. Gerard was taking his parents, who also died, home from the doctor. Police today booked a woman with three counts of negligent homicide in the hit-and-run accident. Knowing the kind of man Gerard was — a deeply committed Catholic of uncommon personal generosity — he’s praying for that woman now. And for his wife Kathy, and their four children.
This initial news report shows the accident scene from a distance. I know that part of I-10 well. No doubt Gerard passed through it many times; he wasn’t far from his own hometown, where his elderly parents lived. I was there once, for Gerard and Kathy’s wedding; they were high school sweethearts, and married when we were all at LSU. This morning I’m thinking about Kathy, dancing around the reception hall in her wedding dress, with dollar bills pinned to it, observing the Cajun tradition. She was glowing. So was her new husband.
I have nothing useful or meaningful to say, I guess, other than to mark the untimely passing of a fine man, and to wonder, as we all do at such times, why God allows the good to die young. Here are the final two stanzas of Larkin’s terrifying poem about death, “Aubade,” whose bleak message Gerard, as (unlike Larkin) a man of deep and abiding faith, would surely and confidently deny. Yet they resonate with me this morning; no man or woman, believer or not, can say they’ve taken the prospect of death seriously without having held thoughts like this in one’s hands, near to one’s heart:

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no-one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.
Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

Below where I set, I can hear the scrape of metal shovels on pavement, as the men methodically clear the snow. Meanwhile, half a continent away, four children have awakened to the first morning without their Daddy. The world is out of joint.
UPDATE: Here’s a link to a short video from Gerard’s Facebook page, featuring him performing his own Catholic CCM songs at a local concert. There’s a line from the last song featured in the video montage: “When He calls, I’ll be ready/Ready to go with Him.” If anybody was ready, it was Gerard. It’s just that nobody imagined his call would come so soon.
UPDATE.2: Wow, read this, from the Times-Picayune’s updated report:

Bacala [Gerard Faucheux’s sister — RD] said her father developed a staph infection in one of his legs from his frequent dialysis visits. When the wound did not heal, he started visiting a specialist at East Jefferson General Hospital regularly to have it cleaned. He was returning from one of these appointments when the accident occurred.
The Faucheux siblings took turns driving their father to his medial appointments, Bacala said.
Gerard Faucheux, an information technologies coordinator at a telephone company in Meadville, wrote on his music Web site that he had recently built a ramp at his parents’ home to help his father move in and out. His sister said he opted to take a vacation earlier this month so he could watch over his parents during the height of Carnival season.
“We just did things for each other,” Bacala said. “It’s how our parents brought us up.”
Gerard Faucheux’s service to his parents reflected a pious belief in Christian ideals that he wrote songs about, Bacala said. In 2008, the singer-songwriter recorded and released his first album “How Can You Think of Me,” a collection of 11 religious-themed songs with titles such as “I Need Your Grace,” “You Will Reign” and “Let the Praise Begin.”
He sold signed copies of the disc for $15 on his Web site, but Bacala said “it did not make him much money … (because) he gave away more CDs than he sold.” He instead opted to pass the disc on as gift to boost the spirits of ill people in nursing homes or friends and acquaintances who struggled to cope with a problem.

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