“We don’t meet people by accident. They’re meant to cross our paths for a reason,” goes the old saw.
C.J. Shotwell wasn’t here for very long, six or seven days, maybe. And to be honest, I didn’t really know him all that well as we only chit-chatted while out in Gary’s garage.
A hard-rock miner by trade, he’d arrived one late night after Gary drove to Winnemucca to pick him. He wanted to come to the Reno/Sparks area to quit drinking and drugging.
Every time I saw C.J., he was smiling and joking. But I could also tell that something was off – there was deep sadness and a hidden anger that he desperately tried to suppress.
After a few days, both C.J. and Gary knew it wasn’t working. And instead of checking into a rehab program offered through the Salvation Army, C.J. chose to return home and to his girlfriend.
Gary didn’t have the car that day, so he asked if I’d take C.J. down to the train station so he could catch the east bound Amtrak home. Since I was looking for something to do out of the ordinary, I said yes.
If C.J. happened to be disappointed in himself, I couldn’t tell. I shook his hand and wished him well as he climbed out my truck and grabbed the two bags from my pickups’ bed.
That was about three weeks ago — the last time I saw him. And it will be the last time too.
Sometime during the night of Thursday, March 3, when the Devil had him in his grip, C.J. found a secluded spot behind a motel and hanged his self. The following morning as the sun broke over Sonoma Peak, someone discovered his body.
His death has hit Gary and his wife Autumn pretty hard as they struggle to reach out to C.J.’s family to let them know what has happened. As for me, I’m thinking, reflecting and waiting to realize why we crossed paths.
Tonight, I say yet another prayer for C.J. – this time asking for God’s tender mercies.