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The Chair

“You never get enough of what you don’t really want.” – Minimalism: A documentary about the important things

As I was packing up my things for my next adventure, I stumbled across an old metal folding chair. I ran my fingers across the frame of the back support. The pads of my fingers vibrated as they slid across the bumpy texture of the black paint. “Shall you stay or shall you go?” I said allowed, referring to the chair. At this point in my travels, I had gotten into the habit of purging any items that were no longer wanted or needed. I had fully embraced the nomadic life. I had been carrying this folding chair with me for years now. Do I need it? Why do I keep this old thing? Why do I bring it every where I go?

I stared at the small flecks of paint splattered on it sporadically. It reminded me of when I stood on the chair to spackle all of the nail holes in my apartment before I embarked on my first travel assignment. I smiled, thinking of the astounded face on my parsimonious landlord when she realized she could not charge me for every hole I had put on the wall. I touched the small white flecks of paint and laughed allowed. So many times I had stood on this plain metal folding chair to reach something or to hang something up. It had been one of the most practical and useful items I owned for years, and it held many memories.

I opened the folding chair and ran my palm over the dented seat letting vivid images fill my mind. I remember using it for all of my crazy workout routines; Insanity, P90X, or even just simple tricep push-ups. For an old beat up chair, it was solid. It had taken a beating and yet stood there defiantly as if saying, “Is that all you’ve got!?” It was so durable; it almost seemed unbreakable. How could an inanimate object inspire me? Taunt me? Push me to do more?

I spun the chair around in a quick “magic mike” motion and straddled it. I pressed my chest against the backrest. I blushed as my mind flooded with erotic memories. Between sensual dances and passion filled moments of ecstasy, the chair had almost become a sexual partner in a way. I sat there with my eyes closed and exhaled as the vivid images raced through my mind like a TV flipping the channels.

(Photo credit: 4.bp.blogspot.com)

I stood up then and turned outward seating myself properly on the chair. I leaned back and relaxed as the old chair creaked and moaned as it supported my weight. I looked out into the distance reminiscing the first time I sat in this black folding chair. I was living in a studio apartment in downtown Seattle. I had nothing, I owned nothing, other than the roof over my head, and I didn’t even own that, I was renting it. I had a small air mattress that had been given to me and a cardboard box that I used as a makeshift coffee table. It was a tough time in my life. I remember feeling like a failure. I felt helpless and vulnerable. I saw all of these people that were the same age as I was with big houses, expensive cars, and more clothes than I could imagine. I let their success turn to envy and self-doubt in my mind. I allowed it to tear me apart. I had no idea that those days were transforming me, hardening me, to face my future to come. I remember opening that black metal folding chair and putting it in front of my only window that faced the back alley of the building. I remember smiling a small, fragile smile thinking, well, I have a chair. I have a chair and a window to look out of as I sit in it. It may not be a couch, but it’s a chair, it’s somewhere to sit.

I looked out of the window, down into the alley and watched as a homeless man sifted through the garbage in the dumpster. My new, self-assured heart broke as I realized that the man didn’t have a chair. He didn’t have an air mattress or even a roof over his head to rent. My heart and mind flooded with emotions. Was I superficial, materialistic, or boastful as I sat up here on my black metal throne looking down at this poor man with nothing? Was I ungrateful? Or was I grateful that I did have what I had, yet heartbroken that I had no way of helping the man below me? Or was I thankful that, though I had gotten very close to this man’s position in life; I had been fortunate enough to have people around me to catch me before falling to that point? How could a simple old metal folding chair evoke so many emotions and memories? It was just a stupid chair! It was a piece of garbage when I found it!

The night I found it, I was walking home from a disastrous date that ended in upper Queen Anne (Seattle, WA). It was 3 a.m. The man refused to get me a cab, so I was wandering down the streets trying to find a taxi. These were the days before Uber and Apps. I was walking down the hill, stumbling in the dark of the night, grumbling about the drunken asshole that would not take me home or let alone call me a cab, when I saw it. The chair. I walked toward the shadowy silhouette of what looked like a chair next to a garbage can. My feet were killing me from walking around all night in high-heeled boots. I decided to use the chair to try and call a cab again as I massaged my throbbing feet. I probably looked hilarious sitting on that chair next to the garbage can, rubbing my feet at that time of night.

When I was unsuccessful getting the cab, I stood up and prepared myself for the steep decline of the Queen Anne hill. As I started to walk away, I turned back and looked at the chair once more. It would be nice to have if my feet start to hurt again I told myself. They did put it out with the garbage? I decided to take it. I slung the metal chair on my arm and began my descent. I made it home to my apartment in Belltown and kicked off my high-heeled boots. I opened the chair, sat down and watched the sunrise. After a disastrous date, a long walk home, and severely sore feet all I could do was smile because it was a new day and I had a chair. It may have been someone else’s garbage, but to me, it was the best thing in the world.

I meditated on the memory of that night for a bit. I touched the chair once more as I smiled and placed it into the keep pile. I patted the top of the chair as if it was an old friend. I may let it go one day, and maybe it will bring someone else the same feeling of completion and contentment that it did me, but not just yet. The chair had held me together in one of the hardest times of my life. It had become more than a possession; it had become a symbol to me. It reminded me of where I started and how far I have come since then. It told me of all the joys and hardships along the way on my journey of transformation. It always brought back a feeling of simplicity and gratitude when I looked at it. The chair was no longer a possession it was now a talisman. I now sit on that talisman as I write these words to you.

Do you have an item in your life that keeps you grounded, keeps you grateful, reminds you of who you used to be? Does it inspire you? If you do have an item like that keep it close to you. I hope it always reminds you of what matters in this world and how some possessions though expensive and flashy can be worthless, yet some items that may be cheap even insignificant can be priceless.

This thought brings me to why I wrote this entry. I had recently watched a documentary called “Minimalism: A documentary about the important things.” I was so inspired by these two men that believed so strongly in their ideals of minimalistic living that they wrote a book, created a documentary, and traveled the country to speak to others about their method. I had never been a wealthy person or lavish in any way, but after watching this documentary, I had realized that how I thought about “things” and the value I allowed them to put on my life was very damaging.

It also made me think of another documentary I had watched called “Story of stuff” years back. Both are very blunt and powerful in showing the viewer how our society has become utterly obsessed with “stuff.”

In the “Story of Stuff” documentary they even explain to the viewer how depression and overall happiness has severely declined in the last 50 years. Products and materials in the last 50 years have increasingly lost durability and sustainability while their value and cost have risen to epic proportions. We as a society have also fallen under a spell that we are of no value if we do not buy or possess certain items. I once watched a young boy at a dinner party cry uncontrollably because he saw another boy with a handheld video game that he did not have. It wasn’t a whimper or a short cry. It was an I hate my life and everyone around me cry. All because he didn’t have that game. I have seen groups of people outcast someone because they didn’t have fancy, brand name clothing. Some people get further in their career because they have a flashy car. One season certain looks and fashions are “in” and acceptable, the next season they are “out” and you are now expected to go bankrupt buying the latest fashions trying to fit in. If you do not, you could be shunned for being outdated.

I glanced down at my nephew one day as I thought about this concept and wondered how we as a society even got to this point. He coos and gurgles as he is fixed and fascinated by the colors and pictures of a children’s book. He has all kinds of ornate infant toys of the newest design strewn all about him, yet he is oblivious to them or their value. He only sees the picture book in front of him, simple and inexpensive. As babies, we have not yet been exposed to the constant advertising and outside influence to believe that “I want this so I need this” “I am cool if I have this” or “This one thing will make you happy and a better person.”

Babies minds are pure, unprogrammed and have not been brainwashed yet. I stare down at my Nephew wondering if it could be stopped. Could I change the world somehow before the brainwashing could get to him? Could he possibly grow up being content playing with mud and not the latest video games? Could he have a favorite tee-shirt and wear it until it falls apart rather than need the newest and latest brand name fashions to fit in? Could he look at a flower or a strange bug the way some kids look at the latest toy? I sincerely wish I could, but I know that in today’s day and age the mighty dollar is more powerful than, well, anything. I feel that nothing will stop our consumer-driven society from continuing to sell, sell, and SELL some more.

As this realization saddens me, I remember the minimalism documentary and how after watching it I started to see “things” differently. I started ignoring the voices of “You want this so you need it” or “ You will be accepted if you get this.” Instead, I started listening to the questions, “Why do you want this?” “Why do you need this?” “What does it do for you?” “How often will you use it?” ”How does it make you feel?” and “Does it bring purpose to your life?”. I also started paying more attention to durability. “How long will it last?” “Can it be recycled or refurbished one day?” These questions have changed the way that I look at “things” and are how I decide if I should keep them in my life when I purge things that I own. In the last year or so that I have been trying to live this way I have saved more money and felt more free and content than I ever have before.

So, no, I cannot change the world or what others do even for my Nephew or myself, but I can improve what I do in my life and help others to see past the brainwashing. We as a society have allowed ourselves to become addicted, like any other drug out there, to a vicious cycle, to an infuriating, neverending labyrinth of need and desire, to utter emptiness. The good news is we can stop. We can ignore the advertisements, the jeers from people, and even the voices in our own minds if we do one little thing with every item we own or want to buy: ASK THE QUESTION WHY. Do not keep it or buy it unless you can convince yourself why it is or could be essential to you in your life.

Over time, I hope that you may find a feeling of freedom. I hope that your life will begin to feel light and filled with purpose. I hope that you have a “chair” in your life to remind you where you came from, how much joy insignificant things can bring, and how fortunate we are to simply have a place to sit down and watch a sunrise.

Sending you all love and light,

Wild Antevasin

(Photo credit: Getty images, Mathias Clamer)
(All other photos used without photo credit are images found on Google)

Minimalism: A documentary about the important things-

https://minimalismfilm.com

Story of Stuff –

https://storyofstuff.org

Daydreamer

“Looking to either side
Never again will it slip my mind
How it feels to be alive”
-Cameron Clark

Daydreamer

My gaze battles the light

It burns my eyes,

yet I can’t look away

A promise of a better day begs me to stay

My muscles soften

as my belly grows

I sink deeply into contentment

My cozy chair

The soft cusion

I would like to play in the gray day

Escape my soft pillow

Step on the cold rocks

Get dirt on my clean socks

This machine firmly grips its claws

into my face as it laughs and cackles

I am imprisoned

But I possess the key to my shackles

If I stay, I am safe for I am already dead

Asleep in my head

If I leave, uncertainty is guaranteed

But the universe will continue to spin the big busy ball

Therefore the ground will return to my feet

Even if I fall

No more will I struggle to survive

Climb my towering mountains

The rough, unforgiving earth

My hands begin to bleed

Leaving a reminder on my shirt

That my heart still plays the beat

Ride the viscous ocean tide

The main ingredient of the great recipe

I am pulled underneath

It is a privilege to breathe

Looking to either side

Never again will it slip my mind

How it feels to be alive

Written by:

Cameron Clark

© 4/2018

(Photo art credit to: Lucy Cambell)

Cameron Clark is a long time friend of mine. I saw his words and they touched me so I decided to share them with all of you. Cameron is a musician, writer, adventurer, and care giver. If any of you have any poems or short stories that you feel could help to inspire or bring joy to someone’s life please e-mail me to my wildantevasin@gmail.com account.

I hope you all have a blessed and inspiration filled week!

Sending you all love and light,

Wild Antevasin

Spotlight: Tyler (Barbie) Mclaughlin

“On the street there is no tomorrow. There is only here and now and nothing else. And yesterday is just another day you’re trying to forget.” -Darlenne Susan Girard -excerpt from: freefalling

A story of courage, struggle, and self discovery.

I first met Tyler at Moda apartments in Seattle, Wa. It was during my wild party days. I was stumbling into the lobby, carrying my heels, after another night of bar hopping when I saw a man and a young boy on the couch. My mind was foggy and the room was spinning, yet I knew in my gut that something wasn’t right with what I was seeing. The man was at least twice the boys age. The man was playing on his phone and the boy was passed out and curled up next to him. The boy’s long skinny legs were curled so tightly, trying to keep heat flowing to his thin body. He had scrapes and bruises everywhere. He was wearing a tank top and daisy duke jean shorts. He had multi-colored bracelets on and was wearing dirty beat up sneakers. His skin was pale and colorless. His soft brown hair was neatly cut around his face. He looked barely 16 years old. I stopped my drunken swagger toward the elevators and turned around to face them.

What was I doing!? It is none of your business! Stay out of it! My mind screamed. No! I can’t! Something is not right! I must say something!

I looked at the man and said hello. I asked him about his night and how he was doing. He was pleasant enough. Then, I asked him about the boy. I was sincerely hoping he would tell me that it was his brother or nephew or even his son so I could go on my way with a clear conscience and sleep off my latest binge in the city. He did not say any of those. The man told me it was “his friend” and they were “partying together”. My heart sank. My gut did a cart wheel.

Ugh. Nope. No sleep for me tonight. I couldn’t leave this be. I wouldn’t let this unconscious kid go off with this strange man.

I probed the man a bit longer about where they had been, how he knew the boy and where they were sleeping tonight? The man answered my questions. He explained that they were going to stay at Moda tonight, but they locked him out of his apartment due to non-payment and subletting illegally.

Whew! I had my in. Hopefully this would be a way to take the boy without drama ensuing.

I empathized with the man about his situation and suggested the boy stay with me until he regained access to his apartment. If he did regain access I would call the police before allowing the boy to go with him to his place. The man resisted and started to get angry. I started to get nervous. I almost tucked tail and ran for fear of drama or violence, but I glanced down at this cold, skinny, young boy again and my maternal instincts took over. I didn’t care what I had to do, that boy WAS NOT going anywhere with this man.

I stood my ground and scolded the man in a shrill motherly voice. “This boy is going with me to my place tonight. If you have a problem with that, then go ahead and call the police!” I stared him down, challenging him to make his next move. He stared back at me angry and enraged. He backed down eventually and submitted. He made a face at me, called me a bitch and went back to his phone. I gathered myself and walked over to the boy triumphantly. The boy was out cold. I checked his pulse. He was alive just very knocked out. “What did he take!?” I barked at the man. He grunted at me and waved me off. I decided I would evaluate the boy upstairs in my apartment. I pulled the boy’s arm around my neck and lifted him up. He was taller than he looked on the couch. The boy awoke a bit, enough for him to partially walk as I partially dragged him to the elevators. The boy didn’t smell badly, but I knew the smell of the streets and he had it. My heart broke for him.

We stumbled into my small studio apartment. I put him on my couch. He instantly curled into a ball protecting his chilled body. I grabbed a blanket and laid it on top of him. The boy relaxed and wrapped himself in the warm, safe place that his body was now given. I smiled and watched him sleep. My mind raced with questions all night.

Where was he from? What was his story? What do I do now? How can I help this kid? Is it ok for me to be helping him like this? Could I get in trouble? How old is he? Where are his parents?

I fell into waves of sleep off and on throughout the night as I watched this mystery child in my home.

In the morning he awoke confused and a bit nervous. I explained to him who I was and what happened. The boy seemed to calm down and began to trust me. I told him he could take a shower and I would make him some breakfast. I didn’t want to bombard the boy with questions and have him get spooked and run before he at least got some creature comforts. I made him an egg sandwich. I was very poor at the time and rarely had anything in my fridge other than eggs, cheese, bread, and old pizza. It was all I had to give though so it would have to do.

The boy came out of the shower and ravished the egg sandwich. I decided to make him another as we talked. “So, what is your name?” I asked him. “Barbie” he responded. “Oh, OK. My name is Tashina.” I replied. The boy came over to me and presented his wrists. There were tattooed words on them. “Barbie” was written on one wrist and “Bitch” on the other. “That’s me!” He chirped in delight. “Barbie bitch baby!” He instantly dropped down into a crazy dance move in his cute daisy duke shorts. I laughed and complimented him. He began to talk about his dancing and the “rave scene”. He said his rave friend’s gave him the name Barbie. “I love EDM!” I exclaimed! We laughed and exchanged dance moves. He was adorable and so full of life. His eyes were so bright and blue that they could disappear into a lagoon in Iceland. His smile was contagious! My heart melted. What was a young boy filled with this much joy and life doing on the streets?

I began probing and asking him questions about his life. He didn’t appear afraid or uncomfortable at all. He told me his parents lived in Tacoma and he came out to party in Seattle sometimes. I began to ponder if what he was saying was true or a recited response for adults. I chose to believe him for the moment. He told me his real name was Tyler. I did only what I knew I could do. I gave him a few dollars and said, “Use this to get home to your parents ok and if you come out here to party again, don’t sleep on the streets or go home with strangers. You come here to my place.” He nodded enthusiastically and hugged me. Then I sent him on his way.

Throughout the next year Tyler would call or text me, show up at my place and I would do my best to feed him and learn more about him. My biggest regret to this day was that I didn’t do more. There were times that due to my own social life I would turn him away. There were days I felt like giving and days that my mind would say:“this isn’t your problem, leave it alone.” Tyler never held that against me and he never gave up on me as I never gave up on him. Years went by and I did my best to keep in contact with Tyler through facebook and encourage him however I could.

In that time I learned more about Tyler. Tyler was battling addiction and trying to get sober, diagnosed with HIV, and fighting a daily battle of being transgender. I was slowly learning about transgender and the LGBT community myself while I was living in Seattle. Finding this out about Tyler really helped me to understand the battle she had been fighting for so many years.

One of my favorite quotes by Allen Watts is: “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.” The more I learned about the transgender and LGBT world the more I understood that quote. The constant fear and insecurity it can bring. The debilitating loneliness, seclusion, the ridicule or bullying that may happen, lack of understanding and self loathing that it can cause, all from trying to define themselves and be free to do so. Many people who don’t take the time to learn or understand this path of self discovery scoff at it and tend to add to the obstacles they must fight to just be who they truly are.

Many of our youth today are bullied, out casted, and lost to the streets because of ignorance and lack of support. Their agony of feeling forced to live a lie can drive them to a world that no child should have to live.

When I moved to Seattle I was heart broken by the amount of “street kids” that I would see on a daily basis. Seattle offers an enormous amount of support for homeless kids, LGBT kids, and more, but even with all that support it is not enough to help them all. We need to do more. We all need to do so much more. An encouraging word goes a long way. All I had to give was a warm couch, an egg sandwich and a hug, but I gave it and I am so glad I did.

I didn’t know if I would ever see Tyler again, but I listened, loved, and didn’t judge. I stared into those big vibrant blue eyes and made sure she felt love. I wanted Tyler to feel so loved that she would know she was worth more than the streets, more than the drugs, the partying, and more than what her mind told her she was worth. I wanted her to know she was worth everything to me and life was only just beginning for her. The world was her oyster and all she had to do was go out and fight for it.

In the time I have kept in touch with Tyler she has blown me away with each new post and each new step in her life. Her courage and strength inspire me. She has risen from the ashes and will now be able to help so many that are living her past struggle. I wanted to write about Tyler today because I wanted the world to hear her story. I wanted the world to see how she rose above it all. I did a short interview with Tyler so more of her story could be heard and in her own words.

Interview:

:Where are you from? What was your childhood like? Were you close to your parents?

Tyler: I moved around a lot as I was growing up. We moved back and forth from North Carolina to Arkansas a lot. I openly came out gay when I was in the first grade. My parents were very supportive and accepting of me. I told my Dad first. By age 9 I had attempted suicide twice. I was picked on and bullied a lot in elementary school. My parents put me in hospitals and facilities to help me with what I was going through. I was diagnosed as bipolar and having clinical depression. It helped, but by the time I got to high school I was bullied so much that I had to be placed in an alternative learning environment that had about 17 kids in it other than myself. The many years of bullying added up over time and I dove into the world of drinking and drugs by age 15/16 to numb the pain. I ended up running away and became homeless. Then things got really bad, I started shooting up meth and heroin.

:What brought you to seattle?

Tyler: I was first homeless in Tacoma. Wa/ I heard about the youth care in Seattle so I moved there.

: Did you have a group of friends that you lived on the streets with or were you a loner?

Tyler: I was a loner. I stayed under the freeway close to the youth center.

: Did the youth programs help you at all in Seattle or no?

Tyler: Yes, they helped me tremendously!

: Did you have a favorite facility?

Tyler: I liked the Orion center and New Horizon

: Did you get into the Rave scene in Seattle or have you always liked EDM?

Tyler: I have always loved EDM, even before I got to Seattle.

: What was one of the scariest or hardest things you endured while living on the streets?

Tyler: The hardest thing was when I was hit over the head and stuffed into a suitcase under the East lake bridge. I was raped and left for dead.

: I am so, so sorry Tyler that had to be awful! I hate that you had to go through that.

Was there a happy time or memory from when you were in Seattle?

Tyler: It was when I met you. It was the first good turning point in my life.

: Aw! Thank you Tyler!

(I was incredibly honored by this response and did not expect her to answer that way. I cried when she wrote that.)

When did you know you were transgender?

Tyler: I had no idea I was transgender until I was about 19. I met my first transgender person in Seattle around that time. I saw how differently were treated and how much hate people brought towards them that it made me afraid to come out as transgender. So, I didn’t come out until I was about 20. That was right around the time I discovered I had HIV.

: Do you have advice for someone who may be struggling or living through some of the battles you have had to fight in your life?

Tyler: My advice to someone who is still in the closet about being transgender is: I wasted four years waiting to come out because I was scared and in denial about who I was. I wasn’t happy. I became consumed by drugs and I lost everything. I recently came out publically and have been vocal about being HIV+ and transgender. I felt like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Knowing that I could be me! Finally, don’t let anyone hold you back from being who you are because God doesn’t make mistakes- you are who you are meant to be! Don’t ever give up!

: You recently got clean and sober. What made you decide to get clean and where did you go to do it?

Tyler: I had over dosed for 15 minutes. That moment made me decide to get sober real quick. I moved to Arkansas to get sober. I did it! I then decided I wanted to get my G.E.D. I also wanted to get a job.

: That is so wonderful! What are some of your hopes, dreams, and goals for the future?

Tyler: After I graduate with my G.E.D. I want to go to school to be a motivational speaker. I want to tell my story. I want to travel the world and show people that you can accomplish anything no matter how bad your past was. You can always have a brighter future. People come into your life and some will stay, some will go. If your not living as who you truly are because of fear than you haven’t learned that people won’t always like you for being your true self. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what they think . There are always a lot of people in the world that like to throw rocks at those that simply shine. Life is never easy, in fact life makes love look hard, but those that love you, will always love you.

Conclusion:

When I met Tyler at 17 years old she was lost, homeless, scared, enslaved by drugs, and fighting one of the scariest battles we as humans can fight- the: “Who am I?” battle. Tyler is 24 now. She has survived bullying, rape, being diagnosed with HIV and crippling depression. Her courage and growth inspire me daily. I look back at the person she used to be and see how far she has come.

It gives me hope for all the other kids out there and gives me strength to keep fighting for them. Her story will help to show so many that it is never the end and you are never alone. You can help and heal so many with so little. A hug, a smile, and a listening ear can do more than you can imagine.

I will never forget the day that I met the strong, courageous, and beautiful Tyler (Barbie) Mclaughlin. Her story will hopefully change many lives as she had changed mine.

*I will always love and support you Tyler. We will eat egg sandwiches, dance, and laugh together again one day. I am so proud of you and how far you have gone. Now go change the world with those big majestic blue eyes of yours.

*Special thank you to all of the youth shelters out there that give so much everyday. I hope this story inspires others to volunteer, donate, or even just say thank you for all that you do to save so many. – a special credit to The Orion Center and New Horizon in Seattle, WA–

If you are lost, confused, struggling with who you are please reach out. Call support lines, youth centers, your school guidance counselor even. Don’t allow it to consume you. You are loved and not alone. I promise you.

To those of you who are not struggling with who you are: educate yourselves on how to help those that are. Be supportive, empathetic, and non-judgmental.

Teach your children to love with an open mind and an open heart. Teach them not to bully others. Help those in need in any way that you can.

When you see a homeless child do not assume the worst, rather give what you can and open your heart to them in anyway that you can. They are children and they need us. After all, one snack, one encouraging word, one “hello, are you ok?” could change a life.

The children of this world are our future. If we do not guide them and protect them what does that say of us and our future world?

Sending you all love and light,

Wild Antevasin

*If you want to contact Tyler to ask questions or to reach out you can email wildantevasin@gmail.com and I will send her your messages.*

The Secret life of Techs : The Fragile Pearl

“The brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to 10 thousand other neurons. Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object known in the universe.”
-Michio Kaku

I was getting ready to leave for the day and walked up to the operating room charge desk to say goodnight. The charge nurse hung up the phone. He looked at me and asked, “Can you stay late? We have an emergency crani. coming in.” I shrugged and said, “Sure, I can stay. Do we have any details about the case yet?” “They have an MVA coming into the E.R., a 30-year-old female. She has a bad head injury. They think she may have a bleed. Can you get room nine prepped?” He asked me. I ran over to room nine and pulled in the emergency crani. cart. Some techs and nurses came into the room to help prepare for the case.

I scrubbed in, then a flurry of sterile packages were opened onto my table in every direction. They begin bringing neuro equipment into the room, and multiple people are firing questions and answers all around me. “What is his glove size? Do you have everything? What else do you need?” They ask me. Anesthesia is prepping their station with meds. The surgeon passes through to make sure we are getting the room ready. I call out to him to ask him about the case. “Dr. Smith, can I ask you some questions?” He walks over and looks at me. “Are you doing a flap or just burr holes? What do her scans look like? Do you want a drain?” I asked him. He carefully answers all of my questions. He tells me that her bleed is acute and the brain is already starting to herniate. She has a Subdural Hematoma. He will be doing a flap, and he needs a ventricular drain set up. As he walks away, I turn my attention back to the pile of sterile supplies on my table and begin inventorying what I have and what I still need to get. I start spouting out the supplies that I need to the nurses and techs around me. “Hey guys, can you get me a ventric. drain and more patties? I need Floseal too. Thanks!”

I begin to organize my set up. Each step has to be systematically laid out to ensure the surgery will go smoothly. At this time of night Dr. Smith did not have his P.A. or an assistant, so it would just be him and I. I would need to stay five steps ahead of him and assist in the procedure as his second pair of hands. My set up had to be perfect to enable me to do this. As I was running through the steps of the procedure and organizing my table, the nurse asked me to count. I counted all my sponges and sharps with her. All of this activity, the chaos, and preparation happened in less than 20 minutes. My heart was pounding. My pupils were dilated; everything around you seems to slow down as you focus in preparation for emergency surgeries.

The patient was wheeled into the room. My back was to the patient as I continued focusing on my current task. I start to hear distant sounds of beeping from the monitors and the murmur of people giving commands to each other about meds and positioning. They get the patient on the operating room table, and anesthesia goes to work putting in central lines and connecting EKG cables. Dr. Smith walks in again to put on the Mayfield positioner. The Mayfield is an essential and crucial positioning device that holds the head stable while the surgeon works on the brain. One jolt or slight bump during surgery could be fatal. The Mayfield latches onto the skull clamp or “Gardener Wells Tongs.” They look a bit like an ancient torture device. The three steel, razor sharp pins are inserted into the skull clamp and then clamped down onto the head. They pierce straight into the skull to keep the head completely stable. It is brutal but necessary.

I hear the “click” “click” “click” of the skull clamp being placed onto the patient. Then, I hear the electric razor. They started to shave the portion of her head where the surgeon will make his incision. I turn around as I hear this and as I watch, long thick locks of dark hair float to the O.R. floor. I think of my mother, my aunt, and my sister. I think of this woman’s family. It weighs on me. I start to feel her humanity and the sadness a tragedy like this brings. I see a small tattoo on her shoulder. I start to think of her and what she may be like. No! Stop it! Focus!

I quickly turn around and shut out my feelings. I need to be laser sharp right now. Dr. Smith was not a very patient surgeon, and her bleed was severe. I must be robotic and mechanical. No matter how hard we try it is difficult for people who work in surgery to not feel empathy and become overwhelmed with the fragility of human life. In surgery we must not let our emotions affect us, we must stay focused to do our jobs. So, we push away the thoughts of their children, their memories, or their lives to do what we need to do to help them to see another day. It is a strange emotional balance that all operating room staff has to maintain. We must feel to stay sensitive and human, but we must press that invisible button in our minds to turn off emotion when we need to see and do grotesque tasks to save a life.

The nurse cleans and preps the patient’s head. It is time. Dr. Smith walks in, hands out-stretched and dripping from his surgical scrub. I look into his eyes. I can see thoughts of the systematic steps being checked off in his mind that he is about to perform. I gown and glove him. One last glimpse of the patient’s hair and her face, one final thought of who she was and who she may be to someone. Stop. Focus.

The sterile towels are placed on her head. He uses a stapler to secure them in place. “Kerchunk.” Kerchunk.” “Kerchunk.” The sound echoes in my ears as he presses each staple into her scalp. The sterile craniotomy drape goes on. I take a deep breath. No more shiny dark locks of hair, no more long eyelashes. That invisible switch flips in my brain and my mechanical mind takes over.

We all do a surgical time out, and I hand him the ten blade. I grab a suction as he incises. The scalp has so many capillaries that it bleeds more than any other part of skin on the body. I chase his incision with my suction tip collecting all the blood to keep it out of his view. He starts using a sponge and his fingers to separate the skin from the skull. It peels with ease like peeling an orange rind. I hand him some raney clips to pinch the edges of the skin to provide hemostasis while not damaging the tissue. He peels the flap of skin back and secures it to the drape so it will not flip back and get in his way. I place a wet sponge on top of it to preserve the delicate tissue and keep it moist. I hand him a Lagenbeck elevator to scrape the remaining tissue away from the bone.

That is when you see it, the hard protective bone of our skull that protects our being. It is the one final barrier guarding our thoughts, our functions, and our existence. This white, smooth, rock hard shell encapsulates the most precious part of who we are as humans. In a world filled with prejudice and racism, it always fills me with anger and frustration when I see the internal workings of our bodies. If only everyone could see it? If only every person in this world could see the undeniable similarities that make us human, reguardless of skin color, race, or gender. Once you see that skull with the skin peeled back the meer thought of one person being treated differently from another due to what they look like becomes incomprehensible.

I handed the perforator to Dr. Smith. The huge drill looks horrifying as it moves towards the patients head. Medical technology has advanced so much over the years. At one point, it was a hand crank drill which was slow and hard to keep steady; once they made it motorized, creating burr holes became a thing of ease. The hard part for the surgeon was knowing when to stop drilling. Their training and practice taught them how to feel this. Times of emergency, high stress, or lack of experience allowed for mistakes to be made. So, today there is an automatic stop on the perforator drill when it has reached the edge of the bone. Regardless of the technology, it still looks massive and barbaric to anyone watching.

He presses the perforator down, creating two, three, or four holes, whatever is needed to create the correct size of bone flap. I grab the bulb syringe and irrigate the bone away from the hole as he burrs. The bone slivers and flakes build up around each hole as it would when drilling a hole into a plank of thick wood. He completes his burr holes and I hand him a penfield 3 to dissect the dura off the bone edges of the hole. He takes small balls of bone wax and smears them on the bleeding edges of the bone. The skull has now transformed from a smooth and uninterrupted casing with beautiful fissures and varying characteristics to looking something like a cream colored bowling ball with finger holes cut into it.

I switch the drill to a cutter. The surgeon needs to connect the holes that he made to remove the flap. The guarded cutter slips into the burr hole and begins to create a line from one hole to the next. I irrigate and suction while he cuts. The bone dust slides down off the edges of the cut into the pouch that is connected to the drapes. Blood is pouring out of the burr holes. Yep. There is a bleed alright and we are getting close.

He peels back the bone flap as I irrigate. The slurping and crunching sound it makes is similar to the sound of opening an oyster shell. He hands me the bone flap. I rinse it off, wrap it into a wet sponge and clamp it to my instrument tray to keep it safe. The responsibility and weight that a scrub tech feels when handed a piece of someone’s body is overwhelming at times. You, and you alone, are holding a piece of that person’s body. You cannot drop it, lose it, or damage it. You are being entrusted with a priceless and irreplaceable item. It doesn’t matter how long someone has been scrubbing or working in the operating room. I genuinely believe that all of our hearts skip a beat every time we are handed an organ, bone, or piece of tissue. What a gift, yet what a burden it is. A surgeon once told me that if I dropped the bone flap, he would take mine to give to the patient. He said this to me in order to scare me into being cautious. So, accepting and securing the bone flap is one of my most focused moments in any craniotomy.

After securing the bone flap to my tray to keep it safe, I began to irrigate the brain. Blood was oozing out, and blood clots were clinging to the brain’s surface. As I suctioned to help Dr. Smith to see the brain and find the bleeder he asked me for patties or cottonoids. He lined these small sponges all around the edges of the skull where the bone flap used to be. We are starting to make progress. He asks me for the bipolar and I realize he has found the bleeder. Irrigate. “Buzz.” “Buzz.” “Buzz.” Irrigate. “Buzz.” “Buzz.” “Buzz.” Then Dr. Smith mumbles, “Half by half.” I load one on a bayonetted forcep and hand it to him. “Dammit!” He shouts. He had found the vessel, but he could not get it to stop bleeding. Irrigate. “Buzz.” “Buzz.” “Buzz.” Irrigate. “Buzz.” “Buzz.” “Buzz.” Then Dr. Smith mumbles again, “Brain spatula.” I place the malleable retractor inside the brain to gingerly pull aside the brain tissue. It feels soft and spongy, almost like retracting a piece of angel food cake. My thoughts drift to the complex network of nerves and small blood vessels inside the tissue that I was retracting. How incredible this soft spongy tissue was that controlled our whole body!

He found it! Dr. Smith found the bleeder. “Patty and Floseal” He says to me. I hand it to him and he dabs the vessel. No oozing. Then we wait and watch. He examines the rest of the brain making sure he did not miss any other bleeders. He irrigates and suctions all the old blood. While he was doing this, the brain tissue started to reveal its beauty.

The coils and swirls of pink and grey tissue wrapping around each other like a labyrinth. The tiny vessels were weaving in and out of those coils and swirls like ivy vines. It had a sheen now, a slight shimmer under the O.R. lights. As I watched it, it slightly pulsed. To this day it is one of my favorite sights. To see a brain pulse with life inside of someone’s head is such a life-changing experience. It’s complexity and power is overwhelming. It is like a pearl, a fragile pearl guarded by a hard armored shell. It is so soft and susceptible yet controls everything that we are and makes us who we are. Though all of us look alike inside, like a pearl, our brains are unique and signature. It is our guarded treasure. So, every time I see those intricate swirls and the pulse of life when I look at a brain, it humbles me and enlightens me. What incredible creatures we are!

The patient’s brain appeared dry. It had stopped bleeding. Dr. Smith was able to save this pearl, this brain, this mother, aunt, or sister. I began to hand him 4-0 neurolon sutures for him to close the dura. The thin, delicate tissue of the dura slides back on top of the brain like a satin sheet tucking it in for the night. Each stitch securing the dura tucks the brain in tighter and tighter. Good night precious pearl, stay safe and warm.

I count all of my sharps and sponges with my nurse and start gathering the closing supplies. Dr. Smith and I place small screws and plates onto the bone flap to attach it back onto the skull. I hand him the bone flap, relinquishing my guardianship of the patient’s precious piece of bone. I give him small screws to secure the bone. Good night pearl. You are safe now. The hard skull resumes its duties of protecting the woman’s command center. 

All of it is covered again but one burr hole which Dr. Smith uses to place the ventricular drain to monitor the ICP levels of the brain. Dr. Smith slowly puts the skin flap back on top of the skull and sutures it on. Goodnight hard shell. Keep that pearl safe.

We wipe the incision site and begin to pull back the drapes. There she is again, the 30-year-old mother, sister, aunt? Her long dark locks of hair, her long eyelashes, her small tattoo. Dr. Smith takes off the Mayfield and releases her from the skull clamp’s death grip. “Click.” “Click.” “Click.” We all work together to get her onto the hospital bed, carefully guarding drains, I.V.’s, catheters, and monitors. The nurse covers her up with warm blankets. Other than the small ventricular drain coming out of her head it was as if we were never there.

The switch flips back on in my brain to feel again. I looked down at her and smiled. Your going to be ok. Your going to live another day. I say to the patient in my mind. Live well girl, live well. It is a strange feeling to look at someone’s face and know that you have seen the innermost part of what makes them who they are. You feel as though you know them even though you have never met them.

As a scrub tech, you carry these moments with you every day.

The gift.  The responsibility.  The burden.

Today was a good day. Another fragile pearl was saved, to hopefully change the world around it.

Sending you all love and light,

Wild Antevasin

 

**All details and names have been changed to protect the identities of people in this story including the patient**

**Images were all taken from online public sites**

Glossary:

Crani– an abbreviated term for Craniotomy or making an opening into the cranium (the skull)

MVA– Motor vehicle accident

Herniated– when something shifts the brain due to pressure

Ventricular drain– a drain put into the ventricles to monitor CSF and ICP in the brain

P.A.– Physician’s Assistant

Central lines– an I.V. placed into a large vein

EKG– An Electrocardiogram. It monitors heart function

Mayfield– A positioner used in neurosurgery

Skull Clamp– A device that secures the cranium to the Mayfield

Raney clips– Clips used in surgery to pinch the tissue to stop bleeding

Perforator– A type of drill used in neurosurgery

Penfield 3– An instrument used for dissection in neurosurgery

Bipolar– A forceps that cauterizes between the two tips of the instrument only

Patty or cottonoid– a small sponge with a string on it, used in neurosurgery

Dura– the layer of tissue that encases the brain

4-0 neurolon– A type of suture used in surgery

ICP– Intracranial pressure

Subdural Hematoma– When blood gathers between the inner layer of the dura mater and the arachnoid mater of the brain.

Bone wax- A wax used in surgery to stop bleeding on bone

Lagenbeck elevator- an instrument used to scrape in surgery

The Phoenix

“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” – Frida Kahlo

She burned with pain and fury for so long, yet smiled through the pain

No one saw her.

She wilted and withered into the ashes of her sorrow.

No one saw her.

One day she heard a soft whisper. 

One word.

“Tomorrow.”

It took her hearing it many times until she finally sprouted from the ashes. 

She then shot up with gleaming feathers of beauty screaming:

“Tomorrow!!!”

As she soared over the mountain tops and saw the beauty of the world with new eyes and how much more there was to see-

She saw tomorrow.

She held onto tomorrow and never let go.

In that moment, they saw what she had become.

 The Phoenix.

 They all saw her living for tomorrow because yesterday she almost never knew

Tomorrow.

-TJH

Sending you all love and light,

Wild Antevasin

**credit to Thom Williams for photos**

Heroes Never Die – Part 8 – LIVE (The Conclusion)

“The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the mother fucking shit out of it.”
Cheryl Strayed

I walked over the branches and brush, led by the moonlight. I made it up to the top and stood there. I drew in a deep breath, taking in the smells of the quarry. Kevin.

I walked some more to get to the tree where Kevin fell. When I made it there, I started talking to him. I’m so sorry I failed you, Kevin. I miss you so much. You were hurting, and I didn’t help you. I didn’t catch you when you needed me to. I can’t be strong anymore. I can’t be my own hero; I need you! I can’t do this without you! I am so tired. I closed my eyes and held onto the large tree branch where he fell. I lifted one foot out over the ledge. I could hear the tiny pebbles and small rocks cascade down the cliff. The sound echoed in the silence of the night. The branch creaked with the new weight I had put on it. I took a breath and closed my eyes. I smiled and said: “I’m coming to you Kevin…I’m coming.”

As I started to lift my other foot to let the wind take me to my peace, my long slumber, something happened that I never thought I would be able to talk about to anyone. Kevin’s face appeared right in front of me as if he was standing there in the flesh. I froze. To this day, I don’t know if it was God, my dead father acting as Kevin, or if it was actually Kevin? Maybe I had a psychotic episode? I may never know? All I can do is describe what I saw. He was right there in front of me. He was angry. I couldn’t breathe. Why was he angry? Was he angry with me? Then his angered face slowly turned into a smirk. His sly eyes and toothy grin appeared. His hand shot through my protective forcefield just as it had that day by the creek when I was a child. I smiled. I reached out to take his hand. He wasn’t angry. He was helping me. He wanted me to come and be with him. Kevin.

I grinned and started to lift my other foot off the cliff again. At that moment, the wildest thing happened! He didn’t take my hand to pull me with him as he did once before, he pushed me! He pushed me hard. I felt a force push me back onto the ground away from the edge. I stumbled and fell onto all fours. I was dazed and confused. What the!? “KEVIN, WHY!!?? I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!! FUCK YOU KEVIN!! WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME!? I HATE YOU!!! LET ME GO!!! LET ME BE WITH YOU!! I CAN’T TAKE THE PAIN ANYMORE!!”

I screamed into the night. I sobbed and sputtered. I shouted out awful things. I was enraged now. Why wouldn’t he let me die!? I started shouting that I was so sorry and I missed him. I screamed that I wanted to die. I yelled at him for leaving me here alone. As I began to quiet down and tried to pick myself up off the ground, I stopped and looked out at the quarry. His face was fading into the night sky. He was smiling. All I could hear as he faded away was the soft whisper of his voice: “Live Taw-shina….Live.”

I sat there in complete wonderment and confusion. What just happened? I cried for a few hours thinking about what he said. When I finally felt strong enough, I walked down from the cliff of the quarry, leaving my heart and my hero behind me.

Kevin told me to live. I needed to live. I don’t know why and I don’t know how, but I have to keep fighting. I have to fight the pain and live. I will live for you, Kevin. I will be strong. I will be my own hero you asshole.

As I got down from the quarry, I was walking back to my car when I saw my parents drive past. My boyfriend had notified them of my texts. They were so upset. They turned around and picked me up. I didn’t talk. I was silent and stared out the window; all sounds were muffled. I was still holding onto my moment, my moment with Kevin.

When we got back to the house, Eric left me with my parents. They were distraught. They thought they would have to commit me to a psych ward to get me help. I wouldn’t talk to them. I couldn’t talk to them. My mind was racing. I was stuck in a moment.

Then, my little brother walked into the kitchen. He looked at me, and I looked at him. My mouth curled into a smile. Without even speaking he knew. My brother knew I was okay. He looked at my parents and told them I was okay. He saw the tiny flicker in my eyes. He saw fear and excitement. He understood. I didn’t want to die anymore. I wanted to live! I wanted to live life to the fullest! The fear in my eyes was not knowing where to start. I didn’t know what was in store for me; I just knew it had to be epic! Kevin said to live. So, damn you, Kevin, I am going to live. I am going to live so passionately that you will be proud.

After that night, I faced every challenge and obstacle along the way like an angry pit bull. “Let ’em try! Nothing can get me down.” I hear Kevin say in my ear all the time still. “Yeah, Kev. You know it. Let ’em try.” I say back to him smiling.

When I tried to take my own life that night at the quarry, I had discovered that Kevin was still with me. He would always be with me. I wasn’t alone. I feel that he left a part of himself there in the quarry when he died. He let his spirit and essence merge with the water and the trees that horrible day. Kevin spread through the veins of nature bringing him everywhere. He now lives in the wind, the water, and the earth.

When I walk through the forest, I feel him all around me. I feel him with every soft touch of a leaf or brush of a branch. Every time I reach a cliff or a ridge the wind blows his strength into me. I feel him wrap his long arms around me and hold me tight in those strong gusts of wind.  I feel him reminding me to be strong and I feel his love again. Kevin.

Ending thoughts:

I finished writing my Heroes Never Die series after I climbed Mt. Humphreys in AZ. Every agonizing step that I took, I pushed forward, carrying the weight of my heartbreak with me. Once I reached the top, I opened my arms to welcome Kevin’s embrace. Every time I do this, he reminds me to live. It is how I remain whole. It is how I survive this life without him.

The world lost a great man on January 27th, 2008, but the universe gained a magnificent soul. In life he was able to help hundreds; in his death, he can now reach billions. You will never be forgotten, Kevin O’Brien. You can let the sand demon sleep now because now you know that you are loved by many.

So, in conclusion:

Get ready world! Kevin said to live, so I plan to mother fucking live! I hope you all do too.

*To my family and friends:

Thank you for all of your support through this saga. I love you all and can’t wait to see you and hug you one day soon. Thank you for helping me to keep Kevin’s memory alive.

*To my readers:

This story was incredibly hard for me to write. Kevin was my world. Having to survive his death and fight my depression was the hardest fight I may ever fight. There are so many of us who have lost people we love. We all suffer in different ways. My only advice to you from my own experience is to talk about your pain. Do not let it fester. Allow others to help you and to heal you. Be patient with yourself. FORGIVE YOURSELF. The scars of losing someone never heal. They stay with you forever, but the pain does fade. Through time allow that pain to transform you. Allow it to enable you to help others in their journey. We are all more alike than our brains will lead us to believe. We are all in this together. Never hesitate to reach out a hand to someone or a be a shoulder for them to cry on; you never know the pain that they may be fighting. Never judge anyone or yourself for fighting depression or contemplating suicide. It is not something to scoff at or be ashamed of; it is a battle that millions of people fight. You are not alone.

Find something healthy that brings you peace and helps you to feel alive. Choose to live for those who you have lost. Allow them to fill you with a strength to experience all the moments they will miss. Live those moments for them. They want you to. They need you to. Wake up every day saying to yourself: 

“Heroes are for the weak, I’m going to be my own hero today.”

Because of you Kevin…Today I am my own hero. I love you, I miss you, and I am still living everyday…for you.

Sending you all love and light,

Wild Antevasin

 

Rise above this- by Seether

Take the light, and darken everything around me
Call the clowns, and listen closely, I’m lost without you

Call your name everyday, when I feel so helpless
I’ve fallen down, but I’ll rise above this (rise above this)

Hate your mind, regrets are better left unspoken
For all we know this void will grow
And everything’s in vain, distressing you, don’t leave me open
Feels so right but I’ll end this all before it gets me

Call your name everyday, when I feel so helpless
I’ve fallen down (fallen down) but I’ll rise above this (rise above this)

Call your name everyday when I seem so helpless
I’ve fallen down (fallen down) but I’ll rise above this (rise above this)

I’ll mend myself before it gets me
I’ll mend myself before it gets me
I’ll mend

 

Heroes Never Die – Part 7 – In Memory

“If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is never to stop loving them.”
James O’Barr

The funeral was beautiful. The building was filled to the brim with people. Kevin had been so loved, he had touched so many lives. I wish he could have seen all of them gathered there that day. Becca’s mother Linda had made a DVD of music and pictures of Kevin. It was wonderful! They played the DVD on repeat until the service started. Every image that flashed his big goofy grin onto the screen brought tears to my eyes and filled the room with his spirit. It was nice to be around family. It helped to distract me from the brutal empty feeling slowly tearing me apart on the inside.

My sister had flown in from Seattle shortly before the funeral. I was so happy she was there. Even though I am older than my sister, she has always seemed to know just how to keep me whole and how to put me back together again if I broke. Her and I were very close. She knew Kevin meant everything to me. She knew she needed to be there in case I fell apart. She stood next to me at the funeral stealing glances, watching my face every few minutes or so to make sure I was okay. 

The tears started lining up and collecting at the edges of my eyes but didn’t dare to fall yet. At that moment Becca and the girls walked in to sit in the front row. Kevin’s three girls : Bryanna, Shannon, and Kiera dressed in beautiful red plaid dresses. After seeing them a flood of thoughts and emotions filled my head. God, Kevin loved them so much. Those poor girls. Poor Becca. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to tell them their father was gone. It brought back vivid memories of my mother having to tell me my father was dead when I was younger. “Bye daddy, I love you.” My childlike voice said. A flash of me kissing my father in his coffin filled my mind. The tears couldn’t hold on any longer. They started to run down my cheeks allowing the full-fledged sobs and sniffles to begin their performance. Sarah, my sister, grabbed my hand. She saw the girls as well and I know she was reliving the same pain that I was. The warmth and tight squeeze of Sarah’s hand helped to keep me whole. Without her support, I am pretty sure I would have had a full-on psychotic break that day. With the amount of pain surging through me, I can’t even begin to imagine how Kevin’s mother, stepfather, brother, and sister were feeling. It was a beautiful service, but an awful day for all of us.

There were many other events after the funeral with various groups of friends to celebrate Kevin’s life. He would have loved them! The gatherings were loud, filled with punk and Irish music, whiskey, and stories of Kevin and the old days. We all laughed and sang into the night. It truly was a celebration of life. As the night went on the songs and laughter slowly turned to tears and hugs. Seeing the heartbreak in his friend’s eyes was overwhelming. More and more I started to realize that I was probably not the only one that allowed Kevin to become their world or their hero.

At one point in the night, there was a split second where I thought it had all been a mistake; that Kevin had played an unforgivable practical joke and had just walked up to me to laugh about it. “Hey Taw-shina”. I heard behind me. My eyes flew open and I swung around thinking it was Kevin. It wasn’t. The man standing in front of me was Steve. Kevin’s lifelong friend. He only knew how to say my name that way because he had just heard my name recited by Kevin. He saw the disappointment in my eyes and knew right away that he had sounded like Kevin to my ears. We didn’t know each other very well, but he knew how much I loved Kevin. He grabbed me and hugged me. I started to cry. I tried to compose myself and pull away, but he wouldn’t let go. He knew what to do. He held on until I stopped. He tried to squeeze the pain out of me just like I used to do for Kevin. So many others wrapped me in open arms of love and mutual grief that night as well. I left there still feeling empty and broken without Kevin, but I did feel like I had gained another family. We were bonded together now. We were all bonded by our deep love and loss for the same great man.

Life slowly started to go back to normal, as normal as things could be after all of that tragedy. We all did our best to put what armor on that we could manage to go out and face the world again. The grief process is slow and everyone goes through it differently : Some of us get angry. Some get bitter. Some reckless. Some get lost in darkness. Some try to forget. Some go through them all. I drank, I drank heavily, and I shielded myself with what love I had in my life at the time, my boyfriend, Eric. His love for me became a small temporary band-aid placed over a large festering wound. It was only a matter of time before that wound spread. No one’s love was going to heal it, no one’s love but my own.

Sometime had gone by, most of that time I had spent drinking and crying. Eric had done his best to console me and survive my depression and melancholy. We decided to go to Atlantic City with some friends. I did my best to be social and entertaining. I had gotten very good at the whole “fake happy” thing. Sex was honestly the only time that I was able to forget the pain for a moment. I used it like a drug to get moments of peace. At the end of our night in Atlantic City we all went back to the hotel. We had drank a lot. The booze had crippled my “fake happy” mask. I was unraveling. I wanted to walk. I needed to walk. I couldn’t breathe. Eric wouldn’t let me leave the hotel room. I am so glad he didn’t! I was trying to walk around by myself in Atlantic City, drunk out of my mind, in the middle of the night! That would not have ended well. It turned into a big fight, and Eric ended up going to bed.

I went out onto the balcony. I started talking to Kevin. I know. I am trying Kevin. It’s so hard. I can’t do this without you. I miss you so much. I began to cry. I leaned against the railing. The wind caressed my tear covered face. We were up on a very high floor. It had to be higher than ten stories up if I remember correctly. I looked over the railing down into the street where everything looked so small and so far away. My heart ached so badly. I wanted the pain to stop. The thought of closing my eyes and falling forward seemed incredibly soothing. The wind called to me. It pulled me forward. I just wanted to see him again. I needed to hear his voice and feel his safe embrace once more. I knew it was a fantasy. Kevin was gone and he wasn’t coming back! My heart and mind kept reminding me that he was gone. Day after day those thoughts sent surges of pain through me, continually knocking me down every time I tried to forget or tried to heal. I was so tired of the pain. I couldn’t take it anymore! The thought of closing my eyes and landing on that far away street below was so tempting. I craved anything that would make the excruciating pain go away.

I stepped on the first bar of the railing. The wind blew stronger, whipping my hair all around me. “I’m coming Kevin.” I whispered to him. “I can’t do this without you.” I stepped on the second bar of the railing. The wind roared in my ears. I looked down at the faraway street again. My heart was pounding but my eyes were glazed over and I began to smile. No more pain. I just don’t want to feel anymore! My smile grew a bit bigger. I felt a wave of peace flow through me. I lifted my foot to step over the last bar of the railing when my friend burst out of the door and onto the balcony. He didn’t say a word. He grabbed me and pulled me off the railing. 

Once I was back on the balcony I broke out in tears. “Why did you do that!?” I screamed at my friend. I was so ready. I was so happy. The pain was almost gone for good. My friend stared at me dumbfounded. “What!?” I just saved your life! What were you doing!?” I glared at him. “Forget about it! You wouldn’t understand.” I was crying and staring out into the distance. I was so close. He grabbed my arm. “Maybe I will understand, try me.” He scanned my face trying to bring me back to the real world. I took a breath, lit a cigarette and decided to tell him everything.

We talked for hours. Being able to pour my heart out and take off my “fake happy” mask for awhile really helped. My friend didn’t try to fix me or to take away the pain. He just listened. Sometimes that is all a person needs. My friend saved my life that night. I had been angry with him at first. I felt so close to Kevin on that railing. I felt him calling me. My friend stole that moment away from me. I wasn’t thinking rationally, I just wanted to crawl into my protective forcefield and hide from the world. I eventually came to the conclusion that I was grateful that he had saved my life that night and that I would be able to see another sunrise again. It took a long time though, each month that went by I pushed my pain deeper and deeper inside of me. My wound appeared to heal on the outside, but rapidly grew on the inside.

With each year that went by mine and Eric’s relationship began to crumble. The honeymoon phase was well over. My depression and grieving invaded our bubble of happiness. He had changed a lot as well. Where I had once felt safe and loved, I was now surrounded by deceit and drama. Our relationship had become toxic. 

I had caught Eric in another lie one night. It caused a monumental fight. We were in a texting battle and I was drinking myself sick. He was tired of my mellow drama and depression. I was tired of all his lies and scams. I jumped into my car and started driving. I kept texting him that I was so tired and I just wanted to sleep. My eyes were filled with tears, my mind was spinning. I am happy I didn’t hurt anyone that night. I was so intoxicated, I should not have been driving! All I could think about was stopping the pain. I just wanted to sleep. I was tired of putting the “fake happy” mask on. I was tired of being strong for people around me. I was tired of trying. I was tired of life. I wanted to sleep forever. I wanted Kevin. I wanted to feel safe and loved again.

I miraculously arrived at the quarry without an accident. The night air was brisk and refreshing. I looked up at the stars dazed and lost in my mind. I found the path to the quarry. I’m coming Kevin. I am coming to be with you forever. I walked over the branches and brush, led by the moonlight. I made it up to the top and stood there. I drew in a deep breath, taking in the smells of the quarry. Kevin.

I walked some more to get to the tree where Kevin fell. When I made it there I started talking to him. I’m so sorry I failed you Kevin. I miss you so much. You were hurting and I didn’t help you. I didn’t catch you when you needed me to. I can’t be strong anymore. I can’t be my own hero, I need you! I can’t do this without you! I am so tired. I closed my eyes and held onto the large tree branch where he fell. I lifted one foot out over the ledge. I could hear the tiny pebbles and small rocks cascade down the cliff. The sound echoed in the silence of the night. The branch creaked with the new weight I had put onto it. I took a breath and closed my eyes. I smiled and said : I’m coming Kevin…I’m coming.

To be continued….

Coming soon-The conclusion to my Heroes never die series:

Heroes Never die – part 8- LIVE

Sending you all love and light,

Wild Antevasin