The resilience of the human spirit never fails to amaze me. I sat down with a young man who has been on this planet a little over two decades, but he spoke of matters, which those who have lived full-fledged lives would shudder at the thought. His spirit is to be admired. Before I get into our conversation, I want to tell you a little something about him. Something I learned very quickly. Have you ever talked to someone who is telling you a story and they tell you tiny little details that you yourself would never think of adding? Well, that’s how he talks. And this is no shade, just something I appreciated about him. I love the little details. They bring about the setting in a way that only wordsmiths know how to. They bring about a voice that creates vivid imagery in your mind’s eye that only they know how to. After hearing his story straight from his mouth, I told him that he should write. His words hold power, should he choose to fine-tune them. That being said, let’s get into it. . .
It was late at night. Something awoke him from his slumber. As the haze of the sandman clears, he hears yelling and screaming. At first, he thinks he may still be asleep. But, then his mind comes to full clarity. He walks out of his room, thinking perhaps someone had left the television on. He comes to a standstill as he realizes the screaming is coming from not the television, but rather from the direction of his mother’s room. He runs in to find a man on top of her. His first instinct is to go run and pull him off her. He realizes that this man is no stranger at all, but rather his father. His father is angry in a way that he has never seen before. He tells me with such practiced calm that his father had a mirror in his hand and he is trying to cut out his mother’s tongue with it.
I let that statement sink in. I was introduced to him through another friend. She had said to me that his story had to be heard and had arranged for us to get together. I was not sure what to expect, but this was certainly not anything I would have imagined to hear this night. When he speaks, I hear the strength in his character. I see the child who was forced to become a man all too soon. He spoke with the determination of a man who understood the concept of life taking unexpected turns. He also understood that in order for you to make it, you learn to maneuver with those curves or risk getting left behind. I appreciated that. I appreciated his urgency to speak his truth. And speak he did.
As he enters the room, the attention of his father’s wrath is immediately moved towards him rather than his mother. He tells me that the moment felt so surreal. It did not feel as though he was living his life. He and his father have somehow managed to make their way out to the kitchen. His father is rummaging through one of the drawers and he does not understand what exactly is happening, but one breath is taken and it has occurred. He realizes too late that his father had grabbed a knife and stabbed him. Adrenaline is a funny thing, isn’t it? His body and mind were already responding to a situation that he himself has still not figured out had occurred yet.
The rest of this story ends with his father getting out of the house and fleeing. The authorities are called and he is then taken to the hospital for treatment. He was stabbed in the intestines and there was a recovery process that took place. I am deliberately being short with this part here, because as the audience I want you to focus on the harrowing details of this incident. Why? Because of the conversation that took place after he told me this story.
I was genuinely curious as to the psyche of the person who had gone through something so horrific. I wanted to understand where he was years after all this went down. If memory serves me correct, he was 16 when this occurred. His father did prison time and was now out. I asked if he had a relationship with his father. He told me that he did. After all this time, he and his father had not actually had any real conversation about what occurred that night, yet, he still spoke with his father. It wasn’t a conversation that they were ready for or so he tells me. But, he knows that one day it will be had. His next statements were even more inspiring. He told me that because of this incident he wanted to get into a public service career. He wanted to be in a position to help those who need it when it was needed.
I count my blessings every day, at least I try to, some days it’s harder than others. That night I did. Here was a man who sat before me, having seen the worst of a human being, who happened to be his father, empowered to help the community as a result of everything that had occurred. Resilience of the human spirit is awe-inspiring. He told me that it took him months to get back to 100%, not to mention the psychological aftermath, which I’m sure was and is still something he deals with to this day. I want this story to resonate with you, so that you too can look deep within yourself and look for what it is that you stand for. Each and every day is a choice. We can actively choose to crumble within ourselves when life throws curves we are not expecting OR we can choose to enjoy the ride as it comes and goes with its many twists and turns.
My friend, thank you. Thank you for your courage and allowing me the opportunity to sit in your presence. Thank you for having the strength to share your story with me, a complete stranger, who did not realize how much I needed to hear it. It was a perspective that showcases bravery that only few in this world will understand. Thank you for broadening my lens as well as those who choose to follow me on this platform. I’m looking forward to hopefully many other conversations.
- New Flames