“She may never come out of this Richard, but she may. You never know.”
Some doctor at Coney Island Hospital blurted these meaningless words at me. Advised me how this time around, this attempt to take her life was most likely, going to be successful. Or not.
Mom really did it this time, that I did realize. Now in a coma. I saved her. Just in time. At least I thought I did. Obviously, to the doc anyway, my “just in time,” was not timely enough. Or was it? I couldn’t tell from his words.
And I was scared. She was hooked to a respirator. Last time she tried to take her own life, mom was home the next day, following a stomach pumping. This felt different. Or didn’t.
It looked bad. And at ten years old I was scared. Shaken. Perhaps this doctor was right. Or not. The system told him she was dead, already. I should just deal with the fact.
I was afraid to be alone. I wasn’t prepared for this. It was then, the feeling was born. The feeling of ice water in my veins. The flow of dread. Helplessness. It pooled in my gut. Got colder. Coldest. Froze me from the inside out. I needed to break free or remain under cold forever. I had a choice. Believe in the worthless words from an uncaring doctor. Or fight. For her. For another. For the others who also heard the same careless words.
I stood. Looked straight at the doctor, in the eyes, and said -“she will make it.”
He didn’t know what he was talking about. He didn’t understand the fight in her. Frankly, he could care less. I could tell. She was a number. Job security. A check mark in a box. I was thinking he was going to pick up a Quarter Pounder & a Shamrock Shake on the way home and eat in front of some late night TV show circa 1974. Perhaps the late, late, late show on CBS. And the next day his routine will start over again. Another day of dispassion, lack of empathy. But at least he would get paid. Because that’s what it was about, wasn’t it?
I found a way to warm, melt the ice that night in March, 1974. I spoke my mind. I provided information the doctor wouldn’t/couldn’t know, I stood my ground. I turned fear into strength. I re-focused. Away from the cold and towards the heat. Just long enough to focus again on what was important. Her life. Her survival. Not my fear.
He turned. Walked. He adequately delivered his line. To keep his job.
Many of the people you deal with daily. Your boss, your spouse, friends, YOU. All believe you’ll buckle under – allow the system to overwhelm. Until you feel nothing. Until you’re spiritually broken. Just working to pay the bills. No waves. Afraid to stand for a higher calling. For others. Scared to make things better. Not bothering to try. Because it could mean danger to you and yours. And when you stand, sometimes you’ll fall under the weight of the decision; the consequence will overwhelm you. Until you re-focus on why you made the gutsy decision in the first place. But you’ll need to feel it first. It’s just the way it is.
The ice water.
1). First understand: There’s a switch inside your brain. Maybe deeper than that. A beacon, a light, buried under the ice. Takes a lot to turn it on – the switch to warmth comes from faith and fight. A passion for what you believe, because you know it’s the right thing. For others.
You are privileged. Many never have the guts to stand and fight. Because they can’t stand. Because they’ve lost the faith in their strength. They allow the ice to cover them, sink them. They won’t speak their mind or take action even though they know it’s the right thing to do. They’ll just document and report. They convince themselves with lame self-righteousness, how they’re good people. But they’re not. They’re spineless, nameless cogs in wheels of bureaucracy. They lie to themselves. They lie for others. Don’t sell your soul. Because under the ice you’ll be dead.
2). Be selfless. Through selfless acts, following a passion with others in mind, you will indeed win. They’ll be battles, resistance in the short run. On occasion, a Goliath, a monster will attempt to crush you. The system lives to break you. Temporarily, you’re down but you’re not out because your focus is on stirring up change,for the better of others. In turn, good things will happen for you.
3). Realize it’s all a test. Almost every time you take a stand, your resolve is going to be tested. You’ll feel sick inside. You’ll doubt your past actions. You’ll regret the decisions. Because the system feels comfortable once you’re in it. It fools you. It makes you think it’s good to be dead. It wants you back. It wants you to surrender.
4). The system wants you to fail. It doesn’t want you to save, watch credit, live below your means. The American system entices you to overspend, consume. We are now all paying for those actions.
I don’t regularly attend church. Today I did. Up on a screen, above the Pastor, I read these words. I found a pen. Wrote them down.
“Jesus sees a man unafraid to push the accepted limits in order to bring about needed change.”
For some reason I needed those words, today. I closed my eyes. I could feel the ice melting again.
Mom was alive again.
She made it.
So will I.
Because I believe.
And will always push the limits.