June 22, 2006. AM
I’m like any other kid. It’s the day after the last day of school. 7th grade is over. High on brownies (no, not those brownies) and Gatorade, I’m running around my kitchen like a madman. My brother’s laughter fills the room as I bounce from wall to wall like the Energizer bunny. I’m invincible.
I need to go bigger. I’m an 8th grader now, right? 8th grade is “go big or go home” territory.
My veins are more sugar than blood. Little do they know, they’re in for a shock.
I see a brilliant idea. I’m going to run into the back door and flop. There’s nothing like faking an injury, right?
(maybe I was a weird kid, I dunno)
So I do it. I launch myself from the dining room right into that back door at full speed, and…..
Her name is Jenna. She has her blonde hair in a bun and she keeps talking about the Yankees even though I can tell she doesn’t care about them. But she cares that I care. Why does she care so much that I care?
His name is Michael. He talks like someone has a shock collar on him and if he takes a breath, he’s going to get a jolt. Jenna smiles at me and asks me about Derek Jeter. Michael frowns and speaks softly so I can’t hear him. I can hear him.
My Father arrives first. He tells me my brother is at my friend’s house trying to process it all. Jenna tells me to keep still. He tells me my sister is at my neighbor’s trying to process it all. Jenna tells me to keep still. He tells me I’m going in for surgery. Jenna tells me to keep still. He tells me everything is going to be okay. Jenna tells me to keep still.
Jenna makes me laugh enough where I forget where I am. It’s just like I’m back at school, right? All I have to do is do what I’m told, and I’ll be okay. Make a fist, got it. Don’t panic, easy as pie. Keep talking about the Yankees until they finish with whatever medical mumbo jumbo they’re doing. I can do that!
I’m invincible, remember?
Jenna tells me I did great. I’m doing great. Everything’s great. My wrist doesn’t even hurt! I don’t understand why my Father keeps looking at me like I’m a ticking time bomb, or why Jenna’s eyes are a worried kind I’ve never seen before. I don’t know why everyone’s rushing around.
Well, I do know why, but I was told not to think about it. So I don’t think about it. I’m a 13-year-old kid. There are better things to think about than white walls sprayed red to the point you’d guess it was a poorly designed Halloween prank. The carpet looking like a Jackson Pollock painting but he ran out of every color except for red. My brother, running to the phone and crying for help. My sister, looking into the room then bursting out the door for adults. Me, running to the sink. Me, finding anything that could cover the damage. Me, praying for the first time in my life. Me, hearing the words “it’s his artery.”
There are better things to think about.
June 22, PM
My parents are fighting again. I think it’s about what they want for dinner, but I’m not entirely sure. My dinner date is an IV stand, and she really digs my skin. There’s a hard cast on my arm. Half of me is thinking about who I want to sign it. Half of me is wondering if they accidentally slipped a brick under it. Michael told me after I finished that everything was okay, but my wrist would feel stiff for a while. All I heard was that everything was okay.
I’m in a hospital bed thinking about everything and nothing at once. Wondering how stupid I am. Wondering who’s pitching for the Yankees tonight.
July 22, PM
My parents are fighting again. I’m in a bed thinking about everything and nothing at once. Wondering how stupid I am. Wondering who’s pitching for the Yankees tonight. My cast received three signatures.
And though nervous and scared, I lingered on
Between June 22, 2006, and June 22, 2017, there’s been a series of unpredictable events. A divorce, countless realizations, numerous changes in personality, but one thing remained. A scar.
In the past, I’ve used the scar to remind me that I’m here. June 22nd has always been a meaningful day to me. It’s meant to me that I am here and I must be here for a reason, right? I eventually found out that I was approximately two minutes away from bleeding out. A wrong turn here or there in the surgery and I was gone. A wrong number dial by my brother and I was gone. A bit of traffic and I was gone. I would not be typing this today.
But I’m here. So there has to be a grand meaning, right? Every year I’ve thought so. I’ve believed I have this great purpose. I have to do amazing things. Last year was ten years from the day, and I wrote about the significant meanings the day had to me.
This year I feel different. This year I understand believing that making June 22, 2006 the biggest day of my life would be immortalizing an accident. Immortalizing something that led me to understand everything that could be wrong.
While my parents were fighting, I was alone. Nobody wanted to hang out with the kid who couldn’t use his right arm. No 13-year-old wished to spend time with the kid who was having flashbacks to bloody scenes. I learned about isolation, loneliness, and depression in one summer. I became familiar with PTSD. Anxiety became my best friend.
Some days they all seem like strangers to me. Some days they come back to visit. But I’ll always know it started with a crash into a door, a slit of a wrist, and an artery split.
I have been through plenty more in my life, but I am still standing. Not because of some tremendous overcoming of a traumatic event. Not because I latched onto a day and remembered I’ve survived worse. Not because I prayed.
I am still standing because I know who I am. I know what I am capable of. I have tattoos that immortalize what I wish to immortalize. I chose to have someone cut me open and paint.
Whenever I tell anyone what happened, they say “Thank God” you’re alright. If there is a God, I have many questions. I won’t go into details, but so much has happened since that day that I can’t help but question what his angle is. But that’s not the point.
And if there’s a god
Do I make him proud?
Put a smile on her face?
And if you’re with god
Am I making you proud
By waking up each day?
I am here today because I have gotten myself here today. I have taken every obstacle and vaulted over. I have faced every adversity thrown my way and kept moving forward. Some days I wish Michael would have made a mistake. That’s okay. I’ve learned that’s okay. What matters most is I am here. What matters most is I am my own person. I feel alive when I write. I feel alive when I am part of a moment, a memory. I feel alive when I look at the way someone’s face lights up when they talk about their passions. I feel alive when I make someone feel good about themselves.
There are so many sad people out there. So many people that have gone through so many things. So many worse things than I have gone through. That understand abuse. Understand scars. Understand that not all parents are inherently golden. Understand how heavy the weight of being anything at all is.
Yet every day I wake up and know we’re all out here fighting. We’re all out here trying to make the most of what we have. Trying to enjoy what we have. There will be struggles. There will be pains. There will be isolation and loneliness. There won’t always be a Michael around to stitch us back together. But the lesson I understand this year is that we are our own Gods. We decide where we go next. It’s time we give ourselves credit for waking up each day. It’s time to give ourselves credit for what we do.
This scar means little to me. What matters is that I do the best I can to be a person I’m proud of being.
June 22, 2017.
Last night I felt more isolated than ever. This morning I get ready to edit an article. I think about everything I have and everything I don’t have. I think about everything and nothing at once. There is so much left to see. There is so much left to do. There are so many people left to mean something to. Each day is just another chance I give myself. I hope I make something of it. At the very least, I know I am original. I am my own person. Maybe not everyone likes that, but it’s the least I could do for myself. Some days I’m uncomfortable in my own skin, but in the end I am proud of who I am. I am proud to share this with you today.
there is someone out there just like me probably keeping to themselves
contact me on Twitter @ brandonco4 or through email at brcohen 04 at gmail dot com if you’d like to discuss anything any time. You can read my creative writing on Instagram @ bco04 or on here Bco…..thank you for reading.