Education, Storytelling, Thoughts

The Survivor

survivor [səˈvaɪvə]
1. a person or thing that survives

I have survived many things. You could say my first survival story is my birth. With my birth father killed in a car accident and no way to care for me, my birth mother could have easily ended it there. Instead she braved through her pregnancy to give me up for adoption. If I ever meet her, I will let her know she’s a saint.

I survived being an outcast and a nerd in elementary school. I should say my confidence survived because without those rough years of self doubt I doubt I’d be the man I am today.

I survived not being a poor student. I now know that I just wasn’t meant for the type of academics available in my youth. Back then there was little patience to figure out that I could be interested in all those subjects if they were taught a certain way. A few teachers did along the way and I’m grateful for that.

I survived my wreckless early adulthood. Lots of poor decisions and careless behavior and I’m still amazed this day that I have all my limbs. Unfortunately, I suffered other feats of survival in this period. Two best friends were taken from me too suddenly. Both were taken too soon as well. 21 and 23. Later, another high school buddy was taken from us but it had been years since we spoke and honestly by then I was numb.

When I decided to change my ways and lead a more fruitful life by settling down and get a college degree, mother nature would test my survival skills. I stood in the foyer of my home in Chalmette, LA that day – August 27th, 2005 to be exact – and thought very surely that this will be the last time I would see this place. I wish I could say I was wrong, that like every other hurricane I came back a few days later to bitch about having to go out of town and disrupt my life. No, instead I never returned until a month or more later. Our home took 20~ feet of water and after the water drained away another hurricane gave it a refill. Katrina and Rita took everything I owned but thanks to my earlier tales of survival I was certain they didn’t take everything I had.

I grew up a little rebellious and free spirited, maybe it’s due to my astrological sign but I don’t follow that stuff. Because of this fact I was never the best son or brother to my family, the lucky ones who adopted me. When Katrina and Rita took all my belongings, what stood was my family. I loved my family relentlessly, but this was a sign that I hadn’t always proved it. I was 24/25 at the time and was ecstatic when I realized I had plenty of time to make up for it. Not to mention, I figured Katrina and Rita had purged all my bad karma. Wouldn’t have you?

I lived the next 5 years proud of all the dots I connected backwards. Calling them “events of survival”: Birth, youth awkwardness, bad grades, wreckless 20s, natural disaster. I was also doing my best to be a good son and brother. My brother, Randy, and I were becoming especially close. My mother and I became best friends. Something I never knew would happen and I was relieved the day came.

I wish I could say this is where my tale of survival ends. How making it through all of those moments gives you character and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. While all of this is true, the harsher truth is that life is a vicious cycle. Ups and downs. But none of the other survival events could have prepared me for 5/5/10.

When your dad calls you early in the morning, your heart always jumps because it isn’t normal. This has happened constantly since cellphones and I never got used to it. Usually it resulted in a “oh, I didn’t think you’d be sleeping” apology with some nonsense convo to releive your blood pressure. But that morning, what my dad would say would begin my current state of survival. “Hey dad, what’s up?”

Randy died in a car accident last night.

Those are the kinda words you have to survive every morning. Unfortunately, I can’t say how I will survive this one. It’s been 16 months and I don’t see the end in sight. All I can do is rely on my instincts and survive. Because after my parents are called upon to the kingdom in the sky, I will be the survivor.


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