Something an old friend posted on Facebook. My thoughts below.
A letter to me in the past (read if you want):
Dear Derek, you’re only 14 as of right now, but your life and everything you once knew is going to shift seismically. I wish you could actually read this because I know that we don’t like surprises and we like to be on top of everything, but you will be sitting in the cafeteria of Alton Middle School one Wednesday afternoon, eating lunch with some of your childhood friends and you will receive a letter from the principal that started at all. This letter will read “go to Riverbender after school.” And you will instantly know that something is off because you only went to Riverbender on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays because you have youth group at church on Wednesday’s. All day you’re going to wonder what is happening, and deep down, you don’t want to admit it, but you know that it has to do with your father. The rest of the day will go by as usual you will go to the riverbender your mother will pick you up and then you will instantly question her about what is happening. That’s when she says a sentence that will make you worry. “your dad woke up this morning he couldn’t feel his legs.” As of right now, there’s not much information from anybody, so you’re worried but you’re not too worried because your dad is the strongest man that you have ever known and will ever know. However, in about a week and a half you’ll find out that your dad has been diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer and he will never walk again and he will be lucky to have a longer lifespan. Your mom and your siblings are going to sugarcoat it, which is why I want you to know all this now, because they will tell you everything you want to hear regardless of the truth. But please please please don’t blame them, they are just trying to keep these negative thoughts at bay, and they want you to be hopeful because they aren’t as hopeful and optimistic as the 14-year-old kid. Over the course of the next year you are going to watch as your dad gets worse and worse and you are going to watch the strongest man that you will ever know become weaker and weaker. It’s going to completely destroy you, and you will avoid seeing him at all costs because of how bad it hurts to see him in that state. Your father will get moved into a nursing home where you will spend your 15th birthday because he is immobile. Fast forward to January 7, 2016 you were going to receive a call from your friends mom after your own mother has been blowing you up telling you to go to the nursing home. That’s when your friends mom says a group of words that echo to this day. “I don’t think your dad has much longer.” You heard the truth, you finally heard the truth it was so so so painful because everyone around you told you he was getting better. Four days later on January 11, 2016 you’re gonna watch your father take his last breath surrounded by his family including you. It’s not something that a 15-year-old should see, however you should be grateful that you were there. After this you don’t know what to do or how to handle it, so you begin smoking weed with your friends. It’ll start out slow and it’s just some fun that you’re having, but eventually it will become more than just fun. You will begin to rely on weed to take away the pain and to make you forget and overtime as that tolerance builds up the pain dissipates less and less. So, what is one to do when the comfort goes away? You’ll begin to experiment with other mind altering drugs. You will begin to experiment with LSD. You will try it once, and you will really like it. I mean, reaaaallly like it. You will use this drug at work, school, anywhere that you feel that you should be numbed and sedated. It made you feel like a kid again, whenever your dad was still around. It made you laugh, it made you see funny things, but most importantly, it numbed the pain caused by your fathers demise. Eventually you will fry your psyche and you will never be the same again. You will become a shell of what you once were. You will have no more personality you will have to put on a mask and force your personality so people don’t think you hate them and people don’t ask you “what’s wrong?” all the time. When in reality, nothing is wrong you just have no soul anymore. But, they don’t know that and they just wouldn’t understand it so it’s better to put on the mask and it’s better to put on your personality to avoid all of the questioning and talking about your feelings. And whenever you feel like you’ve reached a point where you’re doing way too much acid you’re finally starting to make a good change for yourself, you need will then discover nitrous oxide. You discover what dentist use to sedate their patients. The thing that makes everybody loopy afterwards. And just like weed and LSD, you will fall in love. You will crush so many canisters and fry your psyche even worse than what the LSD did. You thought you were a shell from the acid? Just wait until you give up the whippets. Because of your ignorance and your refusal to better yourself, you will blame others and you will blame the drugs. You will then get into a couple relationships out of high school, the second one being with someone you’ve loved since you were 13. But, because you just aren’t ready to love someone else because you’re incapable of loving yourself, you will be unfaithful and a deceptive piece of shit. You will hurt these girls that didn’t deserve the treatment that they received, but it’s just the drugs right? You’re not this way because you mean to be, you were just dealt a shitty hand. Well I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. It is all you and it always has been you, you were just looking for excuses to be a not so great human being to the people that love you the most. You will push away the love of your life, and you will make her never wanna see you again, talk to you again, even except your friend request on Facebook. And I’m here to tell you right now so you know to take accountability, this is all your fault and no one else’s. However, just because it’s your fault doesn’t mean you can’t forgive yourself that is also what I’m here to tell you. Forgive yourself of your transgressions and work towards being a better son and a better man. After reading all of this you’re probably thinking “wow, I don’t deserve forgiveness.” But that’s the exact mindset that you need to change if you want any sort of connection in life. You are going to wonder what is wrong with you all the time. You were going to have suicidal thoughts and think about what this world would be like without you in it constantly. You will look down at a knife on numerous occasions and ponder what to do with that knife. But you will always put the knife down because if you received anything from your father it’s your strength and determination to fight another day. I’m here to tell you, my past self, to put the knife down, put the drugs down, and focus on your self and focus on love. You didn’t deserve anything that has happened to you and I’m sorry that this is all about to happen to you in the span of a couple years. But you know what? You are a fucking [last name redeacted]. You have the best mom, the best siblings, the best family, and the best friends to help you keep going and I’m here to help you realize that. These are the people that are here for you and these are the people that are going to help you keep going so please for the love of God, don’t be afraid to reach out and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Trust me, you don’t want to push these people away. They love you. And I want you to know that, because you will feel like no one loves you on multiple occasions. But all in all, I’m mostly here to tell you that I love you. Because the main thing to come out of all of this was self-hatred and trust me, you will absolutely hate the person that you will become. However, just like your life seismically changed years prior your life is going to seismically change once again. You are going to love yourself. You’re gonna make the right decisions in the right calls. You’re gonna let go of all the drugs you’re gonna put the knife down you’re gonna realize that these people love you and you’re gonna realize most importantly, you love yourself. I mainly just want you to know that loving yourself and never giving up on yourself is going to be the most important thing in your growth. Never lose faith, Derek. Love yourself, Derek. Never give up hope, Derek. I love you, Derek.
I was working at the Community Center he attended after school at the time. He was a fairly… well… he was a handful at times. But I could also tell he was a good kid. I knew him when his dad died. He didn’t seem to get any more… of a handful during that time. It’s sad to think of what he was going through. And it’s sadder still to think of all the joking and laughter and playing games and having fun… and it was all just covering up a deep sadness. I hope we did more for him than help him escape his turmoil for a few hours. I pray that he does better.
P.S. – You never know. So go for it.