I hope you can hear this writing for the lesson that I’m telling you that I have learned in the past thirty-some hours, and not that I’m tooting my horn.
[Too Tired to Blow.]
Yesterday I was contacted by a former student around 1:00 pm while I was at work. He asked if anything ever happened to him if I would be willing to take care of his pet snake (I also own a ball python). That’s all it said. This kind of language doesn’t sound right for the typical 24 year old, but coming from him and knowing something of his past; he was planning on being dead in a short while.
I told him “no” that the snake was his responsibility. He freaked out , telling me that I’m ruining everything and then proceeded to explain how he wanted to put a bullet in his face. He didn’t have a phone so I couldn’t talk with him directly. The next few hours was phone calls to cops and counselors while at the same time attempting to keep contact with him and keep him talking.
I texted my girlfriend, “***** is trying to kill himself.” Her response. “I’m leaving work, find him and we will go get him.” He was an hour and a half drive. Snow, was my rock last night.
My mother let me borrow her smart phone (I am too stubborn to own one) so I could keep in touch during the drive. We lost contact with him at 5:30 we found him at six thirty, in the cold, in a parking lot, a mess, but alive.
Took some convincing, but we got him to the ER and finally at 3:30a.m. they admitted him to a psychiatric facility.
Here’s what I knew, when you are different and you are young, it feels horrible to be discriminated against, but at least you feel you have the right to be angry about it. What feels equally as horrible is to be tolerated, and I am referring to the Christian definition of tolerance. I don’t want to start any religious argument, I don’t even have the energy right now (haven’t slept in thirty some hours). Just know that as a young person, if people you respect and care about you merely tolerate you, it’s pretty damn painful.
Here’s what I didn’t realize; the impact that the simplest word and gesture can make to someone. When I got to the hospital to check him in. The hospital had me listed as his next of kin. I made a difference to him because I was “the only one who cared” (his words.) The real truth is I was the only one who didn’t care. I didn’t care that he wasn’t what society deemed normal, it’s wasn’t a good thing and it wasn’t bad, it just was. Apparently in class at some point I had said to my students something along the lines of “It doesn’t matter what you are it matters who you are.” Not horribly profound, but for him it hit home.
I don’t know why he chose to trust me or why he considers me “safe”. Until last night I did not realize the impact that menial things to me, can have on someone else. He is safe for today and I hope that he can find it in himself to stop fighting his demons and just let them go. Too much pain for a young man to go through. He thinks death is the only way to get rid of them.
I did not save his life, I just helped him get through the day. The rest is up to him.