On September 12, 2019, I lost everything. In the aftermath of a brutal assault, I found myself alone, with no money, severely injured in a strange city. The most I could manage was to sit in the curb of a lonely street, with the Sun burning the nape of my neck, wondering,
How did I end up like this?
Either before or after I was robbed, I received news that I would never see a loved one again. Maybe that is why I did not listen to my gut, as the hair on the back of my neck bristled. Maybe that is why I shook away the feeling that I was walking into a trap. Maybe. I simply cannot remember all the details or the order of events.
What I can remember is that as I stumbled on to the curb, my phone rang. A friend, Colin, called me because he was with another college buddy of ours, Sean, and they wanted to reminisce. When they found out what had transpired, the two of them organized to airlift me somewhere I could get the attention I badly needed. As I left the ground, I had trouble gathering my thoughts, but a single idea resonated powerfully throughout my body:
Nothing matters any more.
The wounds have not healed easily. After all, my life did vaporize in front of me. Beyond everything else, I my spirit felt broken by unbearable pain. It’s hard to begin to heal when you can’t feel hope.
The days since then have been, simultaneously, the hardest and the most inspiring I have lived through. Inspiring, because as news of my situation have spread, I have realized how wrong I was to believe my life had ended. In the moments when I thought everything was in free-fall, I felt myself being lifted by a thousand helping hands. I have discovered I have far more friends than I had any right to expect.
Being vulnerable is a strange thing. When you are strong, it’s easy to forget how many small good actions we witness in a given day. As strength fades, it becomes easier to notice these tiny flowers. Throughout these past days, I have received the tremendous gift of a million tiny drops of kindness that people have bestowed upon me one instant at a time. Individually, each drop is meaningless. But the beauty of our world is that these individual acts of kindness, which cost nothing to give, can and do combine over time to generate lakes, rivers and even to carve canyons.
On September 12, 2019, my life as I knew it ended in fire. However, the kindness of my friends and family have given me a chance to rebuild, to regenerate a new life and to forget and forgive the cruelties of life, taking them as lessons upon which to build a life filled with mercy and love. The days are still hard, and there is much pain ahead, but I will grow through it.
For your kindness, you have my infinite gratitude.
Disclaimer: The events described herein have been heavily modified for my privacy. This account should not be construed as a factual telling of the events of September 12th.