A Passage About The Fight

Soon the air will begin to cool. Soon enough, the trees will take on a new shade of color. Autumn will arrive and the air will smell from fallen leaves and fireplaces from nearby homes.
I can dig it . . .
I love it this way, not too hot and not too cold. I love the world during the in-between seasons. I see the summer and winter as the ultimate inhale and exhale of Mother Nature. Spring and fall are the pauses between breaths. The Earth will undergo change, which I identify as the foreshadowing moment of a new and up and coming chapter.

As I write to you, I am waiting for the sun to appear. I am thinking about the journey I choose and the ones you choose. Not all of our choices are easy nor is the fight we take a simple thing. And be mindful, there is a fight going on. There always is.

I came across this thought of mine, which I held onto because I wanted to remember the emotion I felt in times when I considered the option of quitting.
But I can’t quit.
I have too much invested now. Besides, I cannot look away either. I’ve seen too much. I know the truth and looking away would only make me a liar.

Right now there is a family mourning the anniversary which marks the loss of their son. I knew him but I cannot say I knew him very well.
I can only say I met him. I experienced a few things with him.
He was a good kid . . .
And yes, he was just a kid, and yes, he was just a kid trying to outrun himself. But he never learned the one truest thing; no matter where you go, there you are. There is no avoiding this
There is no hiding and there is no running away.
This is hard when anguish slips in. This is hard when all roads lead back to rejection. This is hard when the thoughts in your head are too loud and drown the voices of everyone good and everything loving.

He used to work hospitals with me, back when I was deployed to emergency rooms.

Rather than face and recover, the kid pushed the needle in and the following thoughts were written in honor of him:

This is called four parts for you:


A grunt, —it’s a low level or low ranking soldier.
They are the bottom of the bottom, the humble, and the street-level foot soldier, or the so-called unskilled laborer; however, although low in rank, the grunt is an important and integral part of the work force.

I am writing this to you, wherever you are.

You and me, we may come from different places and have different history but we’ve chewed on the same dirt.

That’s for sure

We’ve tasted some of the same things. We’ve seen a lot. Sometimes, I think maybe we’ve seen too much and we forget how to process the math in our head.

We forget how to subtract ourselves when necessary.
Too often, we add ourselves to things which would otherwise divide us our own faults that seem to multiply beyond our control.

See, I think people misunderstand our position.

No, we are not high in rank. We are at ground level. We are the in the trenches with the blood and guts. We are at the front lines and those who give command don’t always realize the aftermath of our job. They never see the hospitals or the emergency room visits or the ones that are lifeless and tied to a machine. But we do

I wonder though. . .

The help you offered to others; was that advice for them or was it just advice for yourself and you wished you could have followed it?

See, one thing about being a grunt is the pain we endure. It’s the battle scars we have; it’s the soreness of heart and the push to continue regardless to how we feel.

So we grunt. We grumble and we growl. We take it as if we were trying to move something that would otherwise be too heavy (or unmovable.)
And the generals we serve or the commanders that be, they never know how or if we suffer.

They only know who and what we are.

The grunts . . .


You had it all on the cap . . .

That means you know what to do (you just couldn’t apply it to yourself) so you tried to help others remove the pain that you could never get rid of.

I get that.
I do the same thing
Maybe if you help them . . .
Maybe it would help you too.

It’s one thing to know pain but it’s another to feel it. You know what’s real and what isn’t. You know what to do, —it’s just gets hard to do it is all and somehow, in spite of your best efforts, the old feelings never seemed to go away.

And you fall back sometimes.
You go back to old habits.
You fall back to default settings.
The weight gets too heavy (Am I right?) and you shove something in just so you can shove off and create some space for a while.
I get that

Like I said, you had it all on the cap . . .

But I wonder.
Did you ever think to reach out? I mean, here we are, fighting back in the times of an epidemic, and telling people to reach out so they know they’re not alone.
You and me are on the front lines in hospitals, helping others with overdose after overdose.

We know the outcome. We know the rules of this game and we know this is not a game that can be won.

One shot, and that’s all it takes.

and it’s over . . .

I am sitting here, mostly as a stranger, but you are familiar to me because of brief experience we shared together.

We talked during one of the breaks in ethics training.
And now here it is, I learn about another one fallen to something that we set out to fight against.

I really wish I could have known you better . . .
Hell, I’m sorry I won’t ever get the chance to


And they tell you “Don’t take it home with you.”

They tell you “Don’t take it personally.”

They’ll tell you, “This is what happens with the lifestyle,” and that we need to be careful not to internalize the exterior damage we see.
Positive detachment, they say

But how? (in my case)

We know what we see

We understand the grunt life

We know the working parts of the machine and we know what happens if our job fails. We know all about the aftermath. We know about the pain and we know what to expect and what not to expect.

Mostly, we know a lot of what happens in this life is truly unexpected (like what happened to you, for example)

In order to get somebody to feel better, you need to show them how.
And that’s where the pain seeps in.

That’s why it hurts. It hurts because we relate. It hurts because we feel like “They” feel, which is why we try so hard to take their pain away.
 It’s because we understand ( at least to some degree.)

But who helps us?
What about us grunts?
What about the feelings we endure?
What about the pain we recognize in others that reminds us of the pain we feel ourselves?

Who notices?

Who sees?


And if we fall, it’s always the same thing too.

Someone will say, “I can’t believe he went out like that.”

“How could he do that to himself when he knows what the result is?”

And here I am, a man you only met once with a tear in my eye, weeping for you, a man I only met one time.

crazy . . .


I remember each facility I lived in. And I remember the counselors that helped me. Each time I went to inpatient, there was always a story about a recent counselor who forgot where he came from.

I remember who they were and I can still see their faces in my head. I can recall the look in their eyes—so deflated, so beaten, and so humbled.

Relapse happens, especially in our game.

And you look around and you think to yourself, “That guy has it all down.” Meanwhile, that guy has secrets too.

Everyone has pain just like you and me. Everyone hurts, everyone lies, and everyone tries to overcome. We all compensate somehow.

But this is when the downfall kicks in

The depression is too much when this kind of failure comes to light. That must have been where you were yesterday. This must have been what you went through before the plunger moved in and the life you took is the same life that saved so many others.


I really wish I could have seen you before you left
Maybe then I could have thanked you for inspiring me

You didn’t know that did ya?
Maybe then you would have known you’re more valuable than you think.

Or better . . .
Maybe then you would have dropped the rig and reached out for help.

I’m on call now.
Best be sure that if I am deployed, I’m going to consider your story for strength and hope to stop someone else from going out the same way you did.

Sleep well, specialist.

You will never be forgotten

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