Saturday, March 13, 2010

Heroism... and I don't mean the shaman-type

A guild member of mine sent this short story he wrote to me via Facebook today, he asked that I share it, and I certainly thought it was worth sharing.

It isn't at all WoW-Related, but it is certainly food for thought and recognizes some types of "heroism" that folks may not always think of.

I was sitting at home minding my own business. Up a little later than I should have been, playing a computer game. All in all it was a pretty decent night. The dogs had all been out for the last time, I had just polished off a bowl of sugar smacks, and was content that the cereal was the last bit of business I needed to take care of for the day. So I decided I would finish up what I was doing in the game, afterall I was playing online and had 4 other people playing with me, didn't want to bail out on them. Besides what was another 15 minutes going to matter. Yep...pretty decent night. After the year I've had I'll take all of them I can get. So I continued my game, tummy tum satisfied, and content that it was too late at night for anything to go wrong, another day whooped.
Denise came into the room and yelled to me. I couldn't make out what she said because of the sweet sounds of "Voodoo" blaring through my headphones blocked most of it out. So I slid them back on my head, a bit annoyed at having one of my favorite songs interrupted and asked in a mildly sarcastic tone "Can't you see I'm busy? What now?" Ignoring the jest she told me we need to go...NOW! Before I could ask why she said one more word, Jen. Jennifer is one of her best friends, hell she was one of her bridesmaids. She is also going through a pretty ugly divorce. I haven't known Jen very long myself, met her at the wedding, maybe answered the phone once or twice when she's called, but until the last few weeks I wouldn't have counted her as a friend. Things happen quickly though, maybe it's because I had a lot of the same problems when I got divorced, maybe I'm a sucker for the damsel in distress, maybe it's because she brought me a six pack for the superbowl, whatever the reason we've become quite good friends over the last month or two. I've gotten to know her well enough to know that she's far too independant to ask for help on a whim, so whatever was happening on the other side of that phone must have been important.
Without a word I jumped up from my computer chair, like a jackrabbit...or a ninja... a ninja jackrabbit. Hell yeah. Two steps later I was nearly pulled off my feet as the cord to my headphones wrapped around my neck got the better of me. So this is how it was all going to end? At least I had clean underwear on. I proved to be too much for the headphone monster though, as I pulled my tower from it's stand and the cord came unplugged, tagging me in the neck. I told Denise I didn't need to diet, had I listened to her I may not have had enough inertia to pull off that whole manuever. So we ran outside to the car, I considered doing a Bo Duke slide across the hood but thought better of it. Perhaps I should rethink that diet. On the way to Jen's house Denise filled me in. Jen's husband was drunk, had her trapped in her bedroom, and was cussing and threatoning her. Business was getting ready to pick up. So I stood on the gas, I may not be able to do the hood slide but Mr. Duke ain't got nothin on me on the freeway. We got to Jen's a lot faster than we legally should have, I locked the brakes up as I hit the driveway still doing 30, and jumped out the door while throwing my glasses somewhere in the back seat. I completely outsmarted the seat belt, taking it off when we got to her neighborhood and i had slowed down to a sane speed. That's right Mr. seatbelt, not today. You and your friend headphone cable are going to have to wait if you want me. At that moment I got the best news I could have asked for. Jen was waiting at the door for us, alone and safe. Of course the whole night couldn't stay that easy. It didn't take long and her drunken husband decided to make an appearance. There was some yelling, cussing, threatoning, everything that you would expect from me...he said some things too. In the end I never could quite bait him into attacking, but my goal was achieved so i was happy. Jen and her kids were safe, and he was too focused on me to even remember they were there. Sure I could go into a lot more detail here but that's not what this is about.
The next day word about the events the night before got around as you would expect. I know I posted my version of the story on facebook. Largest social network in the world and it didn't reach nearly as many people as the women gossip channels though. Very quickly a lot of people knew, and I got tons of emails, phonecalls, text messages, all these fancy new fangled things, telling me how great I am for stepping in like I did. At first it was great. Who doesn't like a little praise for a job well done? So I did what any reasonable person would do. I sat down and began writing a proposal to send to Washington to have Mount Rushmoore altered to showcase Thor, Hercules, myself, and of course Bill Nye the Science guy...that guy is a badass. About halfway through the proposal I was interrupted by another text. Adoring fans can be such a pain in the ass. This one said that I was a hero for stepping in like that. Wow...a hero? For nothing more than going to her house and standing in between two people? This got me thinking...and a little upset. Why is it so damn rare for a person to do the right thing that a simple act like this could be called heroic? All I did was stand in front of her being all big and ugly, hell that comes naturally to me. I've made quite a hobby out of screwing with drunks. Spooking some drunk at a bar that's walking around acting like a badass is my favorite past time, so why would this be any different? Then I realized, it's not. I did nothing special, certainly not heroic. Sure this was more emotional, more personal, but the end result was the same. I intimidated a drunk. Scared him into sulking back to his room and hiding the rest of the night. In all honesty it's something that should have gone unnoticed. People should be expected to step in and do the right thing. Then again most of the time people are put into a situation where they have the option to do the right thing or not.
So i guess that praise is warranted here. And yes, even the title of Hero. Afterall, it's not often that someone goes so far above and beyond what you can consider reasonable for someone else. To show so much courage and compassion. To act with such fierce loyalty and love. To have the fortitude and strength to endure. This is why I'm writing this. I want everyone to know what I think it takes to be a hero. I believe that after reading this you might realize that there are a lot more of them around us than we take the time to see.

I just recently met Jennifer. Until a few weeks ago I wouldn't have even counted her as a friend. In that time I've gotten to know a woman that is under constant attack whenever she's at home from an abusive husband. A woman that is being intimidated and pushed around on a daily basis. One that I can only imagine is terrified at what her future will bring for both her and her kids. I've also met a woman who will not break...not back down...not give up. She's not doing it for herself, but for her kids. I don't have the courage to take on all that she has...not even close. Sure I can stand up and scare someone, but there's no way I could withstand what she does every day. She's in a position where she can't even fight back. Her only option would be to run, but she won't. She's going to stand face to face with the devil and not give an inch. Jennifer, you are a hero to me. I hope that before this is over there is something I can do to help lighten your load. I also hope that if I'm ever put into a situation where it is needed that I'm able to learn from you, and show a fraction of the courage that I see in you.

Amy Anderson was one of my high school english teachers. I never kept in touch with her. We went fifteen years without speaking in any form. In fact we don't talk often now, an occasional comment on facebook, and before this started maybe 2 emails in the past year. You know the kind, hey remember me? Yeah? Ok talk to you again in another 15 years. After all of this happened I decided it would be a good idea to write down the events of the night in case it could be used in court later. I wanted it to be well written and professional sounding, then I remembered I had an english teacher on my facebook friend list. Bingo. I asked her if she would proofread a short letter for me and she agreed. This is the point where she amazed me. She took the story to heart, genuinely concerned about this woman and her kids from the letter. Most people would try to avoid getting involved for their best friend, but Amy opened her heart up to a complete stranger. She's taken the time to talk with me, and help me deal with the situation, and I'm little more than a stranger to her. You are a hero to me Amy. One of these days I hope to be able to repay you for the support you've given me when you had no reason at all to get involved. Most of all thank you for the prayers. I know I told you I didn't need any for myself, to use them all up on Jen and her family, but I also know you didn't listen. Thank you for your time, your prayers, and your compassion.

I consider myself a pretty loyal person. I stick by my friends and family, and it takes a lot to scare me off. Until recently I believed myself to be one of the most loyal people you could meet, but my wife, Denise, has showed me that I have a long ways to go. She is there for Jen no matter what. There's been a lot of things that Jen has done that Denise and I disagree with. Where we vary though is I get pissed off about it, and refuse to be nice about something I don't agree with. Denise on the other hand is willing to put her own feelings to the side just to be there for Jen to lean on. If you ever find yourself in trouble and need someone you can count on, hope that you have Denise for a friend and not me. I've gotten yelled at several times myself for saying something bad about Jen, or claiming that maybe she causes some problems for herself. It's not that Denise doesn't agree with me, it's that to her it doesn't matter. If her friend needs her then she's going to be there, standing at her side ready to protect, comfort, and love her. Denise, I love you, and you have shown me that I'm never going to be alone. You are a hero to me. It was easy for me to stand up and defend Jen that night. Looking all big and ugly comes naturally to me. The way you put yourself into the situation, sitting at her side hugging her while everything was falling down around her is amazing to me. I don't deserve to have a friend like you, thank you for sharing your life with me.

Caitlinn is Jennifers oldest daughter. She's 14...I think..about that anyways. This young lady has already been through more than most of us will ever see in our lives. She's old enough to begin to understand how sever the abuse that her mom endures is. She is from a previous marriage so her stepdad has always treated her like a second class citizen in what is supposed to be her home. You can only imagine how screwed up she is because of all of this. Except, she isn't. She's exceptionally smart, funny, and a joy to be around. She has been hit with the worst life has to offer and she's walked through it all without a scratch. How is it even possible for someone so young to have so much strength? She is her moms most faithful companion through all of this. Always there to help her mom cope, to comfort her, and to spend time with her. Not only facing her own problems through all of this, but willing and able to help take on her moms, and she does it all with a smile and a joke. That type of undaunting spirit is truly unique in this world, and it's why Caitlinn, you are a hero to me. I pray I never have to withstand as much as you do, but if I do I hope to follow your example.

So yes, praise is warranted here. Just not for me. I did nothing special. These women I've told you about have each done far more than I could ever hope to. I'm in the company of giants...of heroes. So tonight say a prayer for them, raise a glass to them, however you would salute a hero. I think I'll do both just to be sure. It's not often that someone goes so far above and beyond what you can consider reasonable for someone else. To show so much courage and compassion. To act with such fierce loyalty and love. To have the fortitude and strength to endure. This is why I'm writing this. I want everyone to know what I think it takes to be a hero, and I want the heros in my life to know that I am blessed for having them.

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