Today I Sold My Guns and I Feel Safer For It

sandy-hook-638x458A part of me wanted to google dates of mass shootings and tell the story of where I was when each one happened but if I’m being honest I’ve become desensitized like most Americans. I see the news, I imagine the horror but it no longer shocks me. That is until this weekend. That is until I was on Instagram last night and I saw that one of the people killed just graduated high school. I started to think about my little sisters and cousins that are around that age, that probably go to clubs and parties and I just take for granted that they’ll come home safely. The same way those victims’ families thought they would make it home safely.

When Sandy Hook happened I cried for the first time in a long time over something I saw on the news. I remember being at work driving and they said on the radio that an elementary school was under attack. And then I remember logging on Facebook and seeing the live time updates and seeing this picture of a little girl that was murdered. I remember looking at that picture and thinking, “Why do I feel like my daughter would look just like that?”

Today I was sitting in my bedroom and I looked over at a .32 Smith and Westin I keep on my nightstand. It’s a simple gun, six shoots, it never jams. I keep it on the nightstand at night just in case some criminal and group of ninjas kick down my door and I’m forced to defend myself. It’s been on that nightstand since I moved into this house and I’ve never shot it. Not at the gun range, not in my backyard on New Year’s Eve, not at a person. As I’m watching the news yesterday and I’m hearing about all the murders and all the violence, it hit me. I don’t know anyone that’s been murdered by a gun. .I’ve never had a family member shot. I’ve never been car jacked or shot. I’m more likely to die in a car crash because I’m texting than I am in a mass shooting.

Today I sold my guns because they’re more likely to be used by my future children to kill each other than they are to be used by me to kill an intruder. Today I sold my guns because I don’t go hunting, because I’m not going to be sitting in a restaurant and a man comes in shooting and I decide to be Rambo. Today I sold my guns because I’m tired of hearing about these mass shootings and just talking and writing. I’m tired of letting the media make me believe that at any moment I’m going to get 11 bullets put in my body when it rarely happens. Today I sold my guns because I’m not a gangster, because I don’t want another mans’ blood on my hands. Today I sold my guns because I feel safer with them outside of the house than I do with them inside of the house.

 

 

 

Six Months Ago Today

img_0173It’s been six months since we buried my grandmother and in my mind and heart it feels like it was yesterday. I still live next door and on more days than I can count I come home looking for her to be outside watering the plants or sitting on the porch. I see her so vividly rocking her feet, a hat on her head to shield her from the sun.

The vision usually last a second or two before reality hits me. If I’m being honest, things have not been easy since she’s been gone. With her death a certain peace and tranquility I felt when I found myself getting angry or disappointed is now gone.

There are nights I pray, days I pray, that I can get it back. At times I feel myself slipping from reality and those that love me. I find myself isolated and cold, even in a room full of people. My only outlet, my only relief being my writing.

Are these feelings me just stumbling until I get back to the man I was or are they feelings that will just grow over time and take whatever goodness and sanity I have left? We live in a 15 second world. People will give you a day or two to grieve but that’s all you’re going to get. After that they want you to be normal, to do your job.

Sleep has become a privilege I no longer have access to. At 3:30 this morning I found myself tossing and turning, then I found myself lying on the couch, then I found myself sitting outside. My body weary of drinking, no sleep medication because I have to be at work in a couple hours. So just there, hoping for rain, hoping for sunlight. Hoping for something that would allow me to feel something.

I’m behind schedule. I need to get back to work. Just some random thoughts from a random writer.

Saying Goodbye… For Now

528209_758836848895_1327300862_n

Dear Mama,

I saw you for the last time today on this side. I know that wasn’t you in that coffin, not really, but today I said goodbye to you and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Before the viewing, before the funeral, I was there as soon as the church doors opened. I just needed to talk to you, to see you before everyone else. I needed to be strong for our family and the only way to do that was to get my tears out of the way early.

Tears don’t make you weak, you taught me that.

What makes you weak is not knowing when it’s okay to cry and holding that in. What makes you weak is not putting your faith and strength in God to get you through the tough times. You would have been so proud of us, so proud of the family. We stuck together, stayed with each other most of the day. I even drove half way around the world to be with Kelecia and Alexis tonight. We haven’t hung out like that as adults in forever. I’m not sure we have to be honest with you. It felt good, it felt right.

I find myself coming home looking at the house next door, wondering if you’re looking out the window and then it hits me like a mountain falling on an ant that you’re not there anymore. You knew when I was sad without me having to say a word. You knew when I was broke without me having to say a word. You knew when I needed a hug or just needed a friend.

Everyone probably feels like they have the best grandmother in the world and you can add me to that list. I don’t know if I’m a good man, I believe I am but even when I wasn’t, it was you that held me down and made me understand what I could be.

You’ll never see my children play in the yard or dance at my wedding. You’ll never see me walk across the stage and get that degree. You’ll never… Actually, I’m wrong. You’ll always be watching, always be my guardian Angel. I have so many words, so many stories but in the end, only three word stories matter most. I miss you. I love you. I’ll look out for everyone.

I’ll see you on the other side.

Love Always and Forever,

Mez

2:00am In Houston: The Fears of A Writer

Memories

Memories

I’m at work right now but even if I wasn’t I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep. I got some news today that someone I love has a medical condition, it’s not just that they have cancer but the cancer is spreading. When they told me I had to be strong for them but my heart was breaking inside. I’m over questionnig God, it doesn’t help anything. I’m not the first man to wonder why loving and good people get sick or struggle and the evil prosper.

I had a choice on Sunday morning. I was up all night writing and didn’t really sleep. Part of me wanted to go to the church, needed to go to church. The other part of me just wanted to get drunk. Tha part of me that wanted that drink won. I hated myself as soon as I took the first sip but I needed it because without it I think the voices in my head would never go away.

There’s no doubt I can write. I’ve been doing it my entire life and I’m only getting better at it. I’m actually starting to get paid for it on a consistent basis. A guy came to me with a script idea, he said every other writer he’d spoken to needed six months for “creative” purposes. I told him I could do it in a month because I can. I see the story in my head before I wrote one line, one scene. I’ll be up at 3am talking to these characters like they’re my best friends.

It worries me sometimes. The fact that I’m drinking more and writing more like I need them to go together. In my mind and heart one can’t work without the other. I miss my friends, the ones I did have at least. I’m telling these secrets and fears to readers instead of calling one of them.

There’s so much isolation in ambition. So much dissapointment in success. You want to know what’s ironic? I have no doubt I’ll reach levels as a writer very few men have. I only doubt that I will be around to see it.

~ Demez F. White

Suicide Doesn’t Make You A Coward

A lot of people think suicide makes you weak but the hardest thing in the world is to hurt yourself.

Our bodies, our minds, our spirits are naturally designed to not hurt us. It’s why a person with a gun to their head pulls away at the last minute. It’s why if you’ve ever tried to cut yourself its almost impossible.

So for someone to fight all that off and still kill themselves, how does that make them weak?

Sometimes the voices in our heads, the regrets, the pain is unbearable and all you want is it to stop. So you do what’s necessary.

Suicide isn’t the trait of a coward, it’s just someone that’s tired of fighting the demons.

We judge people without knowing their struggle. Without knowing how much they fought the pain and regret and fear.

Pray for their souls and know that if they made the ultimate decision to take their life, they must have felt there was no other choice.

~ Demez F. White

20140623-032648.jpg

Everyone Dies But Not Everyone Lives

If I told you, you were going to die in a month, would you be satisfied with the life you’ve lived?

Would you cry over the kisses you didn’t attempt? Over the gigs you didn’t give?

Would you feel sorrow over not working enough or working too much?

If life is truly a gift why treat it like a burden? If every breath we take is a present from God why do we act as though its annoying?

To live life is to feel! To live life is to feel the sting of emotions happy and sad.

I’m not afraid to die, I’m afraid to die alone. To die unaccomplished. Death is but the footnote. The story, the novella is what we do with this gift called life we have been given.

What shall you do with yours?

~ Demez F. White

20140617-031922.jpg

Struggling To Find Normal

391690_132115926895533_100002913805424_167373_1571942060_n I once read this book about comedians and they’re struggles with life. Most of them were sad, depressed, alcoholics. How could people that spend their whole lives making others laugh be so angry and sad? It was simple once I kept reading, one of the hardest things in the world is smiling when you don’t feel like smiling.

That’s how I’ve been feeling this week at work, around people, on these social networks. People say they sympathize with you, they say they understand. How can they not understand? We’ve all had people we love die. The problem is everyone expects life to just pick up right where it left off.

I’m just having a hard time doing that. I feel so sad and saying that out loud makes me feel so weak. I fight tears a lot because I’m a man and men don’t cry. I’ve been drinking a lot more, thinking a lot more. Not about why he’s gone, I know why he’s gone. Age and health aren’t things you can beat. I’ve just been thinking about whether or not I made him proud.

I worry about my grandmother, all she’s known since she was 17 is my grandfather. She says she’s alright but in my heart I know she’s not. There’s this feeling in my stomach that her time is coming soon, that she is hurting so bad that he is gone.

I feel lost, I feel alone, but I have to keep smiling. I have to keep working. It’s what the world expects from me. So I’ll hide these feelings and write about romance and love and sex. I’ll be smart and funny and charming and on the inside I’ll keep struggling to find normal.

3:00am In Houston

Heartbreak, pain, regret, loves lost, these are what’s supposed to make me a better writer. It’s not enough to read about hurt, you have to live and taste it.

People have been asking me all day how I feel. How I’m holding up and my answer is always the same. “I’m doing fine.” I’ve been preparing myself for this day but what I didn’t count on is the images in my head.

When I close my eyes I see my grandfathers face. It’s more than that though, I see moments from when he was healthy and happy.

I tell people I’m okay but I’m not sure if that’s true. I don’t like the night as much anymore, it’s too quiet.

A Brothers Honor, A Fathers Heartbreak, A Sons Regret

imagesCAW3EQLOI was the youngest and the smallest and the quietest. My father was the life of any room he walked into, loud, funny, friendly. My brothers were just like him, they had his broad shoulders and quick temper. They all played football and boxed, stayed outside until our mom had to drag them in. I don’t think there was a day that went by that they didn’t stuff me in a closet or a trunk or spray me with a water hose.

No matter how much they roughed me up, it was always only them. Whenever someone tried to pick a fight with me because I was smaller, I had their height but not their size, they were in for a surprise. Years of getting tossed around by my siblings gave me the quickest hands in our house since that was the only way I could ever win a fight or finish my meals.

Thinking about it made me smile. The nights we worked on old cars since we couldn’t afford new ones. The boxing sessions in the garage where we were all trying to impress dad. Three years apart, always a grade behind each other in school.

John waited until Albert graduated so they could enlist in the Army together. My mom always joked that we were all brothers but I must have come from a stork because John and Albert were joined at the hip.

On May 12th 2012 Albert was taken out by a sniper in Afghanistan. We all took it hard, my mom didn’t get out of bed for a month, my dad was calm about it. “He died a good death, he died a soldiers death.” No one took it harder than John though. He was in Iraq when he got the news. A week after the funeral he went right back.

On July 12th 2012 John died in a fire fight outside of Baghdad. The commander gave the order to maintain cover until the F-16’s arrived but John went in head first. Taking out four extremist before he was gunned down. They said he could have survived all the shots but that day he didn’t wear his body armor.

Within a month both my brothers were dead, fighting for their country. My father never said anything to me but I knew he looked at them differently than he looked at me. He was a soldier, a fighter, a man’s man. All my brothers ever wanted to be was like him.
Everywhere we went people stepped aside. My father pulled two men out a burning tank, won a Purple Heart in Desert Storm.

He never said it but my decision to go to college and not serve our country hurt him. “It’s a man’s duty to serve his country, what good is an education if you don’t know what it means to fight for it.” Those words never made sense to me but they did to my brothers.

The house I grew up in wasn’t a home anymore. My mom spent most of her time putting together care packages and volunteering at the hospital for wounded Veterans. My father spent most of his time in the garage talking to neighbors or the different friends that came by to chat with him or have him look at their car.

I knew I shouldn’t feel this way but I hated him. My brothers were dead because they wanted to be like him. “The army made me a man!” “Women love a man in uniform!” Day after day, story after story he filled their heads up with this bullshit about honor and loyalty and truth! Bullshit that got them killed! Wars that weren’t being fought because we were enslaved or attacked but wars that were being fought for nothing. He didn’t talk to me much because he thought I was a coward, I didn’t talk to him because I thought he was a fool.

Swinging as hard as I could at the punching bag in our garage I could feel my hands burning, the sweat dripping into my eyes but I didn’t stop punching, I couldn’t stop swinging. With every clank of the dog tags around my neck the more anger that surged threw me! They were my brothers tags and I wore them because they were apart of me now.

“You always could throw a punch but you never wanted to come to the gym with us. John thought it was because you had a glass chin. Albert thought it was because you wanted to chase girls. I knew it was because you didn’t want to be like me.”

I didn’t hear him come in. Those were the first real words outside of hello and goodbye he’d spoken to me in a year. He was right, I didn’t want to be another clone of my fathers. Football, boxing, the military. I wanted more for my life, I wanted to be something other than a name scribbled on some stone. What does dying in a foreign place fighting people that never did anything to me even mean?

After Albert died… I almost beat a kid to death because he called my brother stupid for not having on his body armor. The newspaper made it some black hawk down, saving Private Ryan moment but the army saw it as negligence. Since I wasn’t 18 yet and I’d experienced the death of two brothers they dropped the charges. When my dad picked me up he almost looked proud. I’d been valedictorian, I’d gotten into the most expensive school in the State with a full scholarship and the one time he patted me on my back was when I beat the shit out of some kid. That was my father, always the soldier, always about honor and family reputation.

“I’m not them.” I said the words softly, maybe I didn’t want him to hear me but I know he did.

“I didn’t raise you to be a coward!” His voice rose and he slapped his hand on the hood of his car!

Now his real feelings were coming out.

To Be Continued…

Watching Superman Become Human

379994_610579043725_118401058_31642843_1262844695_n I’ve often said I’ve been blessed in life because I haven’t had anyone close to me die. Some older aunts and uncles, cousins I didn’t really know. Even when my grandmother died on my father’s side I couldn’t feel much pain because I didn’t really know the woman.

This past year or so has been hard on my grandfather. He’s had to have both his legs amputated and for a man that’s spent his entire life being self-sufficient, being a worker; I can see that it’s eaten away at his soul, his spirit.

Maybe if he was younger he’d be more willing to fight, more willing to push in rehab or willing to learn to walk again. He’s in his late 70’s though and when you get the age and your body can’t do what it used to do it scares you.

It’s hard for him to get in the bed so when he comes home from dialysis or the doctor I have to go to my grandparents’ home and literally pick him up and put him the bed. I can tell it’s uncomfortable for him, we’ve never been close. I learned a lot from him and he was always a good provider but we never had that bond.
He has to put his arms around my neck while I pick him up. It takes a lot some days for me not to cry or show weakness in front of my grandmother or mother or aunts, cousins. I know I have to be strong for them so I am. I may crack a joke to lighten the mood or standby but on the inside seeing him sad, not able to go outside and sit in the garage or work on a car breaks my heart.

Watching my grandmother care for him and have to handle things she never handled before breaks my heart. I was going to move to Austin, I was going to but I can’t leave them like this. I’d regret it for the rest of my life.
I’ve never had a lot of friends, never been that guy that cared much about making them. It’s always been family and work for me. I don’t care if you like me but you will respect my work ethic and my loyalty.

At 5am on a Tuesday morning as I sit at my office desk, tired from the nights work. Too tired to eat or go work out but not sleepy enough to go home. So I write. I put my emotions and feelings on this piece of electronic paper. I share with the world what it’s like to watch Superman become human. I share with my readers what it’s like to watch a man that people always asked for help be the one that needs the help. At 5am on a Tuesday morning I use my God given ability to write to breathe.

Give people their flowers while their living because some bible verse somewhere says, “No man knows the time nor the hour.”

Demez F. White