In the last year, I have written exactly 0 words of what I would consider "writing." I've sent emails, written silly things on facebook and "inspirational" messages to my employees at work, but nothing I would consider real and true writing. For some people this wouldn't seem like a big deal, for me, it is.
At this point now, I would consider myself a former writer. In the past however, I have written a book that was published and on a local level, considered somewhat successful. At last count, I was paid to write somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 articles for various publications ranging from hyper local to a couple of national magazines. I was the publisher of a community newspaper, which translates to "I wrote a ton of stuff that I really didn't want to write about, but had to anyway or else it wouldn't have gotten done." For quite a few years, there wasn't a week that went by that I didn't write about something....until the last one.
I may or may not write another book (backstory to that is, I had over 50,000 words of a novel that I was writing that was lost sometime between separating from my now ex-wife and moving to Iowa. I'm not quite sure where, but I've narrowed it down to that period of time) I may or may not ever be paid to write another article. But I've missed this. Missed putting thoughts to words. Not enough to finally sit down and do it, but enough to think and talk about it.
After a couple of conversations with my girlfriend Jodi, I decided that I was going to start a blog. Sure, it's cliche, but I'm pretty predictable to begin with (so she says.) After years of writing because of the almighty dollar, I've decided that I'm going to write about what I want to write about. If someone wants to read it, great, if they don't, it doesn't affect me. I don't have to worry about editors, Amazon.com rankings, circulation or anything like that. I'm now writing because I've been told I'm decent at it and I enjoy it.
With that said, there isn't going to be a common theme. I may write about sports one day, love the next, politics (uh oh) the next and just may write a bunch of jibberish the next day, week or even month. I don't know. I've got a lot of things I want to write about, but what I want to write about today, I might not care about tomorrow. Now, the disclaimer, some days, some blogs may contain profanity. Up until this point, I've refrained, as to not offend anyone. So, if profanity offends you, you may want to look elsewhere.
Shit. There, profanity. I may go an entire blog without one single shit, damn, ass or fuck, most of my writing I've done has allowed hell to be as far as I can go, so that little disclaimer may have been for nothing, we shall see.
Now, on to why I'm here. I've talked about doing this for weeks, but today, I'm finally sitting down to do it and it is because of something that happened this afternoon. I, along with my three children, my girlfriend and her daughter, were all witnesses, per say, to death. We didn't actually see it, but we were there. Not sure if we were there when it happened, after it happened, while it was in the process of happening, or what, but we were there when a 17 year old boy died.
Here, look at this http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120618/NEWS/120618026/Update-Searchers-find-body-of-drowning-victim-at-Raccoon-River-Park?News
We had spent a couple of hours at the "beach" and as we were packing up to leave, both Jodi and I thought we heard something, but we couldn't be sure. There were a lot of teenagers there and we didn't notice a commotion, so we took Parker, Piper, Payden and Sydney to rinse the sand off themselves and head out to get cleaned up and eat dinner. However, just as we got all the kids in the cars, we noticed a police car zooming into the parking lot, over the curb and down toward the beach, then an ambulance followed....then another police car, and another....and another.....then at least two firetrucks and several other emergency response vehicles. We both realized that what we heard, or thought we heard, was exactly what we thought we heard. Someone in trouble.
Some people would be nosey and go back and see what was going on, but that isn't us. We had four tired and hungry kids and we headed out. Within a half an hour of leaving and getting the kids cleaned up, I had a text from Jodi, "Kcci reporting a possible drowning at raccoon river."
What the fuck? Here in Iowa, they call it a beach, but it isn't what those of us from areas near the ocean think of. I immediately tried to figure out how in the world this happened?... Most of the water isn't deep enough to even come up to either of our 3 year old's heads, much less drown someone. But that was a first thought, as you go further out, it does get deeper, which is why they put warning markers for people not to go past (as you'd expect, many pay no attention to them) but even still, if you can get that far, what happened?
Then I started thinking a little more....our kids were in that water, possibly at the same time someone was dying. How do you explain that?
Then guilt started to set in. What if I wouldn't have ignored what I thought was someone saying "help" and went to see if someone really was in trouble. Could I have helped? Probably not, but it wouldn't have stopped me from trying.
I put all that out of my head and we headed to dinner with Jodi and Sydney. A few minutes in, Jodi received an update and what we feared was true. A 17 year old boy was dead.
All the guilt returned. I know there wasn't anything I could have done, but maybe...just maybe....
I've never handled death well. Ever. To be honest, I usually ignore it, or put on an air of indifference. It was tough to do that when you now know it happened hundreds of feet from where you and your children were standing. But even now, I'm handling it a little bit different than some may. I'm channeling the guilt and confusion into something else. Right now I'm sitting with my two older children on either side of me, knowing they are safe. I just received a text from Jodi a few minutes ago, knowing she and Sydney are safe. And little miss Payden is sound asleep. As sorry as I am for the victim, his friends and his family, I'm appreciative that those who were with me today were and are safe. I realize that within minutes, even seconds, the things you cherish the most can be gone.
I realized today, more than ever, that I am an incredibly lucky man. I've got a good career, three amazing children who love me and Sydney who is starting to like me a little bit, an amazing woman that for some reason, thinks the world of me and a few friends that no matter what, I can always count on. What else do you need? After what we witnessed today, I'd say what I've got it pretty damn good.