SNAP: Stories for Living

2009 Stories | 2008 Stories | 2007 Stories 2010 Stories | Contest Details


I was going through some tough times in the mid nineties.  My marriage of twenty years was crashing and burning.  I had just lost my brother.  Michael had struggled with mental illness all his life.  I was second to oldest, but Michael's problems pushed me up into firstborn status.  Responsibility.  My dad was a WWII vet.  A tanker, wounded at Anzio.  When I was 10 years old, maybe 9, Dad exhibited what we would call PTSD.  He was sent away to a Veterans Hospital.  They would try electroshock therapy.  Somehow I became father as well as oldest son.  All by default.  I recently watched a movie, Gracie.  A young girl trying to figure out what she was supposed to do in life.  Sometimes she was responsible.  Sometimes she was reckless.  That was me.  Back and forth.  Mostly I raised myself the best I could.  My parents bought a big house near a college.  We rented out rooms.  Many of my role models were the young men that rented rooms in our house.  One renter was a former seminarian.  Or that's what he said.  Oh yeah, we were big catholics.  We had the gift that keeps on giving.  Guilt.  This seminarian was going to teach me about sex.  Gee thanks.  I told my parents.  My dad kicked him out.

Fast forward.  The early 1990's.  I'm reading.  I'm a voracious reader.  I read "Jesus a Revolutionary Biography".  I read "The Harlot by the Side of the Road".  I read "Papal Sin".  All of the sudden I get angry.  I get really, really angry.  I have never been this angry.  I go out and buy a K-Bar.  I'm not even a marine.  I was in the Navy.  I'm a damn squid!  But I buy a K-Bar.  I am so full of rage I can't see straight.  I go to work, but I can't think about work.  So I compose a story.  In my story, I am no victim.  I kill the _____. 

Fast forward.  2000.  Baltimore.  Dontee Stokes.  I feel his rage.  I read about a group called SNAP.  A woman named Barbara Blaine.  I have followed SNAP ever since.  I read about Thomas Doyle, I read about Marci Hamilton.  They are today's Dietrich Bonhoeffers.  Speaking Truth to Power.  I got myself into counseling.  I worked through the death of my brother, the loss of my marriage, I'm working through the loss of belief in god.  I have a good counselor.  Because of myself, because of her, because of other counselors, friends, children, I am healing.  I am getting stronger.  I am even taking on challenges. 

Today, I volunteer in my little town.  I became a Big Brother.  I became an EMT.  I see it all.  The young girls used and abused and thrown away.  But I am stronger now.  I can comfort the rape victim.  I can empathize when they blame themselves.  I am taking control of my rage.  I am trying to focus it.  I won't let it burn me up.  Jesus (Gospel of Thomas) said, Seek the truth, Don't stop seeking until you find.  At first you will be disturbed. Later you will be amazed. 

I am not a marine.  My best friend was/is a marine (you never stop being a marine).  We always end out conversations Semper Fi.  Semper Fi SNAP.  You too are marines!

Note: this story is from 2007. View other 2007 stories and 2007 voting results. View current stories.