I am forever grateful to be surrounded by and have the support of family and friends. Many felons aren’t so fortunate. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and because of that it is easy for me to express and show remorse for my criminal actions. I often wonder where I would be today had I not made the decision on my deathbed to undergo a moral and spiritual rebirth. What if I hadn’t gotten sick? Would I still be incarcerated? Would I be remorseful for my actions, or would I be a bitter man blaming everyone but myself for my predicament?
This is an excerpt from “Paying It Forward” that I submitted to be included in a Redemption edition of Chicken Soup For The Soul:
Imagine my horror when I woke up in the intensive care unit at a hospital in another city with a tube down my throat, breathing only with the help of a ventilator. Wasn’t it just minutes before that I was wheeled into surgery at a hospital nearly 100 miles away? Once the painful breathing tube was removed,a nurse started to engage me in conversation. It quickly became apparent that I had gone into septic shock during surgery and was resuscitated on a Flight For Life helicopter.
“Am I ok now?” I asked warily. I learned I was not okay. I had contracted necrotizing fasciitis, an insidious flesh eating disease that kills or maims many of its victims. Even though I cheated death, I remained in extremely critical condition with no guarantee of survival. My nurse accentuated the gravity of my situation by insisting that my will to live would be instrumental if I were to survive.
“You must will yourself to stay alive,” she said. “You need to stay strong and positive. We will do the medical work, but you will need to use every ounce of your inner strength to make it through this. Stay with us. Don’t give up on us. Be a fighter.”
I started to pray to God, who, up until now, I had never allowed to be a part of my life. I did not want to die as an evil man. I wanted my chance at redemption. I prayed for a spiritual and physical rebirth. Light suddenly turned to darkness.
“Maybe I should give up. Maybe I should let my guard down and let death take me. I have a fifteen year sentence. I don’t want to serve all of that time–it is so overwhelming. My life is too difficult. How will I ever show my face in the community? All I need to do is will myself to die.”
Thankfully, my dark thoughts started to dissipate. I did want to live. I fell into a deep sleep, knowing my desire to live was greater than my desire to die. If I did die from this illness, I would Rest In Peace knowing I had made the decision to change my life for the better.”