Zack’s full name is Zachary Paul Williams. I met him in 2007 for the first time and he saved my life. Ever since then he’s been my personal hero. Zack lives on the street. If indeed he is still alive.
In 2007 I seemed to be at a fulfilling beautiful point in my life. Great career, great friends, was with a man I loved with a intense passion. But unbeknownst to me, I was in reality, still a fragile dark creature that was simply living in the sun for a moment. The man I loved left and I allowed everything to come crashing down. Looking back I can’t believe I had no fortitude to keep something…anything afloat but at the time I wasn’t strong enough alone to stop the threads of my life from fraying and unraveling.
So on an actual dark and stormy night I took off from my life and drove my car haphazardly down an empty highway, tears burning my eyes and streaming down my face. My mind racing I had no choices. My life was over and in my heart of hearts I felt abandoned for the last time. Drive off a cliff was the only thing that came to mind. I wasn’t thinking in words anymore, only in storyboards.
Drive off cliff. Pain ends. Heart won’t hurt so much.
But like anyone that can’t cope with an intense onslaught of emotions, I had fear first. Overwhelmed and hurting on a physical level, I pulled over at a closed gas station and fell on the ground sobbing. No solution, only pain.
Then Zack. A dirty homeless man on a bike looking for cans if I recall correctly. Much too emotional to be scared of this stranger in a terrible area of town, when he approached me I continued to sob uncontrollably.
“Are you ok?”
“No! My life is over.”
“The man I love left me…he LEFT me… I can’t… I can’t….”
“I’m sorry to hear that. It’s not the end you know.”
“It is! He is the only one I had and now I have nothing and nobody. What am I going to do…”
“Get up every day.”
“I can’t! It hurts…you don’t understand!!!”
“I don’t? I beat an addiction, got a great job and had a wife and baby girl…. and I woke up one morning and they were gone. My wife took everything, and she took my daughter….. they had to lock me up I went insane it hurt so bad. I lost my job, I lost everything…. I’m using drugs again, my life is shit. Don’t tell me I don’t understand.”
Caught completely off guard.
“But you know what? I’m still here.”
“How are you… I mean didn’t you just wanna die?”
“Every single day”
“You just have to fake it until you make it.”
“What do you mean?”
“Wake up every day. Breathe in and out. Pretend you’re not in excruciating pain. Live a lie. And one day the pain will actually be less. It’s never going to go away. But it will get better. I promise.”
I can’t remember the rest of the conversation. Either that or it hurts too much to remember. This man who didn’t know me, who had NOTHING, gave me a chance at staying alive. I am fairly certain I was emotionally unstable enough to end my life that night. And his words, his completely sincere and compassionate nature….let me believe I had a chance. It was months, perhaps years until I healed from it, still hurts today, but he was right. It got better. And THAT night, he let me stay alive. Love him until the end of time. He’s a part of my soul and a part of my life for always. I wear his name in ink on my wrist along with the names of the most important people to touch my life. I defend his honor with the ferocity of a mother who has a threatened child.
I left that night with a spark of hope. Enough to sustain me until morning. Fake it til you make it.
I only saw Zack one more time after that…. but that dear friends is a story for another day.