The reader accompanies Sgt. Heckman as he journeys through war, recovery, loss, and love to see how even the worst situations can have a happy ending.
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Anything for Love
By Kristopher Heckman
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 Kristopher "Kid Seven" Heckman
All rights reserved.
I'll never forget the day I walked alone out of the shadows. Out of a place I had for so long called "home." Now, I understood this was not a normal place. I mean nothing is really normal about New York anyway. Cold as hell during the winter months, and during the summer it's so humid you feel like you're walking through sweat. Not to mention it's constant rain during the springtime.
However, I have often asked myself, what is normal? What is average? I have even asked myself, what is pure? Is it the fresh water that makes rain taste so clean, or is it the brand new pair of blue jeans my mother bought me for my first day of high school? For so long, I could not distinguish the difference between normal and reality. Neither of these two matter anymore.
Walking in to school that day I felt like it was going to be a normal day. What I mean by that is, I was actually looking forward to seeing all my friends and hanging out. This was not a typical high school experience for me. What can I say; I was the typical senior who could not wait to graduate.
That day I saw something money could not buy and nature could not present to me. Today I felt something everyone will experience, but not everyone can have. It happened within a moment so quick that time couldn't measure it with Nanoseconds.
It stuck me like a needle. Or more to the point, it hit me like a gust of wind I didn't even know existed but still, somehow, I felt with every inch of my unwilling soul. It was a day I will never forget - the day I fell in love!
I was an average kid with above average dreams and a below average GPA. It wasn't that I couldn't do the work my teachers assigned; I just got lost and wrapped up, like a present you only get once in a lifetime. I mean, I was a dreamer, or, as I would call it, a "go getter." I saw life as a gift, not as a measurement of society's intellectual standards. I mean after all, I started drinking at age 14. Something I am not proud of; however, it was a chapter in my life. You might be asking how is this chapter going to end? How is it going to play out? Well, it's the words of my own personal bible. It is the guide that led me to this moment that I felt that day, that's how it's going to end.
So where do I start? Do I tell you about my unforgiving past that led me to eventual destruction, or do I start from the moment I first saw her?
Love. Just thinking of the word used to make me cringe like a kid who got soap put into his mouth for foul language. Wasn't it Shakespeare who so famously said, "... My only love, spawned from my only hate ..."? Not that my family was at war with hers, but I hated the thought of love. It wasn't for me. I was meant for Huckleberry Finn adventures-- that dare to be great moment that captures a hero and inspires a youth and generation. Kind of like Michael Jordan taking the game to a whole new level or The Beastie Boys being the first white boys to ever do it big in hip-hop.
How could this happen? What did I do to deserve these feelings? Don't get me wrong, I have had girlfriends and flings before, but how can one moment with a person I've never even spoken to outshine every feeling I've ever had in the past? Were the other girls not good enough of heart? Were their souls not pure and words not truth? All I knew was this strange feeling boiling inside of me was something new. It made me feel like I was somebody different.
I remember the moment very well for it plays circles in my head. It's like a light that won't turn off. Or better yet, a corny pop song that sticks to you like flies to those annoying tape strips that hang from the ceiling.
This girl literally walked out of a major motion movie picture with all the paparazzi flashing their cameras, hoping to capture what my eyes did.
"Anything I do, I do for love ... Little do you know, everything I do ... I do for us ... City, states, not even countries could keep us apart ... I rather die than not try but ... All the memories I have of you for now, I'll keep close to heart."
Yep, I'm a modern day Shakespeare. Also known as a poet/ lyricist in my day and age. I am pretty sure she did not like the culture of hip-hop music nor the stigma that society has given to that kind of lifestyle. Oh well.
I believe it was a science teacher who told me that opposites attract. I think she was teaching about magnets. Am I a magnet? Could she be my north and I her south? Too many questions ... I feel like I am going to burn out like a campfire with no more logs.
I mean, I thought she would never like me. How could she? I've been every angle of shallow. I have experienced every reflection of ugly to create beauty within the glance of a mirror. Is it even possible to like a white, lonely, depressed poet who speaks life through rhythm and rhymes?
"... Music expressed through words from a chest they may seem good hearted but never the less. Let us never forget our every breath and give this our best no matter the stress ..."
How can she see what words mean to me? How could she feel my heart in a song? A song! That's what I'll do. What better way to show my feelings to someone who sees me as a misunderstood teen? What better way to give my heart to someone who deserves its fullest potential? This is for you girl, to let you know I'll do anything for love.
So what is love?
I used to think it was a Hollywood movie picture made up by some poor schmuck who never got the chance to have his own love experiences. They create a made up fantasy, a story that's so unbelievable that people become obsessed with the idea of having it. Isn't it funny how the people who will never experience love for what it is are the ones who understand it the most? How do these people always come up with the best romantic ideas?
However, I am starting to see that someone who paints these pictures couldn't do it without having these experiences or at least a mere thought of what they would have liked to experience. It had to be created by someone who has loved at some point in his or her life. These moments, these gifts, are what I am now experiencing. They are small pieces of Heaven.
Everything she did was so perfect. I mean she always smiled and laughed at other peoples' jokes even when they weren't that funny. She always went out of her way to make other people happy when they seemed down. To tell you the truth, she was an angel. She was kind, smart, funny and to be honest, she was kind of like that last puzzle piece that just completes everything I had been looking for. She was my other half!
I would listen to her talk and wonder what it'd be like to have her speak directly to me. Her flaws, her gifts, her jaws, her lips, every inch of her heart and every shred of her soul would soothe my empty veins with more life than I'd ever lived. How could this happen to me? I'd always tried in my previous relationships, but seemed blind to what really mattered.
I knew she knew I existed. She's that girl I knew that, if I were with, I would ruin. Everything pure about her would wash away because of my inability to be the man she really needed.
But all I wanted was to be this man. The man who was the reason she smiles, the man who was the reason she breathed with confident security and with the comfort of knowing she was loved in every aspect.
With her it was different. It was not about looks, even though she looked like she fell straight out of a Hollywood classic romance. Others didn't see her the way I did. It wasn't about money or materialistic items such as clothes, cars or jewelry. She was the biggest diamond Mother Nature ever created. She was the richest girl I knew because every aspect of her life was filled with happiness, love, compassion, and selflessness. Best of all she cared about who someone was, rather than social standards. How could someone be so well rounded but unnoticed?
I would ask around about her and people had no clue. They had no idea about who she was or why I was even asking about her. I knew if I kept this up people would start to get involved because of their inability to stay out of other peoples' love lives. For her sake, I had to keep these feelings to myself. I couldn't bring her into my world. It just wouldn't be right. I didn't want to ruin all she had been working for. I didn't want to ruin all that she had earned. Someone like me could never treat someone like her the way she deserved. So instead of her being hurt, I decided to just deal with the pain.CHAPTER 2
The Week of 9-11
I remember sitting in Economics class wondering what was for lunch. Was it going to be taco pizza? Hamburgers? It was an endless variety of bad options of food that would force me to go to the salad bar. It was at that moment she turned around. If she was looking at the clock or me, I don't think I'll ever know. I locked eyes with her only for a moment, but I swear I felt what most would never feel. Man I hate this class! What a bunch of bullshit. We are picking companies and watching the stock plunge into a shitty return as we lose all of our money within the first week. What an awesome confidence booster!
I swear high school was a mix between hell and war. I hated that place so much. I think I was the only kid in school who had his own personal desk in the principal's office. What a shit head he was. Stealing the school monitor's walky talky and talking shit to him as I skipped class was always a great way to kill time. Oh the high hopes I had for myself.
Basically, I was that kid who didn't give a shit about anything. One English teacher actually told me I would be a garbage man when I got older. I simply replied, "At least they make more than teachers." Yeah! I got sent back to my private desk in the principal's office for that one.
What can I say? I was kind of a big deal in high school. I was a friend to almost everyone, jocks, stoners, thugs and the preps. It was sort of like that book The Outsiders. I loved that book. In fact, it was the only book I actually read in high school. I guess that's because it reminded me of. Why else would it be the only book I ever took the time to read in school? Every other book I "read" came from Spark Notes. Who didn't use Spark Notes? It was like God's gift to all those who hated that bullshit English class reading list. Come on, who the fuck wants to read To Kill A Mockingbird? (Are they still teaching that book? God I hope not.)
September 11th 2001.
This day would change so many lives in America. Or, more accurately, this day is the day that changed America. It started like any other normal day. I was a senior in high school. People walked the halls joking around, throwing things, couples holding hands. You know, all that dumb high school shit. I was in English class and we were told to turn on the TV. The whole class watched the tragedy in absolute horror. I'll never forget the feelings I had that day. I was filled with hate, anger, sadness and vengefulness.
Terrorists had taken planes and flown them into both World Trade buildings in the middle of the day in New York City. No one including the U.S. Government knew what country was responsible but we all had the taste of blood in our mouths ready to go after the ones who were to blame. I couldn't believe this shit was actually happening. I mean we are The United States of America. Who would dare fly our own planes into our buildings? I remember watching the people jump from the building so they wouldn't burn to death. Everyone was very emotional in the classroom. A lot of people had family in New York City and some even had family who worked in the Twin Towers. All I could think about was what our country was going to do. Could we pull together after this situation? What is the President going to do?
I called my dad from school that morning because he was in the military. He was quite aware of the events and told me he would keep me posted on what he would be doing or where he was going to have to go. I knew he was going to ship out immediately. I had lost so much time already with my dad because of the military, but that's just how it is. You never fully understand the military life until you're actually part of it. Decisions would be made later in my life because of the events of that day. These decisions brought me to the place I am today.
Now, I am 29 years old, working for one the biggest aerospace companies in the world. I have a lot to live for and absolutely have a lot to be thankful for. However, that was not always the case. When I first was medically retired from active duty, my life was a nightmare. It was a terrible dream that seemed to replay over and over again. Like that old vinyl record that had a terrible scratch on it and kept saying the same words over and over again. Some thought I was weird because of the way I was acting. Some people chose not to be my friend anymore. There are actually a lot of veterans who are having a hard time adjusting to civilian life. It's actually pretty common to see "screwed up" veterans these days, which is sad if you think about it. War has torn our country apart instead of making us stronger. I mean they don't even show it on the news anymore. Everyday the bullshit propaganda our government wants us to see is on the screen, instead of our boys who are dying. It's rather disturbing. Debt has devastated our country's will to work and it seems people would rather depend on government help and aide rather than make their way themselves. A lot has changed since 9-11. Everything has changed. I have changed.
I look in the mirror and I am not exactly sure who I am anymore. After my service I was different. Everything about me was different. The outgoing, fun-loving, drink-till-you-drop Van Wilder was gone. He had grown tired from 21 gun salutes, folded flags handed with words of our so called great nation, broken promises from loved ones, hate, anger, loss and distance from those who never wore the uniform.
I can tell you that within my last year of active duty I lost my grandmother, my parents got divorced, I was seriously injured from an explosion, I couldn't seem to get ahead financially, I was losing my career because of my injuries, I was living with health issues, and I lost one of my best friends. Yeah, that year kind of sucked for me.
I never gave up though. I remained strong even when I didn't want to. Even when I wanted to end it all and just forget the world, I couldn't. I honestly only have my love for the uniform to thank for that. I remember one night I drank a bottle of Crown Royal by myself in my father's kitchen. I was going through a picture book of all of us in Afghanistan. I used to be so happy. I am still happy right? I could be that way again. Every picture I looked at brought back memories covered up now by gunshots, death and war.
"I still have all the pictures, I still have the book, and the only thing that's changed is ... the feelings I have now every time I look."
I was so drunk that night I do not understand how I let myself feel so much pain. I remember thinking briefly that it would be easier. The thoughts I had were so scattered but I remember saying it would just be easy over and over to myself. I lied down on the cold tile floor drinking shot after shot until I finally decided to search for a pistol.
I was so scared when I found it because I knew at this point it could actually happen. All I could think about was my promise. I had the pistol in one hand and my phone in the other. I opened up a video of my troops and me, which instantly brought more tears to my eyes. How could I let them go on without me? I remember thinking to myself I would never be that type of soldier and make my troops blame themselves for my selfish act. It's true that any man who would hide himself in drink rather than face the pain is a coward. Fuck that, I'd rather face the pain and learn from it. I owe it to myself.
I know you are probably reading this thinking this kid is a nut job. Don't you dare judge without knowing what got me to that point. If it were not for our pasts, none of us would be who we are today.
So I guess that's where I will take you. That is where we will start. The day everything changed for me. That day was the day I left for war.
Excerpted from Anything for Love by Kristopher Heckman. Copyright © 2015 Kristopher "Kid Seven" Heckman. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter One: The Beginning, 1,
Chapter Two: The Week of 9-11, 9,
Chapter Three: A Day That Will Last a Lifetime, 17,
Chapter Four: The Hospital, 29,
Chapter Five: Recovery, 51,
Chapter Six: Back To War, 65,
Chapter Seven: Welcome Home Troops, 83,
Chapter Eight: Life After War, 91,
About the Author, 97,