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William

I met someone today. His name is William, and as he shook my hand he apologized for the beer he was drinking, and assured me that someone had brought it for him. Even though I gave him my name and told him he didn't have to call me ma'am, it was every third word for the first part of our conversation. I sat down next to him in the shade of a restaurant neither of us could afford and told him I was interested in his story.

My story? Oh my story would break your heart ma'am. 1982, My parents and my sisters and I were in our van driving to a family reunion, when a semi truck.. a big rig without any insurance crossed the line. Hit us head on. The front of the van was smashed into the back. They pulled me out with the jaws of life, the fire department.

My whole family was killed. My whole beautiful family was killed. And I don't want to sound like I... I'm not looking for a shoulder to cry on, but so many people it's like they don't care. And it's hard, because I've nobody to talk to, to hold at night, to kiss. I don't have nobody to listen to this, and I just want someone to know my story, know why I'm out here. I don't even have my family, they're all dead.

I mean.. my whole family was killed and I didn't even know till 14 days later when I woke up in a coma. You can see what it did to me [he points to his face] but I lived. I woke up from the coma and they were dead and I can't even remember it.

How old were you?

I was 18.

Just old enough to not get any help?

Yeah, well no. no. The staff psychiatrist who came in, he talked with me. He helped, listed while I was there. He helped me allot for all time I was in there. I was there for awhile.

How did you pay for this? I mean it couldn't have been free. Did they write it off, did you have to pay somehow?

No, no, some social workers helped me. I got social security immediately. And they talked with me too, helped me. Social security payed for it, all of my 10 months in the hospital and the help. They helped a lot like that. Real professional.

My sister was real professional. She was going to school to be a doctor. Very professional.. I don't hate the guy driving the truck. My God is a loving god you know? He says not to hate. It's not cool to hate, and I don't hate that guy. He says it's OK to dislike though, and I dislike him very much. I've had a hard life, such hard times you don't even know. But nobody does.

You know what I miss? I miss my granny... she used to call me "billy boy" ever since I was a kid. She was great, I miss her.. she died from liver problems from drinking too much. She was my girl though... I loved her.


We talked for another few minutes, then I shook his hand and wished him well. I walked away from William trying not to cry. Lissa and I happened to drive by that restaurant about an hour later, and he was gone. I didn't have a tape recorder, so all I can give you is my memory of his words. I don't know how much of this is colored by my experience and how I listen, but I just want someone to know his story, why he is out there.

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November 2009

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