My name is Erika. You may not remember me, as it was a long, long time ago, but I saw you in 1998 through 2000 or 2001. I was 13 and in Jamison Center when you first came to see me through the Victim/Witness program and I was a frequent runaway so our meetings were a bit sporadic, ending after you got sick. I wanted to thank you for everything you did for me. I credit you with saving my life. Though we never really talked about what I was supposed to be there for, you were the only male figure I’d ever known that didn’t want something from me. You frequently told me that you wouldn’t turn me in when I was a runaway and to keep showing up. Sometimes I couldn’t trust that, but that was through no fault of yours. You were one of the very few adults I did trust. I was suicidal most of the time I saw you, though I never talked about it. I firmly believed that I was worthless and unlovable. But you always showed up, even when I didn’t. You took less and less payment until we were down to $50, I think, a session, so my fund wouldn’t run out. You went so far above and beyond what anyone had ever done for me and it crept in. It made a difference. You only ever missed two appointments with me – when you got sick. You came to see me a few weeks later and you were losing your hair. We laughed about our matching eyebrows, mine were shaved off. A few weeks or months later, we missed an appointment and I ran. The only other time that had happened, you told me you had cancer. I was so afraid it had come back, that I couldn’t call to reschedule. After a few months, I became convinced that if I called, Renee would tell me you had died, so I never picked up the phone. My drinking was just taking off in those years and after I stopped seeing you it got much worse. At 21 my life was completely unbearable and my alcoholism was in full swing. In October of 2006 I reached a breaking point and ended up in a 12 step program. I’ve been sober ever since, and everything about my life has changed in the last 7 years. I still have some issues, haha, but today I’m grateful for my struggles – they have become my greatest assets. I’ve thought of you often, you made a huge impact on me. When I saw a friend recommend you to another friend on Facebook today, I cried and immediately sat down to compose this message. For so many years I was afraid you were gone. I am so relieved that you won your battle with cancer and are still practicing! I’m not the least bit surprised that it’s now a non-profit. It already was for me! haha. I don’t know that I could have made it through my teens without you. I can never properly express my gratitude to you for your selflessness and kindness. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
PS How are Corbin and Cannonball?? I hope all of you are well. 🙂