Kansas The Gladiator
I am going to be honest with you. I don’t know which emotion is the strongest. I don’t know what feeling motivates me the most. Death, love, fear, hope, faith, anger, envy, jealousy, joy, happiness. There is so much power in what the human mind feels that can either lead to being prosperous or despair. I’ve felt all these some stronger than others and they have all evoked different reactions from me. They have all shaken me to my core in someway. In this life like most people who have ever lived. I’ve lost a lot, and I gained a lot. Each of the last four years I have lost someone I loved, all family. When I was younger I lost friends due to the circumstances of the environment I was raised in. It is all part of life and we all have to realize that. Out of anyone I’ve lost in life the hardest was my Pop Pop(grandfather). That day I cried, and I never cry. It’s just not in me. I know it’s healthy to do it, but I just don’t get to the point that tears sweep over me. But that day I broke down like I never have broken down before. I felt weak and hopeless in a way that the world didn’t make sense to me. Tears were falling and as they hit my hands and everything else around me all that I ever recognized went with them. I was across the country from anyone who knew the man like I did. Stuck in Reno and trapped in my own head. Luckily I had friends and at the time an amazing girlfriend that day who couldn’t quantify the pain I was feeling but helped ease it. She was someone who knew about death (that’s not my story to share) from earlier in life too. But I will forever appreciate her for being there for me in that time when all the clocks seemed too be slow and the compass of my life seemed to have no direction. I’m never very open when something is bothering me but those closest to me always know when they need to help me hold on to my sanity.
The first weekend of June 2015, I saw everyone around me crumble. It was such a beautiful collapse because it was natural and raw. My friend and for all definitions of the word brother Kansas broke his neck that weekend while trying to accomplish the Spartan Race. It was a freak accident and tragic couldn’t even describe the situation. Brutal would be how I could best categorize it. Not just physically but the fact that so instantaneous something like that could happen. As soon as I heard the news his brother Eric and I made the 6 hour drive to the Natividad Medical Center in California where he was having emergency surgery. I knew there would be nothing I could do for Kansas besides give well wishes in person and watch him be in pain. I made the trip because I couldn’t let Eric make that drive alone. If Kansas is my brother, Eric definitely fits the description of little brother. In a way in which we are complete opposite, I should probably hate him but I love him and we always have each others back no matter the situation. I couldn’t let him make that trip alone just trapped in his thoughts obviously only thinking the worst outcomes. So we threw a bunch of things into backpacks and left within 30 minutes. We talked about everything life, the universe, women, dinosaurs, religion, how stupid humans can be towards each other. Still every so often we’d go silent. Then one of us would acknowledge the reality of what was happening and how shitty it was. How truly fucking shitty it was. Then the other would proceed to initiate a positive thought into the conversation and know Kansas is going to be okay. Because he is Kansas and he is a warrior.
We got to the ICU that night tired and drained but we saw James Chapman laying in the bed looking like Hell, just had five hours worth of surgery and now had metal in his head and back. But was talking and had hope in his eyes that this wasn’t going to define him. Nothing could prepare us for this sight this gladiator in a hospital bed his body motionless he can’t feel anything below his shoulders,but his brain getting ready for the biggest fight of his life. This man who survived brain surgery and was a two time state champion in wrestling. Who just brought a plane ticket so he could be inducted into his high school hall of fame in August. Was now laying before us as a possible quadriplegic and all we could do is be so grateful he is alive.
Eric and I weren’t alone we had are own little Reno family(they know who they are) who also rushed there knowing there wasn’t much they could do either but share this burden with us.
Around midnight we all departed the ICU and went to our hotels. We managed a smile and a laugh knowing we’d all be back first thing in the morning hoping this was all some nightmare. Something that was hidden under our collective bed and would just go away. But it wasn’t ,it’s life, it’s a reality. The next day was tough for us all. That adrenaline we had from worrying had wore off. The long weekend and mental fatigue had began to set in. The news wasn’t sounding to good and the environment was depressing. This is not where someone in the prime of their life, peak physical shape, who just graduated with a degree in engineering and had a full time job was suppose to be. This is not where we’re suppose to be with him! We are a unit who individual bad things have happened to us but we often celebrated life. We went on trips together, we’ve got inside jokes, we party together, we have had our differences and we don’t say it everyday but we know we love each other. We know these people will be at our weddings and other monumental life events. This life event was monumental in another way. It was heavy, it is now a time when we realize, we need each other. In whatever way James Kansas Chapman needs us we have to be there. This too shall pass but not without labor. Not without heart. All those emotions we felt before in our life all were present and in our face.
I’ve always been a person people come to with their problems because I’m not big on sharing my own hardships. I deal with things by being strong for others. By hugging you when it becomes overwhelming and you need to break down and cry. Staying as calm as possible looking you in your eyes and telling you everything will be alright when those demons are whispering “don’t get back up”. We all need a hand sometimes. And that’s what I did that weekend, it’s what I do. My shoulders were made to carry weight. It was especially hard because the 3 people I tell everything and were constantly on my mind seemed so far away. My Pop Pop, My brother and best friend Kansas and one other person just felt so far from me. But these people in this ICU waiting room were there for me. All anxious knowing right now all we could have was time and patience. Knowing that all Kansas needed was a fighting chance. All he has had all his life was a fighting chance and he has always been victorious on every occasion. And no matter what he won’t give up so neither can we. We couldn’t let our clocks slow down. I know all of you want nothing but the best for Kansas and all the ones you consider family. All I ask is for some of your energy and as many positive thoughts as you can spare.
Later that night some of us had to leave for home. Because life doesn’t stop. There was Summer school, work, an entire world full of people who didn’t know what was going on asking you “So how are you?”. Expecting nothing but a simple reply of “I’m well, and you.?” But before we departed we all got a meal, this broken family. We laughed, we smiled, we knew the text would be non stop and calls endless in the upcoming weeks.This was going to be hard, everything in my house constantly reminds me my roommate is not here, I miss him. He is the person I do everything with. But in my head I realized something. Soon Kansas would be in rehab, and just like a gladiator all he needs is a chance to fight.This is just a different arena. This is not the end, it is just a chapter. It is just a path in his journey. A road less traveled. And looking at these people I can’t say how, I can’t say when, but I knew everything will be alright.
But I’m not perfect, I don’t have all the answers. I hope you are always surrounded family related or not. I’m just a kid from a Ohio that came to Reno not knowing one single person and thinks you should donate to this GoFundMe