UNITED STATES—This may be the hardest piece of written work that I have ever done. In my opinion, death is something that scares all of us, some perhaps more than others. The tragic death of actor Paul Walker shook a lot of people to the core, including myself. I guess because it was so unexpected. I cannot equate his death with my near death experience, however, it brings back to me like so many others, how short life can be; we never know when our time or someone we care about is up, so it’s important to cherish every single moment with them. I’m not sure why that is, but when facing death it changes everything and it’s my time to share my tale.  I recall the day vividly, it was Labor Day 2010 and I was just about to get ready for work.

I was in a good mood, I was happy about life, it was just like another day, but soon did I discover that would be a day that forever changed me as a person.  7:25 a.m. was the exact time that I knew that one of two things would happen, I would either die or I would survive, as I came face-to-face with a loaded gun. It took me a second to process what was happening; at first I thought I was in a movie, this can’t be happening to me, is this happening, why is this happening to me. The scariest thing of the situation was that I saw my life flash before my eyes.  Two young guys, no more than maybe 18-20, where robbing me at gunpoint.

The question that continues to haunt me is that I have no idea where they came from. I’m always alert of my surroundings and I would say I have a heightened sense if something isn’t right.  I felt that, moments before the incident transpired, but why I didn’t react to my senses I have no idea.  Upon seeing the gun in my face, I panicked, I knew considering where I was this was no joke, people were being murdered day in and day out, so to have a gun pointed in your face asking for your money was no joke. Instantly, I gave my wallet to the guy holding the gun, I empted my pockets without a second thought, informing the culprits I had nothing else to give, for some reason that didn’t seem like enough, they wanted more. What more could I give them?  This is where it all changed; I knew at that moment, it was over.  I was going to die, and there was nothing I could do to change that; that scared the hell out of me, as I didn’t get to say goodbye to my loved ones.

To them it seemed like a game, like they’ve done this before and it was an opportunity to have some fun, for me, I was completely aloof to what was transpiring. When someone attempts to pull you out of the public limelight to a secluded area it’s never a good sign and I knew that I had to do something say something to save my life, I wasn’t ready to die and not like this to say the least.

I literally shouted “I have nothing else.” I pulled my pockets from my pants, my jacket; I put it all out on the floor to save my life.  It worked.  They took the $50 I had in my wallet and were on their way.  The funny thing is the robbers didn’t run they casually walked away like it was nothing. They wouldn’t be caught; they had no fear of any possible repercussion.  I just remember being dazed for a moment, taking deep breathes, there wasn’t a person in sight; it was a holiday and very early in the morning so little to no vehicles were on the road. With my heart rate palpitating, I grabbed my wallet and keys from the ground and rushed to my home.

All I kept thinking while I was running was are these guys watching me; what if they shoot me in the back? That prompted me to continue turning my back around to ensure no such thing happened. When I got to my house, I fidgeted with the keys trying to get the door open as soon as possible. Once inside, I sat at the dining table to process what just happened, nothing made sense to me. I called my job to let them know I would be in for work, why was that first on my list, I have no idea.  I called my dad to inform him of the situation.  He was a complete wreck considering he was out of town. Physically, I was not harmed, but emotionally and mentally I think I was destroyed in more facets. My mom was destroyed with the news; never did she suspect one of her kids especially in her eyes the guy who has done all right in life, to be a victim of such a heinous crime.

Its hard to talk about the event, the day that it happened was perhaps the worst. Filing a police report, knowing in my gut that these culprits would never be caught, the fact that my sense of security and safety had been compromised; those were just a few of the things that I faced.  I’ve only had one nightmare since the incident transpired and it wasn’t so much of me being robbed, but it was someone else and me being the hero and stopping the culprits from doing so.  My biggest thing was the rage that I felt inside, wanting to get vengeance, redemption to reinvent that event with a happier outcome.

I talked to a therapist about the incident, but I felt her focus was more on issues of my anxiety, versus talking me through the incident. What therapist focuses more on what they want to discuss versus what I’m hoping to discuss, yes I have anxiety issues because I’m ultra sensitive about my surroundings. Literally for weeks after the incident, a person jumping beside or next to my cause me to ‘react’ with an edge, I would literally react with reaching my arm to grab the party without knowing who it was.

With time, my reactions and thoughts about the incident have gotten better, but what hasn’t changed is the fact that it happened.  That emotional scare will be with me forever, because I don’t consider myself a victim, I don’t consider myself a survivor, I consider myself a teacher.  I know that on September 6, 2010, something really bad could have happened to me.  I could be dead, I could have a family grieving for me, friends, co-workers, and so many thoughts of what could have gone wrong. I have been given a chance to tell my story of survival to inspire someone else that it’s not the end, will your life change, absolutely, without a doubt.

It’s a journey to find myself, to understand why it happened, truthfully I don’t know, that’s perhaps what bothers me the most, I don’t know, and I am still grappling to find that answer, but I can’t allow the past to haunt my future. I refuse to.