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Hope In The Form Of A Heart-Shaped Locket

Over 57% of people in this world are crazy. That means we're the majority. It's the people with the mom, the dad, brother, sister, dog, little white picket fence, happy marriage, picture-perfect life, they are the freaks! I love screwed up people, because they know how to deal with problems. The minority however do not. They are the ones who yell "IS THERE NO GOD!!!" when the toilet's backed up. Now, you might be asking yourself as to what the difference is between a crazy person and a normal person. I'm a psychiatrist, have been for years. I've seen people reach their breaking points, and boy, it isn't pretty most of the time. The difference between crazy people and normal people is basically how they handle their breaking point. But the difference between a crazy person and one who is too insane for his own good, well that's a different story. It all comes down to one thing, and one thing only. This one thing basically decides whether one steps to the edge and looks down or steps to the edge and looks down and ends up jumping. And not a lot of people have this these days...
Another December wind comes along, passing through the trees like a soft word, as I'm looking quite pathetic in my Reliant K car: I'm trying to hold the slipping bike rack onto the roof with my right hand, I'm texting with my free hand, steering with my left knee, all the while trying to hold my coffee in between my legs. Just another Monday evening. I sigh, tired from a long day at work. I spent my whole day listening to a high-class woman from Staton Island talk about her dull and boring life and about how last night she went to a party and her friend was there wearing the same Gucci dress she had on, and "like, wore it way better than I did!" Please shoot me. I make my way down this empty street as the sun clocks out, leaving behind a reddish-orange in its path. I roll up to the skid marks on the street and sidewalk right in front of my small house in West side when all of a sudden something catches my eye. It was the old man that has been occupying the streets and alley ways of my neighborhood the last few years or so. I take a good look at him as he goes through my trash, definitely looking frail. As a helper of humanity, I should feel sympathy for him. But having the day I had today, I couldn't care less. "Shooo! Get away!" I exclaimed, hoping to frighten him. "Go and steal from another's belongings!" And with that, he scurried away with whatever he could carry in two thin toothpicks for arms.
The next morning was a little better. I got up, the sun was shining, a smile came upon my face like a raider in a fallen land. It seemed very bright in the bachelor pad, circa September 2001. Today will go my way. But, not surprisingly, it didn't. Soon enough, the toilet backs up (go figure), the shower head falls off, and I accidentally break off the pole on the wall of the bathroom which holds my his-and-her towels, and with it, the last part of my smile that I had left. And not only was I going to have a bunch of home improvements waiting for me when I come back home, I'm also late for work. So I go ahead and put on my wrinkled clothes, grab my still brewing cup of coffee, and I'm out of the door. And then, it hits me like a bullet: the sight of the homeless man from yesterday, again going through my trash. "Hey! What did I tell you!!" He looked up, and our eyes locked for a second. Then, like a freight train, started flying through the wind to get away from me, but he didn't get very far. He was shot down by a heart attack. I quickly called an ambulance, and they soon came. I then proceeded to choose whether to go to work or go with the ambulance to make sure he's ok. He was in my property, so he's my responsibility.
A few hours later, I'm in the hospital room right next to the poor guy (no pun intended). While he's sleeping, I observed him and his appearance. Blood spots on his hands (check), so many wrinkles on his face that it looks like his forehead is a washboard (check), a complexion that says "Hey, never let me around your kids," (double check). The room gets darker as the sun gets covered by a cloud, seemingly blocking the rays from coming inside the room. Then, out of nowhere, I see a twitch in his hand. And then, his eyes begin to open slowly. "Hey, good morning sleepy head." I can see the age in his dirty grey eyes as he looks wide-eyed at me for a few good seconds. Then he turns his head from left to right violently. "Where is it?! Where is it?!? Where's my necklace?!" He then turns to see the bedside table, a few dollars and coins and a locket occupying the top. "Whoah whoah, easy there tiger. It's right there." I seem startled by his sudden outburst, and I make some comments in my head regarding his apparent longing to the gold locket. "Boy, I wonder why that necklace is so important to him. He's probably going to sell it to make a few dollars. Not surprised." After making my educated assumption, I watch as he clutches the necklace, holding it tight against his heart. "Soooo, what's the story about the necklace. I can tell you have some sort of emotional attatchement to it." "Eh, why should I tell you?" I can sense the smugness and wear-and-tear in his gruffy voice. It goes great with the inconsiderate tone he gave me. "It's... a loved one's, isn't it?" "Maybe. What's-it-to-ya?" "You wanna share?" "No, the story's too long." I pull up a chair and sit square down, giving him a look and a nod. "Go right ahead." He then looks me in the eyes, and says with a slight hesitation and sigh, "Ok..."
He proceeds to tell me about his life, how he started off as the "fortunate son" of a company bigwig. He studied and worked hard to become more like his father, basically forgetting a personal life in the process. When he finally made progress to become a great up-and-coming stock broker, he based his whole life on money and power. He was on top, nothing can stop him, well, except for love, anyway. He met a stunning woman named Josephine. Her hair glittered in the sunlight, her skin was radiant, her smile could light up a room, and she could do no wrong in the kitchen. "The way to a man's heart is always through his stomach," the man said. "All I thought about was money, money, money. But she basically showed me that money didn't matter. She would always tell me whenever we were in a tight spot, or when I was mad, that 'love was all I needed.' And, for some reason, I believed her one-hundred percent." After a year dating her, he finally popped the question. "I asked her on top of the Eiffel Tower. She was surprised, but said that I wasted over 200 dollars on plane tickets when I could have just asked her in a barn. She said she would have reacted the same way." They were soon married, and lived a happy life for many years. For their 30th wedding anniversary in September, he went out and bought her an expensive, gold, diamond-incrusted, heart-shaped locket. "2001 was our year. Every piece of it. You can sense there was something special, like our love, which was still a huge flame, would get even bigger." He came home that day, waiting to surprise her with the locket. He waited for her to come home from work at the WTC, walk through that door with arms open wide, her white smile lighting the path to her embrace. But it wasn't meant to be. He sat in his own pool of tears and perspiration as he watched the World Trade Center go down, wishing the smoke he saw through the television would come through the screen, fill up the room, and suffocate him. He spent the next few hours trying to get himself together, but he was too far gone. His breaking point was reached. In a mad rage, he took the locket and threw it at a wall and watched as all the diamonds fell off, leaving the gold core open and cold. After a long while in the fetal position, tears soaking his shirt, he went over to the locket to finally rid of it once in for all. But he couldn't do it. He was knocked out of his stupor when he saw the opened locket, and what was engraved inside. It spoke to him. He listened like Moses to the burning bush, but without any questioning. He knew there that he needed to clean up his act in more ways then one. The next day, he quit his job. He knew it had been taking a toll, but he didn't want to go through with it anymore. He gave his money to different charities, and even auctioned off his belongings with the money going to the poor and needy. Everybody thought he was crazy, friends, family, everybody. They thought "What a foolish thing to do," and, "She probably caused all of this. Maybe if he never would have met her, he wouldn't be doing anything this stupid and ludicrous." But he knew what was true. He knew what she wanted him to do for the sake of his life. After a few events, he was left homeless. But he said "I never lost anything however, but I gained something." He went about his next few years living in the streets, fighting for his life, but for some odd reason, he was hopeful. At this point of the story, I am fighting the tears and losing mightily. I can relate to this story since I lost my wife as well in one of the planes during 9/11 too. I was depressed, but I was never this crazy and avante garde. So much respect had been created from this one story, and I was amazed at this man's tenacity. After this man's story, visiting hours was up. I bid the man farewell, but turned around and said with a smile, "I'll see you tomorrow."
The next day came, and with it, a new sun, brighter and hotter than before. And with the sun came my smile, back and better than ever. I had my coffee, all the repairs had been done, and my excitement built as the time to see my new acquaintance came. But it wasn't meant to be. I was in shock and awe as the hospital told me the news. I gave my friend a proper funeral. I was the only one to give my last respects, but maybe it was meant to be that way. I still have one thing from the man to remind myself of him: his locket. I open it up every once in a while whenever I'm having a stressful day, or just whenever I'm feeling down, just to remind myself that "LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED."
Over 57% of people in this world are crazy. That means we're the majority. The difference between us and them, other than shouting profanities at a toilet that won't flush, is our breaking points. But what separates us crazy people from the totally, dangerously insane is whether or not we give in. What we all need these days is one simple thing. It's not money, nor is it anything material for that matter. It's hope. And hope can manifest itself in many different ways, not just one. It can be the money that someone gives you so you can get food for your family, or it can be a smile that a stranger gives you on the subway, or maybe it can be a simple "Hope you have a good day." For me, it's simple: hope in the form of a heart-shaped locket.





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