Preface

The story you are about to read is a true story—reasonably true anyway, because no bard on earth has a perfect memory. Suffice it to say, the exotic locales in which this book takes place—from Hawaii, to the European continent, to the Wild West, to Asia, and northward to Alaska—are accurate. Regarding the conversations and descriptions of what took place at these destinations, most were gleaned from journals and memories, or they describe real-time events I happened to be experiencing while writing the first draft. Can I swear that what you are about to read is 100 percent truthful? In spirit, yes. In a court of law, perhaps not. And as most disclaimers go, I must state that only a few of the names contained in this account needed to be changed.

This is a father-and-son odyssey about life, which centers on an overachieving father—played by myself—and my beloved son, who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) at age six. My overall objective in writing this story was to share a candid portrayal of what it’s like raising a child with a TBI and to offer a source of inspiration for other parents, caregivers and healthcare professionals. In addition, my hope is that the experiences David endured within these pages will also serve as a rallying cry for better treatment of the physical and emotionally challenged individuals within our society and the criminal justice system.

Many books involving human tragedy often spin the narration in an effort to prove that unfortunate events can be chalked up to fate or a divine will. Consequently, much of the literature involving real-life dramas asks readers to consider that there is a purpose for human suffering. My goal, however, was to write a more truthful piece, one that reflects what most people actually experience. This is not a fairy tale in which all things work out for the better; rather, it’s a piece that emphasizes the blatantly obvious: tragedy sucks. Because for many individuals who endure the gravest of misfortunes, life will never get better. So as the author, I feel there’s only one way to tell David’s story that will have merit. It’s to convey to readers how they will—when confronted with real tragedy—experience a barrage of emotions and questionable thoughts that they never fathomed they were capable of experiencing. Confronting one’s deep inner self is really the catharsis that enables us to better understand and accept what life throws our way; it permits us to find real answers, rather than to be pacified by false hope.

Despite the drama contained within these pages, this story is really meant to be an enjoyable, hilarious, and enlightening tale. David wouldn’t have it any other way. And when you get to know David through his crazy escapades, you’ll realize for yourself how important it is not to take life so seriously. For in spite of David’s injuries, he’s an extremely gregarious fellow, a socialite extraordinaire, and his carefree attitude is contagious. If people can be enriched and entertained by his struggles, then by all means, a little humor on his behalf is fine by him. After all, laughter is nature’s best medicine, or so goes chapter 2. 

Although I penned the following pages, I can’t really take credit for the story. For this is the story of David’s life, a journey I am honored to share and one I felt duty-bound to truthfully express. If you find the many anecdotes that follow are entertaining and beneficial, it’s because David experienced and survived these events. If I can take any credit, it’s only because I’m his father (as well as a writer), who simply wanted to do a good job at honoring the life of my son.

Lastly, I want to mention that David also contributed greatly to the contents of this book. While writing the first draft, I often asked him to write down his own thoughts in a journal so that I could accurately portray his feelings, ideas, and memories. The italicized excerpts of this book reflect those thoughts from his journal, which I’ve included with little or no grammatical changes to retain the authenticity of his voice. I also consulted with him every step of the way, because I wanted him to be comfortable with the parts of his life we mutually chose to reveal. Ultimately, he was the one wielding the editorial ax as we worked together in the telling of this journey.

 

Scott Stahlecker

© 2020 by Scott Stahlecker