December 11, 2013
We sat in my car on a quiet night crying together but still alone. She was the woman I loved and also the one who I blamed for my infection. The last thing she ever said to me was " I will be your scape goat and this to shall pass". That made me so angry. I didn't need a scape goat for it was her who had done this to us right. That was the best my mind could offer me. Anger pain and fear witch i would live in for the next there years. It was dark indeed but what they say is it's always darkest just before the dawn. How true that is. What I couldn't see (or wouldn't see) at the time is that for her this was the other side of the coin. That the Boomerang of blame I was throwing in my anger and haste would one day turn in it's flight and come back to cut me down just as had happened to her. That everything I saw about the girl in my passenger seat that I despised I would one day become. Every line I drew in the sand to separate her actions from my own I would one day cross. I believe she knew then the pain I would have to walk through and the fear I would have to face going forward. I today think she wished she could help me but knew in her heart that she couldn't for I would only hold her as my hostage from now forward and use blame and fear as the tool to do it. How much she must have loved me to know that for her the only thing to do now was to walk away. What I am not sure if she knew is that I would in the end find happiness and true freedom directly due that very pain and fear. I don't think she knew that then or even knows that now for I am not sure if she has found the same. I hope she someday does. Did she give me HVC or did I get it from one of my basement tattoo sessions...who knows and who cares. All I know is at the time of my diagnoses I hadn't used IV drugs yet and she had it all along and hadn't been honest with me about it so I blamed her. I needed someone to blame. I needed a "Scape goat". But in time...that too would pass.
My name is Mark and I am from a small town in Kentucky where everyone knows everyone and we party as herd as we work. We feel I believe that we had earned it. I was no different. I have spent the most of my days doing anything I can to earn a dollar playing some music cause it makes people smile and doing whatever it took to wipe away the pain and sorrow of a middle class young man. Most days back then where filled with 8 hours of making and serving chili at the local parlor, followed by several more hours of playing guitar drinking and doing drugs at one of the many local pubs. Witch pub depended on witch night. Life didn't seem to deep or meaningful to me at the time. Just try to be with friends,tell white lies and smile. I felt my life needed nothing else to be complete, needed no deeper meaning to be full. That is until she came back.
Her name was Cassie. I had know her as a young teen. I could recall nights in my early high school years where her and I would play drinking games...one on one like true alcoholics until we passed out. Good times for 13 year old kids. I remember one night a friend of ours Kristie had suggested that one day we would be a couple. I wasn't fond of the idea at the time but it grew on me. Then one day when we where about 16 Cassie vanished. Someone told me she had a new boyfriend and she had been doing heroin. This shocked me. I had never even seen the stuff. How had she gotten into that. I heard no more of her for a 8yrs or more but the fond memory never left me. Until one day there she was at the local corner store I went to daily. She was with that same friend who had suggest we would be a couple. I was shocked. She didn't look like what I now knew to be a heroin addict at all. She was stunningly attractive. As we spoke she didn't sound like anything other than the well spoken young lady I had always known. I wanted to ask where she had been but figured it could wait. So I did what I know best and invited the girls out for drinks that night. And so it started.
The girls showed at the bar where by now I was the door man and was well respected by my fellow drunks. We talked about old times over strong drink. (I was quite pleased to see Cassie still drank Kentucky bourbon and smoked Marlboro red cigarettes.) It was the great girl I remembered after all. I don't know if it was me the old memories or the drinks but something made quite the good impression for I was invited to an after party with the girls at closing time.) At the party we proceed to get much more drunk and then Cassie and I set off for a private room to fulfill the prophecy our friend had given all those years ago. It would be the start of the greatest love and greatest pain I have ever know in my life so far.
In the following months and years even her and I did all the things partying couples do. Loved without holding back fight like cats and dogs and washed our pain away with drugs and drinks. That’s what normal couples do right. One thing I forgot to mention is during the time her and I had been apart heroin had became an epidemic in my town. It seemed everyone was on it but us. Her and I had talked about where she had gone for all that time. She told me about her experience with that awful drug, how she had gone to rehab and was better now. Seemed fine to me and also a good reason not to try it. I could kill the girl I loved. It took some time but the day came where her and I would start to do heroin together. I remember it like it was yesterday. We where sitting in the parking lot of a local dinner where we met an old friend to buy 40$ worth of heroin. As we sat in my sky blue 1998 Buick regal I remember how hot it was. I remember thinking....only this once. We both snorted it this time (this wouldn't last long for her) like i did for the next five years because I didn't want to be like her. By the time I smoked a cigarette I knew...this feeling and this girl is all I needed for the rest of my days. That’s what I thought but it wasn't to be.
Everything went alright for a while other than loosing our jobs , selling everything we owned , stealing from our families and everyone who cared about us and getting evicted from our home. Yes all was well indeed. Until one day her brother asked me if I was being carful with her...sexually. I didn't know what he really meant and replied."dude she's not going to get pregnant". And he said...Its not that I just don't want you to get hep-c. I was floored. I had heard rumors she had it but I had asked her and she denied it. (witch I now believe was out of fear of loosing the only comfort she had left..us) But here was her brother saying it was true. What to do now. Get tested I guess.
I got tested a few days later and about a week later I found I was infected with HVC. I was at work when I got the phone call. I stepped outside to take it because I was at a new job and I didn't want to took stupid. As I found out i remember how bright it seemed outside and how my ears rang. What I heard was as follows. " You will be dead by Thursday and its that bitches fault. She used your love to kill you" As we all know that’s not what was said but that’s what I heard. I then confronted her after work and she still denied it. So off we went to get her tested as well. She puts on a good show you know. The following day she told me the truth about the whole thing said she was sorry and asked if we could talk in person. Which leads us back to the dramatic intro paragraph.
In the following years I was forced to face my own mortality daily it seemed. I always knew we died but had never really considered it much. I also couldn't quit drinking and doing heroin. At one point I was able to pull a few clean month together and get in to see a G.I. . It was here I started the combination therapy. The therapy made me very sick and after about six months I started to get high again. My doctor pulled me off treatment when he found out. By this time I knew drinking would kill me so I stuck to drugs mostly. I also felt my time was limited so I started to travel. By train, by plane, by car, by boat ,or by foot I set out to see the world while there was still yet time. In fact today as I write this I am sitting in the sun of Daytona Beach Florida hiding from the cold and still on my journey.
Though I can't tell you exactly how it happened here is what I know. Since the day I found out I have realized that our time is short. What a gift!! I have realized that what I do with that time is important and has a real effect on everything around me. What a gift!! I have been able to stop drinking and using drugs for some time now. What a Gift!! I can actually help people today because I don't think I am the most important thing on the planet. What a gift. I was able to go through everything I despised in Cassie including sleeping with someone without telling them I had HVC. I am not proud of that and I know the chance of that person contracting it are small. I wish I could find that person and tell them the truth. To be honest the way my life has been I wouldn't be surprised if it happened. Not the entire journey was bright but it was I believe exactly what had to happen for me to know what I today know. Today I can love Cassie again even though she won't speak to me. I can see she was acting out of fear just as I acted out of fear. Today I await affordable health care to kick in so I can again seek treatment. Its been 6 years since I was diagnosed and in that time I have learned to walk through fear because a great light awaits on the other side. To love all the way today because there may not be a tomorrow. I have a host of friends who know about my HVC and love me anyway. This is not the entire story because it would take too long. If you want to know more you can always contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or fb Mark J. Eckler. I will always be here for you like so many others have been there for me along the was. Because there is no me and you only us. Today I can honestly thank HVC because while it didn't make me mortal it made me realize I was. Only then was I truly able to try to learn how to live. How to use the limited time I have the best way i can for us... not for me. I hope someone has enjoyed this. I hope you can find your way as I have found mine. In closing all I can say it this. There will be pain and there will be fear on your journey. Face the fear and walk through the pain for the only thing I promise you is this. It is always darkest just before the dawn and there is a reason for this. I love all of you and I would love to hear about your journey for it is intact our journey towards the light together.
Mark (Thursdays Child) Eckler