Knight : Knight’s End

It was Monday,
October 25th,
2010.

The final day
Of Chevalier Blanc.
The day the White Knight
Came to his end.

It was 0830 hours
On that Monday morning
When I knew
Everything was over.
Everything was done.
And I would never return
To the place I’d worked
For the past 13 years.

It was 0830 hours
When my boss said to me,
“We’ve received a request
From the customer.
They want you to not contact
Anyone you worked with
Any more.”

I swear to you
That my heart stopped.
Completely.
For a time.

I could not think.
I could not feel.
All there was
Was complete oblivion.

I remember walking that day.
Three separate times.
Until my toes and heels
Both bleed.
And parts of my socks
Were stained blood red.

I remember stepping through
The procedures
For initiating Family Medical Leave.
The phone calls
Made to everywhere.
To tell them
What was going on.

I remember my doctor
Saying these words to me.
“Go home.
Now.”

I don’t remember
Anything I said
To anyone.
Anything I felt.
Whether I was angry,
Or just hurt.

All I remember
Are the words I wrote.
And those words
Said it all.

Have you ever lived through
A panic attack
That lasted days and days?
According to my doctor
On October 25th
Of 2010,
I began doing just that.

That when I was told
I couldn’t contact
Anyone at all
I fell into an attack.
That lasted for at least
Five solid days.

And the only memories I have
Of the entire experience
Are the memories I captured
In the words I wrote
Back then.
And in the days that followed.

I know that I was wounded.
I know that I was hurt.
But I never understood
Just how much,
Until the day in September
When I finally cried
From the hurt
That I’d been through.

And I know
That on that Monday,
October 25th,
Of 2010.
The time of the White Knight
Came to its end.

And the Knight was gone.
Forever more.
No one will see him again.

And now,
As I close my eyes,
And remember the Knight
That I once was.
I can see him
Prone upon the ground.
His glassy eyes
Looking straight up
At the sky.
His blood
All around.

There is a hole
There in his chest
Where his heart once was.
And his heart itself
Is completely gone.

There is no White Knight
Any more.
Chevalier Blanc
Is gone.

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Knight : One Day In September

When people remember
The 11th of September,
They usually remember
The terrorist attacks
On the World Trade Center
In New York.
And the Pentagon.
And they remember
The plane that went down
In Pennsylvania.

I remember that day
Very well.
I understand why people
Remember it.
The emotions
That it brings to them.
The anger
And the rage
They feel.

But that’s not at all
What disturbs me
About September 11th.
For one year ago.
09/11/2010,
The life I had
Was virtually destroyed.

And the Knight,
Chevalier Blanc,
Had all but reached
His end.

It was a Saturday.
And the Lenten Rose,
And her family
Had an end of summer part
At their house
Along the river
Nottoway.

And I went to that.
Because I knew
What the Lenten Rose
Was living through.
And it seemed
Appropriate to me
To just show up.
As a way to show her,
And her family,
That I supported them.
And would be there
To help them.
If they should ever ask
For any help from me.

I didn’t know at all
How much I was wounded
At that time.
I didn’t know
That in less than 30 days
The life that I was leading
Would have reached its end.
And I’d be isolated.
And alone.

I remember very much
How much I did not fit in
On that Saturday.
How the way that I behaved
Was being observed.
And monitored.
By people that I worked with
At that time.

Everyone there
Had tried
To be nice to me.
To at least take the time
To say, “Hi.”

I felt like there was nothing
That I did that day
That worked.
Not one single thing.

I even got my camera
And went out on the boat
When they took that out.
And her spouse had skied.
A guy from work
Had torn a hamstring
In his leg.
And her son
Had done his thing
On his wake board that day.

I took pictures
From the boat
Of all three of them.
Even got pictures
Of her son
Hanging in the air
On his wake board.

I had to take those pictures.
No one else there
Could have taken
The pictures that I took
To give to her.
I knew that she would like them
Very much.

Through the rest of the time
That I was there
That day,
I pretty much
Kept to myself.
And said almost nothing
To anyone.
And I’m certain
That everyone there
Noticed how I behaved.
And that my behavior
On that day
Played a major roll
In bringing to an end
Chevalier Blanc.

When it was time
For me to leave
On that Saturday.
I found the Lenten Rose
To say good-bye to her.
But as I spoke with her
I could tell
Something was wrong.
I could not tell what.
I only knew
That her behavior
Wasn’t what I expected.

I would begin to learn
In the days that followed
That the Lenten Rose
Was concerned for me.
That she already knew
That I was hurt.
Even though I didn’t.
And it would take
Almost one whole year
Before I began to understand
How hurt I had been
Back then.

This is what I remember
When I think
Of the 11th
Of September.

That it was
One of the last days
Of the White Knight.
Of Chevalier Blanc.

Knight : Shattered

There are many dates
I shall never forget.
Here are two more of them.
The first is Tuesday,
13 July 2010.

That’s the day
That she returned
To work.
And the day my world
Changed.

I remember very clearly
How she showed up that day,
And went straight to the meeting.
That happened every Tuesday morning
At exactly 0900 hours.

As if nothing was wrong.

I remember everyone had smiled.
And welcomed her.
And then the meeting
Had gone on.
As if nothing was wrong.

I went to the lab downstairs.
And I hid there
For quite a while.
For I couldn’t figure out
What the heck
Was going on.

That morning was also
The first time that I met
Her spouse.
The Navy let him return
From his duty station
To be with her
During her medical crisis.

I’m certain that he believed
After he and I had spoken
That there was something
Very wrong with me.
For the truth was
I had nothing positive to say
About the place
That I worked in.

And I let it out that day.

Being who I am,
Living with my ASD,
My brain sometimes acts
Like a recorder.
And I remember everything.
Facial expressions.
Body movements.
Posture.
Everything.

I was so confused by everything
That was going on that day
That I wasn’t able
To figure out
What his actions said to me.
The way that he behaved.

I don’t pick up on such things.
I never have.
I have to watch a person
Closely.
To the point they think
I’m staring right at them
To have a decent chance
Of figuring out
What they’re trying to say
In that social language
I’m all but deaf to.

And when I’m stressed
As I was that day,
My ability to process things
Collapses.
And my autistic nature
Shines right through.

But now,
As I play back the recording
That I have inside my head
Of the things I saw that day
When I spoke with him
I can’t help but see
That he thought I should shut up
And go away.

And I can’t help but believe
That what I did that day,
And the things I said
To him
Contributed a lot
To the events that were to come
In the weeks that followed.

To this day
I don’t know how
I made it
Through that day at work.
And I never will.

My doctors have told me
That it’s surprising to them
How stubborn,
And how strong
I am.
And that it’s hard
For them to believe
How long I stayed there
In that place of work
That I called
The Land of Grey.

All I know
Is that some how
I made it through that day.

Then came Wednesday,
The 14th of July,
In 2010.
A day that I cannot forget
No matter how I try.
A day that is forever burned
Into my memories.

That was the day
I fell.
The day I shattered.
The day my free-fall
From so high
Reached its end.
And everything that I believed,
And knew,
And understood,
Was completely gone.
Destroyed.
Before my very eyes.

And I never understood
A single thing that happened
In the Land of Grey
After that day.

Not one single thing.

I’ve had more than 13 months
To tear apart
And analyze
The events of that day.
And the days that followed it.
And all that’s done
Is show me
There are things in life
I’ll never understands.
No matter how I try.

For once again
On that Wednesday
Everyone behaved
As if everything was OK.
And nothing anywhere
Had changed.

And even I could see
How very wrong
That was.
As blind as I am
To the ways of people
In this world I never made,
Even I could see
That everything was wrong.
And everything was broken
In that place.

And my behavior
Came apart.
The image that I’d crafted
So very carefully.
So that everyone would think
I was like them.
So that for once
In my whole life
I felt like I fit in.

That image was destroyed.
Shattered
Like Humpty Dumpty
When he fell
Off of that wall.

And I was terrified.
More than mere words can explain.
A fear of being there
In that room
Where I’d worked
For so very long.
With the people that I’d known
For years and years.

For I couldn’t understand at all
The way that they behaved.
As if nothing was wrong.
And she wasn’t hurt
At all.

On that day
The Land of Grey
Became to me a place
Where the hearts of everyone
Were frozen hard as stone.
And their souls
Were trapped inside.

It felt to me
Like everyone
In the Land of Gray
Had become
Just another part
Of a heartless machine.

That no one
Really cared
For anyone
At all.

And everyone I saw
In that place that day,
And in the weeks after,
Behaved exactly the same way.
To the point
Where I could not
Tell them apart,
Except by looking
At their faces.

As I sat there
In that Land of Gray
On that awful day,
My fear overwhelmed me.
And I panicked.
For the first time
In my entire life.

I panicked.
And I ran.
All that I could think
Was that I had to get away.
That I had to escape.
From that awful place.

And that’s just what I did.
I didn’t run,
But I did walk
Very fast indeed.
Out to my car
In the parking lot.
And then I got in it
And drove away.

Hell,
I didn’t even know
Where I was going.
I only knew
I have to leave that place.
Right then.
And that I didn’t know at all
If I could find a way
To return to work
That day.

I remember making phone calls
Using my cell phone.
From a parking lot somewhere.
I remember that there was
A Stone Cold Creamery there.

I remember parking
In the parking lot
Of the offices
For the company
That I worked for.

I remember talking
With my boss.

And I remember,
And can never forget,
What he said to me
That day.

“You need to not let
What’s going on with her
Have any effect at all
On you.”

And I remember
That my heart and soul
Both screamed in agony
When they heard his words.

How could anyone
That had a heart and soul
Not care about
What was happening
To her?

I did return
To the Land of Grey
On that afternoon.
And when I did
I found three people
That I had to speak with.

The Princess of Laughter
Was at the summer picnic.
And I spoke with her there.
And let her know
That what was going on.
And how depressed I was.

The Castle Guardian
Was hard at work.
But took a time out
To speak with me.
And I let her know also
What was going on.
That I was not OK.

And then I visited
The Lenten Rose.
She who was so hurt.
And somehow,
Someway,
With all that she was facing,
She could still see
The hurt in me.

A hurt I had endured
Right there in that room.
In the Land of Grey.

And from that day
Nothing
Would ever be the same.

Knight : 01 July 2010

There are dates
I can never forget.
They are burned
Into my memories
Forever.
They are the days
When I made the choices
That I made.
And paid dearly for them.
They are the days
When I was not understood.
Because of who I am.
And how I am.
They were the days
When I found
That every friend
I thought I’d had
Abandoned me.
They were the days
When everyone
Became afraid of me.

And I will never understand,
So long as I may live
The reasons why
All these things happened
In my life.

The first date
I can never forget
Is the 1st of July
In 2010.

This was the day
That she went to the hospital
For her first round
Of surgery.

She had breast cancer.

And on that day
When I got up
To go to work
I found that I could not.
I found I had no reason
To go to work at all.

That was the day
That I could no longer deny
That the work I did
Had no meaning to me
Any more.
No value
Of any kind.

That was the day
When I couldn’t go to work.
I tried.
I even went to work
For a little while.
Right after lunch.

On that day,
For the first time in my life,
I saw something
That absolutely terrified me.
I had never been
So very much afraid
In my entire life
Until that day.

As I walked
Through the land of work
On that day,
I noticed,
Much to my dismay,
That everyone behaved
As if nothing
Was happening
That day.

Someone that they worked with.
Someone they all knew.
Someone they all claimed
That they cared for
Very much.
Was in surgery.
And fighting
For her very life.

And everyone kept going.
And behaving.
As if she was on
A scheduled vacation day.

The work that they were doing
Never missed a beat.
It was to me as if
The whole place
Was a heartless,
Soulless
Machine.

And no one there
Really cared
For her.
Or anyone.

It was to me as if
The only thing that mattered
To everyone
That I worked with
In that place
Was the work itself.

And the people.
The human beings.
That they saw
Every day.
That they worked with
Every day.
That they laughed with.
That they talked with.
That they shared stories with.
That they went to lunch with.
That were such a part
Of their daily lives.

Those people
Didn’t matter at all.
Not one little bit.

It was as if
Every single person
In that place
Cared only for the work.
And only for their job.

As if
I could have walked
In through the front door
Of the building one day,
And taken out a gun.
And shot myself
In the head.
And crumpled
To the floor
Stone dead.

And no one would have cared.
No one would have paused.
No one would have shed
A single tear
At all.

Because the work
Would still be there.
And it would get done.
Because in that place,
The only thing
That anyone
Cared about at all
Was the work.

As I walked through the place
On the first day of July
In 2010,
I found I had to leave.
I had to get out.
I had to run.
That I couldn’t stay there
Any more.

My friend
Was in the hospital.
Fighting for her life.
And there I was
In a place
Where that reality
Didn’t matter
At all.
And didn’t change
A single thing.

And I could not stay there
Any more that day.
I could not be
In that place.
Where no one cared
About anyone.
At all.

On the 1st day of July
Of 2010
That is what I saw.
That is what I learned.
About the place
I worked.
And the people
I worked with.

That is why I had to leave,
To get out of that place
On that day.

I went home.
And I did
What I’d promised her
That I would do.
I wrote something
Just for her.

It was something
That I knew
I could do.
Something that my heart
Told me
I had to do.

Knight : Chevalier Blanc

I knew that she was in trouble
Before she ever told me.
I knew because of who I am.
And the things I’ve had to learn
Just to make it through
Another day of life.

I learned long ago
That I have to see
Everything there is to see.
That I have to watch
Everything there is to watch.
So that I can tell
When something’s wrong.
When something’s going on.

She spoke to me
One afternoon.
As she left work.
I heard every word she said.
Of how she was going
To a doctor’s appointment.

But there was something more
To what she said that day.
And anyone with eyes
Could have seen that.
If only they had looked.

No one looked.
At all.
I’d learned
That no one
Ever does.
Instead,
They close their eyes.
And pretend that everything
Is always OK.

So I know that no one else
Saw what I saw that day.
A friend that was very much
Afraid.

I knew what fear was.
And how to see it
In the people
Around me.

It shows up first
In a person’s eyes.
And then in subtle changes
In their smile.
If you look close enough
You can see the tension
In their body.
How it runs from their shoulders.
Through their chest.
And down their back.

And that’s what I saw
That day she spoke to me.
And that’s why my heart
Spoke to me that day.
And told me
Everything with her
Was not OK.

So I sat there for a moment
After she was gone.
And said a silent prayer
To God.
That whatever it was
That was wrong.
He would take care of her.

I didn’t sleep that night,
Except for a few hours.
When I tossed,
And turned.

When I’d had enough
Of pretending I could sleep
I just gave up
And got out of bed.

I went downstairs
In my home.
And I sat down
On the floor.
In front of the sofa.
In the dark.
All alone.
More than three hours
Before the dawn.

As I sat there
On that day,
In the dark
Before the dawn.
I knew exactly
What it was
That I would do.

I would once more put on
The persona that I knew so well.
As I had 10 years before.
When a friend
Had needed me then.

I would become once more
Chevalier Blanc.
The White Knight,
That fought demons
In the darkness
Of the night.

And that’s just what I did.
In the corner of my mind,
In my heart,
And soul.
I donned shining white armor
Once more.
And then I drew my sword.

And like I had
10 years before,
I climbed on my white horse.
And rode off
Into the darkness
Of the night.

She had demons
In her life
That I had to help her fight.

It was not a physical fight
That I would be engaging in.
Oh, no.
It was a fight between
The darkness
And the light.
As it had always been.

And my sword
Was the words I wrote.
That I could give to her.
In the hope
The should could
Once more close her eyes.
And sleep.
And maybe even dream.
For just a little while.

It was a risk
That I chose to take.
And having made that choice
I drew my sword of words.
And I wrote something
Just for her.
Every single day.

It was the first time
In my life
That I’d captured dreams,
And brought them to life.
As words upon a page.

And I know
The dreams I captured
Did what I wished them to.
And brought a moment’s peace
To her.

And in the days that come
I’ll tell the story
Of the last battles
Of the White Knight.
Of Chevalier Blanc.