(Warning, this may be long-winded, poorly written and personal.)
I've known of my neighbor's existence for approximately five years. Truthfully, I'm not sure how old he was, nor do I know the full details of his death or even... his last name.
I simply knew him as the man that lived next door. Kevin.
When I was a young kid in Grand Island, Nebraska. I knew everyone in the neighborhood. I knew their names, what they liked to eat (I was a notorious mooch.) I knew basic information about their character, such as, how much they loved or hated the Nebraska Cornhuskers, or if they thought "Iron" Mike Tyson was the baddest man on Earth (I grew up in the ‘80s.) I knew important things, such as, where all the kids lived, their pets names and which ones had parents that would actually let them leave their front porch. I knew what yards I could cut through and which old folks were always watching through their windows or mail slots. I knew who got the Independent newspaper and who thought it was too expensive when the Penny Press was free.
I delivered both the Penny Press and the Grand Island Daily Independent from the age of 8-11 . I helped my mother deliver the Omaha World Herald out of the back of car when three jobs wasn't enough to support her four children.
I'm not bragging, times were different back then. I believed in myself. I talked to my neighbors. I loved unconditionally. I wore whatever was in my dresser drawers and no matter how I was literally beaten, abused (kids were extremely punished back then), laughed at, disciplined at school or publicly humiliated... I believed in myself and I knew who my neighbors were because I talked to them... a lot.
Life isn't like that for me anymore. I grew up. I moved. I lost some of my self confidence and trust in humanity. I lost my ability to quench curiosity by going outside and seeing what the neighborhood I lived in had to offer. Not in one day, week or a month... in 33 years. In all that time I lost out on a lot with my ever changing approach to life as I grew up.
I lost out on knowing Kevin.
Now, I know Kevin was a nice guy. I talked with him quite a few times. He was a very kind man that was willing to cross the barrier of personal comfort to wave or say hello. Where I was quick to run inside.
I also grew up in the ‘90s, where things like Beavis and Butthead made it very easy to find the allure in having a "This sucks" attitude. Calm down, I love Beavis and Butthead, but only recently have I been able to separate entertainment motto's from reality motto's. That's been an issue for me personally.
At some point in my life, I became negative. Sarcasm became my real feelings. Being nice to people became a chore. Listening to people became a nuisance. Everything became boring.
For me, the Chiefs are never boring. Frustrating? Yes. Boring? No. For years, the Chiefs have been a route to positivity. My way to be the real me. The naughty, outgoing kid that said hello and smiled at everyone.
As CBO, I'm often that fun-loving, wishful thinking, Kool-Aid chugging Chiefs fan.
As a person: I'm in my phone, underachieving, negative, dishonest, obnoxious, lazy, hypocritical, still a notorious mooch, mean, hurtful, full of it, long-winded, short-sighted, stubborn, selfish, untrusting, manipulative, self-centered, brash and arrogant.
I'm seeking balance in who I am.
Prior to Kevin's death and my journey into the world of Stand-Up comedy in New York City. I had an anxiety attack. In fact, I've been having anxiety attacks since I moved to Kansas City in 1992.
Anyway, I had an anxiety attack. I was all alone. It was really bad.
When I have one of these attacks my face goes numb. My tongue starts to feel like I'm going to swallow it. A bubble starts to form in the center of my throat, it expands to the size of the Earth, then it detracts so small it feels like my head pops, only to have it expand like the Big Bang. Over and over. My skin crawls. It feels like my 200+ bones are rearranging. I can feel my blood traveling through my veins. My body feels like a sick sack as my mind tells me I'm drifting away to death. I get violent urges to breathe and spit. My hands tear at my face, but they might as well be stumps. The feeling is gone. During an anxiety attack, I race to see a mirror. To make sure I can't see my certain death on my face. In 20+ years, death has never been in the mirror.
Every time I survive.
This past time... I couldn't stop it. Death felt like it was coming.
I went to my neighbors house. I knocked. I waited. I knocked again. I waited some more, freaking out internally. I didn't want anyone to find me alone... dead.
Two ladies answered. It wasn't Kevin. But it makes me sad, because these two ladies are now mourning Kevin's death and there is nothing I can do to help them. They helped me in that moment.
They said, "What's the matter."
I told them my story.
I told them that all I needed was someone to reassure me that I wasn't going to die.
They reassured me.
Then... my dog got out (of course.)
They told me my dog got out.
Anxiety attack in full swing, I reluctantly went after my dog. The chase felt like years, but I finally caught her and slowly brought her to the house with no leash. Crouching all the way (a real pain.) Screaming at the top of my anxious lungs:
"I'm not going to die."
Among other less PG things...
Finally, I got the dog back in the house. Fear was flowing through my veins, stress was taking over. My fingers were rubbing my head like it was going to grant me three wishes. Water was repeatedly thrown in my face as my organs felt like they were hemorrhaging in their own blood.
For awhile, I sat in front of a mirror.
The conversation that I had with myself was hilarious. I convinced myself through ferocious sarcasm that I was me and that I was in control. My reflection and I had a battle worthy of Chiefs - Raiders. Hatred, insults, cursing, 15 yard penalties... it was brutal. It was hysterical. I was hysterical, in all definitions of the word.
Then I heard a knock at the door.
"Who the hell is that?" I asked my reflection.
I walked to the door and looked out the window... It was Kevin.
By this point, my attack was almost completely gone, just like always.
Arrowhead Pride, I don't remember all of our conversation. It's kind of a blur in my mind. That said, Kevin took the time out of his day to make sure his neighbor was okay.
We talked about anxiety, he told me stories about his own family members dealing with the disorder. But more importantly, Kevin was friendly, neighborly. He offered a helping hand to a fellow human being in distress and I'm forever grateful.
Only... now I can't thank him.
It's strange because in that moment I was convincing myself I wasn't going to die. Kevin helped me understand we both had long lives ahead of ourselves.
Now, he's gone.
And I'm left typing words while his family suffers.
Life is precious Arrowhead Pride.
In my life, I haven't been the best person. I've lied, I've stole, I've hurt people, I've been irresponsible and disrespectful. I know that very well.
But I'm still alive and I'm focusing on believing in myself like I once did as a child filled with wonder. I always try to harvest the wonder out of my own children. Also, I attempt to share with them the magic of the Kansas City Chiefs and the importance of loving your family.
I'm improving each day.
Lately, I've been trying to find my path in life. Is it writing? Is it comedy? (I love being on stage, it's very freeing.) Is it something I haven't figured out yet?
I don't know.
What I do know is that I believe in myself. I believe in people. I believe in the good of humanity and I believe in the power of the Kansas City Chiefs family.
Not for the wins and the losses, not for the big FA's or 1st round QB delusions... I believe in the Chiefs, because I believe in Kansas City.
It's our time.
Love each other, get to know each other, support each other, you never know when the opportunity will vanish without a last name.