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Published:May 22nd, 2008 03:30 EST
Another Story Behind the Poem

Another Story Behind the Poem

By Ed Roberts

In the past I have shared with you a couple of my poems and the story behind their creation. Today I would like to share another of these. Like most of my poems this is much more than an attempt at entertainment, it is a page from my life.

First the poem ----

5 Single Words

There was a man
Only 30 years of age
He found himself at the end of the road
He had lost his job
His career
His money
His savings
What there had been of it anyway
All because of a simple accident
Well, not so simple of an accident
For he was also facing the possibility
The possibility that he would never walk again

He had fought
Tried to look at every possible angle
Until he came to but one conclusion
One that a person
That has never been in this situation
Could possibly ever understand

He waited
Waited there in bed
The bed that he was becoming way too accustomed to
Until his wife had left for work
Until the kids had been sent off to school
Waited there until he was finally
All alone
He had argued and fought
This was against all that he believed in
But there it was
Hidden in the words of an obscure insurance policy
To some
He was worth more dead
Than alive

Surely they would understand
He tried to explain it in a note
He knew that God might not be able to
But he pleaded for their forgiveness
And he was afraid that somehow
Somehow he might just become to them
A burden
This was just more than he could take

So he laid there in that bed
All alone
With a loaded pistol in his hand
Fighting a losing battle
With the simple reasoning and logic
That had driven him to this decision

In the very instant
The moment when it had finally come down
Down to raising the barrel to his head
He heard a whisper
A voice
Barely audible
But familiar somehow
5 words
That was it
19 letters
That made him stop

Who will find your body

Would it be one of the kids
Possibly his father
That said that he might come over
Or would it be his wife

There were so many possibilities
So many different people
And that was when it hit him
Hit him how really blinded
He had let himself become

He put the gun away
And was very careful
Careful that no one else saw how often
For the next few days
That he cried

Some people would argue
That this was simply his conscious
That there really isn`t such a person
As God in heaven
I know one man that will argue this point
And do so with great reason
For in the darkest hour and moments
Of a 30-year-old man`s life
God himself came down from heaven
And spoke just 5 single words
And if you haven`t figured it out by now
I thank Him every single day of my life
That He was there
To give me the strength
And the courage
To listen

Ed Roberts 8/04/02

I started working in the restaurant business when I was 16 years old, working for McDonalds Corporation. By the age of 17 I was promoted to assistant manager.

I went to Hamburger University in April of 1981. I had decided this was what I was going to do for a living. I was very good at it.

While I was in the food business I did work for different companies. At one time or another I worked for McDonalds, Wendy`s, Roy Rogers, Arby`s, and the Kettle Restaurant, each of these in a level of management of one title or another. I made fairly decent money but did have to work a lot of hours, sometimes between 60 and 70 hours a week. Needless to say my family life suffered from this.

One night, October 28, 1988 to be precise, I went to work as usual at the Kettle Restaurant. I found out my cook had called in sick and I had to fill in in his place. I was working from 6 PM to 6 AM that night. I am a good cook, this was not something difficult for me to do. Towards the end of my shift however, things changed.. I was cleaning the fryer, an electric type where you had to lift the metal container and pour the grease through a filter, when something went wrong. I have never been able to remember much from that night. The grease, which was heated to 350 degrees, ended up spilling down both of my legs from my knees down. From what I have been told I told the manager that had come in to take my place that I was in too much pain to finish my paperwork so he said he would do it for me and somehow I drove myself home.

When I got home I honked the horn of my car and my wife came out and helped me walk into our mobile home. I told her I had hurt my legs. I went to the bathroom, undressed, and got into the bathtub which I had filled with cold water. My wife didn`t understand just how badly I was injured until she walked into the bathroom and saw my legs. She said I had blisters that were nearly 6 inches high by this time. She was getting ready to go to a doctor`s appointment; she had been home for a medical leave herself, so she called my father who drove me to the hospital. He got me there around 8 AM that morning. I have learned all of this through what others have told me. I had a male nurse who stayed with me through most of my burn treatments; he said it was around 1 PM that day before I could tell anyone my name.

In total I went through 28 different burn therapy treatments and saw as many as 6 different doctors. A couple of these told me there was a chance that I might not ever be able to walk again. The company I was working for was not helpful either. They later fought my worker`s compensation case and ended up forcing me to quit. They then fought and had my unemployment benefits cut off as well. (That`s a different story though.)

I was 30 years old, I had a wife and 2 children at home,  I was facing the fact that I could have to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, and I realized that even if I could walk again I would probably not be able to work in the food business any longer.

(When you have 3`rd degree burns the skin that does come back is sensitive to heat. It makes working around an oven or a grill almost impossible.) I had asked myself a lot of questions and came up with possibly all the wrong answers. I did not want my wife to be put into the position where she would have to support us on our own and I didn`t want to become a burden to her. I studied our insurance policy VERY carefully and decided what I needed to do.

            I waited until my wife went to work that morning and the kids had left for school

and got myself off of the sofa. (We had a hide-a-bed on which I slept. I would put my feet on the back of the sofa so I could keep them elevated as much as possible. This helped with the pain.) I went into our bedroom, got our 22 caliber pistol, and made my way back to the sofa. I didn`t want to kill myself in the bedroom. (It is odd the things you do think about at times like these.) I had written the letter the day before, I did take it out and reread it to make sure it said as much as it could. (No one else ever saw that letter, I tore it up later that day.)

            It came down to that moment; I laid there in bed and placed the gun behind my left ear. (I had read this was the best way to shoot yourself. Yes, I had done my homework on the subject.)  I was squeezing the trigger of the pistol when I heard a voice behind me. I was the only one at home, the doors were all closed and locked, but somehow there was someone behind me, out of my sight, who asked me the one question I had not answered. Who will find your body? "

            I froze both from hearing another person`s voice coming from an empty room and the question that they had asked. I stopped, laid there for a minute, and tried to come up with an answer to his question. The words hit very deep. I didn`t even try to turn and face the person behind me. I laid there with a gun in my hand, tears running down my face, and tried to my best to find an answer I could somehow fit into this plan I had layed out.

It would have been either my father who was coming over later to take me to the hospital for treatment or my children when they came home from school. I realized I could not do this to them; I loved them way too much to let this happen.

            I really don`t know how long I laid there and cried, it was some time. I finally got myself up, took the gun back to the bedroom, and tried my best to clean myself up. Within 3 months after I had burned my legs I was walking with a cane. I tried to go back to work at the Kettle but they tried to force me into working in their kitchen. (As I said before, this is a whole different story.) I went on the road with my Grandfather in May of 1989, he worked at different State Fairs sewing names on hats for people. I sold novelty items out of a tent. I quit using my cane around August of that year.

            It took over 10 years for me to write the poem 5 Single Words " I can not count the number of times I sat down and tried to survive the cost of what writing these words demanded only to be left leaving the page blank or unfinished. Some words come to us with a price, one few people can really understand fully. When I was able to finally write this poem I wrote it in under 10 minutes start to finish. I then sent it my mother and a few friends to read, I can not read some poems after I have written them for several days. I simply need time to heal.

            There are times in all of our lives when we need special words to deal with this thing we call life. To date I have heard from over 3 dozen people who have found themselves in a similar position that I was in when this poem was first born. (Two of these are very close to me.) There is not a day that passes that I don`t thank God He was there when I needed Him and He gave me the strength to find these words. In so many ways, I am just a tool, the pen held in the hand of One far greater than myself. I just wrote the words, He found a way to get them to those who need them. I pray this never stops.


Ed Roberts 5/21/08