“What happened to your eye?”I turned and looked her square in her 6 year old face and said, “I got stabbed in the face.”

If they are bold enough to ask, I’m not going to lie to a child. Quite honestly they handle the truth about what happened to me better than most adults.

She wasn’t phased she now had 1,068 follow up questions about what happened. 

I answered every question.

“Hurt a lot.”

“I wasn’t doing anything just walking up the stairs to my apartment.” 

“A good doctor sewed my eye back together.”

Her mother and grandfather just sat there eavesdropping on our conversation. 

The mother finally had a question, “where did it happen?”

“Savannah Georgia.”

The mother and grandfather looked at each other, rolled their eyes, and then responded, “not surprised you were stabbed in the low country. We have kin who live in the low country and people are crazy down there.”

“I think low country folks say that about hill folk.”

“Yes. But darling where were you stabbed? Was it hill folk or low country folk?”

Fair enough. 
The next afternooni was sitting on the sidewalk going through my large resupply package my Uncle Stan had sent me, the grandfather walked by. We were exchanging pleasantries when he abruptly stopped and said, “I’m really proud of you. I’ve experienced a lot of violence myself and I couldn’t do what you are doing or have your attitude. I’m too fucked up now.”

Squinting in the sun I looked up and smiled at him, “we’re all fucked up. We just gotta do our best to get through this with a sense of humor, little grace, and find a way to throw in an adventure or two.”

“Yeah. Well I want to say thank you for not letting this stop you. Some of us can never come back from the violence. We just stay fucked up. I’m just really proud of you.”

I stood up and we had a long hug. His buddy drove up and he got his pick-up. 

He rolled down the window.

“Don’t quit.”

“Never.”

We half waved.
For those who don’t know how to come back from the violence, I’ll keep hiking for y’all. Survivors still have big stories ahead of us. The violence wasn’t our final chapter.