Shane Koyczan: “To This Day”

Shane Koyczan: “To This Day”

Image for postHanna Ilczyszyn: Behind the plant

When I was a kidI used to think that pork chops and karate chopsWere the same thingI thought they were both pork chopsAnd because my grandmother thought it was cuteAnd because they were my favouriteShe let me keep doing it

Not really a big deal

One dayBefore I realized fat kids are not designed to climb treesI fell out of a treeAnd bruised the right side of my body

I didn?t want to tell my grandmother about itBecause I was afraid I?d get in troubleFor playing somewhere that I shouldn?t have been

A few days later the gym teacher noticed the bruiseAnd I got sent to the principal?s officeFrom there I was sent to another small roomWith a really nice ladyWho asked me all kinds of questionsAbout my life at home

I saw no reason to lieAs far as I was concernedLife was pretty goodI told her, ?Whenever I?m sadMy grandmother gives me karate chops?

This led to a full scale investigationAnd I was removed from the house for three daysUntil they finally decided to ask how I got the bruises

News of this silly little story quickly spread through the schoolAnd I earned my first nickname

Pork Chop

To this dayI hate pork chops

I?m not the only kidWho grew up this waySurrounded by people who used to sayThat rhyme about sticks and stonesAs if broken bonesHurt more than the names we got calledAnd we got called them allSo we grew up believing no oneWould ever fall in love with usThat we?d be lonely foreverThat we?d never meet someoneTo make us feel like the sunWas something they built for usIn their tool shedSo broken heart strings bled the bluesAs we tried to empty ourselvesSo we would feel nothingDon?t tell me that hurts less than a broken boneThat an ingrown lifeIs something surgeons can cut awayThat there?s no way for it to metastasize

It does

She was eight years oldOur first day of grade threeWhen she got called uglyWe both got moved to the back of the classSo we would stop get bombarded by spit ballsBut the school halls were a battlegroundWhere we found ourselves outnumbered day after wretched dayWe used to stay inside for recessBecause outside was worseOutside we?d have to rehearse running awayOr learn to stay still like statues giving no clues that we were thereIn grade five they taped a sign to her deskThat read beware of dog

To this dayDespite a loving husbandShe doesn?t think she?s beautifulBecause of a birthmarkThat takes up a little less than half of her faceKids used to say she looks like a wrong answerThat someone tried to eraseBut couldn?t quite get the job doneAnd they?ll never understandThat she?s raising two kidsWhose definition of beautyBegins with the word momBecause they see her heartBefore they see her skinBecause she?s only ever always been amazing

HeWas a broken branchGrafted onto a different family treeAdoptedNot because his parents opted for a different destinyHe was three when he became a mixed drinkOf one part left aloneAnd two parts tragedyStarted therapy in 8th gradeHad a personality made up of tests and pillsLived like the uphills were mountainsAnd the downhills were cliffsFour fifths suicidalA tidal wave of anti depressantsAnd an adolescence of being called popperOne part because of the pillsNinety nine parts because of the crueltyHe tried to kill himself in grade tenWhen a kid who could still go home to mom and dadHad the audacity to tell him ?get over it? as if depressionIs something that can be remediedBy any of the contents found in a first aid kit

To this dayHe is a stick of TNT lit from both endsCould describe to you in detail the way the sky bendsIn the moments before it?s about to fallAnd despite an army of friendsWho all call him an inspirationHe remains a conversation piece between peopleWho can?t understandSometimes becoming drug freeHas less to do with addictionAnd more to do with sanity

We weren?t the only kids who grew up this wayTo this dayKids are still being called namesThe classics wereHey stupidHey spazSeems like each school has an arsenal of namesGetting updated every yearAnd if a kid breaks in a schoolAnd no one around chooses to hearDo they make a sound?Are they just the background noiseOf a soundtrack stuck on repeatWhen people say things likeKids can be cruel?Every school was a big top circus tentAnd the pecking order wentFrom acrobats to lion tamersFrom clowns to carniesAll of these were miles ahead of who we wereWe were freaksLobster claw boys and bearded ladiesOdditiesJuggling depression and loneliness playing solitaire spin the bottleTrying to kiss the wounded parts of ourselves and healBut at nightWhile the others sleptWe kept walking the tightropeIt was practiceAnd yesSome of us fell

But I want to tell themThat all of this shitIs just debrisLeftover when we finally decide to smash all the things we thoughtWe used to beAnd if you can?t see anything beautiful about yourselfGet a better mirrorLook a little closerStare a little longerBecause there?s something inside youThat made you keep tryingDespite everyone who told you to quitYou built a cast around your broken heartAnd signed it yourselfYou signed it?They were wrong?Because maybe you didn?t belong to a group or a cliqueMaybe they decided to pick you last for basketball or everythingMaybe you used to bring bruises and broken teethTo show and tell but never toldBecause how can you hold your groundIf everyone around you wants to bury you beneath itYou have to believe that they were wrong

They have to be wrong

Why else would we still be here?We grew up learning to cheer on the underdogBecause we see ourselves in themWe stem from a root planted in the beliefThat we are not what we were calledWe are not abandoned cars stalled out andSitting empty on a highwayAnd if in some way we areDon?t worryWe only got out to walk and get gasWe are graduating members from the class of Fuck Off We Made ItNot the faded echoes of voices crying outNames will never hurt me

Of courseThey did

But our lives will only ever alwaysContinue to beA balancing actThat has less to do with painAnd more to do with beauty

To This Day Project

“My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me?


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