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Nothing is sacred: We wonít let you go alone, but we have made a tragic decision


This is based somewhat on the album Mercy Falls by Seventh Wonder

His birth was so many years ago that few among us remember it. It was one of little fanfare; many others were born around the same time and often received more attention than our little child. Still, we loved him from the moment he was born.

We named him John Randall Puglisi-Gore, my husband, surprisingly, being the one to push for a hyphenated last name. He liked the initials it created, he would later tell me. JRPG. They flowed, almost as if they meant something. I never admitted it to my husband, but I liked them too.

John grew up fast and was very popular with his elementary school friends. Groups formed on the playground, and while John was in one of the smaller, less-popular groups, those closest to him loved him. They all wanted to be like him, dressing like him, acting like him, and even refusing to speak, just as he did.

Throughout the years, John went through many changes, and like any parent, we loved some of them and resisted others. Perhaps we were too hard on him at times, but after all that has happened, itís easy to blame myself. Still, his friends, his teachers, and everyone around him often criticized himóhis intellectual development wasnít fast enough, he wasnít trying to grow up like his peers. Iím sure this took a toll on him emotionally and, in some ways, perhaps even physically.

None of that matters now as I sit beside Johnís hospital bed, staring at his comatose body and facing the very real consequences of the decision that Iím about to make. A son should never die before his mother. A mother should never have to kill her son.

Throughout Johnís life, he struggled with peopleís expectations of him. He first impressed teachers with his dragon warrior drawings, which teachers found to be the first thing to really define Johnís intellectual style. A year later, he became prone to fanaticizing, which many praised him for and others suggested wasnít a constructive use of time, as he did this over and over again despite always saying that "This one will be the last." But it canít be argued that his early fantasies werenít creative, giving his school teachers a glimpse into an imagination that they had never experienced before. They also made him more popular with the other kids outside of his small group of friends.

Pretty soon, however, Johnís health started to fail. It was extremely slow at first, and no one knew what was wrong. But certain things became apparent to everyone around him. He was no longer creative, many of his teachers argued. Something was fundamentally wrong with his mind.

We noticed other changes too, or, rather, the lack of changes. So much about his appearance and personality wasnít developing. Those same things that were considered sacred parts of who he was were now his greatest weaknesses.

His creative mind slowed. He drew the same pictures over and over again with only minor changes, keeping so many fundamental flaws in place while his peers overcame them with grace. He created fantasies using the same basic story, character types, and mechanics. He had finally begun to speak, but his speech was poorly delivered and not well-constructed. His speech either made no sense or was horribly difficult to listen to. He lost many friends this way, and even we, his parents, began to chide him for these things. Perhaps we were too hard on him, or perhaps we werenít hard enough. Regardless, we didnít know what to do, and we didnít see any improvement.

His health further deteriorated after he was diagnosed with a condition known as Stagnancy, which affects the mind and the body alike. It was a devastating diagnosis Ė one that often leads to death within a few short years. He kept many of his creations to himself, not allowing his peers to see them. You could see in his eyes that he was suffering, knowing that he was afflicted by Stagnancy but feeling powerless against it.

Still, the poor boy tried. He tried to become more active in classes rather than simply waiting his turn. Some loved him for this, suggesting that he had finally found a way to reignite his creativity. Others suggested that this new personality trait simply wasnít who John was. His mind became even more conflicted, and his struggles with Stagnancy only increased. Iíll never forget the day that he asked me, ďDo people even want me to beat this disease?Ē I had no answer.

As more and more time went by, Johnís body began to develop alongside his peers, but inside, he experienced only minor improvements. Many of his greatest developments were rejected by his peers, perhaps because they were too weird, or too characteristically ďJohn.Ē So many of his friends had given up on John and begun to hang out with Wes, a new kid from out of town. Soon, his Stagnancy became so overwhelming that it put him in a coma. Doctors suggested that he might not ever leave that hospital bed again.

It is beside that bed that I have sat so many nights, waiting beside John with the radio on for some signs that heís still in there. I imagine some nights that heís fighting a battle with his own body and mind, simply hoping for another chance to show the world what he can do. I would love to afford him that chance, truly I would. He deserves that, at the very least. He always had so much promise.

But so much time has passed, and weíve seen no change. Has even John given up hope of coming back to life? Has he suffered the ultimate defeat in the face of his torpor?

With the inability to speak for himself, the decision rests upon my shoulders. And Iím tired. Weíve been through countless treatments, hundreds of sleepless nights, and unrealized hopes. Though it may sound insensitive, I simply donít know how much more I can take. The stresses of a comatose son are nearly more than I can bear.

NoÖthey are more than I can bear. I look at myself in the mirror of the dimly lit hospital room, hearing only the slow, methodical beeping of Johnís life support. I think about the hours that Iíve wasted on John. I think it and immediately shudderÖhow can I have such a thought about someone who I love so much? Am I truly ready to give up?

Before I realize what Iím doing, I have called Johnís doctor into the room and uttered two simple words: ďdo it.Ē After all this time, he knows exactly what I mean. I reposition the chair in the corner, preferring not to see his face while it happens. I donít think I could handle that.

So I simply wait for the sound of the machines to cease, and I begin to whisper my thoughts to him, not knowing why. ďItís the only solution. Your body wonít heal. Your mind wonít recover. What else can I do? What else is there?Ē I say them for myself, I decide.

I close my eyes, knowing that Iíve simply given up. Was this a fight that could have been won? I donít know.

The sound of the machines cease. The doctor says something to me, but I donít listen. He leaves the room and shuts the door, and I realize that Iím alone.

The sounds of the radio penetrate my trapped consciousness, and I, as always, am somehow aware of my motherís presence beside me. Today, something feels different, but I canít put my finger on it. My struggle somehow seems more hopeless.

For years Iíve fought in this shell of a body to be what the world wanted me to be, and more often than not, I have failed. Stagnancy was something that I was not prepared to overcome, and when I was initially diagnosed, I was taken by surprise and I simply couldnít fight it. It took me over. I was fighting a battle that I was losing before it began.

Still, I know that I only need time. Just a little more time.

Nothing is sacred. I can change.

I am so ready to live. I want to come alive again. For the first time in my life, I realize what I have to do. I know thereís no one medicine that can cure me of my Stagnancy, but Iím ready to fight. Iím ready to live.

I hear the familiar sound of my doctor enter the room. I want to scream out to him, to beg him to give me the time that I need. I want to call out to my mother, and to everyone who has ever believed in me, and ask for just one more chance.

My mother and the doctor are discussing something, but the radio drowns out their voices. My life support machine beeps in time to the musicÖhow curious.

I feel my mother move away from me. The doctor is close. The radio grows quieterÖno, itís the beeping. It has slowed. It has stopped.

Just a little more time, I say again to myself. Iím so ready to live.

Then, the sound from the radio stops.
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About Andrew Kauzone of us since 5:10 PM on 04.30.2009

In loving memory: PAX 2009 (thanks ZombiePlatypus! And WalkYourPath, of course)

I'm Kauza, which is pronounced like cause-uh. My real name's Andrew Kauz, if you'd rather go for that.

I like talking to Dtoid people, so please add me on your favorite social networking site:
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/kauza
Gchat: santakauz[at]gmail.com.

Basics: I'm 25, and I write things.

Eternal thanks go out to Y0j1mb0 for the amazing header image you see above. So, thanks, sir!

Look at some of the things I've written.

Things on the Front Page:

Mass Effect, Metal Gear, Moon Unit, and more: An interview with Jennifer Hale
The Future: Demanding more from the voices of videogames
Love/Hate: A plea to play as a female Shepard
A warning: Regrets from a former life and experiences yet unlived
Top ten games for people who hate Thanksgiving
The wrong thing: Being evil should be more like sex
Staying dry in a sea of spoilers is a matter of building a boat
Lessons on taking games just seriously enough
Come, take your pilgrimage to gaming's one true mecca
Here's to you, random-JRPG-dialogue-writer-man
The forgotten: Crushing disappointment at the hands of Crash 'n the Boys
The people who have the power to change the world
Improving game communities: Enough with the negativity
The draw of exploration: Antarctica to Oblivion, Shackleton to Shadow Complex
I suck at games: BlazBlue and a slapdash attempt at fisticuffs
I, the Author: My Everest
Untapped Potential: The Gamer's Education
Other Worlds than These: Our World, Only Different

A series sort of thing about status effects
Toxic Megacolon and other fresh status effects
Curse you, status effects, stop confusing my heart
Status effects are poisons that turn my silent heart to stone
Also check out the related forum thread.

The Fall of the Titans (wherein I talk about dead or dying gaming companies)

The fall of the titans part 3: What once was shall be again
The fall of the titans: Sega died so that we might dream of the future
The fall of the titans: Why do the giants of gaming die?

Stories from the Past (a series about my experiences playing certain games):

Stories from the Past: Tobal 2, Tomba! 2, and console double-vision
Stories from the Past: Diablo and the Dark Ride
Stories from the Past: What the f*ck, mom?
Stories from the Past: Xexyz and the battle aboard Turtlestar Lobsterica
Stories from the Past: The One-Balled Man-Bear
Stories from the Past: The Battle of Olympus
Stories from the Past: Suikoden 2

Storytelling (a series about, well, storytelling):

Storytelling: The Problem of Genres
Storytelling: Mass Effect, Vonnegut, and the Fourth Rule
Storytelling: Doing Nothing in "The Darkness"
Storytelling: The Power of a Single Line (Yeah, it was my first post.)

Other stuff that is good:

Lessons on taking games just seriously enough
A consuming power: The demon and the borderlands
Can games transcend good and evil?
Nothing is sacred: We won't let you go alone, but we have made a tragic decision
How Destructoid single-handedly changed my motherís opinion of gaming
Why Tecmo Super Bowl is the greatest sports game of all time
Seven reasons that I will end you in creative ways if you don't play Folklore
Mother Nature and the Impending Death of the Gaming Spirit
Times Games Forgot: The Dark Ages
The Sins and Successes of In-game Collectibles
The Lock is Broken
When Music Surpasses the Game
Truckasaurus Rex and the Humor of Games
I Want to Cry (storytelling related, but not part of the series)

I have others as well that you can check out on my blog. You'll enjoy them or your money back.

Since it seems like the cool thing to do, here a list of my favorite games that is coming straight out of my ass and onto your computer screen, and in no particular order.

Fallout 3
Uncharted 2
Suikoden 2
Mass Effect / ME2
Metal Gear Solid followed by any number you can think of
Tales of Somethingendinginia (OK, and the Abyss)
Battlefield: Bad Company
Xbox LIVE:kauza
PSN ID:santakauz
Mii code:kauza


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