My name is Jeremiah Lee Roberts, born September 5, 1988, allegedly; at least that what it says on my birth certificate. When I was age 17, I went through that too cool for school phase, and I went out west, you know, trying to find myself, for a little exploration and adventure.
Then it was November 9, 2010. I was walking around the streets of downtown Olympia, WA, and I was homeless at the time. It was raining and I was getting pretty cold and was very tired. So, I went to the train tunnel to get out of the rain and I fell asleep and a train came through that night. I knew it was an active train tunnel, but never knew of a train coming through there at night, and I thought only once a week in the day time. I just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The train driver didn't see me and I didn't wake up in time and...that is when life happened for me. The night I woke up underneath the train.
But, I look back on it and to this day think, "Man, what a tough guy I am for living through that shit, you know. I mean how many guys out there can honestly say they stopped a train with their bare hands. That's just what happened man. Yeah, I remember when it happened and I jumped up thinking, "Oh my God, oh my God, what's going on?" The train had already left the tunnel and was nowhere in sight. I remember thinking, "Did I just dream this...no?" Then I looked down at my arms and they were all mangled up. It was very dramatic for me to see what kind of condition I was in.
At that second, I realized I had minutes to live, I started thinking logically and left the tunnel like a bat out of hell and ran up the road to the closest house. I broke the door down as it was 2:30 a.m., hinges hanging everywhere. I am bleeding like a stuck pig, fearing for my life and my adrenaline took over, you know, and I remember praying for mercy, for God to spare my life at that moment. I didn't really have much of a relationship with God at the time but I just kept thinking there has got to be a higher power. And right then and there I told myself I can't make it through this world alone anymore. And, to see the love I had for myself that night, to be able to throw my 135 pound body through a door and break it off on the hinges after bleeding out, more blood than I have thought possible for my body to carry. To have had that kind of energy still just amazes me, because I realized there was no way I was alone in that moment. As alone as I felt and scared as I was, I feel like I had a supernatural power in me, more angels.
Whatever it was then, being a nightmare for me, I will tell you what it is now, to this day. It really has turned into a dream come true, you know, I woke up and realized "Hey, this life is going to through a few curve balls at ya and um, you might not be able to hit them on the first swing but a guy like me, I ain't gonna stop swinging. Sometimes you gotta take the ball on the shoulder and that's kind of what happened that night. I was shown that this world has something to offer me. I'm not just a life of my own to have for myself, as an individual, one that is loved by God, but someone who shares that same kind of love for others. I might be a turd in most people's eyes, but to me, you know, you can sew a seed in a turd and grow a beautiful garden. We are all boogers for that matter, either way you look at it. We all come from the ground, and we are all going to go to the ground. And, one day the ground we are standing on now may not exist in our three dimensional world. If and when that day comes, man, I feel like we are all going to go back to being one. Individual's, sure? But we are all individuals of the same.
Love is the biggest part of me. I tell everyone when I leave their presence, "I love you." The only little tattoo I have on my whole body is the word "love." Love to me is what makes the world go around. It's not something' that can be taken away, It's not something that can be taken advantage of. It just is. It's, it's...just all or nothing. And, that's what love is - it's everything. If I didn't have love, I don't feel like I would even be here. Who I am and how I live my life and the way I view things, well it's all surrounded by love. To me, God is love. This is the closest I can get to describing God. He is love.
The hardest thing for me being homeless isn't my disability, the absence of my limbs, but the fact of the matter is, when you are on the street, you gotta fend for yourself. There are times you are walking down the street and nobody will have your back. You know, I am up against the world, whether that means going into a restaurant to use the bathroom and trying to get your pants down or trying to clean yourself properly. Without hands and arms, it's quite hard to do.
I remember back being homeless having hands and arms, on the street. I could throw my shirt off, slap on some deodorant, put another shirt on, splash some water on my face real quick, not a problem. I could be presentable in no time. But now in order for me to do all that, oh my gosh, it takes hours it seems like.
Being homeless and armless on the streets has built a lot of strength in me, and actually, in others. You know, some people walk by cursing about their day, heads down, and then they look up and see me with a smile on my face, having a happy ole' time. They will say, "Man, I thought I had it bad. I thought I was having a bad day." So, I try to remind myself to smile, especially when I see other people having a bad day. I remind them to walk a day in my shoes and see what it's like. If you think you got it so bad, just remember there's always someone else out there who has it worse than you.
For instance, two days before I was release from the hospital, they brought a 16-year-old girl in that got hit by a drunk driver. She lost both of her arms, and both of her legs. And, she was only 16. I was fortunate enough to make it to the age of 22 before my accident. And I remember I felt sorry for myself, until I got a call from a guy in my amputee support group. He said, " Man, you are having a really hard time and you have only been out in the real world two days. I know it's rough and scary, but just remember that 16-year-old girl." So, when I am having a bad day, cursing the world, angry because I ain't got no arms, I think about her and I think, "Man! There's no way I could deal with that."
My dream is unity. To see all of my bullies, teachers, challengers, competitors, elders, brothers, sisters, all my family to have peace in their lives. To share this peace with others. In the end, let there be peace, and no fear.