“Maybe life is curious to see what you would do with the gift of being left alive.” This is what my friend Michael Silverstone wrote to me after I was shot in 2005.
I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and more important, the shooter was the wrong man to be carrying a .22 caliber gun. He was fleeing from his hotel where he had been making (and possibly taking) crystal meth. I had just finished playing a concert in Denver and was on my way back to my hotel with my band and tour manager in the van that we were traveling in that summer. I was sitting by myself in the second row of seats. My tour manager was driving. The man appeared seemingly out of nowhere and stood in front of our van and pulled out a gun, aiming it right at us. I yelled “DUCK” as a gunshot rang out and our van started to swerve. Glass went flying. Chaos. I don’t remember how many shots were fired, but one of the bullets went through the windshield, grazed my tour manager’s chin and ultimately lodged in my right temple.
When the ambulance came, I remember telling one of the EMT’s that I had young children at home that I needed to take care of and to please not let me die. I remember him saying “just keep talking man… just keep talking.” It was some kind of miracle that I survived that night. I was told that the caliber of the bullet, along with the fact that it traveled through a windshield and grazed the driver’s chin contributed to slowing down the bullet sufficiently enough to cause it to lodge a centimeter short of my skull, nestled in just enough soft tissue to save my life. I never lost consciousness. I watched them remove the bullet from my head. I stared at the x-ray in disbelief. One more centimeter and my children would have lost their father that night. Too many stories end that way. I was one of the lucky ones. I’m writing this in recognition of National Gun Violence Survivors Week to shine a light on the ones who weren’t so lucky; those who lost their lives and the ones left behind to grapple with unbearable loss.