This page was last updated on Wednesday, 07 May, 2014.

First Day Back

Steve Whitman
07 May, 2014

Spring has arrived and its been 7 months since the shooting last year on Oct 1. A past employee, who had given his notice a year earlier, approached me while I was working on a backhoe and shot me three times with a .45 caliber semi automatic pistol. The first shot nearly severed my right index finger, the second entered the right side of my chest and traveled through me and buried into my left shoulder, and the third entered my lower right back and exited my right chest. Needless to say, I was very fortunate and lucky to have survived.

It was time, to travel from Massachusetts, to reopen camp for guests that would be arriving around the middle of May. I was on my way, hauling a 20 foot trailer with my pickup truck, which was loaded down with supplies for camp, including a wood splitter, picnic tables and benches that I had made in the off season, the John Deere gator, and a bunch of other stuff. It's about a 6 hour drive, so there is a lot of time to think and since I had not been back since the "incident", my mind was really running. How would I be in camp for the first time? How would it be going down the road and coming across where I was shot and then going by where I was eventually picked up by the ambulance? Would I relive it all over again? This and a whole lot of other mental images and thoughts were like an endless tape playing through my head.

As I arrived in town and approached the 1 1/2 mile gravel road that leads to camp, where the shooting occurred, I decided to proceed further down the tarred road, past our road, to another gravel access road that leads to the local rod and gun club. From this road, I could take a small gravel spur road that connects back onto our road and avoid the shooting spot. For now, I thought this would be the best way to "get back into things". However, where the spur road comes back onto our road, is what we call the the "three corners". This is the area I had desperately driven the backhoe to, in order to obtain cell phone service and was eventually picked up by the ambulance. As I drove down the heavily pot holed rod and gun club road, my stomach was in knots. I thought back to my athletic days when I was a young man, and realized this was the same feeling I would have prior to a football game or warming up to pitch. Anticipating the first hit on the field by an overly aggressive linebacker or throwing the first pitch to the lead off man in the first inning, always created those feelings in me, but after the first body hit or pitch all those feelings would disappear and I would then settle down "to take care of business". I was hoping this would be the same case today.

Driving by the "three corners", I saw the spot where I had treated my self for shock in a drainage ditch. Suddenly, all the memories came back to haunt me, including the bear hunters who found me and helped me with the massive bleeding, EMT personnel, state police, my brother, and the game warden, along with the chaos of that day. The images were vivid and were like a high speed movie, I kept telling myself "to get a grip" and "to get through this". I was alive and "still vertical", "life goes on", and "get over yourself", were some of the thoughts I kept telling myself. Like magic, all the images became faint and vague. Eventually, they all faded and disappeared as I passed the area and continued on.

As I pulled into camp, the shooters daughter (our manger) who lives on site with her boyfriend, walked towards me from her house. I had not seen her since the shooting. She was so pale and small as she had lost so much weight, I really did not know what to say, and just gave her a big hug. As we looked at each other, probably a thousand words were said between us, but the only thing she said was, "I am so glad to see you...and you made it here safely". I had gone through a lot, but looking at her, I realized then what stress and depression can do to a human being. It can break someone and if it goes unchecked it can destroy them. We talked for a very long time and even laughed a little. It started to be like old times and both of us needed that. It was really good for her and me as well. I thought just maybe and hopefully, this season, my wife and I will get our "adopted daughter" back that we had come to adore. It was sad to see her like this, but with a little luck and support from all of us, hopefully, she will continue on the road back.

During the day, I had to go to town to pick up a few supplies and again avoided the shooting area by not going out our road and using the rod and gun club road. I met a few people up in the village and they were glad to see me back and looking well. Making light of the situation helped all of us and the Maine humor, which is a very good thing, really started to come out. As I headed back to camp, I knew an important mission needed to be completed and that was to take our road where the shooting occurred.

Taking our gravel road back to camp, although doing this a hundred times in my mind during the winter, was not going to be easy. But, I realized that it had to be done sooner or later and it might as well be today. All my life, solving a problem, and not avoiding it has always been a rule with me. So why should this be any different?

As I saw the camp sign out by the paved road, and took the turn down the gravel road, I was starting to feel "the big game" feelings again and began to prepare myself for it. Traveling down the camp road and being amazed of the small snow bankings along the road edge helped to slow down my mind a bit and "take the edge off". The spot was coming up and I really did not know what to expect. A lot of crazy thoughts were going through my head and the images of the shooting were "flickering" at warp speed. Making the final turn in the road, I began to see the area where the incident took place, and without warning, my left shoulder began to hurt and then throbbing pain began in my right index finger. I could not believe what was happening to me. As I stopped the truck, I thought, "This is finger is hurting more than it ever has since the shooting....and my's really giving me some problems!" I knew I had to get out of the truck and confront the situation head on, but did I want to? Would it make things worse? Or would it help? Was this the right time? Finally, I said "the hell with it....this is bullshit....I am not going to let this get a hold of me!" and threw open the door and jumped out. I was pissed off as I looked around and relived the whole mess again. "I will be alright, it is over and done with, I am alive and it is time to move on", I said out loud. Then, out of the clear blue, everything subsided and I was back to normal and at ease. As crazy as it sounds, all the images and pain were gone as well.

I got back into the truck, put it in gear and headed for camp. My mind and body felt a whole lot better for I had just "struck the side out". Driving down the road, I realized that Dr. Joseph Murphy's principles, the author of The Power of Your Subconscious Mind" that John Moore gave me to read, were at work again. My subconscious mind was running a muck and the "crew" was out of control. The captain, your conscious mind, needed to get control of the ship fast or a real disaster was going to happen and that's exactly what was happening to me. However, once my conscious mind got its act together and started sending the correct orders to the crew, everything else came into place. "For your mind will control the outcome", which is from his book, proved once again to me, just how powerful and valuable those few simple words are.

Actually, I do not know how this season will go and what situations may occur. There will always be questions asked by everyone that I come across about the incident and what really happened. All I know for sure is that for my season to go smoothly, is the "captain" will have to be on his toes during the "stormy weather". He will have to be prepared, give clear and decisive "orders" to the "crew", and assure the controls of the ship are properly operated.

This, without question, will keep my "ship" safe and sailing out of harms way.℠ (Right-side navigation page SSI insertion)