My Life Story: Derek Robert Cherven
I am not a stupid person, but I have done some stupid things. And by "stupid" things, I mean some "bad" things too. It has taken me thirty-four years to muster the courage to admit this. I am sorry that it took me so long to say it. My life has been provocative and unconventional. There are things that I am proud of, and then there are things that I am not. Say what you will about me, but the fact of the matter is that I am human just like you. The only difference is that I'm stupid enough to publish this thing for the entire world to see.
I was born and raised in a small suburban town called Foxborough, MA., which is located just twenty-five minutes south of Boston. I grew up in a Catholic middle-class family and had a relatively normal and happy childhood. My father was a state trooper and my mother was a nurse. My older brother was eight years my senior. He was my hero - He was handsome, cool, popular and tough. He became a state trooper too. He was everything that I wanted to be. He would take me to the “cool kids” parties, even though his friends thought of me as his younger “pain-in-the-ass” brother. They were dickheads to me, but Mike always had my back. It’s a characteristic that still holds true to this day. He practically raised me because our parents worked so many long and odd hours. He taught me important life lessons such as, “Santa Clause doesn’t exist.” and, “This is condom.” and, “Drink this.” “What is it?” “Hard liquor- You’ll like it”. We fought a lot after our father died in 95’. Which was hard for me because he was everything to me. I don’t know what was more traumatic, losing my father, or losing my best friend.
The ensuing years after my father's death were some of the darkest, loneliest and frightening times of of my life. I did many stupid things, and hurt many of the people who were closest to me... including my mother and my brother. I did it with my bad behavior and my loud mouth. My stupid mouth. In my defense, I was just an adolescent teenager who had his entire world turned upside down. I wasn’t angry at you, I was angry at God! I often asked him, “Why did you do this to me!?” He never answered. Eventually over time, my faith faded like a pair of blue jeans that eventually make their way into the trash. By the age of sixteen, I was well on my way to full blown agnosticism, which was a far cry from my childhood days at C.C.D. and the Knights of Columbus.
You are about to learn that I have witnessed more tragedy in thirty-four years than most people experience in an entire lifetime. It would have been easy for me to give up and throw in the towel, however, I always managed to persevere. After the death of my father, I was basically on my own by the age of fourteen. I went from being a high-honor roll student, the class president, and captain of the football team - to a lost runaway teenager. I was suddenly a troubled young boy who was angry at the world because his father was gone for good. Adding insult to injury, God destroyed this boy’s family too. After July 13th, 1995, life in the Cherven household would never be the same.
The Japanese word “Sensei” translates into “teacher” or “master” in English. When I was fifteen years old, I decided that enough was enough and ran away. I was a clever boy that was one-step ahead of the authorities when they were searching for me. Freedom, as I thought, was nearly in my grasp. Soon I would be basking in Florida’s warmth and away from the devastation of my past. That was until a man by the name of Jim Prouty, a private detective who was once close with my father, tracked me down and foiled my escape. On that long and defeated car ride home, Jim was able to do something that no one else had been able to do before him… he gave me hope. Jim told me that I had every right to be angry, and that my feelings could be harnessed and used for good purposes, rather than self-destruction. He spoke to me like a man and not a stupid derelict child, which I had become accustomed to hearing. He told me about stories of my father and the times they spent together as police officers back in the day. He inspired and made me feel less alone. He reminded me that my father was an orphan who had lived a tumultuous life much like the one I was now living. He told me that my father didn't find himself until he had a life altering experience and after he started taking Karate under the tutelage of a Sensei named Van Cana. I later learned that it was in Van Cana’s dojo that my father and Jim had first met, which sparked an eternal friendship that lasted until the day my father died. It was at that moment, that I decided put my faith into a man that would become my “Sensei” and guide me along the path of life…
I have lived a hard and loose life. What is the opposite of hard and loose? Well, the antonym of hard is soft, and the antonym of loose is tight (or guarded). I suppose that I wouldn’t have accomplished some of the things that I have if I had lived a soft and guarded life.
It has been a double edge sword though because living a hard and loose life isn’t easy; it comes with setbacks and heartbreak.
After the death of my father, my high school guidance counselor sat me down in her office and said, “Derek, you know how I know that you will succeed and overcome this tragedy? It is because you are resilient.
TO BE CONTINUED
TO BE CONTINUED...