“Mother Earth” ~ Lou’s Poem (2014)

Shea & Lou at the Lewis River (2010)

Mother Earth

We sow our young with seeds of doubt,

with hopes that they will never sprout.

~

We tell them not to lie and steal,

then rape the Earth for cheaper meals.

~

We kill the one who gave us life,

with pesticides, no guns or knife.

~

Pollute the waters, slay the trees

as Mother Earth begs on her knees

for us to stop, at least slow down

remove our plastic man-made crown

begin to smile, remove the frowns

the dissatisfaction brought all this around.

~

And still we sit here in our human made shelters.

When will we see what we’ve done?

I’m tired of waiting for you to stand up.

The right time for action has come.

~ Louis Raymond Case Debruge

(May 2014 / Nature Writing / Clackamas Community College/ Prof. Davis)


Last month, Oregon’s Land Board voted 2-1 to sell the State of Oregon’s oldest pubic forest.  The Elliot State Forest is home to towering Douglas firs and to the Umpqua River. It is prime habitat for the northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, coastal coho salmon and other species.  According to The Oregonian, “the forest is no longer doing its stated job: raise money for Oregon’s schools through its timber.”  The forest is no longer doing her job?  Her job is to raise money for schools?  Evidently, our science texts need to be rewritten to reflect this new reality.  Formerly, children around the world were taught what scientists long ago concluded, that a forest’s “job” was to sustain life of all kinds, including the dangerous species called “human.”  And yet Secretary of State Dennis Richardson voted in favor of the sale, opposing the Governor and Board Chair, Kate Brown.  “My obligation,” he stated, “is to live up to the schoolkids (sic) in Oregon.”

2017:  The year the water protectors were forced to leave their sacred camp at Standing Rock so that pipelines could be built.  The year the U.S. government decided that environmental protections are no longer necessary and put a gag order on climate scientists. The year Oregon decided to sell its oldest forest to pay for a fraction of what it costs to educate the State’s children for a year.  Meanwhile, it’s yet another year in which the United States will spend more on wars and weapons, on death and destruction, on violence to our planet and to people, than any nation on Earth.  It’s the year Lou would have turned 20, on this day, March 4th.   “March forth!” we used to joke together.  An activist’s birthday.


Trinidad Beach (photo by Greg Nyquist)

I moved last year to Humboldt County, California, home to some of the world’s most ancient and beautiful forests.  I have been on a healing journey for the past year. In the Redwoods, I’ve been cultivating the courage needed to complete Lou’s book of poetry, essays, and song lyrics,  Free To Tell:  Lou’s Writing Shines a Light on Child Abuse & Addiction.  Much of Lou’s writing is dark and difficult to read.  As in this poem, his own traumatic abuse and betrayal as a child often bleeds through.  Prophets’ voices have always been unsettling. They call us to turn and reconsider. They beg for a change of heart and they call us to action.  Woe unto those who turn away from the prophetic voice.


Jay Z was interviewed by Amy Goodman at the Sundance film festival in January about his upcoming documentary series, Time: the Kalief Browder Story. (Click to watch the trailer.)  Kalief was sent to Rikers Island at the age of 16, without trial, on suspicion of stealing a backpack.  He endured 800 days of his three years in prison in solitary confinement.  Once released, he suffered all of the post-traumatic stress symptoms associated with childhood trauma.  He committed suicide at the age of 22. Amy asked Jay Z, “You call Kalief a prophet.  Why?”

“Well, you know, we’ve seen prophets come in many shapes and forms.  And we’ve seen, you know, sometimes tragedy happens for our prophets: Martin Luther King.  I believe this young man, his story, will save a lot of lives.  You know, what was done to him was a huge injustice.  I think people (will) see his story and realize like, man, this is going on. This is not like one case that happened.  This is happening to a lot of people, you know.  So, it’s very important, his story.”

Jay Z’s reply is incredibly powerful.  A young man who hangs himself or dies of an overdose of drugs, alone in his room, may yet be a prophet.  Any child, every child, who suffers grave injustice at the hands of adults has a story that must be told.   Our children deserve a bright and hopeful future, not a barren nightmare of slow asphyxiation.  Their personal future possibilities are not separate from those of the Earth, as Lou’s poem suggests.


Bandit and Lou (2006)

On the EP of Lou’s music produced by Marv Ross in 2015, Lou and his friends Tristyn and Shea sing his song “Change.”  The refrain repeats like a mantra and a prayer for peace.

Let’s try to make a change, for our daughters.  Let’s try to solve our problems without pulling out a gun.”  

One day, in the last spring of their lives on Earth, Lou sat on the edge of his grandmother Roberta’s bed and read aloud for her his latest poem.  “Consistency” is a reflection on the maple tree in the backyard of the home the three of us shared in Oregon City.  Consistency is what Lou’s grandmother provided him through the outer and inner storms of his life. Consistency is what Mother Earth longs to provide for all of us, her creatures, her children. Let us return to the wisdom of our true Elders, the native peoples whose cultures were all but destroyed by blind ignorance, arrogance and greed.  Let us kneel in reverence together on the Earth and ask her forgiveness.  In her health and balance, cradled in her roots and her branches, is our only hope for renewal and healing.

Link:  Lou Reads to Roberta 

Consistency

In a very unclean world, my back yard is a place of sanctity.

A tremendous broad leaf maple tree is first to greet the eye, inviting my attention,

if only for a moment.

Her leaves change with the seasons, slowly turning from green to yellow to brown

as the year goes on.

In the winter months, my tree has no leaves at all.

It is as if the roots are waiting for the sunlight to shoot their ancient energy to the tips of

the branches and bring out the wonderful yellow flower indicating that spring

has finally arrived.

When I was younger,

I hung a tree-swing rope to a low branch, six or seven feet off the ground.

I would push back and forth for hours, enjoying all the pleasures my tree had to offer.

The happy emotion was plenty for me.

I swung and laughed in my own favorite tree.

The maple tree has been there my whole life,

sitting, waiting, watching silly humans go in and out of my own backyard.

The tree means something to me.

May 2014

 

Feel free to leave a comment on this post.  

Lou’s Songs of Life: A Lenten Reflection

Louis Debruge - First Communion - First Grade at Saint John the Apostle Church
Louis Debruge – First Communion – First Grade at Saint John the Apostle

The season of Lent begins today, Ash Wednesday.  It culminates in a celebration of new life, Easter. Between the two, we remember the extraordinary life of a good and innocent person who endured physical abuse (“Jesus is scourged”) emotional and verbal humiliation (“Jesus is crowned with thorns”) and who was left alone to walk his path, carrying the heavy burden on which his life would end (“Jesus carries his cross.”)

Today as I prayed these Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary, I reflected on the significance of this season in Lou’s life.

On Ash Wednesday 2013, Louis was nearing the end of a 30-day stay in residential treatment at Northwest Behavioral Health Services, a clinic for adolescents suffering from addiction.  It was his second experience in rehab, but it was the first time he had asked to be admitted voluntarily.  “I need to go back, mom.  I’m losing everything I care about.  I need help.” The courage of admitting we are powerless!  It’s a gospel kind of heroism, this surrender. It’s Jesus in the Garden of Gesthsemane saying, “Let this cup pass from me, yet not my will but Thine.”  Calling on a Higher Power to light our way in the darkness, reaching out our hand to others for help, stepping into the power of vulnerability, these are not signs of weakness but of great strength.

It was there, with the support & encouragement of his therapist, Bruce Zufelt, that Lou designed and led a workshop for his peers.  It was entitled, “Using Song and Poetry to Heal From Trauma.”  This experience surely contributed to Lou’s later interest in music therapy as a possible career. He was only 15 years old, yet he was doing instinctively what is currently cutting edge trauma therapy.  (1)

Lou began by playing one of his own songs, The Game of Love.  He then shared how writing music and lyrics helped him.  “Songwriting was irreplaceable for me. It was truly magic to see the sounds and beats in my head transcribed onto paper and then turned into actual vibrations which other people could hear.  It was a three step process that could turn the ugliest of memories into the most beautiful creation.” (2)

Next, Lou asked the workshop participants to write a journal entry about a difficult memory of betrayal or loss.  He asked if some of them would share and they did. Then he played another song to help heal their hearts. Afterwards, Lou walked into Bruce’s office for our session together.  He was beaming.  He was also shaken.  He was every bit as moved as were the staff and other clients by what had just transpired.  In his humility, he had not anticipated the flood of thanks, tears and congratulations from staff and clients alike.  He hadn’t realized the healing he would find for himself as he began to open up about the pain of his past.  “I even got three marriage proposals, mom!” Later, I was told that several other clients subsequently made important disclosures in therapy about their own childhood wounds.  Louis had the natural gifts of a wounded healer.

The vision of this project, with the publication of the CD “Free As The Sun” and the companion book, “Free To Tell,” is that Louis’ voice can and will continue, posthumously, to inspire and to gently/powerfully move other young people to tell their stories, to themselves and then to others.

Utah Lou's Rebirth Ceremony (Trapped)
Lou’s “Rebirth Ceremony” sculpture-walk begins with this image of being trapped as a child, in a prison of thorny abuse (Second Nature ~ EVOKE Wilderness Therapy, with Dr. Matt Hoag, PhD. Santa Clara, Utah ~ April 2013)

Several days later, it was Bruce who had the difficult task of giving Lou the news.  This time, he would not be coming directly home from rehab as he had expected.  Instead, a trained transport guide would be accompanying him on a flight from Portland to Utah. There, in the desert, he would be spending eight weeks in a program of adolescent wilderness therapy with twelve other young men who were battling inner demons.  “Hmmmm,” said a dear friend of mine when she learned about what lay ahead on Lou’s path, “Forty days in the desert during Lent and into the Easter season?  Sounds to me like God might have something in store for Louie.”

May his memory be a blessing and may we each walk into new life in some way this year.

(1) See “Why Your Story Matters: the healing power of personal narrative” by Deborah Serani Psy.D. LInk:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/two-takes-depression/201401/why-your-story-matters

(2) “Melodies and Me” (essay) by Louis Debruge, Writing 121 at Clackamas Community College, included in the book Free To Tell:  Lou’s Writings Shine a Light on Child Abuse and Addiction (to be published March 2016) 

2005 students at the Music School
2005 students ~ the Music School (West Linn, OR)
Note:  Video performance of Lou’s song, “Crucified” recorded in Portland, Oregon by Max Shearer on November 27, 2012.  Recital for the Music School, Inc.  Lou (age 15) on lead guitar and vocals; Shea Mackinnon (14) on vocals and djembe; Jerome Couture, Lou’s music teacher on bass. (December 2012, Lou entered residential, dual-diagnosis therapy for the first time but did not begin to disclose the full extent of his childhood abuse until after his release in January 2013.)

Free As A Son – on the Feast of the Holy Family

Free As The Sun ~ Free As A Son
Free As The Sun ~ Free As A Son

The title track of Lou’s CD is Free As The Sun.  The version Shea Mackinnon has so beautifully recorded is the one he and Lou sang together.  Based on an earlier version of the same song, the lyrics are poignant & personal, but they are not full of the private pain that was captured in the original chorus, where Lou sings again and again:

“Now I am…finally…free as a son.”

What caused Lou to reframe the song so as to “refrain” from revealing to much?  This question is included in the chapter of study questions for the book of Louis’ prose and poetry to be published in early 2016:  Free As The Sun: Lou’s Writing Shines a Light on Child Abuse & Addiction.  

Some part of an answer may be found between the lines of a letter Louis wrote to Governor Kulongoski in June 2010.*  At age 13, Louis chose “Child Abuse” as the topic for his social studies research paper. His letter begins this way:

Dear Mr. Kulongoski,

I was a victim of child abuse.  For about 3 years, I would dread going to visit my father. (…)  Christmas of 5th grade, December 24th, my dad and I had gotten in a huge fight.  When I said, “I’m never coming back,” I meant it.  The next day was the best Christmas that I could ever remember …

Well, I think I will always remember the night when we were driving home from church and my mom and I got into a conversation about how life isn’t always fair.  About halfway into the conversation, I broke down and told her.  I spent that night describing how my dad had abused me, emotionally and physically (….) and after that wave(s) of anxiety poured off my back, and I knew that what had to be done had been done. However, there was still a massive aftershock.  I suffered from depression…and had insane flashbacks every once in awhile. Sometimes, it would get so bad I would feel anger that wasn’t mine.  I guess you can call this post traumatic stress.

Now, I don’t know if you were abused as a kid, but I’m guessing that you have heard or read about many different types of abuse.  If you look at the statistics of how many people in jail were abused as children, it is 36% for women and 16% for men.  And when you think about how many people said they weren’t (abused) just so abuse wouldn’t seem as big an issue, you could probably estimate that if abuse was stopped, maybe half of the people who are in jail wouldn’t be there.  (Italics added.)

Today is the Feast of the Holy Family, just as it was that Sunday which Lou recalls, December 30, 2007.  We had been to evening mass.  The priest’s homily was a typical Holy Family shtick.  It had stressed the importance of family as the place where we learn about true love and respect for each other.  This priest, Father Somebody-or-Other, kept stressing how children must obey their parents because an earthly father models the Love of God the Father to whom we, as His children, must be obedient. Louis doodled on the envelopes in the pew. He drew a devil being devoured by flames.

As we drove home, Louis was silent, lying down in the back seat.  I felt compelled to add a commentary, a sad and simple truth which we both knew too well: that the family the priest had been talking about is an ideal one that is not the experience of all God’s children on Earth.

Christmas Eve morning, Lou had called me from his father’s house.  He was sobbing as he said, “I really need to come home NOW mom.  Will you come get me?” Sadly, the only thing that surprised me in this was that his father allowed him to make that call. Though Louis went back that evening to collect his gifts and to see his half-brothers and nephew, he took a friend with him as witness and protection.

Isn’t it ironic?  A homily, delivered on the Feast of the Holy Family, preaching the need for children to obey their parents, is what would set Louis free to begin to speak his truth so that he could be truly “free as a son.”  All it took was a simple reality check (not all children are given wise and loving and respectful parents) for Lou to bravely exchange his fearful obedience for liberation. To dare to disobey commands such as, “If you tell what I have been doing, I will kill your mother and your dog,” is no small thing for a child.  I think that teaching children to offer blind obedience to their parents or to any adult is sinful.  We need instead to teach them to trust their own inner voice.

Pope Francis ~ December 27, 2015
Pope Francis ~ December 27, 2015

In Rome today, Pope Francis gave a special homily for the Feast of the Holy Family. He speculates about the family conversation that might have taken place after Mary & Joseph finally found their 12 year old son, Jesus, who had stayed behind in the Temple and was eventually found talking with the teachers there.  Francis says, “For this little ‘escapade’, Jesus probably had to beg forgiveness of his parents.  The Gospel doesn’t say this, but I believe that we can presume it.  Mary’s question, moreover, contains a certain reproach, revealing the concern and anguish which she and Joseph felt.  Returning home, Jesus surely remained close to them, as a sign of his complete affection and obedience.  Moments like these become part of the pilgrimage of each family; the Lord transforms the moments into opportunities to grow, to ask for and to receive forgiveness, to show love and obedience.”

Alice Miller, in her book The Truth Will Set You Free, is clear on this point.  A poisonous pedagogy is one that stresses blind obedience, one which expects children to “beg forgiveness” of their parents. Her clients in therapy tended to justify and to minimize the abuse they had suffered, rationalizing the beatings and the verbal violence they had endured. They felt they must have been at fault in some way for their own abuse.

If I were to write a Sunday homily for this feast day, I would write one about the film Spotlight.  I’d write about the courage it takes for a man, young or old, to stand up that first time to say, “I was just a little kid.  I thought I had to obey.  I had been taught that this man, this so called ‘Father‘ was someone who wanted the best for me, and so I believed it.  When he said it was the only thing I deserved, I believed that too.”

But nothing I can write would be as powerful as Lou’s own words. These are from a journal he kept while in residential treatment in 2013:  “Abused by my father for a good part of my childhood.  My sense of self was diminished  as I was told I wasn’t worth anything for such a long time.  It was difficult for me to learn to love myself and I still struggle with it to this day.  I viewed myself as less than a human and I genuinely thought I wasn’t good enough to have a sense of pride at all.  My sense of security was severely diminished.  I felt like I wasn’t safe in my own skin.”  

The book, Free As The Sun:  Lou’s Writing Shines a Light on Child Abuse & Addiction will be available in March 2016.  “Like” the Free As The Sun Facebook Page to receive updates about ordering the CD and Book.

Note:  The Pope isn’t asking me to write sermons, but my Christmas Day journal entry from 2010 (& Christmas Eve 2014 postscript) was published January 4, 2015, one month after Lou’s death, on the “Stop Abuse Campaign” website.  Andrew Willis and Melanie Blow of the Stop Abuse Campaign have contributed essays to Lou’s book.  Please consider making a year-end contribution of $5.00 or more to their excellent work to abolish child abuse.  stopabusecampaign.com/christmas-day-2010-a-journal-reflection/ 

 

God Winks In Mysterious Ways

I’ve been marveling this evening at the countless “coincidences” since Lou’s death on December 4th that have brought  Free As The Sun to this point.  Both CD and Book are going to be complete in December 2015, just one year after Lou’s death. How did this happen!?  Call them miracles, coincidences, synchronicity, kismet, or whatever you like, says Deepak Chopra — the important thing is to recognize them as signs that you’re on the right path.  When God Winks is the title of a book on this very subject.

Memorial Celebration for Louis Raymond Case Debruge 12-13-14 Oregon City "Parents of Murdered Children Memorial Garden"
Memorial Celebration for Louis Raymond Case Debruge at Mountain View Cemetery in Oregon City ~ Parents of Murdered Children Memorial Garden ~ December 13, 2014

Wink 1:  If videographer, Delphine Criscenzo, had not offered to tape Louis’ memorial service, then Marv wouldn’t have been able to view the beautiful recording of Shea performing Free As The Sun.  It was that video that inspired Marv to say “Yes!” to serving as Music Producer for Lou’s CD. In the project video for Kickstarter ~ filmed in May at Rob Stroup’s 8 Ball Studio ~ you can watch Shea playing Lou’s Martin acoustic, just as he did at the memorial, singing again the song he had heard Louis sing many times. This time, he sings under Marv’s direction, with Marv accompanying him on 12-string guitar.  It was Shea’s first studio experience.   Marv was amazed. Shea sang and played a perfect first-take.

“…and the children in the dark, the children in the dark…” Goodbye Uncle Buzz by Quarterflash (Marv & Rindy Ross)

Wink 2:   Randy Ellison, my colleague, friend and mentor, followed a hunch one day in March.  He called me to say, “Hey, I think maybe you should go hear this famous singer/songwriter, Marv Ross, tonight.  He’s giving an interview for a radio series, right there in your neighborhood.” Of course, I went. That night, Marv spoke with an honest vulnerability that reminded me of Louis — about his own difficult family circumstances as a teen and how he dealt with the pain by retreating to his room to write and to sing, to express and to soothe the pain.  So, thanks to a friend’s faithful guidance, I’d been led to the exactly the right people to whom I could entrust Louis’ story, his gifts and his voice.  There’s also a bonus wink:  Marv’s wife and musical partner, Rindy, just happens to be a licensed clinical therapist.  She is serving as advisor to the book portion of the project.

Moody Little Sister Wild PlacesWink 3:  Coincidentally, Moody Little Sister (Rob Stroup and Naomi Hooley) held their CD Release Party for Wild Places on the evening before our launch.  Naomi, like Louis, has a soul connection to Owls.  Like Louis, Naomi experienced childhood abuse.  And like Louis, she has turned the coal of her betrayal into diamonds in her music.  The MC for the evening on October 17th gave a “shout out” to Lou’s project during the sold-out concert.  Lou’s CD cover art was included in the program and Free As The Sun was listed as an honored sponsor.

“Love is a Road” is the title of the latest Quarterflash CD. The many uncanny coincidences without which Free As The Sun simply wouldn’t be, are signs for me that we are being led on a road together.  Love RoadI feel Lou right there with us in Love & Spirit. Marv & Rindy have donated their powerful, transformational song “All Diamonds” from that CD as the last track on Lou’s five track CD, Free As The Sun: Lou’s Songs of Life.   It’s a perfect fit. Thank you, Marv and Rindy Ross, for believing in Lou and for bringing his voice back to life, set free to speak his truth to power and to do the healing work so needed in our world!  Kismet, miracle, answer to prayer, coincidence, — whatever it is, you are transforming Lou’s sad past and making it “All Diamonds!”  

All Diamonds

When I look into the eyes of a newborn baby,
When I look into the skies of a new morn… maybe,
Everything is intertwined, interlocked
In a language long forgot.

When I recognize love in a cat’s eye,
Recognize longing in the song of the magpie,
Recognize genius in the tumbleweed,
I recognize you and I recognize me and…
Love… all love. Love… all love.

We are… one flame. We are… one arc,
We are… all embers from the same spark,
We are… all god. We are… one soul,
We are… all diamonds from the same coal.

When I contemplate the life of the redwood,
Contemplate the seed in the weeds where it once stood,
Contemplate the trunk contemplate the limb,
Contemplate the fact that we’re brothers in the wind.

When I open up my heart to the red deer,
Open up my heart to the fox and the kildeer,
Open up my heart to the blood that we’re sharing,
Open up my heart – open up my heart to…

Love… all love. Love… all love.

We are… one flame. We are… one arc,
We are… all embers from the same spark,
We are… all god. We are… one soul,
We are… all diamonds from the same coal.

  • by Marv Ross © 2013 Narrow Dude Music All Rights Reserved

GodwinHatWeb2.jpg--BLK-UC

  

 

 

“Wanna’ Kick It?”

Hey, wanna’ kick it?” This was one of my son Lou’s favorite lines.  It’s the cool teenager’s version of the five year old’s, “Can you come out to play?” It’s full of relaxed excitement about what unexpected joys might be ahead if we just get together and then see where the Spirit leads!

FATS Kickstarter Poster 10-14In that Spirit, I want to invite you to Kick It with us in bringing Lou’s CD and Book to life with the Kickstarter Campaign for Free As The Sun.  It runs October 18th to November 16th.

Kick it for awhile on the Free As The Sun Kickstarter Campaign Page – where you can “kick it” in the 8 Ball Studio with Marv, Shea, Rob and the magic as they record the first track, captured in the Project Video.

Kick it for awhile at this website, checking out the lyrics page, the Bios of the CD artists and Book contributors, and the first blog post about the project.

And then help us to kick this project into a beautiful high-energy high gear so that we can exceed our funding goal.  Yes, some projects fund at 150% or better!  When we exceed our goal, our next project will be either a music video using Lou’s song Facade (The Devil) or a training video.  Our Backers will get to decide.

Click here to watch Shea & Lou “Kick it” for real at the West Linn Skate Park (2009)!

As you tell your friends and colleagues – and the folks on the bus or at the bar – about this project, here’s what you want to know about Kickstarter:

  • This campaign goes “live” on October 18th and the more early backers we get the more the momentum builds toward success!
  • Your credit card will not be charged unless the Funding Goal is met and until the campaign closes. 
  • The Kickstarter Campaign lasts only 30 days.  Ours closes on November 16th. 
  • Kickstarter, like the Arab Spring and Black Lives Matter, relies on the noösphere of social media – your shares on Facebook, Twitter, via Email and so on are what will bring this beautiful project to life. 

Bring Lou’s dream to life.  Help break his silence about childhood abuse as the real cause of so much addiction, depression, self-harm and despair in people of all ages.  Help Lou be the healer he was born to be.  Lou’s voice – so powerful in his music & poetry – will allow others to find their voice.

May his memory be a blessing.

Owl - Hope

 

 

 

Free As The Sun: Lou’s Songs of Life

It’s nothing less than a miracle.

Just a little over one year after Lou’s death (December 4, 2014) a CD of Lou’s music and a book of his poetry, song lyrics and essays, both entitled “Free As The Sun” will be published.  Louis was born to be a teacher and a healer and so it will be.

“As above, so below.”

Silver-Lining

Marv Ross, Portland singer/songwriter and music producer, has put together a beautiful five-track CD featuring four of Lou’s original songs.

Two tracks bring Lou’s voice & guitar back to life & two more shine with Shea MacKinnon as lead vocalist.   Marv plays guitar and bass; Gregg Williams (the Trench Studio) engineered three tracks and plays drums. Rob Stroup (8 Ball Studio / Moody Little Sister) engineered the title track. Marv & his wife, Rindy (Quarterflash) have donated a perfect fifth track – All Diamonds from their recent CD Love is a Road.

Marv & Rindy

The book manuscript is being edited.  The Kickstarter Campaign to fund the project will launch one week from today, on October 18th.  As Shea says in the Kickstarter project video, Lou surely has a hand in this from the Other Side.

Love is a road.   

Two years ago, on October 6th 2013, Lou came home to Oregon City after spending nine months away in three different residential dual-diagnosis treatment programs.  Two months in the Utah Wilderness from February to April had – most of all, he said – been transformative.  In a three day solo quest, during Lent, Louis found his voice at last.

Santa Clara, Utah / Second Nature (Entrada)

For the first time, with therapists Bruce and Matt, he had begun to speak out about the sad realities of his childhood.  He started to piece together a trauma narrative:  the memories of abuse that had haunted his days and caused him to suffer from traumatic nightmares for over half of his life.

Louis came home!

Lou attended the OAASIS Conference with me on October 26 (Oregon Advocates and Abuse Survivors in Service.)  He enrolled again in school.   He wanted nothing more than to be a triumphant survivor, to find new ways to cope with the unbearable pain he’d sought to relieve with drugs and alcohol and self-harm.

He attended AA Young People’s groups, met nearly every week with his trusted out-patient therapist, Donny. He meditated, read about recovery, wrote music, prayed, worked out at the gym, spent endless hours in perfect harmony with his best friend, Shea, and cherished the moments of natural peace he found in snowboarding on the slopes of Mount Hood.  And he wondered why he could not find the resilience he heard so much about while in treatment.

Lou & Shea - Timberline
Lou & Shea – Timberline

One year ago, in October 2014, Lou was enrolled full time at Clackamas Community College.  He had already completed eight college credits (Nature Writing, Algebra), earned his driver’s license, and worked part-time for a landscaping company.  And he had decided.  He wanted to be a counselor. He talked to the Early College guidance counselor about Marylhurst College’s Music Therapy program.

Tawnya, Lou & Candice Freshman Orientation at Clackamas Community College
Tawnya, Lou & Candice
Freshman Orientation at Clackamas Community College

 

 

Lou spent time with friends – especially Max & Shea – and had girlfriends galore.   He was loved by his friends’ parents – as he had been since pre-school!  His teachers appreciated his depth of soul and his gifts of self-expression.  All the while, Lou’s epic battle with depression, with anxiety and PTSD, with addiction, with nightmares and migraines – was continuing.

Louis was still walking a perilous tightrope suspended over a dangerous abyss, again using drugs and alcohol to dull his unremitting pain. He wrote furiously – music, poetry, journal entries, essays.  He was bleeding onto paper and into song a pain that would finally be more than he could bear. Sometime in the night of December 3rd/4th, an overdose of heroin brought an end to a brilliant life. Overnight, Lou’s sunny bright smile was gone.

Lou April 2014 Silver Falls
Lou April 2014 Silver Falls

Let’s talk about resilience.  

We live in a culture that believes that power and force are strength.  But brute force can be and too often is turned against women, children, the elderly, the disabled, even against our animal friends.  And what is more despicable than cruelty toward those who are “weaker” — that is to say, more vulnerable?

What if the kind of sensitivity Louis showed in his writing and in his music, to his friends, his classmates and his beloved dogs Bandit and Fergie are the real power?  What if Brené Brown, who writes about the power of vulnerability, has stumbled on a gospel truth?  “Except ye become as a little child…”

Lou & Fergie 2008
Lou & Fergie 2008

And what if those who are so deeply sensitive that they find it impossible to rebound from their soul trauma are in fact the “higher” souls in our midst?  As adults we can sing, “I’m gonna harden my heart” and we can mean it.  As children, we are vulnerable because we trust and we love without conditions and when our love is returned with indifference, cruelty, or violence (not to speak of abuse tantamount to torture) — Love itself has been betrayed.

Please share this post, share the Kickstarter Campaign for “Free As The Sun” when it launches on the 18th of October and help us share the Light and Love of Louis Raymond Case Debruge.

May his memory be a blessing.  

Camino - Oregon 2012
Camino a la Playa 2012

by Rhonda Case (Louis’ Mama)  Netarts, Oregon

with gratitude to Shea MacKinnon, Tristyn Meek, Marv & Rindy Ross, Mick and Charlotte Wilson, Gregg Williams, Rob Stroup and Naomi Hooley, Gretta, Bruce, Matt, Donny, Melanie, Barry, Andrew, Tyler, Parfait, Rachel & Andy, Neal, Karen, Riane Eisler, Jeff Cumpston’s family, Susan & Christian, and my cherished colleague and friend, Randy Ellison.