Hero: A person admired for their achievements and noble qualities
In the Magic the Gathering community it’s all too common to hear about a player’s bad experiences or actions. Everyone loves to tell “scum bag” stories. What we often don’t hear about are the people across the world doing good things. I’m not talking about some Magic professional who scoops a little kid into the top 8 of a tournament. I’m referring to the people who make Magic happen every day. A person who does the right thing when nobody is looking, expecting nothing in return but a smile. These are the people who form the foundation of what the Magic the Gathering community is built on, and yet they rarely get noticed.
Are you an individual doing good things in the gaming community? Are you using Magic the Gathering in a creative and positive way? Perhaps you’re a local game store that wants to share a story of success or triumph? Is there a story that you think deserves to be told? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or @robotlarge on Twitter, and you or someone you know could be in a future article of Hero’s Resolve.
Heather Lafferty isn’t just an Angel, she’s a Magic the Gathering Hero.
If you’re as immersed in the online community for Magic the Gathering as much as I am you’ll know Heather as the Community Manager for the website LegitMTG.com, inventor of the article series “20 Tweets”, or most likely as @Revisedangel on Twitter. She’s one of the nicest people on Twitter so if you’re not following her, you should be.
Like most of us, there are many facets to Heather. The two that attracted me to following her Twitter account was her love of the Magic community, and her job. Heather loves Magic. It’s something she’s really passionate about. More than that though, it’s clear that she loves the community as well. That’s something I can relate to. I’m very passionate about community building. I can also relate somewhat to her job. Heather is an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). As someone who also wears a uniform for a living, there is an unspoken bond that exists.
Being an EMT in Las Vegas, is no doubt a tough job. Recently, Heather shared a bit of just how bad it can be on her Tumblr account. Working as an EMT is obviously not just mentally stressful, but physically as well.
“Some days the heat is so sweltering you can smell it in the air. Even if you take refuge indoors the smell of the heat outside mixes with the processed air inside and every part of you is aware you live in a valley of fire. When you are camped out with your partner in a metal box on wheels, it doesn’t matter how high you crank up the AC, you just sweat and melt and sweat.”
That sets the stage for the rest of her story, which details her having to attend to the scene of a young person who has committed suicide. As a father myself, reading this story tore my heart in two.
“As we walked towards the front door I could see a man standing in the entrance. He didn’t move a muscle or even blink as we approached. Tears just openly poured down his cheeks. I approached him, “Sir, can you take us to the emergency.” He didn’t move out of the doorway. His six foot frame just blocked it like a great oak tree. My partner put his hand on the man’s shoulder and that seemed to jolt him back to reality. He just kind of shuffled to the side, letting us through the door.”
It’s really hard for me not to picture myself as that Dad, standing in the door. I really don’t know how people in her line of work do it day after day. I’m familiar with the concept of doing your job in the face of stress and terror. I’ve been doing it for 20 years. You build a personal wall, and most days that’s enough. Some days it’s not. I’m not sure I could build a wall strong enough to do her job. On this day, Heather’s wall wasn’t enough. What she wasn’t expecting to find out was that this guy was a Magic player.
“As my eyes scanned past his desk, which had a stack of Spider-Man comics (Batman is better, just the facts, nothing to be done about it), I noticed a stack of shiny foil packets next to his stack of comics. My breath caught. I stepped a little closer and saw that logo. Magic: the Gathering.
… As I stood there thinking about Magic and this dead child who didn’t have to be dead my heart cracked. I thought about all the other dead face I had rolled on and wondered what it was about this one boy that seemed to affect me so strongly. Why the girl my crew calls the Texas Tornado wanted to just sit down cry. I didn’t feel much like a Tornado standing over this boy. I didn’t even feel like a little dirt devil. I was deflated. I was empty.”
What’s always amazed me about Magic the Gathering, from the moment I opened my first pack, is how passionate people are about this game. Personally, I love it. I love everything about Magic, even when I hate it. I’ve never felt so passionate and immersed in anything in my life outside of my family. Some days it drives me nuts. Every spare moment I have seems to be spent reading or playing or watching Magic. It gets into your blood. It’s a disease you can’t get away from. It’s especially bad for people like me and Heather, because we also love the community that surrounds Magic. It’s so diverse and full of life. People from all walks of life, all over the world, are joined in this bond. You can spot a complete stranger holding a magic card in some random location and instantly spend hours talking to them about it. I don’t pretend to know much about Heather Lafferty, but I do know this: She loves Magic and she loves the Magic community. Even in this dark moment of her life she manages to offer us all a message of hope.
“I don’t know why that little magical boy couldn’t stand taking one more breath that day. I don’t know why you might want to join him. I can only tell you what has helped me in my saddest, darkest times. It is quite simply Magic. Nerds like me. Being with my people. People who love to debate the tiniest detail of a character painted on a piece of cardboard and whether it really fits with the “flavor” of their color scheme. It is getting lost in a passion. Something that can consume you, something not so serious and scary. I don’t know if you like to get lost in your art, your music, or like me in a little bit of magic but please get lost. Don’t stop. Get lost. Stopping is so final. Search as hard as you can for as long as you can to find that one thing, your hope charm. Your Magic. When you finally find it don’t ever let anyone take from you. Don’t ever let go.”
Please take the time to read her entire post, which can be found here: http://revisedangel.tumblr.com/post/53056140341/magical-boy-lost
You should also read a reply she posted from someone who wants to remain anonymous. Don’t kid yourself folks, posting stuff like this really matters: http://revisedangel.tumblr.com/post/53359924821/email-anonymous
For all that she does day after day for the people of Las Vegas; for having the courage to post something so intimate from her life; for all the work she does in the Magic community, Heather Lafferty really is a hero. How does she do it all?!? A mom, an EMT, a Magic player, a website Community Manager, an Angel. I hope she always remembers to follow her own advice. Don’t let go, Heather. Don’t let go. And thank you for being there.