Gone

Today I lost my childhood friend. In fact, he was my very first friend. 43 years old and now gone. I still have a cassette tape of him and I at age 5 singing our ABC’s. He always shy and me not so much in comparison. Despite decades of not really seeing each other, he always held a place in my heart. And today that was even more obvious. A tiny piece of my heart since truly the day I was born was held just for him and through all these years it remained just for him.

His mom last saw him reading a bedtime story to his daughter. My mom did always tell me his daughter was his everything, his life. Her words “he was a great dad.” His daughter found him this morning in bed. He wouldn’t wake up. Oh how my heart breaks for her. She can’t be more than 8 years old and has already experienced a traumatic loss.

As I remain in shock and so saddened, I pray that all of his wonderful qualities will live on through the love of his life.

Peace Johnny.

Serendipity

Just last weekend I had the good fortune of being invited to a house party to watch the movie “Bad Moms.” Because it was a friend of a friend, I was in a way the “odd man out.” It was a group of women who all lived in a particular neighborhood…except for me. While the movie is definitely well worth watching – and let me just say I picked up more of the sentimental excerpts the second time around more than likely because the first time I was just laughing so much I simply missed them – it was the conversation prior to starting the movie that cements in my mind. Let me share….

The woman hosting made reference to her “soon-to-be-ex-in-laws.” This is a mom of three, full time mom and full time social worker, a woman of great humor, what sounds like a very trying past, and one I met through a mutual friend on a ski trip about three years ago. After that ski trip I honestly didn’t even remember her name. I had seen her maybe twice in passing usually at the school. But we ended up at yet another mutual friend’s home just a month ago and I became part of a conversation that included getting together to watch the movie “Bad Moms.” So here I was a bit of an outsider at a gathering with women I mostly did not know, but I knew the laughter for me would be medicine. However, the night presented me with another surprise.

This woman told me during the ski trip about three years ago she remembered starting her car to warm it up before making the three hour drive home. (She had only stayed one night so we didn’t share much conversation up until this point). When she came back in to gather the last of her belongings, our mutual friend and I had been discussing my separation. At this time, my husband and I were sharing two homes – which we continued for a year and a half. I remember the woman telling me I should travel and give presentations on how to separate in a healthy manner. I took this comment with a grain of salt. She was a social worker and I knew she was trained to be a good listener. And she was…she was listening. Before we all knew it a solid hour had passed and she suddenly remembered her car had been running this whole time.

Fast forward to the present, and she told me that conversation was life changing for her. Little did I know, her marriage had been struggling. She had been desperately trying to determine a healthy transition to separate but had only believed that was in theory and could not actually be executed. My story…my experience!….actually gave her hope. It gave her the courage to move forward slowly, but positively. And at the heart of all this are her three young children. The unfortunate part is that her marriage is dissolving. But the wonderful part is that it’s amicable. And knowing that that is occurring as a result of me and I actually gave someone hope, in return, gave me hope. Hope! Serendipity…it was all serendipity.

When it all changed

Nonna passed away August 14, 2011. My grandmother. Italian, trouble maker, selfish, strong yet weak…and I loved her so. We spoke most days. She was a friend. Believe it or not, she did have good advice and she made us laugh. Her life was far from easy. This I know. What I have also come to realize is that her negative energy and ways, spread and contaminated. Do you know how hard it is to separate that harsh reality from love?

Anyway, her passing created a major shift in my life. And to this day, I don’t quite understand how, but it did. Becoming clearer, I started to see things differently. It’s much like a foggy window, where you wipe away some of the condensation and you start to see. See what’s real. What’s just a mirage. Slowly, and slowly still, my focus deepens.

Akin to an awakening, the past several years have been most interesting. Such contradictory emotions, so many heavy days sometimes balanced with light, free days, a world coming undone so that it can be built again with an impenetrable foundation. This has been my awakening.

Yes, everything has changed.

What Defines You?

Several years ago a friend of mine made a cluster of lousy choices. He hurt people as a result. Himself included. It took me several months to write him. To reach out to him. There was much to process. Firstly, why did he do what he did? How? But who am I to judge someone else? So…I wrote him…an email. I told him I did not believe his character was so much based on what he did up to that point. I did not believe who he was should necessarily be defined by his choices up to that point. I believed his true character, his true being, would be defined by how he chose to move forward. Would he stand up to falter again? Would he walk away from his mistakes never to learn? Would he blame? Would he make excuses? Or….would he change? By change, I mean would he get to the core of who he was and be better for it? Would he be able to look back not so much in regret but in acknowledgement? In acceptance for who he was but clear about who he is..now? Ironically, there will be people along that path who choose themselves to not forget, to blame, to continue to define him by those choices. Those people alone can tug on his rope that he struggles to use to help propel him forward. It certainly will cause for more callouses, but tougher, stronger skin will result.
Sometimes words can come full circle. You send them out to the world to help, and sometimes, later, they come back…to help. Even when the circumstances are completely different.