I Know For Certain…

“I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories.” —Leo Buscaglia

It seems like yesterday. I blinked and the day was here. It has heartbreakingly been ten years since my Uncle died, and I miss him fiercely.

I remember the morning my brother said, “Um, I have something to tell you. You’re going to be upset.” I saw the look on his face and catalogued all of the important people left in my life, and then he said your name. I fell down half a flight of stairs to my feet, and crumbled in disbelief. My brother later admitted he was afraid to tell me at all, but knew if I heard it from anyone else, it would be wrong. He was cringing as he watched my reaction and told me how it happened. I would later hear more, but in the immediate moment, I was numb beyond words.

I miss having a completely devoted family member who always had my back. He always looked out for me, in both large and small ways. Because we looked so much alike, people always thought I was his daughter. Even passing strangers would immediately see us as father and daughter.

He gave me an extremely expensive education (Three separate degrees.); which is something he was not obligated to do in any way, shape, or form. He wanted me to follow my dreams with ZERO debt in the end, and he encouraged me to use my voice and make a difference. He believed in me. The gesture came from a sense of love and honor; he NEVER threw anything in my face or abused our relationship.

He was a friend, a confidant, a partner-in-crime, and he taught me so much about life and how to navigate it by learning from his mistakes. He was enigmatic, loyal, full of wisdom, and always sought to help others. He generously gave his time, attention, and would listen to people talk for hours without saying a word. “It costs nothing to listen to someone and be kind.” He genuinely heard them.

My Grandfather and Uncle were the finest men to ever exist. I’m eternally grateful for his role in my life. Te amo, Zio. I will see you on the other side.

Lost Opportunities, Lost Possibilities

“Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back. That’s part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads – at least that’s where I imagine it – there’s a little room where we store those memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in awhile, let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you’ll live forever in your own private library.” ―Haruki Murakami

Sometimes It’s The Retelling That Sucks

Saturday afternoon someone asked me what I was doing for Father’s Day. I had actually forgotten that Father’s Day was coming up, so this conversation was yet another reminder for me regarding the fact that my father has been gone for ten and a half years. Somehow, my brain just wasn’t absorbing this holiday. Even today, I probably wouldn’t have even thought about it if someone in the grocery store hadn’t been discussing lobsters for her husband’s “Father’s Day cookout”. It legitimately went in one ear and out the other. I didn’t fully grasp it until late in the day.

Having to reply to the question, “What are you doing tomorrow for Father’s Day?” meant rehashing a wound. I blinked and said “Nothing. My father’s been dead ten and a half years.” The person automatically apologized, but the question didn’t bother me. It was the thoughts the question conjured up; those bothered me.

My father was not good at accepting gifts. One year we gave him a watch. He desperately needed a new one and it was given with a full heart, but he tried it on and flat-out told us to return it. I remember thinking “Wow. He can’t appreciate anything we do for him.” Because for years, my father would reject whatever we did for him. One year I got him a movie he asked for. I had actually pre-ordered it so he’d be able to enjoy it immediately on release day. About a week or so later I asked “Did you like it? Was it good?” A few days later, it arrived in the mail. I was not pleased. When I questioned him about this he said “I’ve seen it once. I won’t watch it again. Enjoy.” I was utterly dumbfounded. It didn’t matter what the gift was; there was always some sort of rejection attached to it. For me, someone who LOVES to give gifts, it was a slap in the face. I reached a point where I would only agree to cook a nice meal for him if he was choosing to visit.

A few years before he passed away, I got him tickets to a New York Yankees game in Philly as a Father’s Day gift, even though the game would be roughly two months later, if memory serves me correctly (I still have the ticket stubs somewhere.). I scored excellent seats, mainly because no one was attending Phillies games at the time, but being in close proximity to New York, there was a lovely mixed crowd of sports fans. Surprisingly enough, my Dad made the trip out to spend the weekend and we went to the game together. I had additional tickets, but my brother didn’t want to go.

When we got there, batting practice was still going on, so we got to enjoy it. Jimmy Rollins, I want you to know that my father’s first comment during that game was “The shortstop for the Phillies is an absolute STAR. He’s an incredible infielder.” He was so impressed. It was the truth. My father called it; Jimmy would go on to win a World Series with the Phillies in 2008 and was traded in 2014. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I saw that Gabe Kapler is the Phillies current manager, but I digress…

It was a blisteringly hot day, and my “perfect” seats were in direct sun the entire afternoon. Halfway through the game my father said “Now I know why I like my baseball at home.”, which I understood. He had gone to games as a kid, but he wasn’t well, and he thought he was masking this from everyone, but he was the worst liar.

We left the game early, worn out and badly sunburned. For me to get burned is a testament to how intense the sun was that day. I was completely covered in sunscreen and had a hat on. My father, in the midst of battling cancer, only wore sunscreen to pacify me and purchased a Phillies hat once he saw how necessary it was. My father, who never donned a single article of non-New York sports attire. It’s pretty funny when I think about it now. It was even funnier because he brought a hat back for my brother from the game. He threw it back at him and declared “I can’t be SEEN IN THAT!” My brother now works in and around Philly and cheers for Philly teams. I pretend not to know him when he does this. I currently live in Massachusetts, but you won’t ever catch me cheering for the Red Sox. Some things are sacrilegious.

A few years later, my father would be gone, less than two years after his brother passed away, also due to cancer. That day at the ballpark is one of the most prominent memories I carry because it wasn’t a negative experience. For maybe the second time in my entire life, that day, he was just a father with his daughter. I’m sorry my brother chose to pass on the experience, but maybe there was some cosmic reasoning involved.

Father’s Day opens up wounds for me. This year, I choose to put what I can behind me and move forward. Believe me, the last thing I need is another reminder.    

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

I Have Learned

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.” ―Beryl Markham

Sixteen Years

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Today was incredibly somber for me, and I am certain other people felt this way, as well. Every year, a deep part of me re-lives 9/11. I wasn’t afraid, not for a second, but I was definitely in silent, angry shock. Sixteen years later, I still can’t believe all that has transpired since that day.

I haven’t been back home in a long time. I miss it. I’ll never stop being proud of where I come from. My city, every part of it, is deeply enmeshed in who I am. Someone told me that they like where I live now “because it’s kind of like New York, but much smaller”. Yeah, not so much.

Life Is Full Of Everything

Nine years ago today, I lost my mother. I can’t always say it out loud, I can’t always talk about it, but I honestly have no clue how I’ve survived this long without her. Not because I need someone else in order to survive, that isn’t it, but because life is full of people that mean something to you, or at least, that’s what life should be.

Stupidly, I sometimes expect certain people to be a little more like my mother, and they aren’t. On a scale of my Mom to them, they’re epic failures. They don’t mean to be, they simply cannot be her. No one can. Irreplaceable people are precisely that; irreplaceable.

I have spent the past year and a half holding on tight to everything near and dear, and I’ve been a failure. I have needed help, and I’ve allowed my health to fail in the process. But ultimately, I have actually needed kindness, compassion, understanding, a person who listens, and someone who can put me first sometimes. No one ever does. Not for long.

When you go from being someone’s daughter to just being a person, there is a great shift. Suddenly, nothing is right in the universe, but there’s no way to fix it. And so, you move from one thing to the next at your own pace, trying to succeed and make a person proud, a person who is no longer here. Inevitably, there’s nothing you can do, because life is full of everything.

People, places, things, photos, shared moments, building memories. That’s life. It’s laughter, misery, friendship, companionship, love, and so much more. I went from being a daughter to just being. I’ve spent nine years trying to figure out who the hell that is. I still have no answers.

Hours before her death, the last words my mother spoke were “I love you, too.” I’d been sick for weeks at that point from Fibromyalgia pain. I couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t move, and I had missed Mother’s Day the weekend before due to pain and a migraine. I felt like the biggest piece of crap on the planet. So getting the call that my mother had gone into cardiac arrest was like lightning striking through my entire body. I remember exactly what I was thinking and exactly what I said. I also remember thinking “This cannot be happening. This can’t be my life!”

After losing my mother, I got a brief respite for a few years before more damage could be done to my psyche. But as I sit here today, I realize some damage may be irreversible.

When you’re sick and you’re hurting, Google is your worst enemy. So tomorrow, I see my doctors’ Nurse Practitioner to see if she can be of any help in figuring out why I am suffering to the extent I am. Unfortunately, I suspect the only thing I will come away with is additional referrals to more doctors and maybe a prescription, or two. While there, I’ll get my lab work done. That should be an interesting experience. I hope someone reminds me to pack a snack. Especially since it’s going to be over 90 degrees tomorrow and I’m basically the Wicked Witch who will melt, with infinitely better skin. 😉 It’s 91 today and I can barely breathe.

Today has been a shaky day for me. I’m unable to function, unable to think, and it took repeated phone calls to find out what I was forgetting (and G-d help me, I WISH I had just let it go because when I did find out what I’d forgotten, knowing something wasn’t right with my memory, I wanted to crawl into a hole a die. I have less than 20 hours to solve the problem and quite frankly, I’d give up completely if I didn’t feel that not giving up was the right thing to do.). That I could not remember something from last week definitely makes me question what the hell is going on inside my brain. I want answers, not more questions. I’m terrified knowing I, once again, have to ask for help and that I might very well get shot in the process. It has occurred to me that, quite frankly, few people care to have your back when you’re down, but damn, they want you to have their back when they’re in the same place as you. They want you to fix their problems and make everything better, but are very happy to cast you aside once all is well in their own world. It doesn’t make you feel very good, and they’re, unfortunately, too stupid to understand that something isn’t right and they should reach out.

If we’re close and I say “I’m fine.” or you ask how I’m doing and I don’t answer, I urge you to look deeper. It’s extremely rare for me to say “I’m fine.” or “I’m okay.” when I’m not. If you dismiss it and take it at face value, then you’re showing me that you really don’t give a damn, because you’ve just accepted a blatant lie. I can’t remember the last time I was “fine” or “okay”. I wish people weren’t so self-absorbed and took a minute to really connect sometimes. No matter how good or bad my life may be, I still check in with people. If someone tells me they’re fine and I sense otherwise, I call them on it. That’s the mark of a true friend/family member.

I rarely go to the doctor. I’m not fine. I’m not okay. And quite frankly, I’m afraid for my life and sanity.

Life may be “full of everything”, but right now, life is empty, scary, lonely, and heartbreaking.

Here’s hoping my prayers are answered and that someone, somewhere, is looking out for me.

Lisa-blue

copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.