Max

This is the story about Max. But to fully understand 

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Closed for repairs until further notice.

I’ve had a day. Actually, I’ve had a few days. Actually, it’s been a couple of weeks. OK, the end of 2017 was rough and 2018 isn’t getting off to a great start either. It’s my own fault, but I have been going through some things that I’ve kind of put aside or told myself that it wasn’t bothering me when really it was. Because of those things, I kind of went off the deep end. Nothing terrible or drastic (depending on who you ask and what their definition of “terrible” and “drastic” is), just…mostly slightly subtle things that at the time maybe someone was like “ok…” or I just did something out of the ordinary, then chastised myself for doing it, or making a big deal to myself about it. Or I just go completely off the deep end for no apparent reason. I have been in some difficult/stressful/irritating situations that have affected me more than I originally thought. It’s hard to explain without going into detail and to be completely honest, I don’t really want to go into detail on here or on Facebook. If you really want to know, get in touch with me in a private manner and we can talk. Like I said, most if not all of these things are my fault. Well, it’s my fault in how I chose to deal with the situations I was in. One thing remained constant throughout me dealing with the situations though, I was on Facebook having fun. But slowly that all changed. I stopped having fun. I started to be more cynical, at least to myself and things were/are bothering me and causing me distress that either wouldn’t cause a normal person distress or wouldn’t get to me like it did. Today was kind of a “come to Jesus” moment for me. A number of things happened that made sit down and think about where I go from here. About a lot of things. I am not trying to make this into a pity party for me, nor am I trying to gain attention (though I am sure that as you sit here and read this, chances are you probably think I am doing one, or both of these things. And that’s fine. I probably deserve that. ) But at least *I* don’t feel like I am doing this for attention/pity and I AM doing this to kind of tell myself what my plan is, and that’s what is important to me. I realize I’m not important at all, but I wanted to just kind of put this out there for the few of you who may be wondering where I am, that I’m taking a break from Facebook for now. Today I got into it with friends over what most would say is a mundane topic. I got irritated. A lot. More than I should have probably. And to make things worse, it affected the rest of my day in a negative way. The last time I did something like that, I sent myself to Facebook jail and I unfriended the person I got into it with. While I realized I got more heated than I probably should have, I also decided I didn’t need to look at their crap anymore to make me heated and we didn’t really have anything in common and just wasn’t worth it to see the crap every day and NOT comment on it. To this day, I honestly think the person is a jerk and I think less of anyone who willingly associates with them. I don’t want that to happen again because while I did get into it and I felt then and feel now that I was trying to prove a point that wasn’t being seen, the difference is, this isn’t some shmo I barely know that I’m friends with on Facebook because I saw him a few times, this is friends of mine that while I don’t feel I caused any harm, maybe I did, and I don’t think I could forgive myself if I did harm them by just going off on such good people (As opposed to the last time, who is a jerk and I don’t regret calling him out on being a closed minded jerk.) My guess is they probably said to themselves and each other “What do you think got into him?” The answer to that question is – a lot and in kind of a short time.

So how long is the prison sentence? Who knows. It could be a day, it could be a month. I’m honestly not sure. This time though is somewhat different. While I recognize I need to step away, it’s not just that I got overly irritated over. I feel like I have to step away because I got heated and it made me realize that I have some things I need to get in order first before I can trust myself on Facebook. Actually, it’s more like can start to kind of focus on getting myself in order, I need to lock myself in the library, so I can focus on studying for this midterm (I’m all about the metaphors tonight). I’m not goimmmng to deactivate my account. If I were going to do that, I’d just do it and deal with the questions as they come if anyone cared enough to a) notice that I’m gone and/or b) ask me why I wasn’t on Facebook and why. And, to be quite honest, while I am an admitted attention whore, at least I’m upfront about it and embrace it. There’s nothing that irritates me more than people who are closet attention whores and say things like “I’m deleting my facebook next week.” or “Thinking of deleting my facebook.” You are who you are, folks. Embrace it. Remember, Lady Gaga reminds us, we are on the right track baby, we were born this way. Be loud, be proud. I’m keeping Facebook open. You can still post puns on my wall, send me Star Wars related stories, things like that. I would ask that if you really have a burning desire to know why I am doing this, or why I made a whole post explaining it, ask me in private somehow. I am a fairly open and honest individual, but I’m not going to sit here and bore everyone with my problems. I don’t have any illusions of grandeur here. I’m probably even doing this more for my benefit than anyone else’s, but I’m still posting it, because like I said, I’m an unabashed attention whore and I’d like to think that if I just stopped going on Facebook, at least SOMEONE would notice and want to know where I was. Even if it was my good friend who posts puns on my wall wondering why I’m not laughing with him at these HILARIOUS jokes.

I’m taking Facebook off of my phone (my wife will be happy, though I can hear her words now, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”) I think the hardest part will be at work when I keep it open and check it for a few minutes to keep myself from going crazy. I will just have to find something else to do. I’m sure I’ll be back. As the saying goes, “Old habits die hard” and trust me when I say that Facebook is an old, bad habit to me. So consider this the sign on the roller coaster that says, “Closed for repairs.” (I told you, I’m all about the metaphors tonight.)

Because of you

Today is your birthday. So in honor of your birthday, some things that I learned from you.

Because of you, I learned to speak my mind more often.

Because of you, I learned to “call a spade a spade.”

Because of you, I learned to be a loveable asshole

Because of you, I learned to stick up for what I believe in.

Because of you, I tell my loved ones that I love them more often.

Because of you, I secretly root for the Yankees, Rangers and Giants when they’re not playing my teams.

Because of you, I have so many stories to tell not just my kids, but your daughter as well.

Because of you, Red Lobster will always be Red Blobster to me.

Because of you, I say words like, “bucka bucka, woozle wazle, and bastage.”

Because of you, calling someone a “trash bag” is an insult. (But a light hearted one.)

Because of you, I never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Because of you, I drink less.

Because of you, I eat healthier.

Because of you, Lehigh Zion Cemetery is a must stop for my family when visiting the Lehigh Valley.

Because of you, my life has a hole in it that will never be filled.

Happy Birthday David. I sure do miss you.

Happy Birthday to my baby girl.

Dear Goose,

Seven years ago today you came into my life and I became a father for the first time.  In the seven years that has passed I think you have taught me almost as much as I’ve taught you.  I’ve seen you grow from a tiny infant into a sweet little girl who is as sassy as the day is long.  I’ve seen you in your highest, playing with friends, and I’ve seen your heart break when you’re sad, whether you found out we were going to move, or more recently when your mom and I had to tell you that your first two pets had passed away.  You have taken each obstacle thrown at you and overcome it with grace.  When your mom and I told you that we were going to move, you were understandably upset.  We did our best to accommodate you. I think it’s safe to say you love where we live now and don’t want to go back.  You are an amazing big sister, always looking out for your brother.  Bubba is lucky to have you as his sissy.

I want you to know that I wake up every day trying to be a good father to you.  I don’t always succeed, but I try my best.  Your mom and I always say to do your best, I hope you know I’m trying.  If it weren’t for you and your brother, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.  I am a better person because of you and bubba.  It hasn’t been the easiest seven years and I know that I’m not the easiest person to love (just ask your mom), but I can’t say that I would change anything.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for our family. I’m not sure when I’ll show this to you, but I want you to know that I love you so much.  Happy Birthday, goose. I love you.

confronting the demons…and moving on

I’ve written this post several times.  I’ve revised it, started over.  I just am not sure how I want it to go.  I do know I want it out there, but I’m just not sure how I want it out there and what I want out there. This is by far the most personal thing I’ve written (and probably will write) about.

In June 2009 I lost my best friend.  I still remember the phone call I got from his wife and very vividly remember the events that happened that morning such as words that were offered to me in comfort from various people, and what was on the radio when my wife and I went to her sister’s house (ironically it was Nickelback’s “If today was your last day.”)  Today is his birthday and I miss him every day, but that isn’t anything new nor is it what I want to talk about.

Grief is a really tough thing.  Death to me isn’t something that I like to talk about.  Mainly because it’s not something I (or anyone else) am familiar with.  Nobody’s died and come back and said, “oh you have to try this!”  So it is hard for me to talk about it at all.  Losing someone close to you isn’t something that I feel can easily be gotten over and I don’t think it’s fair to say to someone that they are grieving too long but on the contrary I also do not feel it’s fair to judge someone who has moved on in their life sooner than you feel they should, or you yourself have – even if I am guilty of this myself.  As most people will tell you, grief comes in different stages 1. Denial and Isolation, 2. Anger, 3. Bargaining 4. Depression and finally 5. Acceptance.  What I recently learned is that these stages don’t come in order that they are totally random (with the exception being acceptance coming at the end).  When David died I spent a lot of the morning crying and the week after several times I broke down thinking/talking about it.   But when it came time to finally say Goodbye to David, I was numb.  I couldn’t bear any emotion.  I shared stories with people I knew through him and remembered the good times but I don’t think I shed one tear.  Over the next four years I went through depression.  Nothing serious, just when something reminded me of him or I saw his picture, I got sad and almost always cried.  Over the years I saw different therapists, and they all said the same thing – it was completely normal for me to go through this after losing someone so close to me.  The bright side of things were when someone that I knew lost someone they were close to I was able to offer words of encouragement and an ear if they wanted to talk.  Most didn’t but the fact that I said to them, “I’ve been there” helped me know that I’m not alone in this battle.  I had too much to live for though in my mind.  I found out just a few weeks after he died that my wife was pregnant.  I sure didn’t want to miss out on being a dad, so I mustered on.   But not everyone can muster on like I did.

People go through grief in different ways.  My Godfather died when I was a freshman in college and in order to cope with the sudden loss of her husband and companion, his wife (also my Godmother) decided to avoid dealing with the pain and worked ungodly hours at her work.  The problem with that is that when she retired he was gone all over again, and the pain was still there.  Some people talk about their loved one every chance they get, some people seek solace in the arms of a loved one.  And then there are people who just cannot find a way to cope at all with the grief.  those people find a way to escape it.  They destroy themselves, willingly or not. They resort to drugs, alcohol, or both or something else to ease this unbearable pain that won’t go away.  It’s hard and it’s sad to see someone go through it.  You can try to help them, but they have to want to get better.  A drug addict can say they want to get clean until they’re blue in the face, but until they actually take the steps to get better nothing happens.  Depression is hard to get rid of in my mind.  Sure you can take happy pills but that doesn’t fix the problem.  I decided that I needed to confront the situation head on rather than avoid it.  I visited his home, took something that he really cherished and keep it safe.  I visit his grave and would cry every time I left.  But i’m not afraid to go anywhere that reminds me of him.  I’m not afraid to look at pictures of him, or even his obituary.  I’m not afraid to remember him.  Confronting my demons head on is what helped me heal I believe.

Four years later after talking with his wife (who I still keep in touch with and still consider a very good friend) I think I have finally found acceptance.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve accepted he was gone long ago.  I visit his grave whenever I can (I got him a tombstone, and I got his damn birthday wrong, so there’s a painful reminder that I can screw up anything without even trying).  But now when I think of him, I don’t cry as much.  When we moved into my new house I was putting photo albums away and trying to put them in somewhat of an order.  I came across his obituary in the local paper that and the pamphlet they handed out at his funeral that my wife had saved.  I admit, I shed a couple tears.  You would too if you came across something from the funeral of someone you cared deeply about.  But for the first time, I picked myself up and closed the photo album.  I made a promise to him the day he died.  If I ever had a son, his name would have David in it.  I was going for the first name but my wife said she wanted it to be the middle name, as she didn’t want to take away from the original person.  So on July 1st of this year, Patrick David was born.  It had come full circle.  In a strange sort of way.  Both of my children are named after someone who my wife and I cared about deeply, who left this world way too soon (See earlier post about Sindy).  Nobody in this world is a saint or lives a perfect life.  We all have our demons.  It’s how we confront those demons and move on with our lives that define us.

Friendship

“Good friends are hard to come by.”  This was a quote by an actor named Charlie Hunnam.  Rarely do I look to quotes to get me through life, but this one kind of resonates.  I have many friends who I see every now and then and generally get along with.  There was one person I considered my “best friend” who was like a brother to me.  He died almost four years ago.  Being in my thirties and not being exactly the social type, I don’t consider myself to have a lot of friends and most of those I have known for a while.  I consider my “core friends” those who I communicate on a regular basis with and regularly know each other’s families and what is going on with each other’s lives.

My daughter is three years old and since she is in daycare she goes to a lot of birthday parties of other kids who go the same daycare.  She is at the point in her life where she talks about other kids outside of school and when you mention the word “friends” to her she mentions specific people – most of which we regularly see at birthday parties (with one big exception).  At age three you see the friendships based on how they react when they see each other.  (side note: girls at age three greet each other the same way they do at age 33: “TATUM!!!”  “NORA!!!!”) So it has been hard on my wife and me to list our house for sale because while we want to move, we know our daughter will be sad. 

 There is one person who I have known for a while.  I won’t mention him by name, but chances are you can probably figure it out based on how you got to this site and if you know me personally.  I met this guy (we’ll call him John for now as I don’t feel like writing out “this guy” all the time) in high school. We both worked at the local amusement park and (ironically) he was at the time dating a girl I had dated previously and remained friends with.  He and I actually discovered we had a lot in common (besides our taste in women at the time) and kept in touch.  As is typical with most of my friends, we got to know each other’s family.  Turns out he has a brother (Roy) who is just like him so of course we also became friends.  Through the magic of social media, I also got to know John’s sister.  She is very religious and shows it on social media.  (May also and probably does show it in person, but we haven’t really hung out much in person).   So I’ve gotten to know the entire family.  Something I am proud of because they are all very good people.

Throughout the process of selling our house, we both have called upon our friends to help us through this process.  Me more than my wife as I took this process way more to heart than she did.  One person that really came through to me is John and Roy’s sister.  I consider myself a fairly religious person.  I don’t go to church every Sunday but the intention is there.  (I know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions).  I reached out to her in a time of need.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I just needed some reassurance that I was not alone (yes my wife was there with me, but I still felt the burden was mine to bear).  What came back was something only a truly good person whose heart is filled with love could give.  I won’t share the details, but what came back was the words of a “friend” who we’ve met in person only once (twice by my account, but once that we both remember).  She didn’t have to write back, but she did.  She is the type of person I want my daughter to be like.  Someone who is good to everyone.

My daughter seems to be a very wise three year old.  She looked at houses with us and we talked about moving and going to a “new school.”  That night when I was putting her to bed she said to me, “Daddy?  I’m really gonna miss my friends.”  I think my heart broke right then and there.  I told her I knew she would, but that we will still see them whenever we can.  The next morning she said to her mom and I that Emily (her best friend) couldn’t be her best friend anymore because “we are selling the house.”  I explained to her about Roy. She could identify with Roy as we see Roy many times when we go to visit family and friends in Pennsylvania, and Roy has even come down to visit us.  I explained that Roy is one of MY best friends and that even though we don’t see each other very often, we still talk and we are still friends.  I plan on emailing those people who we are friendly with to let them know we are moving, and to say we want to keep in touch.  With Modern technology maybe we can actually do “face time” or some sort of video conferencing.  One can only hope.  Really I hope these kids parents are as accommodating to their kids as I plan to be for my daughter.  I know it is hard to make new friends (heck at age 33 it is very hard for me to make new friends, so I can’t imagine what my daughter is going through). 

 

My point throughout this post has been friendship means so many different things to different people.  I’ve discovered that friendship means pretty much the same thing no matter how old you are.  You feel comfortable around them, so you want to be around them whenever possible, you save a seat for them at lunch or on the bus, you talk about that girl/guy that caught your eye, you talk about how selling your house has been just hell for you.  It doesn’t matter where they live or how often you talk, but just knowing they are there is comfort enough.  I’ve known this for a bit, realized it more now, and hope to show my daughter this too. 

Sindy

The one and only

The one and only

I met Sindy in 7th grade Homeroom. Our last names are close in the alphabet and she sat behind me. As far as our similarities go, that was about it. We both were in band and chorus and felt as though the band teacher was just a TAD lame. But we got along if nothing else as friendly acquaintances for 7th and 8th grade. In 9th grade we started hanging around the same people so we hung out more. It was really my senior year when we really started hanging out and becoming close. Again we hung out with the same people, but we were also more mature and noticed we had more in common than we thought. After high school we kept in touch as well as my then girlfriend (now wife) remained good friends with her. We went our separate ways, her to culinary school, me to college. Slowly but surely, we became closer and I became close with her family. Her family let me work on their computer when I was studying how to repair them, and she told me how her dad works (I’m sure she’d laugh at the interactions we’ve had since!). She truly was one of the best friends we had. We even had her do a reading and her sister sang in our wedding (though much to my dismay her parents sat with her on my wife’s side!)

My future brother-in-law smacking Sindy's rear end at my wedding.

My future brother-in-law smacking Sindy’s rear end at my wedding.

I remember when she was looking for a job in the area, she was down to a prominent hotel in the area, or a restaurant chain. I, being the stellar career counselor that I am, told her to go with the hotel. She promptly went with the restaurant chain. She started out doing the prep. Eventually she worked her way up to cook, and before we knew it, she was 2nd in command in another location of the chain. One day my wife and I surprised her at her work when we went to visit my grandmother in the hospital. It was out of the way, but we knew we wouldn’t have this opportunity again anytime soon, if ever again. Sindy was elated to see us. We couldn’t help but feel proud that we were seeing our friend pretty much run an entire restaurant. It was unbelievable. Later that year, the inevitable happened – Sindy got her own restaurant. We knew it was only a matter of time.  We were so proud of her.  We had nicknames for each other, I was tech man because of my experience with computers, she started out as Chef Boyardee, but then changed to Iron Chef (For obvious reasons I she preferred Iron Chef to Chef Boyardee) . Life was good, all for about eight months or so.
About eight months later my sister in law called us freaking out, apparently Sindy was in the hospital. Sure enough, Sindy has autoimmune hepatitis. As soon as we could, we drove up to see Sindy. We stayed for awhile. So many people came and went. It was amazing how many people loved her and wanted to see her. She had so many flowers in her room, one of her nurses who was allergic to flowers had to wear a face mask when she came into Sindy’s room. We laughed so hard that time it was great. I honestly don’t recall a time when I had more fun in general, let alone at a hospital.
But the happiness was only temporary. Sindy eventually slipped into a coma and eventually passed. It was six year ago today.
Her funeral was unique. It was more of a celebration of life. Not that funerals aren’t a celebration of life, but this was special because her family requested everyone wear bright colors instead of the traditional black. We laughed, we cried. And the meal after the funeral? Where else? The restaurant chain I advised her to not get a job at. Where it all started. That night a bunch of us sat around a fire, and toasted her with Coronas. Just as she wanted. My wife and I still have those bottles packed somewhere.
In the six years since, my wife and I have come to call her family our family. We visit them whenever we can and catch up what is going on with each others’ lives. When Sindy passed, my wife and I made a vow that if we were ever blessed with children and if we had a girl, her middle name would be Sindy. Less than two years later, Madison Sindy was born. We make it a point to talk about her “Aunt Sindy” to our daughter and talk about how she is up in heaven watching over her, that her Aunt Sindy is her guardian angel. We show her pictures and she knows Sindy’s family as her aunts and uncle. Four years to the day that Sindy passed, her namesake took her first steps. We truly believe that is no coincidence.
Sindy truly was someone who brightened your day. I’ll never forget her (who could?) I often think what Sindy would think of her namesake. I’m sure she’d say we didn’t have to name our daughter after her (which is the truth, but we wanted to and am glad we were able to) and I think she would laugh very hard at the events that have happened in our lives.
I’m glad that the last memory I have of her, she was laughing. Because that’s what I remember the most about Sindy. Her laugh.