What I’d Give

So bittersweet, this day to me

Each year it lies in wait

The pain so strong, the memories: glee

I’m struck by love and hate

The loss of those we hold most dear

Turns to tragedy, life’s play

And while you feel the hurt all year

We all have that one day

A time when all emotions rise

Consuming every thought

We try, in vain, to don disguise

Our mind, so overwrought

For her I write this, through endless tear

I’d give anything on Earth

To spend, with her, just one last year

This day: my mother’s birth

Dear Mom

Dear Mom

I want you to know, Mom

I’ll never forget 

The pain and the hurt

Nary thought of regret

For all you could do

And with all you could give

You gave to us three

In hope that we’d live

The life that we dreamed 

Where good turns to great

When happiness soars

And life, it elates 

I remember, dear Mom

All the lunches you made

The trips that we took

And our days in the Glade

I shall never forget

How you impacted all 

How your children came first 

And how love was your law

I miss you, dear Mom

So much more you deserved

Your life shall be honored 

For to God, mark my words

Go…

My head’s above the water

That drowning feeling, gone

A year point five has passed

The dark before the dawn

I know its up to me now,

To act, to make her proud

No longer shall I question

Why the pain was ere allowed

Instead my eyes shall focus

On this path that’s clear ahead

And journey down the trail

Where nary a foot hath tread

For loss lasts but a moment

The shock, the pain it sends

Yet those we loved would tell us

To heal and make amends

What words would ‘scape her lips?

Is there encouragement today?

I know she’d want me happy

I know just what she’d say

Go! Be the one we spoke of

Go! Live the life you dreamed

For one day all shall gather

Our love, will be redeemed

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Want to Play a Game

I’d like to try a thought experiment.

This might be weird; but just bear with me. You’ll need to pay very close attention to the things you’re about to read. More importantly, you’ll need to truly, truly, visualize and imagine what I’m going to say.

I want you to imagine yourself plugging your ears. Sound strange? Well it shouldn’t, because if you did it right you wouldn’t be able to hear it. Your ears are plugged, remember? Step one, imagine all the sound around you is gone. 

Step two. Think of the smells you’re experiencing. Then, imagine them going away. Close your nostrils if it helps. You can no longer smell.

Three. Cut your tongue out. Not literally! But imagine it disappearing into the same realm your other senses have traveled to. You can taste no more.

Four. You no longer feel anything. Your sense of touch is gone. Poof. Out the door. No more feel.

And last. Five. If you did it right, the only thing you have left….is this. You can see. You can read the words you’re reading right this very moment.

Now – close your eyes. Nothing. You should see, hear, smell, taste, feel….nothing. You should be nothing.

Okay, experiment over! If I had to guess, you’re probably thinking I’m a freaking nutcase right now. I, however, would say no; this is a thought process that has plagued me from the first time I considered it. I really, really want to know if there’s life after death. And no, I don’t want a feelgood story to make myself sleep better at night. I want to actually consider what really happens when we die. 

The above exercise is what I think about. Why don’t I remember anything before I was born? Seriously. Doesn’t this seem sort of obvious? When I was created, I gained the ability, through biological synapses and impulses that I won’t ever understand, to perceive reality. I was given hands, eyes, a nose, tongue, and so on to then be able to process the stimuli that is the universe. 

And you know what? When I’m dead, I bet I lose that ability to sense things. I bet I go right back to the blackness that was before I was born.

Now. Please. If there exists an individual who can tell me, in any logical manner why I should think otherwise, I’m begging you to do so. Because I’m going to be one hundred percent, completely real here: that scares the shit out of me. Wanna know why I quit insurance and write now? Well, here’s why folks. It doesn’t get any more real than this. I honestly believe that when I’m dead, that’s it. I don’t get another go around. So each and every second of my life, I want to make meaningful. And the worst part about this, believe me – the part that hurts the most, is thinking about Mom. That she may not be out there anymore. And that’s why I’m so torn, because the easy thing would be to say yeah of course she’s still there and so on. I really, really, can’t stand thinking this way. 

So. In summation. If someone can give me a rational, real explanation other than “faith” or “you just have to believe” or anything, please for the love of the ironic god I’m trying to find, tell me. 

That is all.

Reflections of Sadness, Elation, Hope & Regret – Happy Birthday, Mom: I Miss You Terribly

In the midst of the typical holiday cheer and excitement, at a time when everyone surrounding me is lit up with positive vibes and kindness, I find myself riding a roller coaster of peaking and plummeting emotion; teetering from positive, heart-warming memories one moment to tear-induced recollections of times no longer within my grasp, all in the blink of an eye.

December 23rd will forever be a particularly difficult, bittersweet day for me. My mother, who as you know passed in August of 2015 if you’ve read my book or blog, was born this day.

I spent a considerable amount of time going over this post in my head leading up to now, internally writing and re-writing it until I felt it was perfect. You know what’s funny, though? The sudden realization after I opening my browser that she would laugh and tell me I’m being absurd for stressing over it. Over her. After all, she knew exactly how much I cared for and appreciated her, and I knew the very same thing about her.

So rather than write about times together I miss and the opportunities I regret not taking while she was still with me, I’ll instead try my best to focus on the simple, happy things.

I’m absolutely convinced that my mother was without a doubt the most genuine, kind person I’ll ever know. Her saintly ability to always see the good in people, no matter their words or actions, still astonishes me when I think about it. I envy the thought-process that she embodied, something of which I regret to say I’ll likely never obtain. She was the simplest, yet deeply complex thinker – and her commitment to love and acceptance was relentlessly unwavering. I’m extremely proud to say with confidence that anyone who knew her knows exactly the kind of behavior I refer to. She was a beloved individual, to her family and everyone else who had the pleasure of knowing her.

Yet despite her outwardly simple demeanor and whimsical presence, Mom was also someone who maintained ferocious conviction in regard to her inward thought process. It’s actually a bit funny when I think of it, because the majority of people I knew growing up always told me they thought my Dad was smart. In retrospect, though, she was the one who truly had the gift of critical thought and analysis. Sure, Dad was some sort of confusing Applied Math professor, but so what? Mom had passion, she had depth, and she had character. Things which, incidentally, I would take over book smarts any day. Personally, I have more respect for those who maintain rock solid commitment to deeply-rooted moral philosophies over someone who can win at a game of Trivial Pursuit. After all, true intellect in my opinion is being able to control your thoughts and emotions, sticking to your morals in the face of anything, good or bad.

So yes, in lieu of the sorrow-laden post that my mind had written, I think its best to follow the example she set for me and allow my thoughts to settle on the smiles we had, not the frowns I’ve so frequently experienced. Because that’s what she would want – and I want nothing more than to emulate her joyous passion and thankfulness for life.

On that note, as a random tidbit – something Mom and I enjoyed immensely was playing video games. I, of course, grew up during the dawning age of the industry, having a childhood that can basically be described as school, baseball, and a progression of the newest game consoles. Mom, however (and I’m laughing as I write this), was absolutely obsessed with the 8-bit Nintendo’s original Legend of Zelda. One of my fondest memories is watching her play it time after time after time, smiling and talking trash to the bad guys all the way. I’m not exaggerating when I say this, but I honestly think she beat it a thousand times. I kid you not. After all, what’s a better pastime to share with your kids than a little casual gaming?

Incidentally, you might have been wondering why I chose to include a song from Bioshock Infinite at the beginning of this. While my previous paragraph probably gives some insight, the song carries a particular uniqueness; something I thought appropriate to include. It was the last song played at her funeral. She was watching me while I played it for the first time, walking into that beautifully designed fictional environment as the mind-numbingly pretty song played overhead. I knew she would approve of me selecting it for the procession’s conclusion because of the story behind it. If you give it a listen, which I strongly recommend you do, I trust you’ll recognize the beauty and sheer passion behind the lyrics. Choral hymns can be spine-tingling, indeed.

Yes, those are the things she loved more than anything else in the world. Spending time doing enjoyable things with us, her children. The woman quite literally lived for us and our happiness.

All that said, I would like to end this on something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life; and something I’ve mentioned previously. Now obviously the majority of us have parents who have a presence in the social media world – simple Facebook profiles, most commonly. I have to admit that I never paid much attention to it outside of the occasional post like, as probably not unlike most, I was admittedly too immersed in my own universe. After she passed, though, I visited her profile during a particularly painful day of missing her; and noticed something that genuinely made me happier than any individual memory I can recollect. As I’ve mentioned, there’s nothing I want more than to fulfill the life she envisioned for me; for her to be proud of me and the person I am. I never thought something as simple as reading the “Favorite Quotes” section on her profile could provide the validation for which I so desperately long. It might sound selfish to outwardly admit it, but I needed to know that she knew how much I appreciated her, and how much she inspired me. Her statement, which I’ve made the featured image of this post, did just that.

There are three, very simple quotes that my mother deemed important enough to spend time including on her profile. And yet as quick and concise as they are, nothing could more perfectly summarize the person my mother was and the priorities the drove her. This is taken verbatim from her profile:

“I love you.” – My children

“You’ve made me everything I am.” – Matthew

“I think every child is teachable.” – Unknown

 

I saw, in her very own words, she understood that she was my idol. And – more importantly – that we, her children, appreciated her. Seeing those few, simple words eased an enormous burden and uncertainty which plagued me for the longest time. She knew how I felt, and it meant enough to her to proudly display it on a public platform. It was an indescribable glimmer of elation during a devastating storm of melancholy; a saving grace which immensely helped keep my sinking ship of life afloat.

One last thing. Please, for your sake as much as theirs, make the people who motivate, inspire and love you aware of their impact. There’s nothing I can imagine which would instill a worse lifetime of regret than waiting until it was too late to tell your loved ones just that – that you love them.

Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas, Mom. And thank you so, so much for being such a shining luminescence in a world where darkness often prevails.

More than my words will ever convey, I love you.

The Pursuit of Happiness

The title of this post is one with which we’re all familiar. After all, that’s what life is about, right?

We work, we grind, we sacrifice, and we compromise – all with the intention of reaching a point where we can sit back, relax, and say “it was all worth it.”

But do we ever really obtain that goal? Will any of us ever truly be able to come up for air and be content with the position we’ve reached in life? Personally, I have absolutely no idea. That said, I would argue that there’s a certain intrigue and appreciation to the uncertainty – and it makes the journey that much more exciting.

Having aspirations and things to work toward provides a sense of purpose for what is an otherwise chaotic and seemingly random existence, in my humble opinion. We spend so much time asking ourselves what the meaning of all this could be – what are we supposed to do with these lives of ours? Ultimately, I think the answer to that existential question is simple: achieve happiness. Everything we do in life should essentially contribute to creating a fulfilling, happy existence.

I think we lose sight of this far too often. At least I know I certainly do. We get so caught up in day to day stresses and expectations that we focus more on that than we do our own happiness. When I experience these kinds of things – financial pressure, relationship problems, career deadlines – I try to constantly remind myself of the bigger picture. Is it really worth the anxiety? Are these life obstacles more important than my own happiness? Frankly, no – they aren’t. And when I successfully remind myself of this, my focus returns to its right track and my conscience rests in a calm, relaxing solace.

Sadly, and this is something I mention a lot in my writing, but I never thought of things this way until my mother passed away. Death, as the saying goes, changes you. Losing a cherished friend or relative can impact you in a way that no other experience could. I’ve no doubt that many of you can attest to this – that total shift in priorities, personal values, and beliefs. I wish it hadn’t taken the loss of my mother for me to finally realize this, but I’m grateful she had that impact on me nonetheless. It both saddens and inspires me that even in death, she was my most powerful influence.

I end with this: anytime you find yourself in a rut, having a bad day, or feel like you’re drowning in worldly struggles; try to remind yourself of what’s truly relevant in life. Focus on the things that generate happiness.

A positive mentality can change your world, if only you let it.