This is me. This is who I am. I am honest, sometimes to a fault. I am a realist, and I try very very hard (on a daily basis) to understand that there are just some things that I cannot control. From a very early age, I learned that life isn’t fair, you don’t always get what you want, and that people die too soon.
Unfortunately, tragedies came to my family all too often and it was difficult for me to not notice what was going on around me. At an age where I was too young to remember OR understand the exact feeling or emotion that people around me were experiencing, my 17 year old, junior fireman uncle was killed in a fire lit by a confessed arsonist. From what I understand, he was not even supposed to be there. Shortly after, my grandfather (his father) suffered several heart attacks and ended up passing away not long after, partly due I’m sure, to a broken heart. When I was in middle school, my maternal grandfather was diagnosed with cancer and passed away within a year or two.
I remember during my freshmen year of high school, my dad lost his job. I wanted so badly to go to a big dance for my class, and my parents just sitting me down and explaining to me (God Bless them), that we didn’t have the money to be spending on a new dress, or getting my hair done, or new shoes and tickets. I was lucky enough to have some friends in school who let me borrow a dress and shoes, did my hair, AND bought my ticket to the dance. At that point in my life, at a pretty young age, I had to make myself understand that things aren’t always going to go my way, that some circumstances are out of my control, and I just had to roll with the punches. A few years later, my mom and my aunt (her sister) were both diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I remember thinking firstly, ‘what is Multiple Sclerosis???’, and secondly, ‘why can’t we catch a break?!’ Most kids my age were worried about going to the football game or party that weekend, and my Friday nights quickly ended up consisting of administering my moms injections for her MS. I was okay with this, because I knew that if there was anything I could do to help, that’s what I should be doing.
Going into my senior year of high school, I thought to myself…’this year is going to be calm and successful for me!!’ I just thought, we had endured enough!! Two months in, my brother and I were up in the morning getting ready for school and the house phone rang. It was my cousin Garek, telling us that his brother Brandon was in a car accident and he was being life flighted to a hospital in Pittsburgh. My mom gave us the option to stay home, and I very specifically remember thinking to myself, ‘Brandon is always getting hurt, he will be fine!’ (Brandon liked to ride fast things, and then jump from really high places off of those fast things!) So we went to school and got a call only a few short hours later that he had passed away and we were getting picked up to go home. Brandon was only 20 years old, and a HUGE inspiration to everyone that knew him! He followed the motto, ‘drive it like you stole it’ and lived every minute to its fullest and fastest. I think about him every day, and imagine what he’d be like today. When I thought I understood and accepted the uncertainty that is life, I realized that again, it was taking me a verryyyyy long time to come to the understanding of how this was possible, how can someone so amazing, die so young?? I believe that because of my past, and the obstacles that I’ve been faced with is why I am, the way I am today. Some may call it ‘cold’, or being a pessimist or a cynic, but this is life, and this is me.
As I sit here watching The Lion King with my 2 year old, the lyrics to a song are ringing especially true right now,
It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life
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