I don’t know exactly how or why this occurred, but I know I’m not happy with it. Allow me to explain.
Last night as I was laying next to my fiance, we were having a minor argument/discussion about the time we spend together. I was complaining that we don’t spend enough time together, to which he responded with that we do, but I always want more. I didn’t believe him. He came back at me with, “I’m always trying to make you happy but it seems like I can’t ever meet your expectations and it’s frustrating.” Again, I didn’t really think about what he was saying. I then told him that it’s not like I’ve changed as a person, and he said, “No. You have changed as a person.”
So we sat in silence for a little bit. He passed out and I was left to my own devices. I started reflecting on my relationships over the past few months and went back even as far as a year. I examined my relationship with him, my mother and my sister. And I realized something.
He was fucking right. As much as I HATED to admit it, he was right.
I can’t exactly pinpoint the event that made me become this way, I just know that I don’t like what it’s done to me. I have been selfish to the point of it being exhausting, exhausting enough to cause unnecessary problems in my relationships with everyone. I could defend myself until the cows came home, but there really isn’t any justification for the person I let myself morph in to. Instead of thinking of what I can give to the people in my relationships, I focused on what I could take. That’s not fair. I continued on by allowing myself to have expectations of people, but they weren’t allowed to have any of me, which also isn’t fair. I think it came down to a combination of me trying to prove to everyone that I couldn’t be walked all over and trying to prove I didn’t need anyone. I inadvertently then pushed people away.
On this day, October 10, 2013, I’ve decided that I need to become a better person and cast away the demons I have let myself create. I had a dream last night that I literally had to fight the devil (Yes, I know that sounds weird). And I woke up before I ever found out if I won the battle. I think that’s symbolic in the sense that I will always have some fight inside of me raging on, but the fact that I’m fighting it proves I can keep evil at bay. I’m at a point in my life where I really, REALLY need to move forward and not look back. I don’t have to forget the past, but I can’t let it affect me any longer. I know somewhere along the line I would like to have children and if I want to raise them correctly, I have to change how I act. I can’t expect them to not vibe off of my attitude or my demons. So I need to learn to battle them now. I’m going to start out by trying to do something nice for a person every single day. I’m going to actively engage all of my customers at work and make an effort to learn more about them. I’m going to give of myself more instead of take from others.
I don’t think they have “Selfish Bitch Therapy,” so I am going to have to take this day by day, and change a little bit each day to become the person that I used to be.
Yesterday I said there was nothing quite like change. There isn’t. And it’s time I made a change into a better person. It certainly isn’t a battle between heaven and hell, but it’s a battle worth fighting.
How many times are we told that time waits for no one? And how many times do we put off things we should do because we think we have more time? It’s easy; everyone thinks they have time and they do not ever use it wisely until something tragic happens.
The year has barely started and I have already had to bury my grandfather. He was a man who I considered to be timeless until I realized that time would inevitably run out. He lived a good, and rather long life. Now, my family and I have to move forward.
If there is one thing certain about life, it’s that it has to move regardless of what tragedies may occur during our time on this planet. That means that it is time to start living. You must live every, single breath of every, single day. You must live with purpose and with fiery passion that way when you die, you have no regrets. You must love with your whole heart, not just part of it.
I have been inspired to make a two-year bucket list. Some things on this list are going to be wild and crazy while others are going to be simple. But nonetheless, I have a life to live. I have a life to live for myself. I may have my better half, and he will be involved in many of these adventures, but I still have to live these things for me.
•Go to Hawaii
My grandparents went to Hawaii and while they were there they met the Pittsburgh Steelers like Lynn Swann and Franco Harris. I know I won’t get to hang out with celebrities like they did, but I want to see the mountains, waterfalls and beaches.
•Get more Tattoos
I’ve always been fascinated by artwork in its various forms. And I have the idea of what I want next, I’m just baffled by the placement I want it.
• See Wild Horses on the Beach
I hear it is possible in the northern part of North Carolina to see wild horses on the beach. I have wanted to see them since I saw “Nights In Rodanthe.” It would quite a beautiful sight.
•Get a Job in My Field
I have learned so much from bartending at the place my mom owns. But I ultimately do want to find a job in my field. I would love to find one in Florida and I am confident that within these next two years I can make that happen. Until then, I am content slinging beers and mixing drinks.
•Take Kyle to Disney World
I have so many memories from my childhood at that place: all with my grandparents. I think it is about time I show him why I love the place so much. Oh, and he has never been there either.
•Read Every Book on my Bookshelf
I have many books. In fact when I have my own house I want many shelves to house these books. However, one would be surprised how many of these books I have started and not finished. I need to finish a lot if them, and there is no time like the present to do so.
•Make a Difference in the World
I do not particularly care how it happens, but I will be performing one random act of kindness a month at least for the next two years to make the world a better place. It will increase to probably once a week until ultimately I try to do one random act of kindness per day.
I’ve only ever traveled to Canada. Other than that I have never been out of the states. That needs to change. I feel a few European countries are calling my name and seeking my visit. I want to see Sicily because it is where my grandpa’s family is from. Italy in general is my goal, but I want to see both places. I want to see the whole continent.
•Take Lots of Pictures
I originally got my Nikon D5100 to take pictures of my grandparents. Unfortunately, I did not get to take any of them together basically because taking something that large as a carry-on on the plane is virtually impossible without paying the baggage fees. I was hoping I would get to drive down with my boyfriend and drive back with him as well. We were supposed to go this week actually to surprise them, but God had other plans. Thus, it’s only fair that from now on I try my best to capture every moment that I can because I will not ever know which moment will be my last.
• Eat One New Food a Month
My grandpa was always trying to get me to eat new foods and most of the time I hated it. Well, now I am going to expand my food palette and try new things.
I know it’s not much, but I want to try to get all of these things accomplished. And if I have any new ideas, I will inevitably be writing about them in future blogs. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to comment them.
As one of my favorite songs says, “Forget regret or life is yours to miss. No other road. No other way. No day but today.”
Live in the moment. Live every day like it was your last day. Love every love like it will be your last love. Surround yourself with happiness.
“It’s the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.”-Albus Dumbledore.
As I sit writing this, I know that my grandpa is fighting a battle in the Intensive Care Unit in the hospital in Florida, approximately 1100 miles or so away. That means that if God calls him home, the blog I wrote a few days ago about him and my grandma will be one of the single, most precious pieces I have ever written in my entire life. You can read it HERE. Nestled in his hospital bed, he sleeps and fights, and this could possibly be his last showdown. At his home in Sebring, Fl., his wife lays in the twin sized bed that is in their room, the bed that was soon to be replaced with a king sized bed so they both could sleep beside each other. Out in the living room is a new set of furniture, and an empty space where a chair he purchased a few days ago to aid him in getting up and down will be going. And my grandma, through all of her thoughts, wonders if he will ever get to see or use the things he just purchased. She wonders if he will make it back home so that she can change the bandages on his legs. She wants to be able to cook him dinner and hear him call her “Buddy.”
She wants her husband, and her best friend to come home.
That’s the part that makes me so sad.
I made peace with the fact that he would be dying about four months ago when these rounds of hospital calls began. What I haven’t made peace with is the woman he is leaving behind. And it scares the crap out of me.
My grandparents have been married 57 1/2 years and the dated for two years before they got married. That means that my grandma has been staring at my grandpa’s face every morning for most of her life. She has been making him dinner every night. She has helped him run businesses. She took care of him when he was sick, to the point where he nicknamed her Florence Nightingale. She had my mom and my uncle with him and instituted Sunday dinners. The Sunday dinners are still in effect, except when they are in Florida because we reside in Pennsylvania. Her whole life has essentially been devoted to loving one man and the family she created with him.
And now, she may be on the brink of losing everything.
The hardest question I have had to ask myself throughout this whole ordeal is a simple question: Why do we fall in love when we will ultimately be separated from that person? I fell in love almost two years ago. And I will be perfectly honest and say that the idea of getting married scares me. If he asked, I would say yes. However, I’m not scared of the marriage; I’m scared of him not being there someday. I’m scared of watching him fall apart right before my very eyes. I’m scared that I will devote my whole life to this person and that old age and diseases will separate us anyway.
So why do we do it?
If you believe in soul mates, then you believe that there is someone out there with the other part of your soul. You believe that you must then find that part of your soul and make it one with yours. I believe that my grandparents are soul mates, despite the fact that they have the single most dysfunctional relationship that I have ever seen. They are polar opposites. But, I guess that is what makes them compatible. I also have learned throughout this whole ordeal that everything kids are taught about fairy tale love is mostly inaccurate. Sometimes love isn’t about thinking the other person is dreamy and getting bit by this mystical love bug. Sometimes, love is more than that. If you’re lucky, love is about respect and security.
Maybe we are only meant to have our soul whole for a little while, but I don’t think it’s very fair. I don’t think its fair that my grandma will have to go on with half of her soul missing. This will happen sooner rather than later, but it still is something I haven’t made peace with. I’m scared for her. I’m scared knowing she will have half of her soul in heaven and that she has to carry on alone. I’m not looking forward to when that happens. It makes all superficial relationships you’ve ever had seem rather stupid for crying over.
Here’s my lesson: Your stupid minor relationships won’t break your heart when you break up with that person. You want heartbreak? Date the same person for 60 years and watch them deteriorate. Date someone for 60 years, and then have to carry on without them. That’s heartbreak. Don’t let minor setbacks seem like heartbreak. You will prevail.
I don’t know if it’s going to be easy to let myself continue to be in love forever because it’s scary.
But I will probably do it anyway.
And I can only hope that when the day comes where I have to go on, that I will be able to. And that maybe, just maybe, I will understand this when I die. Because quite frankly, I’m not sure that being alive is enough to understand the powers at be with this sort of tragedy. Love is hard and complicated.
I just hope when the time comes I can be strong, thankful and understanding.
For the next month, I will be doing a series on my blog titled, “The Secret of Life.”
Life is a vastly complicated series of events. Often, people do not really know how to fully experience life. In fact, some people feel they cannot handle life and think of ways to get out of it. These people contemplate suicide because they feel that’s the only way out. This is especially true for people that are bullied. Well, it’s no secret: Everyone gets bullied. The next time you feel alone in the world, and you feel as if you want to take your own life, remember one thing: Everyone gets bullied. That means there are billions of other people out there that know exactly how you feel. TALK to these people. Do not give up on life. Life is worth living. Life may bring you down, but billions of people in generations before you did not let that bring them down. You can do this. If your ancestors could survive being brutally beaten to death and whipped because of the color of their skin and they survived, you can live. If your ancestors were thrown into concentration camps and survived, you can outwit a bully. If your ancestors helped build the Great Pyramids of Giza, you can handle living your life. If your ancestors survived the plague, numerous wars and still, STILL survived…..
You would be slapping them in the face if you did not try to outlive and outsmart a bully. They are easily slain, all you have to do is prove to them their opinion doesn’t matter.
Life is a teacher. Life is an experience. You want the first secret:
Enjoy the little moments, especially when they are experience with people much older. It will show you that you’re not alone, and how to love yourself as well as others.
Part One:Road Trips with Grandparents
For four days at the end of 2012, I traveled with my grandparents from Pennsylvania to Florida. It took us three days to complete the trip because we got caught in a massive nor’easter. Twelve inches of snow fell to the ground in our home state. We traveled six hours and only made it to Winchester, Virginia. That trip would take about three or four in normal driving conditions, at least that’s what they told me.
This trip was characterized by many memorable quotes and many annoyances, but nonetheless, it was a learning experience.
I went on this trip simply to help my grandparents. My grandfather is dying; I came to terms with that months ago. He is in renal failure, a diabetic and his heart is only pumping at roughly 15-20% on a good day. Add the neuropathy in his legs, which causes him to not be able to walk long distances, plus the fact that he is retaining massive amounts of fluid in his body, and you have a ticking time bomb. He is going to be 79 next week. My grandma is forgetful; dementia ran in her family and I think it’s safe to say she is showing signs that she will carry on that trend. Sometimes she forgets my name. She misplaces her credit cards in her over-sized Steelers winter coat. She can’t remember where she placed my grandpa’s diabetic needles in the luggage that is shoved into the trunk of her 2012 Ford Taurus. She is very little and frail and cannot lift my grandpa in and out of the car, nor if he falls onto the ground because of a misstep.
That is where I came in. I offered my help to my grandparents for a few days, the only thing I asked is that they would pay for my trip home because I was in a tight budget from the money I spent on Christmas. They happily obliged and on December 26, 2012, we began our journey.
I quickly learned, much to my dismay, that it would have been absolutely improbable for them to make the trip on their own. Even though my stubbornly independent, 78-year-old grandma would not let me drive her car, I did have to help her navigate it through the blizzard that ensued on the first day of the trip. We had to stop frequently to force my grandpa to walk around so that his legs would not retain further fluid. That was a task with the massive amounts of snow on the ground. He cannot move quickly, and given the slippery conditions, his shoes and his cane would not cooperate with his pace. My grandma frequently could not remember what road to take, and despite my pleas to take certain routes because they were faster, they were determined to go the route they always go because, “That’s what we have always done.” So that became a task when my grandpa would fall asleep because I could not actually help her. Getting in and out of the car itself was difficult because my grandpa was in pain. I had to sometimes maneuver his legs in awkward positions. And my grandma was in pain because she has various problems. This led to the ultimate annoyance: the cranky attitude of my grandpa.
I know pain makes you considerably cranky. That is why I tried to be understanding to the complaints. My grandma however was less compliant to his cranky ways. Though, after 57 years of marriage, she’s earned her right to say how she feels, especially if my grandpa is being downright nasty. They purchased separate hotel rooms, one for me and one for them. The rooms adjoined and my grandma would call me if she needed me to help her. After a couple of beers and a basketball game, and my grandpa being cranky, I decided to go to bed. And despite the crankiness of my grandpa, the two of them spent literally all night laying in bed talking. I don’t know what they talked about, but I know every time I woke up in the middle of the night, they were talking to each other.
The next two days consisted of the same things. But the further south we drove, the more their spirits rose. Until we finally reached their home in Florida. My grandma spent most of the day rearranging various things in their new home. My grandpa spent most of the day sleeping and relaxing. Finally the day came where I had to go back home. My grandma was very sad to see me leave because she knew that she would not only have to figure out how to do everything on her own, but I wouldn’t be there to take the brunt of his crankiness. Despite it all, the trip was very enlightening and it showed me a lot about life.
Marriage is a compromise. Marriage is something you have to try at every day. Even after that person is slightly mean to you all day, you still stay up late at night and talk to them. So the secret of life I give you today is to not be afraid to fall in love, but know that love is more about the other person than it is about you. My grandparents have spent 57 married years together. They have been by each other’s sides when the other goes into the hospital. They have an argument and five minutes later have reconciled. When you, my reader, fall in love, I want you to love like they do. It’s like the Bible passage in Chapter 13 of First Corinthians, courtesy of BibleGateway.com:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love
If you spend every day keeping track of everything your partner has done wrong that is minor, you won’t ever be happy with them. If you spend your life doubting yourself, your partner won’t be happy. Your partner will love you, but if you can’t love yourself, it makes you far less desirable. Love yourself first, and it’s easier for you to love someone else. Realize you’re worthy of being loved, and the right person will love you. Don’t go looking avidly for love, it will find you in unexpected ways.
I’m thankful for the road trip I took with my grandparents. It showed me more about how to love another person, without losing myself. It showed what it’s like to grow old with a person and still love them. It showed me that while growing old is scary, it’s helpful and easier if you have someone there along for the ride.
Lesson number one: We are only as alone as we make ourselves to be. If you don’t want to be alone, then realize you’re not. And realize you don’t have to be.