Tag Archives: sadness

Accepting death by living

imageHow many moments have you had in your life when you thought to yourself, “If I die right now, I’m ok with it.” One? A dozen? Somewhere in between? I hope you’ve had at least one because it is one of life’s most liberating and unforgettable moments.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had quite few, it seems, as I sit here gathering the memories. Those times I’ve had a complete sense of contentment generally involved being outdoors, probably divided equally between being alone and being with someone I loved. They’re sweet memories I cherish.

The recent events in Paris, a city I visited this past spring, have me thinking about life and living it. There’s no denying it, we exist in a world in which we could lose our life in an unexpected, never imagined, instant. Poof. Boom. Crash.

When I think about the human beings who died Friday night, my ultimate consolation is the thought that at least the now dead were living when they were killed by terrorists. They were dancing and nodding their heads to music, they were eating a meal and, perhaps, having a cocktail, they were cheering from the stands at soccer match on a Friday evening . They were living.

That’s all we can do.

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Filed under Europe, France, News, Observations

Never forget?

 Photo: Ben Sturner/@leverageagency

Photo: Ben Sturner/@leverageagency

I don’t remember which days of the week my own children were born but I’ll never forget that it was a Tuesday. The sky was the most intensely beautiful blue imaginable.

It was my first week in a new district. I didn’t know anyone. My children were in daycare 15 miles away. I couldn’t get to them soon enough.

We sat on a new deck under the a silent sky, doing our best to escape the buildings falling and falling and falling on the television. Everything was different.

September 11th will never be a day that simply falls between the 10th and the 12th. It’s the day everything changed. Who could ever forget?

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Filed under Events, NYC, Observations, Uncategorized

Flipping the bird

It looked like this starling.

Apologies in advance for this post’s title. I don’t intend it to convey any disrespect, it’s more my attempt to emotionally remove myself from an incident which I found to be upsetting. Here’s what happened…

Over the weekend, my son came across an injured bird in the lawn next to our house. The poor guy was lying in the grass on its stomach looking uncomfortable and afraid. Naturally, Jeter was very interested in the bird, although not in an aggressive way. I think he was just happy to finally get close to one of those “things” that tease him with their ability to flit about as they visit our front porch feeder.

Twice, Jeter got close to the bird and it responded by hopping away, inadvertently landing on its back both times. Each time, I ever so gently rolled it back into its seemingly preferred position of belly down, an act which didn’t cause any apparent additional distress. I brought the hose to the bird and dripped some water directly in its mouth, which it seemed to appreciate. Beyond that, I simply didn’t know what to do.

As expected, by the next morning the bird was dead. I considered what to do with it and concluded that digging a hole and burying it really wouldn’t be much better than simply picking it up and placing it in the trash. I mean, at this point, what was the difference? I’m okay with my decision on how to dispose of the bird, but I’m questioning my actions relating to what I did when the bird was suffering. To me, it seems unreasonable to bring a “wild” bird to a veterinarian for medical attention, but should I have taken it somewhere to be euthanized? I don’t think I could have “put it out of its misery” myself, but should I have tried to find a means to do that? What have you/would you have done in the same situation?


Filed under DelSo, musings, Random, Uncategorized

Restaurant families

imageAfter more than three decades in the restaurant business, I know a few things. Some of the knowledge I’ve gained is related to food – how to make a buerre blanc or hollandaise and what to do with an excess of vegetables (frittata, risotto or soup).

I’ve learned about wine and spirits and the significance of all the minutia that is involved with creating an atmosphere that welcomes guests and makes them want to return. All of this is important to being successful in the hospitality industry but it pales in comparison to what I’ve come to know about people.

As a server my focus, naturally, is on my guests. I sincerely want those that I take care of to be happy and I have been so fortunate to be able to wait on some of the same people since my long ago undergraduate days. They’ve witnessed my life and the connection we share crosses our respective sides of the table to a place somewhere in the middle. Many of them know which nights I work and I do my best to recall who likes to sit where and which glass of wine they enjoyed last time they were in. We’re familiar with one another.

Over the years, though, there have been situations which have proven that the most valuable thing I have learned about the restaurant business is that the people I have worked with are my family. We’ve shared annoyances, laughter and the stress of a life that is utterly unpredictable every single shift. At the end of the night, while counting money and emptying trash bins, we have connected over a glass of wine (or two) and then hugged good night before heading to our cars to return to our other families.

It’s been a really tough couple of months for my family. The losses right now are so utterly outweighing triumphs and joys that my heart is echoing with absence. As we come together again to support one another, to embrace each other in love and sorrow during a time which feels impossibly tragic, the ability of our industry to create connections between people eclipses in importance any other aspect of the job.

Each shift on the floor comes with the guarantee of there being something new to witness or with which to contend. At this time of sadness, it is vital that we also remember with that same certainty that we are a family.  Always.


Filed under Albany, family, friends, Observations, relationships, Restaurants

Running to hide in the dark

It’s times like this that make me understand the appeal of going to the theater to see a movie. Or three. I don’t often get to the movies for a film that is anything other than rated PG, but during my winter holidays, I found my way to the Spectrum three times for grown up movies.Two of the movies I saw were based upon books which I had very much enjoyed, while the third appealed to my curiosity and is the one which I’ve found myself reflecting on with surprising frequency. All provided an opportunity to escape.

Escape from what, you ask? Christmas and the stress which it can bring, the reality of who is present in my life and who is not, and a grief that I found I could not run away from no matter how rapidly I moved my sneakered feet. The holidays are a cruel time for death to visit.

So, I went to the movies. First, my middle son and I took in Birdman (and a medium popcorn) together. The plot was interesting without being groundbreaking and I thought the cast was outstanding. Michael Keaton was utterly convincing in the title role and Edward Norton was his standard mesmerizing self. Emma Stone continues to be difficult to look away from and I only wish Naomi Watts had been in more scenes. Overall, I found the film a bit disturbing, but that’s just coming from literal me. I like movies that neatly tie up in the end, and this definitely did not do that.

Christmas Day I made my way back down Delaware Avenue for a matinee of Unbroken. I’ve been waiting to see this movie since I read the book 3 years ago and, while I think the adaptation was respectfully done, the film simply could not live up to the printed page. There just isn’t any way to capture the richness of Hillenbrand’s book and Louis Zamperini’s life in 120+ minutes. By all means, see the movie but do not think it tells the complete story. Read the book.

I completed my trifecta with another film based on a biography, Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon. I just recently read and loved the book and think the movie accurately portrayed the journey that Cheryl Strayed took in the aftermath of the demise of her mother and her marriage. There are always creative choices to be made and I think the scenes taken from the book and depicted on screen were wisely made. I liked it, but, you should still read the book if you haven’t already.

Hooray for Hollywood and thank God for books and running.

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Filed under Books, Christmas, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Movies, Recommendations, running, winter

Smack(ed) – updated

This piece was originally posted last week.  I deleted it on the request of the loved one of my friend, but after much reflection am reposting it with the name of my friend removed.  It seems appropriate since while my friend was special, the situation, unfortunately, is not.  As the victim of a terrible disease and the drug dealers who feed that illness, he could have been anyone.  Heroin is killing the friends and family of people regardless of socio-economic, educational, ethnic and geographic boundaries. Sanitizing the situation does not change that fact.  Read more about this very real epidemic in Paul Grondahl’s ongoing series.  Peace to all of you who have lost children, siblings, parents and friends.  You’re not alone.

This morning on Facebook, nestled between the steady stream of photos capturing joyous Christmas scenes, there came some news I’ve been expecting for some time. But, as James Michener said, “We are never prepared for what we expect.”

When I met my friend, he was so on his game. Handsome as hell, kind, thoughtful and eager to learn, he had the potential to go anywhere. His days were spent working with other addicts, going to the gym and waiting tables. He was shiny and clean.

Over the time we worked together he shared some of his history with me. Hard drugs are something with which I have no experience. I don’t understand the appeal of a substance which may initially lift you up but ultimately will pull you down to the darkest of places. My friend talked about regrets and his hopes for his future. He was so smart and self-aware he convinced me that the days ahead were going to be brighter than those of his past. Until he told me he was looking forward to getting out from under the watch of the judicial system because he was eager to explore food and wine pairings at the restaurant where we worked together. I knew then that his sobriety wasn’t going to last, but the speed with which he ultimately fell was breathtaking.

I watched as his work ethic changed and his physical appearance deteriorated. He would disappear from the dining room floor at the end of the shift and return sweating and amped up in an almost aggressive way. He was soon fired and quickly burned through a number of subsequent jobs. He totaled his car and lost his sweet girlfriend. It was sad to see him.

My friend contacted me occasionally. About two years ago a longtime friend lost his son, a son who also happened to be a close friend of my friend’s. They shared the same disease and my friend had been the last person to see him alive. My friend looked like shit when I picked him up to drive to the wake – haunted with sunken eyes, unhealthy. I told him I was worried about him, that I didn’t want to have to go to his wake and asked if he could try again to get some help. I told him he was worth it.

It’s been almost a year since I last heard from him. His last message to me:

Hey sil…been a long time…u look amazing as always…I’m pretty sure ur the coolest mom ever…hope all is well with u and ur family…love always

I replied with the following:

Hey – what’s going on with you? Where are you these days? Healthy? I worry about you and hope you’ve found your way. Life is too short, my friend. XO Silvia.

Addiction sucks.

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Filed under friends, sick


Image: nydailynews.com

Yesterday’s date was remarkable because it was the last time in our lifetime, barring some crazy medical advances, that we will see a consecutive numbers date. What begin with 1/2/3 is now over for the current century. Pretty momentous, don’t you think?

I’ve learned there are occasions which demand recognition for various reasons – holidays, anniversaries, cool calendar dates, while others only reveal their importance retrospectively.

Two years ago today, on 12/14/12, Adam Lanza entered an elementary school and executed 26 people. Twenty of the victims were children who were essentially the same age as my own youngest son. Two years ago, 12/13/12, was the last night all of those families were intact.

I cant help but imagine the children on the final night of their lives.   I picture them talking excitedly about their Christmas lists and other holiday traditions. Maybe they did some homework, played a game or two, or attended a sports practice or other activity. Along with their teachers, they were probably looking forward to the weekend to have some time with family and friends. There was nothing to suggest that they would never again sleep in their beds.

On 12/14/12 the residents of Newtown, CT, and the world, learned what a violent and mentally ill individual was capable of destroying. We’ll never know what the future held for those twenty children – what they would have grown to achieve and accomplish, how they might have changed the world with their presence rather than with the void of their absence.  My own heart will always be missing a piece which was taken on that day.

In the next century, when those cool consecutive number dates roll around again, I hope that thought of an individual possessing and using weapons such as the Bushmaster rifle used to execute 20 elementary school children, is considered even more insane than Adam Lanza.

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Filed under Events, musings, News, Observations, politics, Schools