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It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like...Star Wars

The air outside is crisp. You can see your breath and the end of your nose is red and cold. The houses that you pass have Christmas trees in the windows. There are lights arranged all over the front lawns. The stores are all lit up and twinkling. The bell ringers are sitting in front of the shops collecting your spare change for charity.

But it’s not a Christmas party that we’re going to tonight.

I’m sitting in a restaurant with my wife and my daughter. It’s not a fancy place. “It’s not the Shangri-La,” as I’ve been known to say in description of any place that doesn’t require a jacket and tie. No, this is just a hamburger joint.

We’re sitting in a booth enjoying big, fat cheeseburgers, shoestring fries, and ice cream sundaes. There is electricity in the air. There is a smile on my face. This is a special day.

At the table next to us there are two men about my age. They’re having a casual conversation about their work and if you just listened to the words you’d think they were in bus…

Six Months...

We’re winding down to the last couple of months of 2016. To tell you the truth…I couldn’t be more relieved to see a year end. It’s not the usual feeling that I have around this time of year because as I’ve moved through my 30s I have taken note of the passage of time a lot more than I did when I was a kid.

When you’re young you look at late October as something that is exciting because Halloween is coming up and the beginning of the holiday season is starting. You’re going to be getting some time out of school soon and there is going to be a lot of candy and presents and food and it’s just a great time of year.

As I’ve gotten older I still revel in the celebration of these last few weeks because I have had a family and that kind of hits the reset button on the holidays. You go trick or treating again because you have kids to take. Christmas becomes fun again because you get to be the maker of the Santa magic that you used to experience. But here in the last year of my 30s it has changed again. Mostly because my kids are too old for any of that and they don’t really care to spend a lot of time with dear old dad anyway.

But this year I’m not even looking at anything but New Year’s Eve. That is the day that 2016 will become just a bad memory.

2016 has been the hardest year that I have ever had to go through in my life. Of course the main thing that happened to me was the fact that my mom passed away back in April. Tomorrow, actually, marks exactly six months since she died. I guess that’s the main thing that happened that’s made me want to give 2016 the finger for the past half year. That whole experience mentally, emotionally, and physically drained me. And it drained me to a point that I have not yet recovered. I still have to make an effort to be the “happy go lucky” guy that most people think that I am. That’s always been an effort since I’m extremely introverted.

And I think that the draining of my system has really affected the way that I’ve dealt with some of the other things that I’ve dealt with since. I won’t go into a lot of details but there were a couple of people that showed me who they really were during the time that my mom was dying and I haven’t spoken with them in months. I may never speak to them again just because I know that I can never look at them the same way that I once did. My emotions are a lot closer to the surface than they used to be. Arguments with my children that I once didn’t have a problem with now make me have to leave the room before I break down into tears. A financial setback a few weeks ago caused me to have to get in my car and go for a drive so that my family didn’t see me scream like a crazy person. It’s just been really hard to see the hope in anything.

Of course, that’s not the only thing that’s happened. My wife lost an uncle to brain cancer and an aunt to lung cancer over the spring and summer as well. My dad had to have a quadruple bypass and Sherri’s cousin had open heart surgery a couple of weeks ago. Add on top of that some difficulties that we’ve had with a teenage son that thinks he owns everything that you’ve got a big old pot of crap soup.

I’m trying not to dwell on my problems, but this year has been relentless in the amount of hard pitches that it has thrown at us. It has been one thing after another after another for months after months. And I’ve done what I can to try and get my mind off of things. I’ve been focusing a lot of energy on podcasting, which is my hobby. I’ve even created another show that has seen a little bit of popularity. I’ve had plenty of work to do in my college courses, though I find it difficult to stay focused on that when I need to be.

I’m carrying a ton of guilt. And it’s all guilt that I know don’t need to be carrying but I don’t know how to shake it. I feel guilt for not forcing more of a relationship between my mom and my kids. My mom lived 300 miles away and there were times that we’d go months without seeing them. I know that the argument could be made that it’s the same 300 miles both ways and that she could have visited more. But now that she’s gone it just leaves me with the feeling that I could have gone down there more…especially after making the trip about six or seven times in the last few months of her life. I also feel guilt over the relationships that I’ve ended since the whole things started that I mentioned earlier. It’s not what she would have wanted which is why I tried to make it work in the beginning. But it was just filling me with anger so I had to cut the tie. I’m so afraid of how disappointed she would be…

I went to the cemetery a week or so ago. My wife had bought an arrangement of fall flowers for Mom’s grave and I drove over there to swap out the summer flowers that were faded from the sun. I stood there and talked for couple of minutes. I apologized to her for writing off the people that I did because I know it’s not what she would have wanted. I told her that I missed her a lot. And I started to think about what she would say if she were here. What she would tell me to help me through this year that has been so trying for me and my family.

She would say “It is what it is.”

Yeah, Mom…you’re right.

I’m not the first person who’s ever lost a parent. We all lose our parents unless we go before them. I’m not the first guy to have financial problems. I’m not the first person who’s ever had to let go of a relationship in order to not descend into pure hatred. I’m 39 years old. Hopefully I have a lot of life left and this year is not going to define me.

That doesn’t make this weekend a whole lot easier. But it does help me to see the hope in my future.

And I know that this post will raise a few questions from some people. Some will ask “Who’s he talking about?”. I won’t go into that. But, rest assured, if you saw the link to this on Facebook or Twitter then it isn’t you.


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