When I was about two, my mother met a wonderful man from a large Irish Catholic family. They married shortly thereafter and I suddenly had about 20 new cousins and 12 aunts and uncles.
Not being blood related is not a factor in this family. They welcomed my brother and I from the beginning. I can vividly remember Christmas parties at Aunt Joanne and Uncle Pat’s house with all the cousins, I was in my Aunt Jane’s wedding, summers in Stone Harbor with Uncle Jef and Aunt Kathy, playing at Aunt Marie and Uncle Mike’s house, Aunt Eileen holding my family together when my brother died and New Year’s parties at Aunt Chris and Uncle Joe’s house. And then there’s the countless weddings…
Last night I attended a wedding for my cousin Alicia. It was a beautiful day and the family gathered to celebrate the special event. My cousins are mostly in Pennsylvania but some are now in other places like Virginia, California, Colorado and Minnesota so it’s not easy to see them often but they were there (some in spirit). Seeing my cousins is like that friend you’ve known for years and even though you don’t see each other that often, you pick up right where you left off.
Looking back on the conversations I had last night with many of my cousins, aunts and uncles, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with love and gratitude. Each of them are such special and loving people who want the best for me and each other.
Over the years this family has seen a lot of tragedies and lately, thank God, a lot of triumphs. I just wanted to give a special message to the Feehery family and let them all know how much they mean to me. It’s not very often you have special relationships with family who truly come together in good times and in bad. Mom Mom and Pop Pop would be proud.
Another year has passed without Sean. 19 years ago today, the age he was when he passed. It seems like a long time ago but time has passed too quickly. Some days I think of him a lot and others I feel guilt for not thinking of him more. Wishing he were here to celebrate the good times, the holidays and to help me get through those tough moments. In the last year he has missed birthdays, getting to meet my brother’s girlfriend, an amazing family trip to our cousin’s wedding in Colorado, Connor’s first birthday, grandma’s 94th surprise brunch and countless other family events.
To be honest, this is the most difficult blog of the year. Usually it takes me maybe 30 minutes to write a blog but with this I started it last Thursday, revisited it Sunday and finally finished today. In the last few years I have found great comfort and a sense of purpose by working with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Participating in their local walks to raise awareness and support has proven to me that I’m not alone.
Keeping in touch with Sean’s friends is also cathartic. The messages I receive with their memories of him make me laugh because he was funny and make me cry because I miss him. If I can help raise money to bring awareness and support so no one else has to experience this makes me happy. Please consider donating to this great organization by clicking here.
In the last month I have completed three 5K’s, run four times per week and have a social life outside of work and running. Summer at the Jersey shore can be exhausting with people going out all the time. I’m not complaining but I think it finally caught up with me.
I took six days off from running after my last week’s 5K. I really needed to just not be anywhere! I didn’t want to get up early in the morning and I didn’t want to leave the house after work. I just wanted to veg out and hang with my dog.
This break came at a price. I felt like crap! I’m not sure if it was the exhaustion or feeling crappy because I wasn’t doing anything. Either way, I was back to running this morning and things have turned around.
So, what’s with the highs and lows?
Early in the week I got some pretty bad news that my family is facing another challenge (out of respect for my family, I won’t divulge). I immediately sank and thoughts of family tragedies started to fill my head. Does God really only give us what we can handle because frankly, we’re tired.
Luckily, I have some pretty great friends that I can talk to. They offer words to try and look at the positive. And some, take me out on motorcycles!
This was my high for the week. I’ve never felt more alive and appreciative of all that I have. This kicked my butt back into gear. I admit, I might have a new addiction 🙂
My final thought: We all face challenges throughout our lives but how we handle them reveals our character.
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to please people, especially my family. I wanted them to be proud by doing what was expected of me and staying under the radar to not cause problems. You may recall I had mentioned this in an earlier post (https://changingliz.com/2013/03/24/do-i-have-the-strength-to-go-on/)
Even though this is something I wanted to change through my journey I can’t help but continue to act this way. I’m not sure if it is good or bad for me but it is who I am. Wanting the people around me to be happy is part of my character and I am not sorry for that.
I watch every episode of the Real Housewives series from Orange County to New Jersey. Every week there is a fight between friends or between family and I’ve started to identify with the NJ family fights. Not because it’s geographically close to home but all families go through their ups and downs; including mine. Caroline Manzo once said that her family is as “thick as thieves” but is it always that way and does this make my family f*&ked up? (http://www.eonline.com/news/123124/n-j-housewives-caroline-we-are-not-the-sopranos)
My friend has been going through a difficult time with her family who isn’t speaking to each other. It has expanded to affect everyone in the family at this point when it started out between two people. She is somewhat neutral to the situation and has attempted to extend the olive branch two times to reconcile the family. So far, nothing has changed but only seems to get worse. I’m afraid this is stressing her out which is not healthy.
I’m unsure of the best advice here but, like me, it’s important for her to focus on her own wellbeing and stop trying to be the peacemaker. Unfortunately we can’t control people’s actions and reactions but we can control ourselves.
Have you ever wanted to fix something but were afraid to interfere? How did you handle it and what was the outcome?