The Honest Truth | Life, Love, and Pain.

“Ferocity is not a gift – as it can be found in any living thing. However, choosing to live ferociously is one of the greatest gifts one can possess.”

I’ve been quiet since I arrived. I figured I’d fill you all in.

It’s been a week.

That in itself is a statement of fact.

What kind of a week it’s been bares more a fictitious, or perhaps objective, debate.

Being home is great. It always is. When you leave your friends and family to chase a dream, or something more for yourself – you land in an unknown area with mostly unfamiliar faces, and have to learn to insert yourself into the new landscape. It’s not an easy thing to do. Thus, making intermittent visits with beloved ones you now rarely see is always warming to the heart.

But when you leave your friends and family and all of your support and people that know you after going through tragedy – it’s a different story. At least for me, in this scenario of having your mom pass away in such a random, unusually fast, unjust and unwarranted manner. I’m sure for many that have gone through tragedy and hardships have had to escape their reputation, or daily cycle give themselves a fresh start. However, for me, leaving everyone that knows you, loves you, and knew and loved my mom to be thrust back into the routine of daily life and expected to just be a person again in a land in which so few people know and care about you has been difficult.

That’s why being home with my friends and family is extremely helpful.

But I gotta be honest. This week’s been hard.

Lovely, but hard.

I got to spend time with my brother, many of my best friends, my step-dad and his adorably tiny English mum. Kenzie got to spend time in the first home that really welcomed her and helped her grow up. I truly believe, as a whole, my family is healing. Slowly but surely. I’ve done a lot of things that have brought a genuine smile back to my face, and both have helped me with the pain and getting through the grieving process. But, I mean – damn – it’s been hard.

Certain days are harder than others. Always.

I had dinner with a friend who told me that one of her friends also lost her mom. After a couple of years of doing her own thing – travelling, discovering, figuring out what really matters to her – she’s healthy and happy within society, and now very open and vocal about what she’s going through on tough days and occasions. Which makes it easier for everyone else that loves her and wants to be there for her to understand what it is that she’s going through – along with giving you the ability to express herself.

As a wildly mediocre, self-proclaimed amateur writer who’s never been a fan of giving the ol’ inside scoop of my personal life to social media and others I don’t know – I’ve decided to give it a go.

Every day is hard. But, Wednesday was the hardest. God damn Wednesday. And I couldn’t tell you why.

Tuesday night I went to the Capitals Eastern Conference Finals Game 3. And I was absolutely HAMMERED. I mean…. we had a crowd of about eight guys, total bro/boys night, and we got “litty”.

The game was a disaster, but I think my motor skills and attempts at speaking in complete sentences competed with the disaster of the game.


But it was also a blast. After the game a few of my buddies and I went to a local bar across from the arena, and I was simply blown away by the skills of one of my friends at hitting on random girls.

I mean …. it was like watching Picasso with free reigns to do as he wishes inside of a Michael’s Arts and Crafts store. It was like Tim the Tool Man Taylor inside of Home Depot. And I had no idea.

Now, I’m a confident guy. But his move ….SO simple…. yet still I don’t think I could ever pull it off with such eloquence, or at all. He’s currently happily talking to a lovely girl, but he wanted to be a wing-man – and I’m glad I saw this side of him I never knew existed. Here’s the move:

A group of girls would be in the process of flirting with/talking to another group of guys. He would stop – ask me if I think they’re cute – lean against our table – continue to stare and point directly at them.

Power move.

Once they saw this creepy shit staring and pointing at them, every girl (he probably did this move with four different females) all looked absolutely bewildered, and one would ask if he’s pointing at her. Which is when he would casually walk over, ask if the girl thought I was cute, literally grab her by the hand, hold it up in the air, and slowly twirl her.

I mean – I thought pointing was a power move. The dude is in a bar, staring, pointing at, and twirling girls where they stood, while the guys previously hitting on them sat and watched. And they all ate it up! Each group of girls stopped talking to the guys they were previously chatting with and, at a minimum, gave us the time of day.

(And, gentlemen, this dude isn’t Justin Timberlake, or Biebs, or Vin Diesel in his prime. He’s a 5’9, skinny, 26-year-old mailman. The guy’s just got it.)


Now, sorry to disappoint, but that night ended with periodically falling asleep inside of the bar, about a $60 Uber home, and disappointment as a whole – but still, incredible.

However, it got me to thinking about the journey, and a few missed love connections throughout my life – whether it was due to bad timing, distance, or simply me being an idiot – I was hoping to see again a long the way. I was never expecting to kickstart any sort of relationship – considering I’m riding cross-country, and even when I’m not there’s that ol’ problem known as distance – but there’s always that lingering question of “what if?”. I don’t even think my closest friends are aware of any of this, but – to those ladies – you know who you are – just know you’re on my mind. It’s officially looking like I won’t have an opportunity to connect with any of you, and I’d give up a lot for just the opportunity to say hello once more.

Luckily, I’ve got my main bae, and side bae (because she sits in the side car) all-in-one: Kenzie.

But I woke up Wednesday morning – yes, hungover – but just…. sad.

Being in the house is great, but sad.

Knowing Kenzie will never see one of her favorite people ever again, and never know why, is sad.

My step-dad and my mom were married about a year and a half ago. And it was a storybook, fairy-tale love story. My mom spending nearly her entire adult life looking for true love, and never once settling – dating guys from ‘Shirtless Bob’ to ‘Corvette Jim’. Some suitors lasted longer than others, and some she truly loved. But, never finding her one.

My step-dad had NEVER been married. Never had kids. And is one of the single greatest guys on the face of this earth. One of those heart-of-gold, do anything for anyone else, pure good to the core human beings.

But he’s never had his own family. He’s just lived for his work, has done well for himself, and has great friends (because he is a great friend). He’s just a bit quirky. He never found true love, and always lived by himself.

Until my mom.

They dated for about 6+-years, and, again, were just married.

This was their chance. This was both of their chance, finally, at true love.

After my mom first passed, the house was still littered with one-year anniversary cards. The scarring, inescapable truth that their plans to retire together, sell this house, buy their own, and live happily every after – looking forward to all the incredible things to come – which would now never come gripped all of us tighter than a bad guy in Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth. You’re living in walls of claustrophobic pain.

The walls are still covered in pictures of the wedding. Somehow the house still believes happiness is a thing. Smiles and memories endlessly span in every direction. You can’t escape her memories, she doesn’t escape your mind.

Wednesday I spent all day replaying a single memory in my head. The moment we were in the hospital, and she finally fully grasped that she wasn’t going to make it. The moment she motioned for my brother and I to leave the room so she could tell our step-dad that, I would imagine, she didn’t want us in the room so she could tell him how much she loved him – to make sure he promised to take care of himself and us – and that she’s ready.

Which led to thinking about how you’ll never hear her voice again.

Which led to me wanting to do something aimless and helpful around the house and to my psyche. So, I went to empty the dishwasher.

In these moments everything you do reminds you in some capacity of the pain you’re going through. Everything. Even emptying the dishwasher. Pulling out her coffee travel mugs that were “Just the perfect size…!” when you got them for her for Christmas because they, “…fit my little hands perfectly!”

Sitting in her chair. Napping on the couch. Watching Kenzie get into something while I’m out running errands. Putting in the computer’s passwords. Looking outside at her tree and favorite spot to drink just enough of her Bud Light Lime or Corona so that it ALWAYS had about an inch left in the bottom (even if it were in a coozy – it was like it was magic). Watching my step-dad cook meals for us (he never cooked before my mom, and it became one of his favorite things to do – impress her with his newly developed cooking skills), knowing he can’t cook for her anymore. Opening my closet – where she put all of her clothes after I moved out. Passing her room – knowing that for years only one slept inside of it alone, and now, once again, the world wanted that pattern to continue.

Waking up in this house is both phenomenal (truly – her energy still lives inside of it), and gut-wrenching all at the same time. Incredible memories we will continue to forever cherish, but difficult to currently want to remember.

I’m not looking for pity – I don’t want it. I’m not looking for anyone to sympathize with me – for most it’s almost impossible to do so. I just wanted to be able to explain to everyone that’s provided solace, love, support, and help to me to this point what it’s truly like, give myself an outlet for expression, and you all a further understanding into what this trip has been – both good and bad.

It’s just …. hard. Nearly impossible, but as I’m learning through this journey, and with all of your help, truly nothing is impossible. And I believe this form of honest expression allows for a better opportunity to heal. This trip, this fundraiser, building awareness – everything has been overwhelmingly amazing. And while I know she’s proud, it doesn’t take away from the fact that we’ll never have her back.

For anyone going through this pain – it DOES get easier. It’s been a little over two months, and I struggle daily – some days more so than others, but it does get a little bit easier. Stay strong.

I’m leaving tomorrow morning for a round about trip back with more awesome sights to see. The adventure is only half-way done. Stay with me! And to everyone that’s been here with me, in any way – I say it once again: Thank You.

Our Christmas Ornament.

1 thought on “The Honest Truth | Life, Love, and Pain.”

  1. You do have a talent for writing…..but also the ability to share feelings in such an articulate way……a wonderful tribute to Julie……LOVE…Gram & Gramp


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