Finding Faith Isn’t Always Easy

OK, so here’s the thing.

I’m Catholic. Have been since day one. I’ve done my duty. Altar boy. Lector. Eucharistic minister. Heck, I’ve even been parish council president. I guess you’d think (at least I would) that some of my work would qualify me for a little clarity from the man upstairs. Well, if it does qualify me, let’s just say I haven’t seen any of the results yet.

I will be the first to tell you that I don’t agree with everything the Church stands for. However, part of the beauty (at least for me) of the Catholic Church is more than just the tradition. It’s also the mystery.

And, I’ve gotta tell you, finding faith has never been a problem for me. However, lately, it’s become more and more of a challenge. Like a serious challenge.


Well, quite frankly, you can blame cancer. I’m so done with cancer. I mean, seriously? What the hell is going on.

First, it was my Dad.

Then, Renee’s mentor and the mother of a friend of mine, Diane.

Then, a college friend, Janet.

It’s hard to find faith when one taken is your dad, another is someone your age that made you laugh incredibly and the third is an absolute mentor to your spouse and a role model for any woman.

I’m not trying to be selfish here. I mean, let’s face it. Cancer gets everyone. Nobody is immune.

But now, I struggle to find faith in light of the latest developments in my life.  Consider:

The daughter of Renee’s colleagues. Yup, she teaches with a husband and wife team. They have a daughter who is six. And, oh by the way, she has cancer. One day, the daughter says, “Mommy, I’ve got this bump on my back.” Well, yeah. The bump? A four-pound tumor that has since been removed. However, this poor kid, who should be worrying about her Halloween costume and other six-year-old stuff, is now in the midst of some serious chemo. She’s been given a 75 to 80 percent chance of survival.

And, hey, cancer. Did i mention, she’s um, 6. Yeah, I thought so. You cowardly bastard.

Freaders, I ask you to find faith for this little girl. And her parents. They need it.

What, one isn’t enough? No worries, here’s another.

A colleague at my work. More than a colleague. This gentleman (and for him there is no better word) is the absolute heart and soul of where I work. He is our shining star. He is goodness. He is compassion. He is joy. He is friendship. He is teacher. He is everything you can imagine and one you can’t.

Why? He is sick. Very sick. Like the rarest form of liver cancer sick. Like possibly only six months sick. Seriously? He is a man without children who has the biggest extended family you could ever imagine. I shouldn’t think like this, but I actually think, wow, his is going to be the most incredible funeral I ever go to. Find the biggest church around. Still not big enough.

This one is going to hurt when it happens. And, let’s face it cancer, you’re going to make it happen. No matter how hard we try, you don’t let us find a cure. But we will. For the six-year-old’s sake and for his sake.

So, freaders, please find faith for the heart and soul. The shining star. He is a man of unwavering loyalty, courage and optimism. Your faith will be a welcome addition to his life.

So here I am, this far into this post. And I haven’t even talked about the one that is going to affect me the most.

He’s my cousin. He’s my godfather. He’s my mentor. He’s my role model. He’s, well, he’s my guy.

A question about anything? I go to my guy. Advice? I go to my guy. Heck, even Sox tickets. I go to my guy.

I have lost my father and my oldest brother, yet my guy is probably the man that has had the most impact on my life.

He hasn’t always been the healthiest man alive, but now this? Another one with a rare form of liver cancer. And this, the third case I’m talking about here, came within a month of the other two. So, yeah, that thing about stuff happening in threes? It’s apparently true.

And, oh, my guy? He only has two daughters…one just out of college, one just in. He has an amazing wife. A great house. A fabulous business. Season tickets to the Pats on the 50. Season tickets to the Sox. He’s lived a good life.

But nobody deserves to have that said — “he’s lived a good life” — when he’s 52.

And, yes, I should be optimistic (or at least a little). But forgive me for not being that way. This isn’t anyone. This is my guy. And I know my guy needs my faith. And he needs yours, too.  

So, cancer, I ask you one question: what the fuck? I mean. Seriously. I. Don’t. Understand. I’m not even sure I want to understand.

But, you don’t make it easy to find faith. To find comfort. To find support. To find anything. And that’s why I hate you so much. Now more than ever. Because of the six-year-old. Because of the heart and soul. Because of my guy.

Because the thing about you, cancer, that I hate more than anything. When you took my dad, my friend and Renee’s mentor, you took a piece of me with you.

And with these three — your latest victims — I’m worried that if you take even more of me, that there won’t be a lot left.

Monday Musings and More Molly and Michael

Ok, so the wedding was fabulous. Beyond fabulous, actually. One of those where you are having a ton of fun from start to finish and everywhere in between.

Beautiful bride, emotional groom, amazing reception hall, delicious crab cakes and some of the best friends you could ever want to have some fun with. There are pictures all over the place if you are part of my facebook world.

If not, and you want to see some, I can’t do any better than sending you here. Except, well, if you want to see the kissy face photo of me and someone who isn’t my wife. For that, well, I’m not even sure I’ll show you. 😉

So this whole blogging thing for me happened because of Molly. And from there, well, the world just extends. I’m emailing with her mom, I’m meeting other bloggers and I hear about her aunt in California reads every word I write. (I’m thinking it’s the kid pictures.)

So there we are at the wedding. Actually, after the wedding, before reception, enjoying some libations in a pretty cool establishment, when it happens:

“You’re Mike.”

“Um, I am.”

“I read you all the time. I’m Molly’s Aunt from California.”

Let me refresh here. She picked me out of the crowd. There was no Molly there to say, “that’s him over there.”

Nope, she found me, approached me and completely made my day. And, Nina, I hope you’ll keep reading! Heck, leave me a comment every now and then — just so I know.

And, talk about feeling guilty, here’s one for you. As I mentioned, I’ve exchanged emails with Molly’s mom over time. First, just so I could tell her that her daughter was fabulous, that she did well while she was here and that she was going on to a much better situation.

Then, she helped ground me with talk about hemangiomas (or, that nasty puffy and red spot on Erin’s lip that you’ve no doubt noticed in her pictures). Turns out Molly’s sister had one when she was little and her mom was telling me all this great stuff about dealing with it and what not. Stuff only someone that had gone through something would know.

So, I guess in a sense, we had a bond going. So I asked her to save me a dance at the wedding. She talked about how she didn’t really dance, and I was like, that’s fine, a slow dance will work.

Well, guess what? Idiot here never danced with the mother of the bride. Yeah, I know. Then, this morning, she beats me to the email punch and says that one of her regrets that day is not getting our promised dance. Ugh, can I feel any smaller?

So, I send her a note back and apologize for not getting the dance in and for not saying goodbye before we left. Which is what I should have done. It’s what we always do at weddings. Thank the parents of the bride. Yet, somewhere in this madness, the moment was lost. But, I told her that I was happy to at least have had the chance to say hello and chat a bit about being so lucky to share in the joy of the day.

And, how does she respond? This is word for word:

“I didn’t get to thank you for coming, for being a good boss and friend to Molly, an important person in her life. So we are even.”

I mean, seriously? See, there are good people out there. And, you know what, it’s a pleasure to be around them.


Time for a Change

Notice anything different?

I like it. But I’m not sure that I love it.

I’m in the market for someone to give I Got Nothin’ its own distinct look and feel.

If you’re that person, or if you know who that person is, please let me know.

I gotta say, I’m feeling a little invigorated about this. I hope I can keep it going.

What else? I got nothin’.

Molly’s Wedding Day

Today is Molly’s wedding day.

And, I’ve got to tell you, I haven’t looked forward to a wedding this much in a long time.

Why? Take a look at who will be joining Renee and I at our reception table: Anna, Sara, Elizabeth and Chelle (and their spouses, of course). And, oh by the way, Clink will be there, too.

And, well, it’s Molly’s wedding. If I had a little sister, it would be her. Can’t really say it any other way than that. I remember the day she told me she was leaving our work for another job. My first question at the time? “Um, so, Molly, am I still invited to the wedding?”

Well, today is the wedding, and Renee and I are looking forward to helping her and Michael celebrate their unity.

It’s also my first Friday afternoon wedding, and I’ve gotta tell you, I need it. This has been an incredibly stressful time at work (more on that later), so Molly’s planning is going to be a pretty good thing as far as I’m concerned. The reception is at a fabulous place on the water and the same place where Elizabeth had her reception (and wedding).

Beautiful weather, beautiful place, amazing people to be with. Can’t really argue with that formula, can you?

And, Renee and I are having our first night away from the kids since Erin was born — i.e. almost a year and a half. So that’s a good thing, too. It’s sort of a mission, if you will, to remember and reflect on life before kids (did that really exist?). Grown up fun all around.

But, despite that, I’m sure we’ll still wake up tomorrow morning at 5 a.m. — even after having gone to bed just a few hours before.

The question is: what will we do? 😉

What a Difference a Year Makes

No better fall tradition than pumpkins and apples.

And, the place we go to has a great photo opp set up — a growth chart.

Take a look at Aidan last year in 2007:

And, now, here he is this year:

So, yeah, he’s grown up a bit, eh?

Take a look at Erin last year in 2007:

And, Erin this year in 2008:

My baby girl isn’t a baby any more — 16 months.

What’s the phrase? Growing like a weed? Yup…

A Fabulous Fall Weekend in Pictures

Brace yourself, this post is going to be 9,000 words long.

Well, only if you believe a picture is worth a thousand words. Ok, I’m a dork. I can accept it.

Here are some reminders of a fabulous fall weekend here in Connecticut.

Leaves, leaves and more leaves this weekend.

Can’t he be like this all the time?

Running where else? To the leaf pile!

Erin likes ’em, too.

Doing her best to smile for me.

What’s priceless? How about those eyes?

We were hoping for the Christmas card photo — but I still like this!

A beautiful weekend…

Too bad it had to end.

I Know, I Know, But it Still Stings

You hopefully just have to read this blog to know how much I love Aidan (and Erin and Renee — but this one is just about Aidan).

You also, if you’ve seen us together, know that he loves me back. I know that. I can feel that. But, he’s also a Momma’s boy. I know that, too.

It doesn’t make what happened tonight any easier — even though I know the truth.

So we had a birthday party to go to today. I actually had to go to work for a bit, so we arrived in two separate cars. We packed PJs for the kids and got them both changed into them before leaving at about 6:30 — hoping they’d crash on the way home (especially Aidan, who didn’t nap). Well, they didn’t do that.

As I’m carrying Aidan and Renee has Erin, I say to Aidan:

“So, bud, you riding with me or with mom?”

“With mom, because I love her better than you.”

Again, I know. He’s four. And I know and I know and I know. But it still stung.

So He Really Does Get It

Every morning, we tell Aidan whether or not the Red Sox won or lost the night before. He always wants to know how Big Papi did and if there are any pictures in the paper.

This morning, as I write this after about 3.5 hours of sleep having suffered through the painful 9-8 loss in Game Two, I tell him:

Hey, bud, Sox lost last night.

Who won, dad?

Tampa Bay won 9-8.

Oh well, you can’t win every time.

That from a four year old. He’ll learn some day, right?!

Fucking Fix It. Now.

Yup, I’m pissed. (Um, note headline.)

Why? Read on, dear readers.

We know the economy sucks right now. Just follow the bouncing ball, aka the DOW. Up. Down. Up. Down.

The question is always, how has it affected you?

Well, until today, I really didn’t have a good answer for that question.

Sure, a gallon of milk is more than it used to be. Gas prices are higher. It’s going to cost an arm and a leg to keep the house warm this winter.

But, the fact is, couldn’t really control any of that, so I did my best to not let it bother me.

It is what it is.

Well, what it is is shit.

Why my sudden change of heart?

Simple. Today’s mail.

What game in today’s mail to get me riled up?

How about 18,856 reasons to fix the economy. Now.

Yup, as in a fairly significant percentage of my retirement is gone. Kaput. Adios.

I expected a drop, and we’d seen one before. But this quarter was the most significant, bringing the yearly drop to the staggering number above.

Yes, I’m in it for the long haul. Yes, things will rebound (they will, right?). But, that doesn’t make me feel any better about things now.

Just fucking fix it. Now.

A Letter to Aidan

Dear Aidan,

I love you, bud. I’m pretty sure you know that. No, I’m not Mom, but I’m a pretty good guy. We’ve had some great Dad/Aidan times — and I know there will be more.

I know you’re tired and still getting over being sick — again. And, I know the albuterol is probably playing a little part in this, but my biggest frustration as a parent is a morning like today. A morning when I needed more patience than ever to just have a normal conversation with you.

I know you like to run, but when it aggravates the bronchitis, you really can’t. I know you love to jump all around, but when it means torpedoeing into the furniture, you really can’t. I know you love your sister. I see all the sweet things you do, but that doesn’t mean you can push her down with both hands when she wants to play blocks, too.

And, Aidan, I know how smart you are. So I know you understand when I tell you things. Yet, you don’t do them — particularly this morning. I understand that you’re four. I totally get that.

I also understand that patience is not one of my strong points. Please know I’m working on that. Please know that any frustration I show is just that. I can’t love you any more than I do, A. But, I need to work on staying within myself, so to speak, when something like the following happens:

Aidan, in the chair, please for timeout.

No, daddy.

Aidan, when you (insert latest tantrum here), then you need to spend a minute in timeout.

No, daddy.

(Ire growing)

Aidan, in the chair or I will take you upstairs to your room.

No, daddy.

— That may not seem frustrating or patience trying to you, Aidan, but it really is to me. I know you understand. I know you comprehend.

And, I also know you’re testing me. Just as you test Mom in the afternoon. I’m working hard, Aidan, to pass all these tests. And, lately it seems like there are quite a few.

When I don’t talk for a minute or walk out of the room, it’s nothing that you did — it’s more for me. To collect my thoughts to avoid from getting beyond frustrated with you.

I know you’re tired. I know you’re sick. And I want you to know that like the book says, I love you all the time. And I’m trying as hard as I can to be the best Dad ever. For you (and E).

So, Aidan, while I’m working on being patient with you, it probably wouldn’t be a bad thing for you to be patient with me, too.

Love you, bud.