Losing a piece of my childhood

On October 12th, 2017 we lost a person that had a very special place in my heart and one who played an huge role in making me into the person I am today.

Michael Maggiulli passed away in his sleep at the age of 54. Mike was a very loving and giving person as you will see from my story. We lost touch with each other after high school for a few years. We would then re-connect a few more times through the years but grew more and more distant as our lives went entirely into different directions. He always remained my very first best friend in my heart and I am sure that he kept me in his heart as well. We have many memories and great times together as kids and we were literally inseparable. His parents were my parents and mine his. We were like brothers.

My life with Mike started when I began 5th grade at St. Hedwigs. I came into the school as the new kid, was pretty introverted and kept to myself. I used to be picked on by many kids and somewhat bullied (by today’s standards at least). It was not an easy time for me of course but I was managing. Mike was one of the “Cool” kids in the class. A bit of the class clown, good looking kid and he had his buddies that he would hang out with in class. One day (I’ll never forget it), Mike came to my rescue in the school yard and fended off a few kids that were picking on me. He asked me my name and we started to talk. He asked me to meet him after school and we would ride home on our bikes together now that we knew that we only lived about 10 blocks from each other. Then he asked me if I wanted to hang out with him at his house and play some basketball. I was thrilled that someone “cool” like him was taking an interest in hanging out with me, so of course I said yes. Well my life literally changed from that day forward. I was no longer that kid that people picked on or bullied. I was becoming one of the “Cool” kids. I am sure it took a bit of of training, and Mike was happy to oblige with making that happen. I remember him talking to me about getting new clothes, changing my hair style (yes I had hair at one time). We used to talk and hang out for hours listening to rock and roll, playing pool in his basement, and riding our bikes all over town. We started a friendship that I would cherish for the rest of my life. Who knows how my life would have shaped up if it wasn’t for that pivotal moment in my life. Mike helped me. As I am sure he did with many people that crossed his path in his life.

I didn’t tell this story to many people. It was something I kept with me all these years. I did thank him many times (even as kids) for what he did. But I don’t think his parents, cousins or even many of our close friends from grammar or high school know this story. I was compelled to write about it now as a way to celebrate the person that he was in my life and to share with anyone that reads this that may have known Mike to understand what kind of a person he was and how he impacted me.

You’ll be missed my friend, may you rest in peace. I know a day will come when we will meet again.


 

Helping someone you love when they lose someone they love

During my life I have lost a number of people that I loved. I’m all out of grandparents, I tragically lost my sister, I’ve lost aunts and uncles and dear friends. And almost going on 2 years now, I lost my Mother.

It recently started to hit me that now that I’m over the age of 50, coupled with the multiple dealings I’ve had throughout my life with loss that I should be somewhat of an expert on what to do and say when someone in my life experiences a loss. My wife lost her one and only Aunt this week. Of course I am here for her, I am trying my best to comfort her, be her best friend and I believe I am doing all the right things to console her. But let me make this clear: I am still never quite sure what to do.

No one ever is. It is very heartbreaking to watch someone you love lose a loved one, and you are left feeling hopeless. What can you do, as one person, to ease their pain, to give them comfort through such a terrible time, what is the “Right” thing to do?

One thing I do know for sure is this: The WRONG thing to do is to do nothing at all.

When someone you love dies there is an incredible void that is left and the truth is that many acts of kindness get lost in the sadness of it all. I probably can’t tell you who sent me cards or flowers when my mother passed away, but I can tell you that each time I went to the mailbox there was love and kindness waiting for me and my family.

As my wife is dealing with this loss, I am sure she will not remember how some of the things that got done got done. But I am sure that things will get done by the people in her life that came to help her when she was going through this tough time.

I often say when cooking that the most important ingredient for making a meal taste great is “Love”.

Well, I promise you this: If you reach out with Love and Compassion you are doing the right thing. When someone you love suffers a loss, everything is “The right thing to do”

Call them, send them a card, bake them some cookies, help clean up. And continue to do these thing even after you think that they are “Ok”

People treat grieving people like babies and try to avoid questions and mentioning the awful thing that just happened. Sometimes people try to even avoid the grieving person altogether just in fear that they will say or do the wrong thing that will send that person into tears. The problem with that is so obvious and we all miss it – A grieving person needs to be allowed to be upset. They need to hear the name of their loved one and be allowed to do whatever they need to do with friends and family around them to support them.

As for me, I will do my part, as best as I know how to comfort my wife and family through this loss. Aunt Linda was 72 years old, she was a kind lady, had a great love for reading and animals. She loved her dog. I don’t know much about her life, but I am sure she did some amazing things. She always used to mail me newspaper clippings of sports articles that related to the Jets or the Mets, sometimes just to rub it in my face (being that she was a Yankee fan). She will be missed. Ilyssa has a small family by comparison to mine. Aunt Linda was her only Aunt. There is never solace in saying that you have other Aunts and Uncles of course, but losing the only one you have must be quite hard. I’ll always be here for you Ilyssa.

Turning 40

keep-calm-i-m-turning-40

This week I had a few friends turn 40 so I figured I’d share some of my thoughts about my experience with turning 40 and what I’ve learned throughout my 40’s now that I am also nearing my next milestone birthday.

I wholeheartedly believe that life truly begins at 40. I am living proof. My girlfriend (now wife) Ilyssa threw me a surprise 40th birthday bash. We soon followed that up by getting married a few years later and wasted no time in having our daughter in 2006. So, you can see how my life truly did begin at 40.

In my 40’s, I discovered that huge debacles in life don’t actually kill you. It’s OK to fall down. It’s OK to make mistakes, It’s OK to take risks. You will live another day and you will be fine. Your 40’s are when you will begin to see glimmers of what will become your wisdom. In your 30’s you’re having a variety of experiences. You’re scrambling. You’re putting pieces of your life in place. In your 40’s, those pieces start to form into a finished puzzle of knowledge about who you are and how life works. I had multiple experiences in my 40’s that ranged from getting married, having a child, living abroad, taking huge risks, and dealing with many problems. They all somehow mold together to make you wiser and mold you into the person you will be as you enter into the second half of your life. Being 40 makes you feel “Seasoned”.

So my friends that are turning 40 this year….don’t sweat it. Embrace it!

I’ll end with a few 40 jokes to hopefully make you smile today:
At 40, you get two invitations to go out on the same night, and you pick the one that gets you home the earliest.
At 40, every time you suck in your gut, your ankles swell.
At 40, I realize that I was built for comfort, not speed.
At 40, your idea of weight lifting is standing up.
At 40, it takes longer to rest than it did to get tired.
At 40, conversations with people your own age often become a duel of ailments.

And finally, feel free to use this line….
“I’m not 40, I’m 18 with 22 years experience!”

Happy 40th Birthday my friends!