Nick, this is your mother speaking
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change;
the realist adjusts the sails.
When faced with a situation that cannot physically change on this spinning rock, third from the sun that we call Earth, readjustment is the only option. I am a realist. If nothing else, I know when to fold my hand, stop betting, and start a new game.
The pessimist complains hoping that, if he whines consistently and loudly, his words will somehow be heard by someone in some place and bring change. The pessimist will only find frustration and rage.
The optimist shrugs off pain believing that the outcome will absolutely be positive. Afterall, thinks the optimist, how can misfortune possibly happen to someone like ME? The optimist believes she has power to bring about any change and, if she cannot change the situation, then certainly such unhappiness could never happen to one so powerful. Unfortunately, it did happen. The realist knows that misfortune is unbiased. The optimist is not omnipotent and, therefore, the only outcome for the optimist is depression and eventual self-loathing.
The realist is imperfect. The realist whines at times. The realist over-blows his own power at other times. Each time, though, the realist notices the mistake as he bets and the hand is lost. He does stop throwing bets into yet another losing hand. He accepts that which cannot change. He folds. He begins again in another direction and he antes up.
People are always asking me how I am able to function each day. They quickly follow-up their question by affirming that, if their child had died, certainly they would never be able to get out of bed. Well, actually, I doubt that is true. When confronted with the same heartache, others have and others will stand up and continue their lives.
For a woman who always found some way of working hard enough to achieve that which I wanted, there was no way for me to bring Nick back to this world. I was reminded of labor pains, in a weird way. I birthed both children without any numbing drugs. During the hardest of the labor I realized that there is no way out of this except to go through it. I could not talk my way out or figure my way out. The only way out was to bear the pain. No options.
For some situations there are no options. Reality cannot be changed just because I want it to be different. Being unable to change reality does not mean I am not smart or capable or ....anything. It means nothing about me except that in some situations human beings are powerless to execute change. NO options. I am careful when I use the "no options" rule; I don't cop out of challenges. I have no problem meeting them head on. Sometimes, though, I can take my sword to the windmill but that windmill is still going to turn. Sometimes, I cannot effect change. The only option becomes how I will go on with life. I can celebrate life or I can roll up into an angry ball. Either way, I will be carrying around heartache. Maybe if I celebrate life, something good will happen for all who suffer.
A couple of years ago I texted a friend about a (comparatively minor) but heart wrenching problem. She compassionately texted back, "How are you?" For the first time I really thought about the question. I thought about it:, "How am I, actually?" I thought about the support I get from family and friends, I thought about the life lessons my parents taught me, I thought about the adversity I had overcome. I texted back the following words to her question, "How are you?"
"Stronger Than This."
Between the holiday season and the incessant snow shoveling, I have not kept up with the blog. I am currently between snow bouts and went to see Monument Men at the movies.....I was stunned when the idea for the next blog entry hit me in the face.
George Clooney gives a speech about the importance of saving important artwork from devastation. He reminds us that, if we become lax about saving the achievements of people in the past, their lives amount to nothing but ash; as if they did not live at all. It was at that moment that my past weeks of research and thought about the Garden of Memory flooded into my consciousness and everything made sense.
Because Nick's friends and I agreed that the Garden would be celebrate all young lives that were lost in Mt. Olive, I decided to research those that came before any of us. Researching the foremothers and fathers of our town opened up a world that I never knew existed. I met all kinds of people and read of their accomplishments. I met members of the Budd family who, although lived to a ripe old age, fought in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and brought back interesting first hand accounts. I learned about little Minnie Hodgson who died when she was 10 years old in 1879 of "dropsy of the brain." I learned about David Huff, the butcher, and Charlie Bostedo, the baker; they left us early, too. I read about little Daniel Budd, 3 years old in 1869 who succumbed to Scarlet Fever. I learned that in the 1880s the Cholera outbreak was out of control and took the lives of many.
My interest is not in death but in life; lives of all people should be celebrated because each and every one left something behind. Those babies like little Daniel Budd left the warmth and innocence of a new life. Their parents remind me that I am not alone. Other parents needed to be brave; other parents have grieved the loss of their children; other parents have felt pain; other parents have picked up and went on with life. I find comfort in their memory. So, my prayer is that the Budds, the Bostedos, the Huffs, the Hodgsons and many others can hear my voice in the winds. The winds will tell them they are not forgotten.
The young people from our own lifetime are rememebered as well. I can still see Keith McDonald playing the lead in the MOHS school play Guys and Dolls. I remember the handsome face and friendly demeanor of Pete Armando. Others told me about Jennifer Cialone who saved someone else from getting hit by a car but was fatally injured herself. The list goes on ..... and on. Each left a mark on this life that will not fade and crumble with time. I am told that my son, Nick Novaky, left a mark in the hearts and minds of many. I am sure that others did as well. To all of you in heaven: I will not allow you to be forgotten.
When the Garden of Memory opens this spring, you are invited to celebrate all young lives that are branded into our memories and hearts. You will even be given the opportunity to meet Mt. Olive residents from the 19th century.....stay tuned.
As many of you know, The Become Awesome Foundation is building a garden at Turkey Brook Park that is dedicated to those individuals in Mt. Olive who lost their lives before reaching their 30th birthday. We are including young people dating back to before the town's incorporation in 1871. I am carving names of all the young people who have passed into garden stones. If I carve all winter, which I plan to do, they will be completed by the spring opening event. My plan is to provide the library (and anyone else) with a companion book that lists all the celebrants and provides some small piece of information about their lives. Eventually, I would also like to have small transparent cases that hold pieces of memorabilia.....But, one thing at a time......I'm still carving....and researching.
The Garden concept began when the memorial dedicated to my son, Nick and his friend, Neil, was dismantled at the site of the accident that took their lives. The property owner needed the area vacated so that he could hopefully sell the property. Friends to Nick and Neil and I problem solved via FaceBook and it was decided to move the memorial with the later suggestion to include all young people from town who have passed.
I recently realized that there is another reason I believe the Garden is important. The idea came to me one day this week while I was quietly completing paperwork at my desk and listening to Cat Stevens sing from my computer.....
Oh very young
What will you leave us this time
You're only dancing on this earth for a short while
And though your dreams may toss and turn you now
They will vanish away like your daddy's best jeans
Denim Blue fading up to the sky
And though you want him to last forever
You know he never will
Oh very young
What will you leave us this time
There'll never be a better chance to change your mind
And if you want this world to see a better day
Will you carry the words of love with you
Will you ride the great white bird into heaven
And though you want to last forever
You know you never will
And the goodbye makes the journey harder still
I do not want the lives of any of the young people who passed to vanish and fade up to the sky. I want to create a place where their legacy can help the world see a better day.
I want their words of love held precious.
I want their dreams to last forever in the hearts of the living
and be remembered.
I want their words of love to carry us and
help us to make this world a better place.
...for those of you who know me.....
You know I can even when good-bye makes the journey harder still.
You know I will.