No Regrets, Kid.

Today would have been my Dad’s 54th birthday.

Sometimes I think birthdays are the hardest days. This day is supposed to be all about him.

In my house, we never celebrated birthdays, as they were ‘just another day,’ and ‘overly marketed by corporations to sell things you don’t really need.’

Since he died, all I want to do is celebrate his birthday.

Go back in time, and give him some great birthday parties to remember.

Go buy him a really awesome laser scope or rain meter or something weird that only he could enjoy. Something to make him feel like he was remembered and special and show him how much he meant to me.

But we never had one of those birthdays for him, and we never will.

I think that’s the saddest part of all.

Even studying grief and death…it doesn’t make it any easier. It just gives you tools to better cope. I still find myself having the instinct and thought to give him a call sometimes and tell him something ridiculous–and then when I remember I can’t…

I lay in bed at night sometimes and all I can see is him laying lifeless and cold in a wooden box.

And the boots on his feet.

The boots he built his dream home with.

He had more plans for those boots.

When I look at my son I sometimes think how proud my Dad would be of him. How much he would absolutely love to get a warm little hug or see him walk and talk and experience new things.

Sometimes I manage to forget for a while, and then it all comes back even more vividly than before. You think you’re okay and that you’ve ‘moved on,’ but you haven’t and you never really will.

When someone you love dies, everything changes. Literally every single aspect of your life and mentality has changed forever. You will never be the same person again.

It’s like when the loved one leaves this world, they leave these little pieces of themselves behind for everyone that loved them. They stick to us and envelop us and help us along our own paths.

Sometimes it’s easy to celebrate life, make him proud, and be the most amazing person I can be.

Sometimes I get weak and sad and angry and don’t see the meaning of it at all.

But then I remember something he said to me when he was dying.

“No regrets, kid. No regrets.”

It’s hard not to live in the past and it’s even harder on days like today to keep your head up and simply move forward.

But that’s what he did. All the time.

I cry sometimes. I get angry sometimes.

I feel guilty for NOT feeling sad or angry enough sometimes.

It will be this way for a long time, this I know.

All I can do is follow the path his death has sent me on and try to be the best person I can be in the time I have here on this Earth. All I can do is try and live with no regrets.

So this year for your birthday, Dad, my present to you is a promise to live with no regrets–NOT reckless abandon, but an honest, good-hearted, kind and compassionate, learning, intelligent, regret-less life.

Instead of regrets, I will have lessons and learning experiences. I promise to take those experiences to heart, and not to waste any time on meaningless emotions and actions.

I promise to appreciate those around me, tell them I love them, earn and give respect.

I promise to make you proud and give the memories I was able to share with you to my son.

I promise to LIVE.

That’s what my Dad taught me.

I understand now, Dad. I understand so much more.

Happy birthday.

"Sundays too my father got up early 
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, 
then with cracked hands that ached 
from labor in the weekday weather made 
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. 

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. 
When the rooms were warm, he'd call, 
and slowly I would rise and dress, 
fearing the chronic angers of that house, 

Speaking indifferently to him, 
who had driven out the cold 
and polished my good shoes as well. 
What did I know, what did I know 
of love's austere and lonely offices?"  -- Those Winter Sundays
                                           Robert Hayden
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The True Spirit of Video Games

This story was submitted to me by a community member named Brandon. I couldn’t even bring myself to proofread it, and thought I would publish to my blog as-is. I did not want to take away from his story in any way, so I left it just the way it was sent to me. Truly the most amazing story of how video games can affect people’s lives for the better.

Anyone who calls themselves a gamer should be required to read this story.

I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. 🙂

“This is the reason why I end every statement with the words: Brandon and babie3 slimmy (aka: PlayStation 3 Slim) and co

Why do I call the PlayStation 3 Slim the babie3 slimmy (aka: PlayStation 3 Slim) and co
Difficult question to answer, so I’ll try my best! I don’t know if I’ll ever meet the right person, settle down, have children, grow old and die a happy person! I know that may never happen with what I have – my disability has certain barriers that I may never over come and if I do it won’t happen in this lifetime, due to peoples perceptions on what a disability is and how they think it affects the person that has had a life changing experience of being disabled. Whilst some think they know – they actual don’t KNOW and may never know until it affects them!

If given the chance and if you see how PlayStation affects myself, the history of the PlayStation I have experienced! What it has taught me about myself! The experience I have been apart of that I have seen how positive the brand of the PlayStation has brought into my life and the uplift that was witnessed because of the PlayStation! Why do I end the messages with what you see? It’s a true story but a long story of what happened when I was studying at College!

Whilst I was studying at college. I knew a friend of mine who was sobbing! I asked a member of staff at the cafeteria to bring over 2 cups of coffee. I sat beside him and asked him if I could be of any assistance? He went on to explain to me, his daughter whose name was Aimee, was terminally ill with Cancer and had a disability, she had appeared to close herself off from the world, not communicating with them because she knew she couldn’t do anything about changing her circumstances which was beyond her control and her parents couldn’t do anything to change that situation. Because of his state of mind I had accompanied him back to the house and notice a Harry Potter door of their daughter’s room at the top of the landing – what I saw I’ll never forget – when I opened the door, the whole room was of Harry Potter – I saw the little girl in the corner looking out the window. All of a sudden I had a flashback and quickly looked around the room and ran back downstairs to ask her father if he could take me back into town as quickly as possible before the stores had closed for the day!

When we got to GAME I had asked the store assistant for a babie2 (aka: PlayStation 2)? Her father had asked you already have a PlayStation 2 why would you want another one? Moments later the store assistant had asked, “Any Games with that?”

I said, “Please could you locate ALL the games that EA (Electronic Arts) had made and released related to “HARRY POTTER!” I had asked the store assistant to place each game individually and in a transparent bag as I had a plan that May or may not work, but I had to give it a try! Her father immediately smiled because he then knew why I had dragged him into town.

Upon arriving back to their house I had asked her mom if I could knock on their daughters room to set yup everything that was brought from the store – and once given permission by both parents I went about setting up the babie2 (aka: PlayStation 2)!

I had taken off my shoes knocked on the door and introduced myself and ask if I could borrow her TV. I went about setting up the console and placed the babie2 (aka: PlayStation 2) joy pad on my right side – at the corner of my eye I could see her mother and father watching as the door was slightly ajar, to what I was doing! I was sitting at the rear-end of her bed as my back wasn’t touching her Harry Potter bed, took out the transparent video games and held one of them up into the air and said “Should I play this, babie2 (aka: PlayStation 2)?, Nah wrong one!”. All of a sudden I felt the bed move, I wasn’t the one that was moving the bed! Got the first one out and said ” There you are, will play this yes babie2 (aka: PlayStation 2)!” The bed moved again! Placed the CD inside the console and started to look around for the joy pad, I couldn’t find it wasn’t where I left it! A scream was herd and again it wasn’t me! I looked at the console and thought where the joy pad is? Followed the cable from the console right to the handheld part of the joy pad itself! It was the young girl playing the console, playing Harry Potter! My job was done!

I cleared up the mess I had made and crawled out the room – where her father was shocked. His Wife was literally downside sobbing and I might add in shock by what they both witnessed!

I tapped her father on the shoulder and went downstairs. As I walked downstairs I could hear the young girl commenting on the spells that was used in the Movie! When her father came downstairs he had asked me why I had done what I did: I walked over to the door and pointed up to the direction of where we could hear screams of happiness and joy coming from they daughter’s bedroom and said:

“Do you hear that? That is the ‘True Spirit of Video Games!’, because that’s where dreams can come true!”

A few seconds later we heard a faint tapping at the door, I had opened the door and her mother had ran off again – I peered to see what see [her mother] had saw and it was the disabled girl with her arms stretch out as if to ask to be picked up? The daughters Father had picked his daughter up and you could tell by his body language he was SHAKING visibly shaking! His wife had come back into the kitchen and their daughter had jested to her father to be passed on to her mother, and her mother was shaking alot more!

What happened next I’ll never forget – she had jested to both her mother and father as if to say something to me! I had moved a chair so she could rest on it and went down on my one knee and said to her:
“If you were 30 years older, I would escort you home and ask for your parents hand in marriage!” She had smiled what I said, as if she knew where I was coming from! I said to her, “You are the most bravest lady I have ever met and will never ever be forgotten, not in my lifetime! Go back upstairs fellow gamer and let me know how the game ends!” We hugged and as we hugged it was as if I could feel her energy ebbing away. The one thing I’ll always remember was the hug which I’ll never forget! As that was the last time I saw her!

The following day I met her father at the gates of the college and he brought me a coffee and had said that for the first time in a long time they had their daughter back and it was a joy to know that a video game can do that! He thanked me and I said “No, no, no, not me was the babie2 (aka: PlayStation 2) and co that deserves all the credit! I had asked him when your daughter passes away in her sleep can you let me know so I can pay me respects? We exchanged numbers and went our separate ways !

A few weeks later I got a text message saying she’d past way in her sleep – I went to the church service and walked to her coffin, draped in Harry Potter linen. There daughter was now at peace and I noticed alongside her was the game that she played and beside that there was a plaque which stated “All we have is our dreams for the True Spirit of Video Games!” I looked directly at the parents and was puzzled by what they had done!
At the wake I walked over to her father we hugged and I had to ask: At the church service I saw what I’ll never forget, why did you fo what you did? He pointed in a direction that I looked at and his wife had opened a door and pointed up towards the roof, I heard this coming from the daughters’ parent:

“Do you hear that? That is the True Spirit of Video Games!”

I looked back towards the daughters’ father and thanked him for what he had done we hugged and as we hugged I said to “I’ll never forget her – NEVER!” Her mother had approached us and I had thanked her also and hugged and said the same thing as I said to her husband! And left them to enjoy the rest of their memories that had of their daughter.

When I got back to my flat I looked at my babie2 (aka: PlayStation 2) I thought to myself that was an experience we (I and the PlayStation brand) will never forget and as a continuing tribute to all those that have a disability or face hardship as that young lady had faced – to honor them, to honor her, and many individuals who goes beyond the call of duty to aid others before themselves I will forever , and for the rest of my life always end with what you and others read – that is Brandon and babie3 slimmy (aka: PlayStation 3 Slim) and co

Now all that reads my posts knows why I sign off by saying what I say with this term Brandon and babie3 slmmy (aka: PlayStation 3 Slim) and co”

They say everything happens for a reason…

I never really knew or understood how life-changing it could be when a loved one dies. On May 21, 2011, I watched as my father took his last breaths at Saint Peter’s Hospital in Albany. It had only been five or six weeks since we found out he had stage four lung cancer, and by that time it had progressed to a point at which there was nothing more they could do. He spent his last 11 days alive in the hospital, and the last three of those on hospice care.

The pain I felt in my heart was overwhelming. Indescribable. Unless you have been in this same circumstance, you will never understand. To watch someone you love very much die right in front of you is hard enough—the things that happened in my life immediately following the most heart-breaking experience in my life made it even more overbearing.

We immediately moved back into my mother’s two-family home to try and help her with some expenses, and to just be there for her. She quickly found that, with taxes coming up soon and his final expenses (he had no life insurance) she wasn’t going to be able to afford the mortgage. She put the house on the market, and it sold in five days. They wanted to close by the end of the month, so we had about three weeks to vacate the premises. The last day before we had to be out, I went downstairs into my mother’s apartment to say goodbye to our cat who we had for about eight years (he was staying with the house per the new buyer’s request), and I had a realization. My whole family was now gone. Everyone. Growing up, it was my Mother, Father, The Dog, The Cat, and I. Our dog had died in February, my Father in May, now the cat was gone, and my Mother was moving away. My entire family was gone. I had taken them for granted for so long, and now they were all gone. I could still call my mother on the phone, but they days of her being close by were no more. Now it would be weeks – even months between seeing her

We found out later that week that it would be my husband’s last day at work. He worked for a subcontractor for DirecTV, and they were bought out by a larger corporation. Almost everyone that worked there was out of a job, including him. So, along with everything else that was going on in our lives, now this. We had no money saved up to move into a new apartment, and with him losing his job we really had nowhere left to go. We called my husband’s parents and asked if we could stay at their home for an undisclosed length of time. They have a nice home, with two extra bedrooms, so I suppose it worked out fine.

Now, here we are a month and a half later, living in a home with five people and six cats. They already had four cats—Fuzzy, Cleo, Lucy and Flash, and we have our two—Clamps and Tiny Dancer. I have never before in my life had allergies to any animal. However, living in a house with six cats, I have developed the itchiest eyes I have ever had, along with a nose that at times runs like a water faucet.

I feel awful. We are a married 25-year-old couple with no savings, a one-year-old child, and two cats. We are such bums. Living in a house with this many living creatures just does NOT feel natural. I’m not sure how the Amish do it. I know it seems more economical to all live together and conserve things, but not at the expense of my privacy. My husband and I have had our own household for almost eight years. At first, I must admit it was nice to have dinner on the table at 6 o’clock every night, and have the dishes done, and not have to clean much but at a certain point I want to cook my own dinners again. I wish I could be using my dishes, and sitting on my brand new furniture. We were so unprepared for all of this.

I am currently in the process of taking control of my life. A month after my father died, I decided to enroll in school. He had always told me to go to school and do something with myself, and after what I had saw and heard from him over the last week or so of his life, I knew I did NOT want to waste ANY MORE of my life…ever. If something that quick and drastic could happen to someone like him, then it could happen to anyone. Even me. I looked at my family’s situation and knew I couldn’t depend on anyone to change it. Not my mother, not even my husband. I knew I couldn’t complain about something I wasn’t willing to take action on. I took on a second, part-time job at Stewart’s and eventually quit my full time job to work there only. Working two jobs and going to school full time, along with having a family was too much for me, so I decided that one part time job was enough. School needs to be my number one priority if I’m ever going to get my family out of the situation we’re in.

My husband recently heard of a good job opportunity, so he’s in the process of interviewing for that, and applying to other companies in the area. Hopefully he will get something soon (UPDATE- He got that job!). For now, I suppose things worked out all right. We are all still alive (for now), my mother is happy in her new life, I am on a career path that will make me very fulfilled (and rich, hopefully), my husband is able to stay home with the baby so we can avoid day care costs, and we are all okay. We’re also saving up some money and most important of all – I now have direction. Something I never had before. I know where we are, and I know where we need to be.

I would have to say that my father dying changed my entire life. It hurts me very much to think that he is gone, but in a way, it made me a better person. I now have an appreciation for life that I never had before. I have purpose and direction and a will to succeed. It’s hard to think of my father’s death as a positive experience, but when I think of all the knowledge and power that I received from having gone through that, I can’t say it was bad. If it was going to happen anyway, I am so glad that I took what I could from it and gained what I did. I feel and know he would be proud of me right now even though we are living with my husband’s parents. All he ever wanted was for me to work hard to reach my full potential, and I never did before. It feels satisfying to know that I am doing everything I possibly can to make my life turn into what I want it to be, while I still can.