Monday, July 27, 2009

Medical Mystery

I think I’m back. I hope I’m back. It’s nice to be back and not in a doctor’s office of some kind, waiting and waiting and waiting to hear about their “educated guesses” of what might be what they call, a "diagnosis".    Here’s the thing: my story is so frig’d up that the doctor’s only have what I tell them, as well as the evidence left on my body. My poor family and friends have been over-tweeted and over status messaged over on Facebook, that they are a bit baffled themselves.

On Monday, I was walking out of my apartment down the stairs carrying a cornucopia of things: laptop, purse, a bag of fruit, water, and a video camera. When I got to the last flight of stairs, my left foot slid out from under me and I fell down 9 steps...on my ass. ~Ca-chunga chunga chunga chunga chunga chunga chunga chunga chunga BOOM!~ I had hit my tailbone each time, bouncing off each step like an old rag doll. I felt the pain all the way up into my head. Thankfully, all of my equipment and computers were in their casings and tightly packaged nicely, or it would have been quite costly. I sat there, on the last step just thinking about what just had taken place. Everything hurt. I didn’t know what I had injured. I walked back upstairs slowly, grabbing onto everything plus the railing, as I should have when I first walked down the stairs previously. I sat down over at the bar in my living room and cried. I felt the pain. I placed an ice pack on my arm which seemed to hurt, but everything else started throbbing at that point.

The next day, I felt it more. I was unable to move or do anything. Madelene was off thankfully, helping me do what I couldn’t. I started getting a migraine. I figured it was from the fall and that my tailbone just gave me a jolt all the way up my spine into my head. I was taking 600 mg of Motrin, hoping that would alleviate most of the pain.  As I went into the bathroom, I had noticed red patches developing up into my neck.  As I looked further under my shirt, there was a spider-like rash that was developing from my lower stomach up into my chest, making it all the way up to my neck. I popped a Benadryl and thought that would help it. It only got worse. I checked my fever which was 102.

We rushed up to the emergency clinic, where it’s more like an emergency doctor’s office - not an ER at a hospital. The nurse practitioner walked in, heard my entire story, examined my rashes, took a look in my ear and said, “You have an ear infection which is giving you a viral rash. Take penicillin for ten days and it should do the trick.” Fine. As soon as I walked back inside my apartment, I felt something hurting the back of my left leg. It was a huge welt the size of softball. It looked like an infected something or other. I don’t even know. It was so disgusting and huge that I didn’t even want to look at it myself. When I showed other people, they were shocked and said, “OH MY GAWD! Go to the ER!!!”

So I did...

The second doctor walks in and examines my leg and immediately calls out the most commonly used diagnosis ever: “You have a spider bite.” He prescribed me the strongest of all antibiotics and told me to take them 4 times per day for a week. Ugh. When I got home, I wasn’t satisfied with his answer, because there were no bite marks or anything that resembled a yellow sac spider or brown recluse spider bite. Brown recluse spiders are found mostly in the midwest anyway. I did my homework online, to prove that my theory was correct when speaking to my very last doctor at the emergency room of a hospital.

Trip #3 included going to the most disgusting hospital ever. I’m even going to call them out because I am very disturbed by their lack of cleanliness and professionalism. I was taken to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, NY. The first thing you see while walking into the ER are a pile of surgical masks for patients with a fever and sanitizing soaps, in case of the swine flu. Good on them for providing this, I thought.    As I sat down, everything was dirty. I tried not touching the chairs. The nurse comes shuffling out and yells, “Oh Jesus! Another person just walked in right when I’m about to go home! DEBRA!” I sat next to her as she took my blood pressure, asking me about my dilemma. She starts yelling at me, “I don’t understand! You’re all over the place! What’s the matter with you?” Madelene had to finish my long-winded spiel of what had happened and that this was the 3rd trip for medical treatment. After she took my vitals, she shoved me back into the dirty waiting room.

Thirty minutes later, I heard what sounded like a drunk lady with a raspy 10 pack of cigarettes per day type of voice calling out my name, “DEBBBBBRRA to da’ regerrrrstrashhhheeeoon office.” Now I had to sit in this disgusting cubical with a flickering lantern hanging above our heads signing all different types of CYA forms and filling out insurance information. The lady was so mean, she was practically throwing pens at me and cursing each time she made a typo or God forbid the ER telephone would ring. The doctor brought me inside the emergency room, which was more like a huge hallway full of doctor offices  - not your typical emergency room. The doctor came inside, looked at my leg and gave me a blank stare. “I don’t know what this is. Let’s do a white cell count.” The young blonde nurse sloshes in the room as though it was her last hour of her shift and yells out, “Pick an arm! Any arm!’" She grabbed my arm so briskly and wrapped a rubber thingie around it so tightly that my eyes nearly popped out. She stabbed me over 10 times and finally got some blood out of me. I was hurting more over her taking blood than what I originally came in there for.

After two grueling hours of lying on a bed (more like a gurney) with beige sheets that should have been white, the doctor brings in the head doctor to finalize his “educated guess” of what was on my leg. I wish House was my doctor at that point. The older doctor says, “It’s just an inflammation, not an infection. Your blood work is normal.”  He gave me some cream and I was on my way. He also said that he was so sick and tired of doctors making the huge mistake of calling every injury or bruise a “spider bite”.

No one can explain why I had high fever or the other rashes for that matter. I’m just a medical mystery. But I will say this: always get a second opinion if you’re not sure, and if you’re not comfortable with that, keep getting an opinion until it works. I’m 100% better now, not one mark on my body and thankfully, no fever. I still don’t know what happened to me and neither do the doctors.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pugs, Bucks & Bears--Oh My!

Lately, there have been a few animalistic occurrences that have been popping up on me and I don’t know why. Although if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, you already know all the details. Someone even challenged me if this was really true. I was surprised myself to say: “Yes, cross my heart - this is truth!”

I’ll begin with the first funny incident.

Picture it, New York - 2009 (ah the great Sophia Petrillo)... It was last Thursday morning and I had gotten ready to head out for one of my power walks around the neighborhood. This community is pretty tight with rules and regulations: dogs, cats, mice and guinea pigs all need to be on a leash. You get my drift. I’m usually never afraid to come across an angry dog around here. If I do, it’s usually attached to its owner. No biggie. Let em’ snarl and growl at me, the owner will keep it from attacking me (I hope). My walk was intense and powerful - I had a little momentum going. The air felt refreshing and I passed by my elderly neighbors who were also taking a little stroll too. As I’m walking uphill, back towards my building, which is approximately three buildings away, I came across the cutest and smallest Pug you ever want to see. Mind you - he wasn’t on a leash nor chained up - but come on, how much damage can this dog cause? He looked so sweet, sitting calmly at the edge of the building where he lived. I decided to take a little breather and say, “Heya little cutie”, and began to rub his cute puffy cheeks. I wasn’t sure if I had seen his eyes dilate or if it was just the morning lighting, but then I saw teeth. I backed up and proceeded to walk uphill again, when I heard the most evilest growl. I looked back, and lo and behold, he was snarling, foaming at the mouth running after me. I booked it so fast up that hill. All you saw was this woman running for her life...from a TINY PUG! As soon as I had entered my driveway, it was like a wall to him - he stopped automatically, just barking from this invisible wall that he couldn’t get past, as if there was an unmarked territory that I couldn't see with my own eyes. He wouldn’t enter. I was safe.

Story two is a bit more disturbing for you 'woodsy' type of folks. I had went to my parents house yesterday to spend some time with them. I decided to rest on the hammock and enjoy the views, which are beautiful where they live. They live one mile up a huge mountain that overlooks a few nearby towns. Of course, they’re up in the woods. The quietness of their neighborhood is such a relief from the noisy neighborhood I live in. Sirens are blaring, kids are screaming, taxis are honking to high heaven and dogs are chasing me around. I got comfortable on the hammock, until I heard a “sneezing” type of sound coming out from the woodsy area. My father, who was sitting at the patio table smoking his cigarette started making the same noise back. “Ya here dat’? Das’ a buck! Lookid! It’s a huge buck right behindja’ ova’ by da’ tree!” He says, with great enthusiasm in his Brooklyn accent. I turned around and got up from the hammock. Then he started making the strangest noises, kicking the dirt on the ground like a bull would and started to pounce at me - teasing me - almost to say, “AH, I can kick your ass woman!” He starts getting on his hind legs and then pouncing back on the ground, this time pointing his newly developed rack at me. You gotta be kidding me. I backed up and went inside the house. This buck meant business.

Story three is a bit more disturbing, since I have never come face-to-face with a bear before. Umm, please keep in mind that this is approximately 30 minutes after my buck encounter. Unreal. Anyway, I came back outside to rest on the hammock again since the coast was clear and I wasn’t going to get a new bum ripped by a buck. I laid back on the hammock and started to drift off...until I glanced over to the side and saw a huge black bear walking on the lawn. My father didn’t see it this time, so I went to grab my phone and started taking photos of him. “Whassamada’ whichoo’? Didja’ see a bee?” My father asked, since the bear was out of his view. “Uhhh, uhhh, uhhh, ummm, DAD???” He looked at me with wide eyes and then knew right away what it was since he’s been battling with the same bear for a month now over his garbage bins. As my dad gets up, I ran behind him. My dad yells out, “Get atta’ here ya’ bastid’!!!” The bear didn’t budge. It just stared at us. He looked calm, so I went up closer and took these shots. As I was snapping pictures, he got up on his hind legs and started to show his teeth.

“GET INSIDE DAD! GET INSIDE!” I was now protecting my father. My mom wanted to come out and see what the ruckus was, until I nearly picked her up and carried her back in.

I can’t begin to tell you how good it is to be home right now. The thing is, later on today I have to go to my parents again. I was supposed to put up a badminton set up, but I doubt I’ll have the courage to play anytime soon over there.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Does It Hurt?"

“Does it hurt?” These words resinated with me all throughout my life. These words were spoken by someone I respected, cared for and still love dearly. These words, spoken by a former teacher of mine. She didn’t say it to be mean, she said it because she must have felt my pain. She touched my face gently and looked at me with tears in her eyes. Why did she care about me so much? What made this woman, who taught me most of my academics, love me like her own daughter?

I took an entire month off from school when my parents got into trouble. Within that month, I developed severe acne that went from the very tip of my forehead all the way down to my neck. They were clustered up so closely, that it looked like someone had placed me in a huge pot and boiled me. You couldn’t tell where one pimple began and where another had ended. I looked down at the floor mostly. I went to many dermatologists, only to have tons of medications and needles stuck into my face, fail...fail terribly. I couldn’t go to school just yet. I needed to at least have a patch of skin somewhere on my face. I felt ugly. I looked like a monster. The doctor had given me his last resort, which was a medication with 1,872,982,285 different side effects. I didn’t care. I wanted to die and if I died trying ---so be it. I went on Accutane. Every packaged pill had a picture of a pregnant lady with an “X” marked on it - telling me, “Don’t get pregnant!” By the looks of me, you had that guaranteed. I had to sign a million and one “CYA” papers and off I went with my pills.

I went back to school when I thought it had gotten better. That’s when my teacher sat next to me and bravely touched my face and said, “Does it hurt?” I felt like I had a huge taco stuck in my throat, because I wanted to cry out of embarrassment. I knew she didn’t mean anything by it, but somehow, those words, those three words posed as a question, still remains in my head. “Does it hurt?” It must have still been bad in order for her to ask that. I wanted to hide my face. I wanted to hide myself from the world. My anxiety attacks increased, and with that, increased the acne for another full month. At night, it hurt to lay on my pillow. I had to sleep on my back most of the time. My tears dried up most of it, but then my acne would start peeling, making it appear even worse.

The “do not consume alcohol” label didn’t sink in. I drank heavily. It increased the drying effect greatly. After time, about three months, I started seeing my skin again. I started seeing the huge welts, bubbled up redness and large boils shrink down into my cheeks. Although there was still a little redness, it was smooth, where I could put coverup on it and finally gain some confidence back. For a girl who was only 16 years old, this was humiliating to go through. With everything going on, from my parents going through all the b/s, my anxiety attacks and then the acne, I couldn’t cope anymore, which is why I had to quit school. One of my teachers found me convulsing in a classroom and had to take me to the nurse, where I would be sent to the hospital thereafter. Those times I will never forget. High school was supposed to be fun, but for me, when I think back upon it, I cringe.

A few years later, I went back to take the tests for my G.E.D., but as soon as I walked into the doors, I smelled the same smell that a school typically has. The floors were speckled the same way my old school was and the lockers were all lined up one by one, reminding me of times where I had just passed out from an anxiety attack. Everything looked the same, making my mind go back to a very grim time.

Now that my skin is clear as an adult, whenever I get that PMS-induced pimple or two, I still feel the pain and the fear of way back when. I still hear those three words that still sit on the back burner of my mind, tormenting me, reminding me that it looks like it hurts. 

I still hear, “Does it hurt?”

**********************
Please visit, Xmichra and read her story about how she survived through a similar situation.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Don't Cry...

I know different parents teach their children different tactics about dealing with life, but sometimes certain issues don’t come up for whatever reason - maybe a parent has a fear that if they do teach about this one thing, then their child will somehow develop it or suffer through it - like bad karma of some sort. When I was younger, I was taught to be polite: say “please” and “thank you” to people who I would come across. I was taught how to sit properly, help with homework and of course, don’t let the boys touch you. Boy did that advice go a long way. All these things my parents have taught me are wonderful, but sometimes you have to ask yourself: what about life? What about the other things like anxiety, depression, bad breakups and divorces or nervous breakdowns? What about life’s struggles that we sit here now, as adults wondering, “why me”? If you were lucky enough to have been taught all of this, then hats off to your parents or guardians. They certainly don’t teach these types of things at school, unless the kid is going to a guidance counselor.

During my childhood years way into adulthood, I heard my mom say many of times, “Oh don’t cry mama - don’t cry, please!” She wasn’t saying that crying was bad for me, but she just wanted me to be this happy-go-lucky type of person that wore a smile on my face 24/7. I was never taught that crying was a healthy outlet for me. I didn’t know how to deal with certain things in life. When my first boyfriend had broken it off with me, I didn’t know what to do other than sit inside my room and secretly sob, where nobody could hear me. It would upset my mom if she saw me crying. I remember when I found years ago that a girl that I had been seeing was dating more than five people besides myself and dealing drugs on the side as well. I had to end it. The pain I felt was so intense. I cried so hard that evening - it must have been 2am and my mom heard me. She walked inside my room and asked, “Whassamadda?” To her, someone must have died, but it was only my heart. She didn’t say one word other than bring me out to the living room and made me hot tea with honey. She just sat there and said absolutely nothing. She just watched me sob and drink my tea. That was all I really needed from her at the time. She then went into the kitchen and sliced a potato. She placed two round little potato slices on each of my eyelids.  It took the swelling away. My eyes had become little slits from crying so much. The salt blew my lids up like balloons. I’ll never forget that night.

Some people don’t know how to comfort others when they are sad, and that’s okay. What my mom did for me that night will never be forgotten. It was her way of being there for me, giving me the emotional support that I needed. These days are sometimes similar, except I have a wife that I tell mostly everything to. Sometimes I don’t want to burden her with the things that are heavy upon my heart, so I secretly keep it in and try to do things like exercise or write to get it all out. I know I can tell her everything, but sometimes I just don’t want to. I can’t. I’m used to keeping it all inside, but when will the time come when it just comes out automatically on its own, making an unexpected appearance? That will be the day I dread the most.

But most of the time, I try not to cry.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook.

4am

It’s 4am and I’m wide awake. I couldn’t sleep, whether it was too much garlic in the dish I had made the night before or because I simply had too much on my mind. Somehow, watching South Park’s little characters walking sideways has amused me to the point of forgetting my troubles temporarily. Vince from ShamWow almost convinced me that I’m gonna love his nuts but, surprisingly, many things happen at this time that I’ve never noticed before. Birds chirp the loudest during this time - one even hit my sliding glass door not too long ago. There are people up working at this time, continually backing up trucks for some God known reason: “BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!” I wonder how I slept through all of this before. I hear people getting into their cars to drive off to work and other people just coming home from a night out of partying. I can’t believe how lively it is.

There are people having a conversation below my apartment, so I decided to take my laptop out on the deck and write from there. I’ve never seen the atmosphere so fired up with energy before. Birds are chirping like maniacs. Planes are practically brushing up against one another in their flight paths to get from point A. to point B. Commuter trains are firing off their horns, making sure nothing is in their way down the tracks. Sirens are going off - fire alarms, police sirens as well as ambulances are rushing by, yet the streets are somehow empty. What goes on at this hour?

And in my mind is another chaotic scene. Memories of people who used to be in my life; who used to want to be in my life. Times when I, myself have come home at this hour, horrified that the birds were chirping so loudly, indicating I would surely have a severe headache when I woke up sometime in the mid-afternoon. I remember being a bartender waiting for 5am to roll around so I could pack up all the liquor in a safe cabinet and head home. The bar would be empty, except for a few lost souls looking for some sound advice, which I needed myself. I had become their therapist, giving them their medication right on the spot. It was sad shouting out “last call” to one or two people, and to have to watch them stagger home...or to stagger somewhere unknown.

But all of that is behind me. I know there are still people screaming out “last call” at this hour, but I’m home. I’m home where my wife is. I’m home where I can sit here and type this all out. I’m home, where none of these things in my past can affect me anymore. But, somehow it’s a kick in the ass when your mind lets you visit the places, the people and the pain of what you’ve been through in your past come rising up to the surface, making it reality again. Especially if you’re the “thinker type”, you wonder: are these people that are now in my past okay? Whatever happened to so and so? Or the worst thought that could be lingering would be: I wonder if someone's up at 4am thinking about me too.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Surrendering

Have you ever come across people who are so extremely toxic in your life, yet somehow there is something that keeps you drawn to them?   The bulk of the relationship may be full of drama and chaos, yet there is something that you’re not quite sure of that makes you keep in contact with them.  Or what about those types of people where you have to watch every word you say, because to them, their relationship with you is totally conditional and full of “terms and services”? Are you nodding your head in agreement? For whatever reason you stay in this friendship or relationship, it never seems to change. They say they’re sorry and that it was a misunderstanding, until the next chaotic event which literally drains the life out of you.

“I forgive you.”

It means nothing to them. Well, maybe it does - it may mean, “Ok, you’re back in my life and you can start wreaking havoc all over again because I like you that much.” To us, we’re asking, “Please stop the bullshit?” You can even look at it in another aspect: people have addictive personalities. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are addicted to alcohol, drugs or food - it means that they are simply drawn to things that are unhealthy - for example: bad relationships, chaos, drama, and so on... They’re adrenaline junkies who simply feed off other people’s energy. They like the thrill of complications and seeing how far they can take it to the next step. But when does it come to the point of ending all ties? Enough is enough. Enough is not enough, for them.

Why does life have to be full of game players, complicated adrenaline junkies and people who enjoy hurting one another? I don’t get it. I understand ‘action & reaction’ type of responses, but when it’s done intentionally and continually, you really have to ask yourself: “Is this person really healthy to be around?” You can receive all the advice in the world, but when you’re in it - you’re in it. There is nothing or anyone who can tell you what to do - it’s your choice alone.

I think way too many people have the most common fear: fear of abandonment. Whether their parents got divorced while they were young or their heart had been broken way too many times to count, they fear experiencing that hurt all over again, which results in, “I’ll hurt you before you hurt me” type of behavior. It’s quite common, and even I have experienced this reaction myself. But for some people, it is constant - it never ends. They teeter-totter in and out of your life because they want to be “safe”, so they run to you and then run back to their base. I believe it’s one of the main reasons for on and off relationships. Some people break up just to make up - totally common and psychotic, if you ask me. If the make up sex is worth it, then have a good time. You’ll be emotionally drained before your next climax.

Isn’t there anything better people can do with their lives other than screw around with other people’s emotions?  The “how far can I get” mindset tends to grow old.

The other day while driving in my car, I heard this song, “21 Guns” by Green Day. Frankly, it’s not my type of music but it spoke volumes. Take a look at this video.

Do you know what's worth fighting for,
When it's not worth dying for?
Does it take your breath away
And you feel yourself suffocating?
Does the pain weigh out the pride?
And you look for a place to hide?
Did someone break your heart inside?
You're in ruins

One, 21 guns
Lay down your arms
Give up the fight
One, 21 guns
Throw up your arms into the sky,
You and I

When you're at the end of the road
And you lost all sense of control
And you're thoughts have taken their toll
When your mind breaks the spirit of your soul
Your faith walks on broken glass
And the hangover doesn't pass
Nothing's ever built to last
You're in ruins

One, 21 guns
Lay down your arms
Give up the fight
One, 21 guns
Throw up your arms into the sky,
You and I

Did you try to live on your own
When you burned down the house and home?
Did you stand too close to the fire?
Like a liar looking for forgiveness from a stone

When it's time to live and let die
And you can't get another try
Something side this heart has died
You're in ruins

One, 21 guns
Lay down your arms
Give up the fight
One, 21 guns
Throw up your arms into the sky,
You and I

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Have No Regrets

What happens to a person who dies and then becomes more treasured after his or her death, where we simply forget about all the things we disliked about them? What about an artist who hasn’t made one penny off of his or her paintings or sculptures, but then dies to be known as one of the most known artists of all time? Do we have to die to get noticed? Do we have to be pushing up daisies in order for someone to treasure what we do for a living or hobby? It kind of makes you think.

Have you ever noticed when someone passes away, the people in their life or even remotely associated to them will amplify their friendship or bond with the deceased? It’s crazy. Why tell everybody they were your best friend now? Why not while he or she was alive? Although we respect the deceased and pray that they rest in peace, we don’t have to prove our respect by lying about how close we were or how magnificent they were, just because they are no longer with us.

What about now? Think about someone you dislike, or for that matter, hate... Think about all the bullshit you’ve been with them or the negative things that make you want to call them every name in the book. Now try to imagine them deceased. What are you feeling? Regrets? Regrets of your lack of forgiveness? Regrets about being stubborn? Regrets about how you treated them? Regardless of their mistakes, it’s human nature to have some sort of regrets about not mending things when somebody has passed away. I should of would of could of --blah blah blah. It’s just too late.

And doesn’t feel so awkward while seeing your friend, relative or anyone one day, and the next day having to see them taken away in a casket? Death can happen any day, any hour at any given minute, second. We’re simply not immune to it, yet we keep treating death as if it were so far away from us - that we’re so damn invincible. We’re not.

Tell somebody you love them today, before it’s too late. Notice their work now, instead of later. Tell somebody you forgive them, before they meet God. Tell somebody you’re sorry for what you've done, so they can leave here in peace. And always, treasure what you have now before it’s long gone.

Have no regrets.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

As If It Were Yesterday

It’s amazing how time flies up into a whirlwind of ‘remember whens’. There are so many ‘it feels like yesterday’ moments and times you’ve had where you’ve completely forgotten it, leaving you with thoughts and memories that haven’t been tapped into for some time. It’s odd to trek into the archive files of your mind to discover things that seem new when they are actually deep within the past. This morning at around 6am, Madelene and I were snuggling in our bed listening to the rainstorm, wishing it was Sunday morning. We started reminiscing...

Mornings like these remind us of waking up in Montauk, listening to the waves crash besides the beach house. The entire ground rumbled as each wave made its way onto shore. It was like the ocean’s heartbeat. I remember the first time I had brought my parents over to the house for a vacation. They hadn’t been on a vacation for over 15 years. It was time. To see the look on my father’s face when we arrived to the house was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. He hardly said two words. He just stood out on the deck and stared out at the ocean, which was almost crashing right beneath him. He couldn’t get over how close the ocean was. “Ya gotta be kiddin' me! We’re right on da' ocean!” He kept saying over and over. A man who has taken care of a five women household - I thought it was time to treat him back.    On the other hand, my mother shuffled her way inside the house and started making one of her antipasto salads while asking for a martini on the rocks. I don’t even think she blinked at the ocean once, until her cigarette break- but that’s ok, we thought it was cute.

5am would roll around and my mom would get up like clockwork to make percolated coffee. She’d stand there like a slave waiting for the boil to hit the glass nozzle. “Ma whaddya’ doing up so early? You do know there is a coffee maker over there, don’t you?” She had brought her own “Alice Kramdem” percolators and no one could say a word about it. It’s how she rolled. 6am, my father and I would head out to the shore to go fishing. He brought his little fishing kit and started to teach me the proper way to cast out a line. Funny thing is, I had never gone fishing with my father until I was 30 years old. I felt like a kid being taught how to fish. We never caught anything, but we sat out there talking about his days on the fishing boats when he worked over at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan, among other sidetracked tales of his past. (My sisters will nod while reading this.)

Watching both my parents walk down the stairs with little foldout beach chairs to watch the ocean was so cute. They’d sit there for hours like two newlyweds. Madelene and I would head out and give them their time together watching the beautiful views and enjoying much needed time alone. We’d come back and see their two silhouettes sitting together on the beach, hand in hand talking nonstop. To tell you the truth, although I know my parents love each other like crazy, I’ve never seen them so romantic as they were on this trip. I’ll never forget it.

Both, my mom and dad are big smokers. I can actually say that they are chain smokers. One after the other after the other, and so on. I had arranged for them to stay in the master bedroom. It had a huge room with their own bathroom. They even had a door leading to the back patio and barbecue area, where you’d think they would go outside for a smoke. They did, but not every single time, nor did I expect them to. Late at night, when Madelene and I would retire into our bedroom, we’d smell the stale stench of cigarette smoke. Even though they were in separate rooms, we’d still smell it, as if he was puffing it right into our room. At 3am the smell would fade off into the fibers of the walls eventually.

Madelene and I still head over to the same beach house from time to time, but because my parents are a bit older, my father cannot walk up the high stairs leading to the house any longer. Even the short staircase leading up to the bedrooms would be difficult for him. It’s odd, because it was only five years ago. Sometimes I feel bad, because now I live in an apartment that has three flights of stairs going up. My father used to love coming by when I had my old apartment on the ground floor, and now, he tells me to install an elevator. How five years makes a huge difference when we’re getting up there in age. This is why I love to cherish the memories I’ve had with them, as well as the new ones to come.

Things change, people change, circumstances change, but I’m trying my hardest to focus in on 'the now' and remember all of the good times of the past, instead of mourning them. There’s a big difference in remembering and mourning. I think it’s safe to say that we all mourn them most of the time, but for some, if they’re lucky enough, they’ll remember it as if it were yesterday.