Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Choosing Our Life's Journey: This is My Path

What's most important to you in life? Is it a career? Is it love? Is it having a family? Is it something that is seemingly unattainable? Remember, nothing is impossible. The word "impossible" implies, IM-POSSIBLE -- you're possible, your circumstances are possible, endless possibilities. But the question remains: what do you want? What does your heart want? Growing up, I always wanted to be like my mom. I wanted to take care of my loved ones -- whatever loved ones -- whether adopted, or by birth, or just family in general. I wanted to be a caretaker in various ways. I wanted to cook, garden, clean, write, delve in music and art and just let my life be about creativity in a productive way. I wanted it to be able to help others, not just for my own gratification. I wanted to do things to show my love for the people in my life.

Mom taught me about Jesus at a very young age. She was a born again Christian after she went through a horrific health scare in her early 40's. She claimed to have seen Jesus specifically in a red robe speaking to her when she was in pain or when she was having a very difficult time convalescing. She was even prophetic in her writings as she experienced this. She wrote a bunch of proverbs that she said Jesus led her to write. She gave them to me last year. The pages were yellow from aging. There were only three pages, but enough proverbs to understand the messages. I keep them in my bible at all times. When I was 8 years old, she started sending me to CCD so that I could make my communion, and at 14 years old, I had my confirmation. I learned more about Jesus and the stories in the bible. I held onto them tightly all throughout my life.

As a young adult, my priorities in life differed than those around me. I wasn't perfect and I went through that crazy wild phase of an early 20 something maniac, but God was the core of my heart. My values always remained constant. I remember dating this guy on and off from work at IBM. I was trying to establish a career in accounting and wanted to have nice things. I was trying to conform to the world's desires, and not so much my own. The world wanted me to be "successful" -- but I just wanted to be happy. An executive one floor up from me fell flat on his face onto his desk from a heart attack. People were miserable in that company. The corporate life showed me a life that was just mediocre, no matter how much your salary was. I felt stagnant, as if my time was wasted, and relied on income to pay for "this" or "that." Then one day, I had an interesting surprise. I was pregnant. At this time, Madelene was in my life. We were starting to date since I had broken it off with my ex. But I had no idea I was pregnant. I had to tell her. I couldn't just date her and say, "Well, it's me you and the baby!" Abortion was not an option for me. It never was. Life is too precious.

One night, Madelene met me at a local diner for a bite to eat. It was then I was going to tell her about this new life forming inside of me. She sat across from me with her hamburger deluxe and a cup of coffee. After I told her, I truly thought she would've walked out for good. Instead, she said, "That's wonderful, Deb! We can take care of the baby together! I'll help you!" I couldn't believe what I was hearing. She didn't ask if I would abort it or what my "options" were -- she just assumed I would have it. That's when I knew Madelene was more magnificent than I even imagined her to be. She valued life just like I did. Unfortunately, a week later, I hemorrhaged in the bathroom. My mom helped me and looked around at everything, and then asked if I was pregnant for obvious reasons. Let's just say she recognized I was pregnant without me having to tell her. I then had to be rushed to see my doctor, and then for a procedure that I would never forget. I went into a deep depression. I really wanted to have this baby. I wanted to give them a beautiful life full of love. It took a while to wrap my mind around what had just happened. I was only in my 20's trying to make a life for myself, but this time, a different kind of life. My career wasn't priority any longer. Making a life with those I love was my priority, no matter how big or small my family unit would be.

Sometimes, things happen for a reason, or perhaps, more to tell you who will stick around when you think otherwise. It showed me that Madelene had broad shoulders -- a strong will to battle out the tough times in life. She wasn't judgmental about my choices in life, nor did she push me to do the things that she wanted. She relinquished all control and let me be me. I believe that's why we stayed together for so long. When someone tries to clip your wings, you become someone else. It's not "you" any longer. You become another extension of what your spouse wants you to be, for various reasons. It can either be from insecurity issues, narcissism, unresolved past childhood issues and so on -- so many things can contribute to it. I didn't want to be with someone who controlled me, or thought that I cheated on them constantly, or needed me to have a high profile job or yelled at me when I came home just because they had a bad day. I've seen many of my close friends go through that sort of thing and I promised myself I would never let that happen to me. Ever. People let that sort of thing happen to them because they consent to it, and sadly, they feel that they deserve that sort of treatment.

One night, a close friend of mine needed me to watch her newborn infant for a couple of hours as they searched for a new house. They were still living in a nice starter condo that catered mainly to new couples and older folks. They needed more room for their family. As I sat in a recliner, feeding the baby, the husband came barreling through the door screaming his lungs out. I can't remember all he said, but he didn't see me feeding the baby behind the kitchen wall. He thought that they were alone. The words he screamed at my friend were so vile and disgusting, that it made me wonder why she would ever marry this creep. "Don't f***** talk to me! I had a bad day!" Those were the last  words of his rant. He started throwing things around and I started to get scared. Then my friend whispered, "Deb's feeding the baby in the other room. Stop." And he simmered down because he was embarrassed for being such a coward for treating his wife that way. I thought my friend had the perfect life. I thought she had a happy home life. I thought. It was then I realized that behind closed doors, there are a lot of miserable and unhappy people living lives they weren't meant to live. (At least one of them.) I wish I could've taken that baby away with me and given her a better home, even if it was a lesser home, but with more love and a sense of safety. She never had that. And today, she still tells me that she has never felt safe in her home. Sometimes, she would beg me to stay over just so she would feel safe because her daddy was drunk and picking fights with everyone again.

Oddly enough, I was sometimes judged by these kinds of people for not having a "good enough" career or the biggest house on the block. I even questioned about my return to my parents' home, our ancestral home because my father fell ill to cancer and Madelene and I helped out with the caretaking to relieve my mom. We also helped them out financially, since they wanted to get renters to move in. They were scared to bring in new people. It worked out for the best. We paid for half of the house, the bills and I took care of dad with my mother. Then Mom fell ill, and I took care of  her until her last breath. I will never regret that decision. That was my calling. I was working from home anyway, so it wasn't a huge deal to relocate. But for some reason, the stigma of "moving back home" gives people an idea that the "kids" couldn't make it out there in life. It wasn't so. We were doing quite well in our new condo doing what we loved in life. We had everything we needed. But my parents didn't have what they needed. They needed more love, more company, more assistance, and what better way to say thank you than to help them out in the end? Sure there were days when I wanted to just pull my hair out, but there were some days I will never forget. I got to sit with them and have the deepest conversations about their lives, their dreams and their regrets in life. We talked about everything. I got to cook with them, spend days outside in the sun with them, laugh with them, share special moments with them as they were growing older. We'd watch the fireworks outside of our home on the 4th of July and share a cocktail on the patio together. Sometimes, Dad and I would stay up late to watch the ending of the Yankee game with some gin and tonics. Those times are imprinted in my mind forever. That night, he held my hand and said, "I love you, Deb." And I told him I loved him too and that he was my best friend. It was the first time he ever held my hand.

When Mom fell ill to the big "C" -- we did all we could do to make her comfortable. Memories of sitting out in the rain under the canopy with a glass of wine together talking about her younger years. She loved talking about her life as a kid, and I encouraged it. She glowed when she spoke of her youth and the many crushes she had as a young girl. She told me stories of she and her sister getting tipsy at a party and coming home to grandma who wasn't so pleased. She had so many funny stories painted so vividly for me. She would talk about grandpa barbecuing in the basement of their tenement in Brooklyn. He'd throw the steaks on a grate that was over the coals of their heating system. Now that's creativity! I got to hear stories about other things that she's never told a soul about. I knew she had some skeletons in her closet, but these were just chicken bones compared to what I've heard. But nonetheless, it was Mom's stories which kinda shocked me regardless, and at the same time, made me respect her a whole lot more for being human.

This is what I was blessed with: the chance to spend time with my parents as they were heading back home. They were more vulnerable, open, honest, and their last words were the most truthful, loving words you could ever hear. In a way, some would say that I put my life on hold. In some ways, I did isolate myself from time to time because I wasn't able to feel OK about having a bunch of friends come over for a dinner party. So yes, I did push some people away unintentionally, but at the same time, I will never regret the decision to be with my parents when they truly needed me. And it wasn't about the medical care taking and doctor visits -- it was about making the house alive again, dinners together -- it was about the company. It was about time spent -- quality time -- that I will never forget nor ever regret.

I look at life a little bit differently than most. Sometimes I'm judged for it, and sometimes I'm admired for it. I live my life in a way where I can be of help to somebody else, and not have it be about 'me me me' all the time. Life is about loving, nurturing, caring, sharing, embracing all that is to come and go. Acceptance. Giving. Gratitude. I don't do well with people who think they're entitled to the world when they didn't do one thing to deserve it.

My point is this. We make conscious choices in life. We either choose to be apart of someone's life or we don't. But the one thing we cannot do, even if it's our own parents or our own children, is expect the world from them if you were not apart of their world. There are no "right" or "wrong" choices either. It's just a path that you have consciously taken as well as chosen. That's OK. But never regret your path, nor try to take away any flowers from the other path that was not taken. Someone else may be walking that path. Enjoy the fruits of your own labor -- whatever type of labor is your work, your love or your contribution in life. It's interesting to know that just your mere presence can mean the world to someone else who cannot live their life to the fullest. A phone call is easy, but visitation for some people can be very difficult. That's why the jigsaw puzzle has many pieces. Each of us are supposed to fulfill an important purpose in life. Gandhi quoted, "Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it's very important that you do it." Life is like a movie; we all have a part.

If you don't like the path you've chosen for yourself, then either change it, or change the way you think about it. Either accept it or recreate your destiny. I've had a lot of choices in my life. I've made some good ones and some not so good ones, but through it all, I have never once regretted a path I've taken because I learned a lot from it. When someone else judges you for your choices in life, that's just an indicator that their life is obviously missing something -- what that is, you'll never know. But if you have time to judge someone else's journey, then maybe you should make time to judge yourself instead. If I had to make those choices again, I would do the same exact thing without even thinking twice about it. I truly believe that whatever you put out into the universe will come back to you tenfold. But since I believe that God created the universe, whatever you do with a good heart, God will make sure that you'll be taken care of in His own way -- His way. If I die tomorrow, know this: everything I have ever done was done with passion. While my heart may have been in the right place, I may have hurt a few people along the way, to which I've always apologized for. This gave me a chance to learn from it too. The tests that were given to me made me stronger in my character. Sometimes I mess up, while other times, I'm pretty consistent. I try my best. I turn to God. I've repented for every wrong in my life. I know that without a doubt, that if I die tomorrow, Jesus will take me. My goal in life is God. I don't dream of what the world can give to me -- I dream of what God can give to me: everlasting love and eternity. And on earth, He gives me peace in the midst of all the chaos that goes on in my life as well as out in the world. I am not an independent woman. I am solely dependent on God only. The word "independent" seems to be important in this world. But I'm not of this world, just as you're not of this world if you're a believer. When I am weak, He is strong. He that is in me, is greater than he who is in the world.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! Feel free to watch Deb's live broadcasts over on Periscope as well!