I keep thinking about the last year of your life. Your life before August 12th. I know it wasn’t easy. I feel like nothing was ever easy. I know you liked running around, but part of me feels you were running away. It just sucks. I wish you just talked to us more about how you feeling day to day. Let us know if you were doing okay. That’s really what being family is about. Talking about how you feel and what we can do to make you feel okay. I wonder how you woke up many times at home. I wonder what your first interaction was with anyone. Was it positive? Was it negative? Was it memorable? Was it forgetful? It’s amazing to think how small and absolutely trivial so many things you worried about have become. It’s almost as if they didn’t happen. The girls and I just always worried about you. I wish we just talked more. Talked more about what truly made you happy. Be it a place, a person, an event or an experience. I know it was “family”. I get that. I just wonder where your heart was truly at ease and happy and loved. I guess that’s what it comes down to. I am not as stressed or anxious as I was this time last year. I am grateful for so much advice and information on what to stay away from. It’s a Godsend. Thankful for the new people in my life as well. I know we all talked with you last year after the New Year. I wish we could just pause that time and just hug you so you know how much you were loved and that we were coming from a good place; as we were so worried about your mental and emotional state. Those are important. Maybe more important than your physical state; well, not now that we know. I posted something on your page for the 4th. Lam posted something about when we went to Autograph for her birthday. That was a nice time. It’s strange to be thrust into this world that doesn’t include you, but I try and read what folks write when we say something. That you’re always here. You’re always around. You’re looking down on us. It helps. I just wish I spent more time with you during the last year of your life. I feel like I wasted a ton of time doing nothing and I could’ve just been hanging out wherever doing stuff that actually made me happy instead of stuff that made me feel terrible. There is nothing worse than feeling forced to do something you truly don’t want to do. I am sure you can empathize. It’s another gray and humid day here in Manayunk. Things haven’t been good in the hood lately. A few major crimes. I can hear you now. “Bobby, you should just buy a house at the shore and save a room for your Momma to come down any time she’d like….” I think you said that to all of us. It hurts me to think of those times you weren’t able to get down the shore for whatever, but I am glad you got The Bitty and I am glad you actually lived down there and worked. I always say, I think if you and Pop Pop stayed down there for good, you’d be alive today. It’s amazing how being stress-free can help you enjoy your life. I was talking with a person who turned out to be an ICU nurse. She also spent time in the neuro unit. We talked about what happened to you and she said “you would be amazed at how many people actually live long and are smokers….and people that don’t smoke come in with “pains” that turn out to be major strokes….” She also mentioned how much stress can destroy you from the inside out. I said I am certain of it. I can imagine you would’ve done your steps and yard up so good this holiday. Flags in the plants and in the yard. On your hands and knees working out front. Waving hi to Pat and Miss Shuggie, Aggie and Mr. Zinszer. I know you liked your little life there, but I know you were searching for much more out of life. I know the shore house. Even something tiny would’ve been good. I see many families like ours down the shore these days. Renting, owning, living. Definitely something that was attainable with the right choices and determination. Absolutely not doubt about it. I remember how you didn’t like being at The Bitty by yourself, but after that time was up, you realized that having a place down there, even if you were doing it solo, was better than not having a place. I think that really resonated with you. I am sorry we couldn’t get you a place down there for good. You surely deserved for all those days and nights you worked. I still can’t believe how much you worked, raised kids, cooked, cleaned, and made time to listen or buy cards or gifts for people. The more I think about it, it’s downright amazing. I speak to you a lot. I always say I hope wherever you are, I hope you are happy and smiling. I read some things about people coming close to death, but then dodging it, what they see on the other side. How it is real. I have this feeling most see what they believe is Heaven. I can’t believe that people would be as forthcoming about seeing something horrible. Kathy asked me to come down the shore, but the weather for Sat and Sun just didn’t look good and I have work on Friday. I know what you’re about to say, “Ya ety-iot”…..yes, I feel like a jackass for spending one minute working today, but I want to save up time for down the road. I have a feeling I will be taking a trip before the year is out. So Cancun, England, Belize, Honduras, Mexico so far this year. Some great trips. These last two years have definitely taught me a lot. I have seen the worst and I have seen the best in people and times. Ironically, what I thought was such a tragedy for our family, kind of paled in comparison to a story from someone recently. I almost couldn’t believe it and out of respect for their privacy, will keep it to myself. You really never know what horrible people there are in this world. I am happy that you instilled so much love, respect, and care for our fellow (wo)man. I know we all have our own personalities, but when we’ve done good and done bad, I know, even at 41, I can say, “Mom would be happy I did that…” We all share pictures and texts and say the same thing, “just like Mom would’ve wanted…or just like Mom would’ve done it….” I feel like you were great at so many things that revolved around humans treating each other good and if you weren’t good at it, you sure gave it your all. And I think about how you spoke to people. I think your girlfriends know better than me, as well as your biological and non-biological sisters know, you were someone who truly would listen. I can hear you now. Even last year when I had some negative things to tell you, things that didn’t even involve you, you were there, offering your support. I know I sometimes got myself into situations that I truly had no place being involved in and it wasn’t until you would say, “Bobby, you just shouldn’t be involved in any of that….or you don’t need to deal with that…” did I really realize that there are situations all through life that you should just drop the ball and look up to the sky and say, “this isn’t why I am here on earth…” It makes me shake my head that some people think you need to just “deal” with situations you are in and here, you do actually have the freedom and choices to say, “I deserve better…” or just explain to the parties involved that you have nothing to contribute. I say that, but then I think of the talks we had over the last 20 years. I guess different strokes for different folks. I realize so much how mortal we truly are. From hearing a story of a doctor who died of an aneurysm, to a convicted felon who ruined so many lives who was snuffed out from the same at 36. Then I think of us who are left to pick up the pieces. I think of how much we endured from August to February. Some parts of me feel like I finally got to the bottom of the deepest well, saw there was no water, and realized that I have a long way to get back up to the surface. I know it’s like that sometimes. When I laugh these days, I laugh with more honesty and love for the person making me laugh. When I cry these days, it’s usually because I realize you aren’t going to come back and that is a real, deep hurt. And it’s the little things. It’s always the little things.
I do still plan to leave the city. I just want some grass, a backyard, and be able to see the stars. Maybe a place near some water. Where that water is, I don’t know as of yet. I am partial to the sea ya know. Maybe when I find that home, I can relax my mind and just enjoy the next phase of my life. I am happy that this summer, albeit without you, has been a lot less stressful than last summer. It’s good to have family around. It’s good to have had the chance to roll out to a bunch of concerts with Jaybird and family. Back to actually enjoying life and absolutely no drama. And also just being open to meeting new people and saying hi to complete strangers who I find some bond with; regardless if it’s sports, food, drinks, no politics, city living, and coastal dreaming….it’s good to be able to actually have intelligent and thought provoking conversations again. You weren’t a huge soccer fan, but the US women’s team are in the finals this weekend. You’d probably buy some red, white and blue outfit for Sunday. Ha. Ok. Well, gonna go grab some lunch. This has been good. I feel a lot better than I have the last two days. Feel free to stop by and visit me. I’ll leave the light on for you. I always remember to turn your lava lamp on when I am here at night. You always thought to get people a little something (gift). You never realized how much of a gift you were to all that loved you. You truly were someone who brought life into a room and always lifted people up. I miss you. Bobby