Family Is Forever

I just wanted to remind everyone what the holidays are all about:


Family


Sure, all the gifts are nice (pretty awesome actually), but the holidays should really be about spending time with the people you love—mainly your family.

From making cookies together, eating a nice lunch or dinner, playing family board games, or even drinking together (if you’re 21, wink), any time together is time well spent.

I know that in today’s time, it’s so easy to get preoccupied with friends, boyfriends, or girlfriends, but family should always be #1. Like the old saying:

Friends come and go, but family is forever.

It’s true. Family will always be there for you through all of the good and the bad. They are the people that you can count on for absolutely anything, no matter what.

It makes me so sad to see people that have issues with other people in their family. Any circumstance can be overcome with a little effort, so there is no need to cut off relations with any family members, ever.

I’m going to keep this short because it’s Christmas Eve, and my family is currently all over my house, but I just wanted to get this out in case anyone needed to hear these words right now, especially since Christmas is tomorrow.

It’s not to late to rebuild burned bridges with family members before 2014 is over. (Wait, that’s so weird to think that 2014 is almost over..) So, get out there with your boards, nails, and hammers (metaphorically, of course), and fix all your problems with your family. I understand that some problems may be more complex than others and may need time, but now is the time to start.

Remember to say “I love you” to your family, too.

Happy Holidays!

Goodbyes

Goodbyes are never easy. No matter the circumstances.

Whether it be because the person is going to college, moving away, fighting for our country, or even passing into the afterlife, saying goodbye is the hardest thing that you will ever have to do.

Saying goodbye is bound to happen at some point in your life, and it’s often reoccurring. It feels as if you have just lost touch with someone when you have to do it all over again for someone else. It puts your heart and mind through a never-ending process of pain and recovery, but you need to learn how to live with it.


The only way to make saying goodbye bearable is to look at the positive.

If your loved one is moving away or joining the armed forces, you can stay in contact via facetime, texting, email, phone calls, or letters. It’s not the ideal form of communication, but it makes saying goodbye so much easier.

Saying goodbye to someone who is still living is a piece of cake compared to saying goodbye forever to someone who is completely leaving the world.

My grandpa was in the hospital for over 24 hours before he died more than two and a half years ago, and my family and I knew that the end was coming. In a way, knowing that he was going to leave us made saying goodbye easier. We all got to prepare ourselves, and even be there for the moment that he left us. I was holding his hand when he took his last breaths. At the moment of his final exhale, the sky turned a beautiful array of pinks, purples, and oranges. It was like the heavens opened up for him, which made it only natural to let him go.

However, when Lexi died it was almost unbearable because it was so sudden and unexpected. Nobody had time to prepare themselves, and it was harder to let go. After many months (and eventually two years) of dealing with her death and refusing to say goodbye, I realized that I didn’t have to. I could talk to her whenever I wanted to.

Now, I may not be able to talk to her like I would to anyone that is living, but I found a new way.

My favorite thing to do is to sit at Lexi’s grave and talk until I get sick of hearing my own voice. I tell her new things going on in my life and things that I think she would find funny. When I’m at her grave, I feel like she’s there listening (and laughing). It’s the one place that makes me feel connected to her.


See, you don’t actually have to say goodbye to people, because they’re always with you. If they pass away, they’re watching you from above, and you just have to find that place that makes you feel like you’re close to them. If they’re moving away, you can still communicate with them. You just have to put in the effort. Like people say, “It’s not goodbye. It’s see you later.” It may be physically seeing them later, or emotionally feeling them with you.

Goodbyes are not permanent, ever.

Fear

Fear can be absolutely crippling. Suffocating. Unbearable.


But only if you allow it to be.


The scariest thing about fear is that it can control your life. Even to the point that you’re afraid to leave your house, or even be in your house. It can consume you, and turn you into a person that you didn’t even know you could be. It can turn the happiest, most outgoing person into a total recluse.

But you can’t let that happen. You can’t let fear win.

In order to overcome whatever (or whomever) you may be afraid of, you have to face the fear head-on. You have to stand up and say:

“You don’t scare me. I am stronger than you. And you can’t beat me “

My biggest fear is death. (Typical, I know) But I have good reason to fear it.

No matter what you believe, death is always uncertain. You never know when it is coming, and you aren’t really 100% sure what happens after you die. You have to have faith.

I’m not writing this to try to scare people, but it’s true. Death is scary, and the fear of dying can tear anyone apart. But fear is just an emotion, and emotions can change in the snap of a finger.

You have to talk yourself out of whatever you’re afraid of, because no matter what it is you will be okay.

Take my fear, death, for example:

Just because I’m afraid to die doesn’t mean that I have to let it control my life. I’m alive, and in my opinion, living in fear of dying is a wasted life. So, I’m suppressing my fear.

I’m living the life I was given. I’m trying new things, going on adventures, exploring the world, and so much more; because I am not letting fear control my life, and neither should anyone else!


So, if you’re afraid of clowns, go watch clown videos on the internet. If you’re afraid of spiders, try looking at pictures of them online (then maybe in person, but that’s a big step, I know). If you’re afraid of death, then simply LIVE. Do whatever you have to do to overcome your fear, and I promise that you will be 100% happier.

Whatever your fear may be, conquer it.

Stress

This post goes out to anyone who is stressed about absolutely anything—ranging from finals or just because the boy or girl you like is totally ignoring you.


BREATHE.


Life has a twisted way of making you think that everything is so much worse than it actually is. It’s unfair, but it’s also something we all have to deal with. It just may be hard to know exactly how to deal with it.

When I’m stressed out, I do one of two things:

1. I reach out for help.

OR

2. I bottle everything up and end up having a complete emotional breakdown about something stupid, like getting pasta sauce on my scarf (true story).

Can you guess which option usually ends up better? (Hint: the first one.)

Now, I understand that whatever is stressing you out at the moment may not be something you want to share with another person, but there are other ways you can reach out for help rather than talking to someone about it. You can write or type out your thoughts, and I promise it will make you feel a million times better.

I know it is something you have probably heard over and over, and it may seem cliché, but it works. Not only can you channel a way to get your emotions out of your head, but you can also look back and past occurrences that have made you stressed and learn from them.

Occasionally, I’ll look back and read something that I wrote and think to myself, “Wow, you were being a total drama queen,” but it’s important to learn how to handle yourself because only you can help yourself grow.


So, grab a tub of ice cream (or carrots, whatever makes you feel better about yourself) and a notebook and pen, turn on some music, and let your emotions explode all over the page. YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS, whatever it may be.

Paradise

My 14 year old sister, Maria Romito, is secretly a warrior. Not many people are aware of this, but Maria was very close with Lexi. Whenever Lexi and I would make plans for her to come over my house, Lexi wanted Maria to hang out with us, too. Maria was half my little sister and half Lexi’s, that’s just how it seemed to be. I’d like to think that Maria was the little sister that Lexi never had, and I know that Lexi truly cared about her.

Today, two years and six months since Lexi was killed in a car accident, Maria sent me a personal narrative that she wrote for one of her classes. Her story is about losing Lexi and dealing with the grief, much like the one I posted earlier. I never knew Maria had such talent with writing until I read this and it brought me to tears. I hope it resonates with anyone that reads it as much as it resonated with me. Here is Maria’s story:

My father and I pull up to a small lakeside gazebo. The gazebo itself is simple, but the landscape around it makes it beautiful. The music playing adds a calming factor. The purpose it serves is even more significant. We walk over to it, in each corner there is a picture of one of four people who have passed away in a car accident together. In the middle, a picnic table. A certain picture catches my eye. Under it captioned, Lexi Poerner. The words strike me like a rock. Each syllable denting me, even now two years later it stills feel like yesterday.

A gorgeous summer day well spent outside with my family. I went inside and was watching a movie, relaxing. I heard the screen door open and saw my sister. She told me, “Come outside. Lexi wants to see you.” I walked outside to the familiar scene of a black Chevy in the drive way. Lexi would come over most afternoons after school. I went over to the driver side window, and saw Lexi, happy as could be. “Hi Chi!” I said, a nick name we both shared. “Hey!” she replied. We hugged and talked for a while, as usual. I will never forget the way her icy blue eyes looked in the low setting sun, like a glacier. It was strange, I have seen her many times before but this time was different. I was very observant for the duration of our conversation. It was an eerie feeling. I do find myself doing that often since that day forth. I observe unique characteristics of my closest friends and family. We exchanged good-byes, and I said “Love you, have fun.” It was a very casual and normal conversation. Little did I know, that was my last good-bye, and my last look at those blue eyes, forever in my mind.

I break from my stare, my Dad noticed. “It is a crazy thing, I always would ask, why me? There’s no good answer. It’s just because God knows that we can handle it.” Tears fill my eyes but, I have become good at holding them back. I breathe in, and out starring at the lake. Such a beautiful place for a memorial, and a perfect day to visit. We take a seat, I look into his eyes searching for a good reason, and it does not exist, yet. A cooling wind blows through and breaks the tension. I can tell he is ready to leave but, I am not. This is my first time here and my first time going anywhere to reflect since her wake. I never went to her grave site before. That is a battle for another day. I sit and feel the sun’s rays, warming my heart, I feel at home. I gaze and look out at the glistening water and slip into deep thought, of memories I’ll never forget but, changed me in a way that I don’t want to forget.

I walked down the hallway to the waiting room and sat with my dad and family. “Maria, you had asked about Lexi…” he started, “Yeah?” His eyes filled with tears, “She passed away honey, I’m so sorry.” My heart stopped, and dropped. With those words a part of me died. My thoughts were flying around the room leaving me dizzy. No, no, not Lexi, not true! I mean how could it be? Could it be? My mind was racing at a speed unfathomable. I left the room. I walked down a corridor to a waiting room. I was sobbing uncontrollably, an eruption of emotion came out all at once. I was enraged, “She was sixteen! What kind of sick joke is this? I must be dreaming.” Then, I became sorrowful, “Why her! Why this way? How, not Julia?” Much like the question why, there is no answer. At that moment I realized, I almost lost them both. Suddenly, the tears stopped streaming. I went into a deep, hard stare out the window. My emotions, plugged by thoughts, and what ifs. I was stone cold. I could not move for fear of questions from others. The same generic questions and ‘comforting’ words are the worst, “How are you doing? I know it’s hard but you can make it, Stay strong.” I do not understand why people say these things when they don’t understand. People can feel similar to you but, no one hurts in the same way. The people who say stay strong, I do not understand either. They say stay strong and offer moral support but, it is never enough. Greif must run its course before you ever feel better. A fake smile can hide a thousand emotions; a real one is a sign of healing. My step-mother walked out. She took me back to the waiting room where I sat, silenced by grief. I wanted to run, far, far away from everything. I knew I had to stay and be strong, for Julia and myself.

Tears are shed but, I am content and happy. I have a real smile on my face that will never fade. The sun is setting, and the lake shinning. I can feel her presence, I know she is here, for I feel wrapped in her love. I can hear her whisper, “Everything is going to be alright, I am always with you.” I will never understand the reason for her passing but, I know God must have big plans. This is the closest answer I will receive, in this lifetime. It is time. I get up from the bench, and make my way towards the car. I turn for one last view of the memorial, and say my goodbyes. The grief has shed from my body like snake skin. I am healing, and growing from the pain. I can think of her without my eyes filling with tears, and remember all the joy in my life she brought. I will share this gift with others, and help them too shed their grief. The sky is like the ocean, the air smells of sweet mimosas and the sun set a gorgeous scarlet. Only palm trees, and sand could make this more of a paradise.

She Will Be Loved

On June 3, 2012, my life changed forever. My best friend, Lexi, was in a fatal car accident, and I was in the car with her. We were in the vehicle with four other people when this horrible incident occurred, and I was the only survivor. Our car went airborne over a set of railroad tracks, slammed into a tree, and landed on its roof in the middle of the road. Three of my friends, including Lexi, died on impact, one was Life Flighted to the hospital and passed shortly after, and I miraculously walked to the ambulance after being taken out of the car by the Jaws of Life. The most difficult part of this day was losing my best friend. Lexi was one of the rare people whose personality synced perfectly with mine. She was my best friend because we got along so well, and losing her was the most difficult thing that I have ever been through. Nothing could prepare me for the moment I heard she was gone, her funeral, the numb months following her passing, the breakdown of realizing she would never come back, and eventually accepting her passing.

I was in the hospital when I first heard that Lexi was killed. I would have never expected to hear that Lexi was killed in a car accident. Especially when I had just been laughing with her a few hours ago. When the words came out of my mother’s mouth, they hit me like a brick wall. I felt my throat close, my eyes swell with tears, my hands clench into fists, and then, nothing. It was like my brain shut off. My hands unclenched and the tears in my eyes subsided. I built a barrier between my thoughts and my emotions in order to protect myself, and I kept that barrier up for a very long time. Thinking back, it may have been the best thing to do so that I could heal physically, but it was not the best thing to do for my mental healing. This barrier caused me to be stuck in an emotionless rut regarding Lexi’s death.

I expected her funeral to be the hardest struggle of her passing. At first, I was strong during her funeral because I had my friends and family supporting me, holding my hand, and hugging me. Then, music began to play, and I watched as her family carried her casket down the aisle. Her mother and father were hugging each other and sobbing uncontrollably; meanwhile, her grandmother and grandfather sat in the pew with tears streaming down their faces. Seeing this hit me hard because it was not the way that the world was supposed to work. It was not right for a mother, father, and grandparents to be laying their daughter and granddaughter to rest. My eyes filled with tears, but then the barrier I formed came up and stopped me from crying. This made me feel numb, and in the following summer months, the numbness continued.

As the summer came to a close, only one thing was on my mind—going through my senior year of high school without Lexi. It was hard to grasp the concept of going to football games, prom, and graduation without her. I did not know whom I would go to for advice on a prom dress and boys, because Lexi was always the best at helping me with those kinds of issues. Often, I found myself grabbing my cell phone to text her about a problem or big news in my life, but then I would realize that she was not on the other end of the phone to text back. When this would happen, my heart would sink to my stomach. Even after two months of Lexi being gone, the wounds of her passing were still so fresh. I wondered if the wounds would ever go away, and if it would ever fully hit me that she would not be back.

I occasionally went to Lexi’s grave to talk to her and tell her all of the new things going on in my life. Sitting by her grave talking was always such a peaceful period of time. It was as close as I could get to having a conversation with her because I felt like she was actually there listening to me. Almost a year after the accident, I went to her grave and I saw something that I did not expect—a headstone. Normally, when people visit graves, there are headstones with the name and date of the person that passed. However, up until this point Lexi did not have a headstone because her passing was so unexpected. As I walked up, I stared at her headstone in disbelief, and that is when it all hit me. I fell to the ground in tears. I looked at her name and ran my fingers across the date, “August 2, 1995 – June 3, 2012.” It finally hit me that her life was over. I was not going to go over her house like I used to, call her when I needed help, or most importantly, laugh with her. This was the worst moment of my life, but it was what I needed in order to accept her passing and move on.

In August of 2013, I finally came to terms with Lexi’s passing. After many months of being numb regarding her death, I finally had the breakdown that I needed in order to accept her passing. I realized that even though she was not physically here, she was watching me from above. I would occasionally get signs from her, which was uplifting. Those little signs reassured me that she was still with me. I knew that she would not want me to be sad all the time because she was gone, so I decided to look at the positive. I now had a guardian angel that I knew would protect me. Also, I knew that one day I would be able to see her again. She had made such an impact on the lives’ of so many people, and that is why it was her time to go. She had accomplished what she needed to on this world. If I continued to sulk around about her death, then I would not be able to accomplish whatever I was meant to do. There had to be a reason that I was still here, otherwise, God would have taken me with her.

Losing Lexi definitely changed me as a person. It made me more grateful to be alive. I realized that everyone only has a limited amount of time on this world, and you never know when it is going to expire. Also, Lexi’s passing made me aware that I should not take my loved ones for granted because they are not always going to be around. People tend to take advantage of their family and friends because they think that they will always be there for them. Now, I always make sure to say “I love you,” to my family before I go anywhere, and I never like to leave things on a bad note. I mended all of my burned bridges with people because life is too short to be anything but happy. Also, dealing with the grief of losing Lexi made me a much stronger person. It does not matter how bad it seems; being in pain over the loss of someone does not last forever. Grief is just the period of time that it takes a person’s brain to accept the fact that someone is gone, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.