death

Avalonmom727

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Yesterday morning, my mom texted me her usual good morning. Every Monday, it’s “Madison Monday,” which is just a funny way to get me through yet again another Monday. 

I have a conference in the city today. Woo, being out of the office haha, I texted her. 

She told me to give her a call later when I had a free time after the conference. She emphasised after the conference so I thought maybe something was wrong. 

Is everything ok? Is it funny or serious [emoji]? 

She just replied with not funny, but wished me luck at the conference. The day went on and after the conference I gave my mom a call before I hopped on the subway. I started blabbing to her about the conference and then I asked her what was up. She asked if I was done the conference, and if I was still needing to get back to work. I had finished the conference, I told her. 

Okay well, I just wanted to make sure I didn’t want you to still be at the conference when I told you this. I wanted to tell you that Aunt Shawn has passed away. 

I felt like I hadn’t heard her correctly. My aunt didn’t have cancer, she wasn’t diagnosed with a serious disease. She repeated it again when I asked what she said, afraid that I heard “dead” when really she meant to say “sick with something obviously curable.” I continued to walk down a street I didn’t know in Brooklyn. A taxi zoomed by me and beeped because I seemed to have crossed the street without the pedestrian signal. Where was I? It didn’t matter. I pressed my body up against a dirty building and tried to melt into the city walls. 

And so began a series of questions that I never thought I would be asking my mom about her sister. Why, how, who knows, who is upset, who cried, what’s happening, what did grandma say, what did my sisters say, what did dad say, who else knows, what about her kids, what happens to her pets. 

What I’m writing isn’t about how I feel, and I guess if you have to define it, it’s a multitude of things. I’m writing because I’m angry. I’m writing because death is all around me, and I’m being forced to face it in so many ways. I’m writing because it’s the only thing I know how to do, and I don’t know how one single picture or social media status can perfectly paint the picture of a woman, a mother, the independent-strong-minded woman that she was.

When I was younger, that was when I was the closest with my aunt. For a while we lived in different counties, but eventually my family moved back to Telford, PA so we could be with my grandfather who had been diagnosed with cancer. I remember crying, when I was first told that I had to move from Delaware County, PA to Montgomery County, PA (big difference, when you’re in third grade). I remember my mom said, but you’ll make new friends! 

I don’t WANT new friends! I screamed. But then she added, you’ll be going to school with your aunt because she works there in the cafeteria! That got me to calm down a little.

Some of the things I remember about my aunt are little memories. In all my relationships in life, both personal and in my family, I always remember the small things about people. The time my dad stayed up late with me and made me egg sandwiches, when my sister gave me her favorite top because she knew I liked it more, when my brother bought me that red coat from Macy’s. So small, but so significant. 

The little things.

 My aunt used to have a pantry filled with the best snacks in the world. It was like a tiny little Costco. Big boxes of potato chips, iced tea, Dunkaroos, cookies — all the kinds of snacks that would make our mom furious if she knew we ate them before dinner. My brother and I didn’t care. We would ride our bikes up to visit and hope that Aunt Shawn would offer us a trip down to the basement to pick out whatever we wanted from the pantry. She always offered, and we always accepted.

***

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My aunt loved the beach. I still remember the vacation I took with her and the family to Avalon. By accident (which I hope my cousins still realize was an accident) I killed one of my aunt’s favorite rats (they had several pet rats). I sat in the corner of the room crying hysterically knowing that I had broken my aunts heart. I remember how stern her husband was, he came into the room and told me that I need to go apologize “to my aunt.”  When I was able to see her after she had calmed down, I went into her arms saying how sorry I was, she said she knew I didn’t mean it, and that she knew I loved the little rat so much too. To this day I think about the little rat, but mostly because of how sad I made my aunt. 

***

And since my aunt loved the beach, she also had a large collection of seashells, which I remember going through secretly one time at her house, taking all of them out. Her husband caught me and scolded me, and I was so embarrassed. My aunt instead, reassured me that it was okay, and I believe she even let me take one home (but not her favorite, rare ones! Those she had to keep in the special little seashell containers). 

***

I also remember that my grandmother and aunt would always call McDonald’s “Mickey D’s,” which for some reason, I never knew people called it that. So when we pulled up to the big yellow “M,” I started laughing because I expected some cute, small town diner. My grandmother and aunt made fun of me so much, “How could you not know we meant McDonalds?!” We gobbled down some Mickey D’s and talked about all the clothes we were going to buy. 

***

My aunt also loved music, probably as much as my own mother who was constantly dancing around the house even though we begged her to stop. Shawn used to burn mixed CDs for my mom, with 80s club music, or classic jams like “You Spin Me Round,” and “Bootylicious.” Whenever I hear these songs, I always think of those mixed CDs. I hope wherever my aunt is now, her days are spent with ridiculous party jams from Destiny’s Child. 

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She also loved animals, like my mom. Throughout her life she had an awesome cat named Max, guinea pigs, tons of pet rats, and just recently, her two cats had kittens together. I think in total she had six cats, but she just couldn’t find homes for them, so she took them in herself. I hope the family tries to find new homes for them, and doesn’t just throw them in a shelter, because I know for a fact that’s not what my aunt would have wanted. Little Goose will miss you!

***

Her love for my mom is proof that the bond between sisters is one of the strongest loves to ever exist. My mom and her talked often, but not as much as you would think seeing as they lived a few miles apart in Telford, minutes away from their childhood home where my grandmother still lived. It didn’t matter, they always stayed in touch. I always knew when my mom was on the phone with my aunt, because she would be on the phone for hours. And that’s no exaggeration. They would talk about everything and sometimes, I would sit in her room and try to eavesdrop. My aunt always seemed to know a lot about everyone, and she wasn’t gossipy, she was just keeping my mom up to date with everyone’s lives. 

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She once told my sister that my mom is our rock, and we should remember that. I knew she was speaking from her heart, and from her experience as a mother. She did everything and anything for her two kids. Even when I heard stories about them misbehaving, there was my aunt, always ready to step in front of a bus for them. When my one cousin missed school on the day of prom (which was a big no-no, the rule was you go to school the day of prom or you can’t go..or you at least had to make 393287_10150465097624892_1263788287_nit to fifth period or something) my aunt told her husband to call up the school and demand she be allowed to go to prom. When my other cousin moved to Florida, I had never seen a mother cry so hard. I think she was depressed for weeks, maybe even months. She was unbelievably proud, told everyone on Facebook how her son had moved on and gotten a job. But I had never seen someone so sad that their son had moved away. Those are the little things I remember — her sadness, her pain that her children were growing up too fast. 

I realize now it’s because her kids were her whole world. I know she had more in life that was meaningful to her, but her children were the stars in her life that guided her through dark times. She would do anything for them, and if she was still here today, I know she would continue to do so. 

And even when her husband brought divorce papers into the house, she continued to love him. Even when he might have stopped “loving” her the way he did when they first married, she continued to care and love him.

James TW says, “sometimes moms and dads, fall out of love.” But like my grandfather used to say, “Everything happens for a reason.”

***

She babysat the two neighbor girls next door, Emma and Jacqui, and became a sort of motherly figure to the both of them. Much like my mom, who is also passionate about children, my aunt worked at the local elementary school, babysat for a majority of her life, and also worked at a children’s day care center. I think in life, that was what she was meant to do. To be with children, and to try to help them grow up to be the best that they can be. 

***

Shawn was the big sister, and my mom was the little sister. In many ways, they were twins. Everyone thought they were, too. They looked a lot a like, and later in life as I grew up, people would comment and say, “You sound just like your aunt!” Or they would say, “You look so much like your aunt.”

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A lot of my sadness with my aunt’s death comes from my own love of my mother. I love my mother with every vein and cell in my body. My mother is my rock, like my aunt said. Seeing my mother in pain, seeing her frustration that perhaps my aunt’s family didn’t step in and be there for her when she needed them, seeing her anger for not being there more for her sister, seeing and feeling the guilt in her voice for not being able to do more — it all but breaks me down.

Since my aunt loved my mom more than anything in this world, I promise her that I will be there for my mom no matter what. If she is sick, I will be there. If she needs help, I will be there. If she wants to rescue cats (which my aunt did), I will be there. If my mom is suffering from something, no matter how hard it might be for me, I will be there. I will be there, because I know Shawn wanted me to.

***

When I accepted a job in New York, my aunt was beyond ecstatic for me. She was also terribly sad for my mom, because she knew how it felt to have your first-born leave the nest. She wanted to throw a big party for me, with all my friends and family in attendance, to celebrate my new chapter. I look back on her enthusiasm, her willingness to open her home up. She said how she was so proud of me. She said that my mom is lucky to have an amazing, bright, smart young woman like myself. I held in tears that night, so as not to cry in front of my family. But tonight as I write this, I let the tears flow, because I will never again be able to tell you thank you, and I love you.

***

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One special thing about my aunt, is that she lived for her nieces and nephew’s accomplishments. Every time we made the honor roll, she would clap with enjoyment. When I started dating my boyfriend, she said (in her Aunt-Shawn voice) “Well he is just ALL KINDS of handsome!!!!” When I graduated high school, she was there crying. When I graduated college, she was there crying again. She commented on almost every picture I ever posted on Instagram, every status I posted on Facebook. She read every blog I ever posted. Aunt Shawn just had so much energy, so much love, and she cared that other people were successful, living life, and achieving their goals.

Aunt Shawn, wherever you are, I’m sorry that I couldn’t show you New York. I was just about to talk to my mom about you two visiting me as “the Weisenborn’s take over NYC.” I wanted to show you that all my hard work paid off, and how happy I am to have you as my “favorite aunt.” You will always be my favorite aunt.

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Thoughts on Boston

These are my thoughts on Boston. I don’t really have any recollection of what I was writing, and what I was trying to say while writing. Hopefully you will still understand.

Bad things happened in the world when I was a child. There were school shootings, robberies, murders, and acts of terrorism.

I could separate myself from these events, there was no need to care about war or evil when you are so little. I’m sure I was aware that there were “bad things” going on in my world. I was still warned that bad people lurked in dark corners, alleys, vacant parking lots. Bad things happened because bad people existed. Guns are bad. Knives are bad. Killing people is bad.

Now that I’m almost 20, I can’t begin to grasp this “bad” world that I live in. It’s no longer acceptable for me to go into my room and play with dolls, entering a fantasy world where there is peace for everyone. When I was little, this could be my escape. I could enter a different world and pretend that the things I didn’t want to exist, didn’t.

I can no longer do that. I can’t hide in my room pretending like these things don’t exist. They do, and how do I live knowing this?

After the Sandy Hook shooting, I thought of all the people I know who have kids in elementary schools. I thought of how the school district of my town cut down on security guards due to the budget. I thought of how my mom works as an aide in an elementary school, and how if there was a “Code Red” that wasn’t a drill, she would be responsible for protecting the children. I thought of what I am supposed to do when I have kids, and need to send them off the school. I don’t want them to go.

I don’t want to go anywhere. I want to stay inside, and pretend that the world is a place of peace. Where are my dolls when I need them?

I’ve been following the updates on the Boston explosion for days now. I don’t know what it is about this event that has made me so drained, so angered and sad. I don’t even know anyone who was at the marathon, not anyone who was hurt at least. Why should I care? I don’t live in Boston. I don’t know anyone there.

I care because I am no longer a little girl in her room. I go outside, to class, school, the store—I walk the streets alone. I am aware of the world. I am aware of these happenings. I can never forget.

I can see myself years later. I can see myself remembering that I was a young girl, too young, to witness 9/11.I will talk about Iraq, Libya, Egypt. I will talk about Sandy Hook. I will talk about Boston. What else will I talk about?

We can’t predict the future. But we are supposed to move on regardless. You live and you learn. I don’t want to live, at least not in a world like this. But what choice do I have? What choice do any of us have?

I listened to a talk show yesterday, my favorite talk show (Elvis Duran and the Morning Show), and Elvis talked about how even though it’s necessary to listen to every detail of an event like Boston’s, at some point you just need to get off the computer and pull yourself away. I can’t pull myself away.

I’m drawn to news like a moth to a light. When the light is cut off, I’m fluttering around unsure of what to do. It drives me crazy. I need that light. I need the news.

I get so angered when people sit and pick apart the media, telling me they are too involved. They are too involved, reporters are annoying, they don’t know anything, the news is bias, they cover what they want to cover (shut up shut up shut up shut up)

My professor told me I need to have a thick skin to be a reporter. I am getting there.

I used to play Call of Duty with my brother. I got pretty good at it. I liked using the machine guns that would shoot a lot of bullets in a second. I thought it was cool to scope out an enemy, the shoot them in the head from so many miles away. I could plant bombs, playing “capture the flag” in the meantime. I threw grenades hoping I would get more kills than my brother.

What the hell is wrong with me?

What’s wrong with the world we live in? Why do people target schools or malls or marathons? I will never know this answer.

Hash tags on Twitter suggest I #PrayforBoston. I don’t include this tag. I keep Boston and their people in my thoughts. The runners run through my minds, make laps in my brain. The eight-year-old is someone I can’t get out of my mind. I cried so hard when I read that article. I still cry. I will never stop crying. I don’t even know him.

I think my breaking point was this event. I just want so badly for me to walk the streets without fear. I want to walk down dark alleys in a short skirt and be safe. I want to send my kids off with no thoughts in the back of my mind (is this is the last time I will see them?!). I want to not be worried when my boyfriend walks at night with his laptop. I want to go to big parades, concerts, marathons, and be unafraid.

I have to have a thick skin. What if my writing is recognized by a big newspaper, and they send me off the a story like Boston? What if I am one of the reporters that writes a story that lets a parent know their son/daughter in Boston is okay? What if I honored Martin Richard with a moving story? What if I was at the scene, tweeting away, letting people know what was going on?

That’s what I want to do, to write and let people know what is going on. This girl is grown up. I still choose to go into my fantasy world where everyone is safe, but I am aware of the real world I live in. I want to become fearless, but I think that is something that doesn’t happen overnight. Maybe you’ll read my byline one day, and remember what I wrote here, on this day. I want to show people that we can get over our fears. That despite all the “bad things” that will not change, there are the “good things” to recognize. Good people reside in hospitals, fire stations, police stations, (and news rooms). Good things happen because good people exist. Helping hands are good. Hugs are good. Helping people is good.

Everything Passes With Time

It is a sad day in the Moore family. Unexpectedly, one of our guinea pigs, mine to be more specific, has passed away. It was the last of the “original four” guinea pigs we have had.

His name was Cheech. He was a skittish Abyssinian guinea pig that loved carrots and his building block hideout.

It’s a funny story how Cheech (and his brother) came into our house. My sisters had gotten an exciting gift of guinea pigs, probably around their eighth birthday. Since they are twins, that means double the pig and double the fun!

Their names were Chilli and Cha-Chi. I’m not sure where those names came about, but I had the feeling my parents were part of the persuasion.

Of course, pet store employees don’t have credentials, and it turns out Chilli was a boy, and Cha-Chi a girl. And we all know what happens when you mix a boy and a girl together. Clearly, there is no sex-ed for rodents.

Some time later, Cha-Chi gave birth to two adorable baby guinea pigs (both male, we checked). My brother and I were delighted because now we both could have our very own guinea pigs. So as you already know, Cheech was mine, and my brother named his Ozzy (again, do you think there was parental persuasion?).

We had some great times growing up with our guinea pigs. They were one happy, rolly-polly and fuzzy family. They loved to eat grass in the sun, and they weeped around in our hallway as they playfully chased each other. We called this “The Running of the Pigs.”

After the other three died, Cheech remained. He had some other friends of course, what, you thought we wouldn’t get more pigs? Although, the original four is where it all started.

As we get older, I think we fail to neglect childhood memories, which sometimes may be pets. As a child, having a small pet like a hamster or a fish is the greatest thing in the world. As we get older, we tend to lose the excitement we once felt. Although it is never truly lost, just dormant. Those memories are still there, and so is that excitement. The memories come out of dormancy once we realize that they are gone. Then all we want is to go back in time.

Of course, just because I was older and my priorities changed, my guinea pig was not left in the basement to starve. My mother took great care of all of our guinea pigs because she loved them, probably more than we loved them.

All my siblings, and I, have our memories now. The memories are more than just the pet, it is everything else that came with the pet. It’s having to go and clean them out on a hot summer’s day and making an event out of it. It’s cutting up vegetables in the kitchen for the guinea pigs to enjoy. It’s begging our mom to let us do the “Running of the Pigs,” and video taping our laughter. It’s carefully watching the mama guinea pig give birth, trying our hardest not to make a sound.

It’s our childhood, my childhood. It is the knowing that time has passed, and it is time that we will never get back. I just wish I had realized how important those memories are, because maybe I would have cherished them a little harder.

Rest easy, Cheech.

 

Nothing Left to Say: My Heart is With Sandy Hook

There are so many things I want to say about the recent, and tragic events in Connecticut. Each time it has been shown on the news, or my Twitter or Facebook feed, my stomach has twisted up in knots. I have been meaning to write about how precious life is, both for my sake and others. I cannot imagine being a mother, or even a sibling or relative, who lives in Newtown, Connecticut. What these people have just gone through is unrealistic. Every time I read about deaths in the newspaper, or online, I can’t think of it as real. I can’t believe it and I try not to. But it is real. I will spare you the details of what has happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. If you are not up to speed on the happenings, please do so. It is important to know the whole story. It is also important to realize that these shootings, these massacres, have to end. How many times will we have to connect the dots, and determine how truly mentally ill a killer was? How many times will we hear, “We never thought he would turn out that way.” How many lives will be lost until we realize we have a serious problem relating to the gun laws? The President mentioned “meaningful action” will be taken, to which a reporter said that it should be immediate action. I agree. The gun laws have always been overlooked, and there have been cases where people have tried to fix the gun laws, but nothing has been done. I get it. You want protection, and you deserve that right. You want to hunt too, which I have begun to support more since my school has a lot of students to do so. Sometimes in life, the things we want the most can’t always come so easily. People want to own guns, and I think a majority want it quick and fast. They don’t want waiting periods or background checks, or perhaps even mental health tests. And who would want to go through all that trouble? I can assure you that all of the parents, relatives and friends of lives lost at Sandy Hook would go through that trouble. Although, I am sure all they really want is their 5-10 year olds back. If something is not done about the gun laws, I don’t know what will happen. How many more schools will be taken over? How many reputations of institutes ruined? How many young lives destroyed, or gone forever? It saddens me to think that government officials, or whoever is in charge of the gun laws, would rather push this under the rug, then deal with it. Think about it logically. Is it right that anyone (of the age with state identification) can purchase something that kills oh so easily? Does the drive to face a problem have to start with high schoolers and end with toddlers getting murdered? I’m not pointing the blame at one organization, one group of people. It is our nation as a whole that has failed to pay attention to this ongoing problem. I never thought of even bringing up the gun laws in a blog post. It’s as taboo as abortion, or politics. People will argue with you for the sake of arguing, and many fail to see reason in your side. I want people to have their guns, and I want people to be able to continue hunting, a pastime many enjoy. I also want my future kids to be able to go to public school without fear. I want to be able to tell them all the great stories about school, not Columbine or Virginia Tech massacres. Perhaps we need to make a test so that before you purchase a gun, you can be evaluated to see if you are “unstable.” It is easy to pretend you are “healthy.” And if someone who seemed “a little off” came into your store and wanted to purchase something as expensive as an assault rifle, would you turn them down? Many may read this and only see that I have slightly bashed the gun laws. But read between the lines. What am I really saying? Am I just some girl who thinks she can write whatever democratic piece of crap she wants? Do I even have any say in this matter? Of course I do. I have younger sisters, and I couldn’t imagine being at my college and getting a phone call from my mom saying, “Something has happened at the junior high school…” I just honestly couldn’t imagine what I would do. Just this year someone “suspicious with a gun” was walking on DelVal’s campus (turns out it was just a paintball gun). My boyfriend’s friend lived in Colorado over the summer, and when I heard about the Aurora shooting, I instantly thought of him. I knew he liked comics and video games, and I was sure he would have seen Batman. Thankfully, he was a few hours away from the town. Most importantly, when I read about how 1st graders were told to cover their eyes so they wouldn’t see blood and glass, I can’t help but feel sympathetic. What are your views? Do you think nothing should be done? Is there anything we can do? Should we leave it up to government officials, or in the hands of parents and guardians to watch over their children so they do not develop a mental illness? I want change, and now, more than ever, is the time.

In Loving Memory…

It was a cloudy, rainy day, and I was at my college’s library wasting time on Facebook.  As I scrolled down my news feed, looking at the pictures posted and comments being made, I found a strange post.  It was from a newspaper I am subscribed to, called The Souderton Independent.  Some of you may be familiar with it.  

The post was about some “Celebration of Life” service that was being held in honor of the web editor.  As I read on, it discussed the web editor’s contribution to the newspaper, and how she was loved by all.  I was extremely confused at this point.  Was the web editor giving a speech on life?  Was she leaving the newspaper and going to another company?  

As it shockingly turns out, this service was a memorial service for her.  She died “after a freak accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike when a flying road sign crashed through her windshield” (abclocal).

I reread this over and over again on Facebook, and then the news.  It just could not be.  Certainly somebody that I knew could not have died.  

How did I know Morris, you may be thinking. 

For my senior project at my high school, we had to do a huge project that would determine if we could graduate.  It had to be related to our future career.  I chose to shadow a reporter and to see what it is like working for a newspaper.  

During my project, I had contacted many newspapers, asking if I could please shadow somebody.  The only editor that responded to my email was Morris.  She had worked with me from day one to try and figure out what I wanted, and what she could offer.  She gave me more than I expected.  

I had the oppurtunity to shadow a reporter on a story, which was a great experience.  I got to sit on a casual meeting, where they discussed what stories they should write.  I also had the chance to interview a reporter from the newspaper and talk about her experience working with a newspaper.  These experiences that I had allowed me to make a monumental decision in my life.  This decision was to pursue media and communications in college, shooting towards my dream career of a reporter.

If I was not given this opportunity, who knows where I would be today?  Maybe I would have followed a different path, and opted out of chasing my dreams.  I have Morris, and all of those who helped me at The Souderton Independent, to thank for sending me in the right direction.

This year, I had reconnected with Morris, to see if there were internships available at The Souderton Independent.  While they could not offer me an internship, Morris was glad to hear that I was pursuing media and communications, and offered to help me look for places I could intern at for the summer. 

I never got to email her back, and thank her for everything she had done for me.  

It makes me sad that somebody so young, healthy, and a good head on their shoulders had to pass so soon.  My thoughts are with her family.  

This makes me realize, that while our lives are destined to be long, they can end shorter than expected.  Our lives are precious.  We should live them to their fullest.  More importantly, we should let our loved ones know how important they are to us. Even if you receive the smallest act of kindness, let the person know how thankful you are.  

Rest in peace Emily Morris, thank you for everything you did for me.  I hope I can serve the community as you once did ❤

http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/local&id=8624245

http://www.montgomerynews.com/souderton_independent/