In my life and through this eighth grade year I have realized I have the power to create my own happiness. Through good times and bad times, through trying to escape and trying to come back, I realized that my own happiness is always there.
My Uncle Steve past away this year in mid October, a 45 year old husband and dad of one.
My Uncle Steve brought me to my first ever New York Yankee’s game. As he picked my dad and me up from my house he had the same Westmark grin that I possess, slapped onto his face. We had to pick up a good friend, Tom Kirman, up from his house. As we slowed down to his house Tom hopped into the truck with his David Wright jersey on. Tom’s a “Die Hard” Mets fan. He greeted my dad and uncle and we headed off to Yankee Stadium. Uncle Steve kept us laughing the whole way through traffic and rest stops.
At about the third inning my friend and I felt hungry. My uncle took us through the inner part of Yankee Stadium and bought us whatever we wanted. Throughout that day I don’t think Tom or I had to pay for a thing. It showed how generous and caring the man was; i didn’t matter if he just met you or had known you form birth.
The same thing happened in late September, except another great friend Brian Truex came. My Uncle pulled up to the house with a great family friend, Mikey, sitting in the passenger seat. He got out of the car and looked at me with the same Westmark grin as always. He gave me a huge hug as Truex, my father, and I hopped into the back seats. As we got onto the parkway my uncle and Mikey started making fun of each other as we sat in the back seat listening to Howard Stern on the radio. Maybe Truex remembers the song that was playing, but that was only background laughter to what came from the driver seat. The same thing as before: My Uncle kept us laughing the whole way.
As we jumped into our seats we were amazed that we were only about 15 rows back from the left field wall, my uncle had come through again. He promised me we would have the time of our lives and that we did. We pulled onto the turnpike and Mikey was being, well Mikey. He and my uncle were making fun of each other just like they did at Steve’s pool in the summers before.
The last time I saw my uncle alive was the championship game in Jackson for football. At the end of that game we had won the championship for B division. After pictures and such, I walked over to my dad and uncle, both smiling that Westmark family smile. I went over and gave my dad a hug, my uncle standing beside him. The bus started to load up with excited kids, so I joined my team not even noticing then that I didn’t even acknowledge my uncle. When I got home that night my dad called me to once again congratulate me on the game. He also told me to call my uncle because he thought I was mad at him or something for not noticing him at the field. I never did make that call; I fell asleep about five minutes later.
Five days later my uncle passed away. He died in his bathroom from a heart attack; they say he never saw it coming.
The grief sunk into my body like I imagine the Titanic sunk into that cold Atlantic water, slowly and painfully. Even the thought of him dieing, and thinking I was mad at him, still strikes me today. In fact I still think about it all the time. I could never be mad at that man, ever.
At the funeral I wouldn’t bare to see my uncle in a casket, that’s not the last time I wanted to see him, not like that.
On Christmas dinner at my aunts house it really hit home. the excitement and fun wasn’t there. He had been the one who brought joy to those days, and now it was missing. He always brought conversation to the table. About work or about his house in main, or even those jokes about his friends – the man brought life to this very table. He not being there pained everyone. I don’t think that one person didn’t cry that night, especially me.
Knowing I couldn’t escape this I did the only thing that could come close to that – I played sports. Football was over and baseball was just beginning. Sports brought me joy and happiness when there seemed to be none. It brought me something positive to think about instead of something negative. Almost every night I went to play basketball at Jacks house. I played there under the cold winter skies every night talking to myself. I don’t have an Ipod, so I created my own happiness. When I shot, I said “Kobe!” just to play with myself, thinking it would go in if I said this. I am also one of those kids that says “3, 2, 1!” and the makes the well known buzzer noise. Those nights playing basketball at Jack Curran’s house for two hours straight didn’t make me better at basketball, not at all actually, but it helped me clear my mind and find happiness when all I felt was sad.
Chris was a big part of my life for the last several years, but now that’s all gone.
For the past several years Chris has been an influence in my life. He has lived in my house and had become some what of a 2nd father to me and my nine year old brother Kyle. He’s given me money when he has had it and we shared pop tarts together, we bonded extremely well. This year though things have changed dramatically. I saw signs of Chris this year that gave notice to me that things were changing. The getting mad for no reasons, not working, and never providing anymore, these are just some of the bunch.
It’s been about two months now, and Chris isn’t here. Chris told my mom he was going to California to see his brother and he would be back in about the month. About three nights after Chris left my mom received a phone call from his cell phone, the last call form his cell phone to my knowledge. He briefly explained to my mother he wasn’t coming back, my mom said he told her the life there for him wasn’t right anymore, and I guess it wasn’t. Chris has since changed his cell number and the last time I talked to him I told him off.
Since he has left I’ve had dreams. My dreams were off him coming back and me telling him to get away from my house. Nightmares usually wake us up because were frightened, my dreams of him woke me up from excitement. The thought of him never coming back excited me, the thought of him coming on my property and me doing violent things gave me happiness when there was absolutely none. This may be not the place to find happiness so I created my own.
In this eighth grade year my social life has had its ups, its downs, its twist, and its loops. My life involving my friends and even such as more then friend has been a rollercoaster ride. School this year has flew for me this year. School has helped me with my social life. My dad once told me last year in the summer that eighth grade is the year where you find out who your real friends are. Now at the time I thought he was kidding me, but now I realize he wasn’t. People change in this world, and you need to deal with those changes. Through fights and conflicts I have learned to change sadness in joy, from my real friends. After a fight maybe ill just go play a round of cod with Seamus or Bubba, or even the occasional Noc. Maybe I’ll just go through a ball as hard as I can at the Youth Center wall and if I’m lucky John will come out and we’ll shoot some hoops. These things brought me joy, no matter what the situation.
This is not a sob story, this is my life, and I think of it as a good one. I have more than I could ever ask for, through family, friends, and sports, nothing seems wrong to me. I’ve taken all the mistakes, and made them into lessons in life, and that I believe creates my own happiness. Through hardships, troubles, fear, and questionable decisions, happiness is always there.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.