[I started writing this on June 14th…
Hello. It’s been awhile. I just found out one of my Italian brothers is very sick. Peter’s got pancreatic cancer. Not good. It’s shocking. Oh, irony is here too, as I just realized it’s been exactly one year since my nephew’s suicide.]
[OK, I’m back. It’s Saturday, June 18th and the Bruins parade is today. Their playoff run left me breathless, like those skating sprints at Hockeytown in Melrose before my single-mom figured out she couldn’t afford to keep me in hockey.]
[Sometime later, including today…]
The Bruins parade was great, but Kyle had more fun once we hooked up with the Gonnella boys (and girls) and hit up the North End. As we crossed the “Greenway” toward the home of Mike’s Pastry, I said to Peter, “You do realize this North End place is full of Italians, right?” He laughed. Cancer or not, some things just won’t change with us. My fun Saturday came to an end with an 11:26 Facebook post:
“Clarence got his wings. RIP Big Man.”
When I read the news, I was thrust back to Shea Stadium in October, 2003. Megan saw Clarence crying at the end of the E Street Band’s final gig of “The Rising” tour. “Maybe he doesn’t think they’ll ever play again,” my girl surmised. She’s smart. If they did an autopsy on the Big Man, I’m sure they found a huge heart. The thought of not pursuing what he loved and delivering joy would make a grown man cry. On a night when he may have been contemplating just that, Clarence was raining crocodile tears.
Sunday began for me at 8:18am with a beautiful note from Joyce titled, “Father’s Day.” She described some of the little things I do for those around me. Her thoughtful examples made it so real and made me feel great,“ …karaoke parties and midnight movies for Kyle, early morning moothies & eggies for Maddy…”
I headed out to the escape of yard work, protected in the cocoon of my earbuds. I had Peter and Ryan and Clarence and life and death swirling around me like Dorothy Gale’s tormentors. Suddenly Brad Marchand and Tim Thomas floated past my broken window… WTF? The iPod wheel quickly delivered “Born to Run” as a soundtrack to sort out thoughts sticking to cobwebs in the darkness of my mind.
Bruce’s fire and the soul of Clarence coursed through me… The words about loving and hating and losing and desperation and being “on that hill with everything I’ve got” played in the background while I googled my mind for answers.
I thought about how strong Peter was on Saturday with wife Kerry and three of his four children. No one could have known he had just found out the worst possible news. I’m sure he’s not pulling this off 24/7, but I was very proud of how he carried himself that day. He was focused on those he loved. I recalled how Ryan always made his cousin Kyle feel “cool.”
[Sorry, I just had to go outside to tell someone I love them…]
That’s the point of this mess of a post, I think. Life isn’t neat. It’s not always the way we want it. I had intended to weave the sacrifice, grit and passion shown by the Bruins with Bruce lyrics about putting oneself out there “with everything I got,” and how if we don’t live with that commitment and fire our lives will always be something short. I failed at that, but no matter how you do it, whether with “moothies” or words or “karaoke parties” or by throwing a couple bucks into the saxophone case of a subway musician, just make this a better place for those around you.