Thank You Mom

Dear Mom,

I’ve started this post about 4 or 5 times already, never sure of where to start or end. When I wrote the initial blog post about your first spot I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I felt awkward talking about you since the day it happened, the well-intentioned condolences that come along with it always leave me unsure how to respond. Months after it first happened here I was again, how do I just thrust your passing out into this group of people I just met. I have to eventually but when and how should I do it….because of it will people pity me? Will it just be awkward? Will it look like I’m looking for attention? I was way up in my head per usual about this decision.

Luckily, and as a sign to come, I didn’t have to make that decision alone. Darien helped.

Kelly Tappel, who I didn’t know well at the time but who'd become someone whose friendship I absolutely cherish and who you’d really get along with so well, had saw the post go up and reached out to me with her own story of loss - how she and her family handled it and offering to be an ear if I ever needed to talk. Right away I thought I’m not alone in this group, let me share part of myself and in turn find ways to become closer to this group I’d just barely gotten to know.

From there its been an illuminating experience taking you with me across the globe with Darien, getting to know each city with you and listening to you when you told me where you’d like to spend your time. This traveling family, as well as those back home, have been so genuinely supportive and interested in where your new place would be that its brought an added level of joy in discovering your home each month.

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I didn’t know what to expect by bringing your ashes with me this past year. To be honest I don’t really remember ever making a conscious decision to bring them. I definitely didn’t deliberate over the decision. It was just something I was always doing once I got accepted into Remote Year. I guess I hoped this year would offer me the time I never got when you passed to really process what your passing means for me and my life, to find closure, a way to “move on”.

I didn’t find it.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to process your passing in a way that allows me to “move on.” As the months rapidly progressed towards the end, it got me thinking about if we ever truly do move on when someone who made us who we are, who gave up everything for us, who gave us direction, gave us comfort passes.

I don’t think we do.

However, I’ve found something different starts to happen and it began shortly after Prague, in the smallest of ways, and it picked up in intensity over the months of this year. City by city. Day by day. Action by action. Conversation by conversation. I felt more of you become a part of me – pushing me towards things I never knew I could do, thought of doing or things I wanted but never could quite put into action.

I have an increasing desire and focus in my life now than I’ve ever had before, to take whatever this is and channel it into causes and efforts that aligned with your values, your passions and strengthen those values and passions within me – a desire to help others, to lend a hand whenever you can, to win some victory for humanity, on a scale both large and small.

I think the power of death is your ability to draw on your memories of those who’ve left us, what they stood for, what drove them. You take all of that and you assimilate it into your soul, you augment your personality with their essence…. and you build on it, build on it and build on it. There will come a time where you’ll need to hand that same foundation off, our duty is to make it stronger while we can.

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You were the catalyst for me joining Remote Year and going on this incredible journey. There was no way I’d ever do anything like this without what happened that October, unequivocally, without reservation, absolutely no way.

To that point, I re-read the letter you wrote to me before you passed, and in it there was passage that said “I don’t want you to be sad Nicholas. I did my job and now God has called be home….” You’d given me everything you felt you needed to give me and – although I wanted more, so much more – you knew it was the end. You went to bed that night, and in the process, handed me off. Handed me off to a new family, to the next chapter of my life, one I didn’t know I needed yet but you did. You handed me off to this beautiful family called Darien with the world laid out in front of me.

That family and this journey have helped me to strengthen and reinforce the values and passions you have given me throughout the first 32 years of my life. As a result, for the first time in my life mom I feel like I’ve got a plan, a rough, messy one, but a plan none the less. I owe that all to you. You gave me this year and all that came with it and the fruits that it bore. For that, and for countless other memories, thank you.

Love forever,

Nicholas

PS – I didn’t even get a chance to talk about your final spot of Remote Year. There was this one park near my apartment in Buenos Aires that I loved to run in with friends. Within this massive park was a place called Jardin De Rosedal that contained a semi-covered bench, by the lake's edge, where I’d like to go just by myself to decompress a bit and think.

My train of thought there usually came back to you. All the thoughts I’ve mentioned above occurred to me there, I wrote this in my head there, and it only took me about 2 months to actually write it….I still haven’t fixed that whole procrastinating thing that annoyed you just yet! There was something about this spot that gave me a closer connection to you, that gave me a clear enough mind to connect with you and figured out what you meant to me over this year and all the years leading up to it.

You're tucked under a dense red rose bush looking out into the gazebo ahead where I spent many hours. Looking forward to visiting you here and see how well I've lived up to the mandate you've given me and the progress I've made towards this, albeit rough, plan

As I look back on the places we’ve been this year, the majority of places were parks and its really no coincidence. You always loved them, whether they were as tiny and unknown as Saddle Brook Park or as massive and famous as Central Park. You seemed to like them for their ability to bring a community together to enjoy a beautiful day, to relax and catch up with one another, to meet new friends, to take a break and to enjoy life. I hope these places you are give you comfort, that they allow you to enjoy this life even even though you are no longer here, that they give you a place to feel closer to me, a place to feel at peace.

During this year I’ve learned that home isn’t so much a physical place but any place where you are surrounded by friends and family, where you create beautiful memories, where you feel loved. I’m excited to have 12 places to call home, where we can catch up and reminisce about our memories together. I’ll see you around this big, beautiful world mom. Thank you for giving me the strength to see it.


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