I just want you to know that if you don’t hear from me for a while, it’s probably because I’m dead. I'm not afraid to die, but I don't want to. Not yet. I've got so many things I still want to do! But people my age DO die ya know? It happens everyday. It happened yesterday, dammit. James Gandolfini is dead.
Dead. Dead. Dead.
And that sucks.
Sucks. Sucks. SUCKS!
I am James Gandolfini and so are you. And that truth is freaking me O.U.T.
People expect me to be funny and deliver zingers and one-liners because that’s what I did for years while building up a nice following of “fans” on Facebook. But really, in my opinion, by being a fan of Moms Who Drink And Swear, you are actually being fans of yourselves.
Yeah, you are.
Because what I have said in the past is simply what parents have been saying and thinking and feeling forever and a day. We are all the same deep down, it’s just that some of us won’t or can’t admit it, but those of us that do enjoy a smart ass quip about family life brings us together, lifting us out of the isolation and despair that is an inevitable part of being a human who is raising another human. It’s also true that for so many of us, being a parent often means putting the health and well being of our children first and neglecting ourselves, which is one of the reasons we do find ourselves so physically, emotionally and spiritually drained. Our lives lack balance, so we seek a source of solace, safety and sanity to help us level out. But often that is only temporary and we go back to old patterns of self neglect.
And that is bad.
Bad. Bad. Bad.
If you were a fan of The Sopranos and found yourself alternately loving and hating the character of Tony Soprano, feeling connected to his primal urges, impulsivity, fear, anger, passion and pain, you were not alone. It’s normal to do this, and quite frankly much easier to let someone else do the emotional work, to lead the way, set the tone and establish the boundaries. This is how we humans find our way - we learn by watching others.
It’s adorable when our children walk around with their tiny feet in your shoes, right? Haven’t we all whipped out the camera to snap a quick picture of this image? And then we move along with our day, having captured a memory and experienced the joy of seeing a miracle without realizing it. Our children will someday “fill our shoes.”
When our kids imitate us, it means they are really seeing us! They are watching and learning about how to live life from the moment they wake up until their heads hit the pillow that night and when they dream, their minds pick and choose the most important information to sock away for future use. The relationship between parents and small children is not that different than that of real people and fictional characters, be it on the screen or in a storybook.
What do you think your kids are learning about life from watching you? What did you learn from watching Tony Soprano struggle on screen for years and then hearing that the man who brought his character to life had suddenly died, leaving behind a wife and two children?
I can only speak for myself when I say that what I learn by watching others is that I need to continue to strive for balance in my life. BALANCE. For years, my mother kept a poem hung on our refrigerator about finding balance in life, seeking that sacred and safe space, so difficult to so many of us to reach. I’m sure I read the poem a hundred times, and although I didn’t memorize it word for word, I did absorb and integrate the message into my life. A life that is unbalanced is a tough life to live. So I try. And I live day to day, embracing the gray areas of life, because that is where I find peace of mind, forgiveness for my own imperfections and hope for my future. Finding balance is a marathon, not a sprint.
James Gandolfini was a man who was no different than any of us. He was just trying to live and find balance in his life. Professionally and personally, he seemed to be doing just that, yet based on the circumstances of his death, there was one area where he had yet to find the safe place, the balanced place – his physical health.
Obviously I didn’t know James Gandolfini personally, but I knew him in the way that people just know each other, because we really are all the same in the most important way – we are finite. Our time is limited and although how we as individuals live and believe during this time may be a source of disagreement and conflict, it would be ridiculous to argue that in doing so, our goals are different. They aren’t. We all just want to be happy, to be loved and love, to feel safe and comfortable. This goal cannot be achieved without some semblance of balance.
So in memory of James Gandolfini and in honor of your own fragile life, get to work finding balance. Watch, listen, learn and live! But as you are doing so, strive to be your own number one. Take care of yourself, every part of you, the best you can. You deserve it and only you can do this for yourself. Take the first step today. I wish I had the old poem from my mom’s fridge, because it was brilliant and inspiring. But I don’t and she can’t find the goddamn thing, so today I’ll leave you with the wise words spoken by the infamous Tony Soprano, hoping you will make today the first day of the rest of your balanced life -
"All due respect, you got no f-----' idea what it's like to be Number One. Every decision you make affects every facet of every other f-----' thing. It's too much to deal with almost. And in the end you're completely alone with it all."
Rest in peace, Mr. Gandolfini.