Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A father's final post

Pre Script
“Lighten Up” was written prior to Elena’s “Celebration” and essentially was written in one sitting, quickly and with no editing. The intent was that it would be posted fairly quickly and closely following the Celebration, but this was not to be. Given the length of Elena’s hospitalization and then the numbness of planning and getting through her celebration it was inevitable that we would have expressing what we were going through. But the finality of it all brought our family to our knees in the days following her passing.

While the finality of the loss is still there, we are slowly finding a way to deal with it and still function. This is especially true because of our son Frankie who is mad because he didn’t get to say goodbye. All I can think to say to him is, “me too buddy.”

Please read “Lighten Up,” and if you are up to it, watch the multi-media presentation.

Lighten Up

Like all parents, I thought I knew my daughter well. But I’m learning so much more about her through this process. Until the final week of her life, I typed up my comments for her blog and Melissa posted them. I really didn’t visit the site and was unaware of the comments that were being posted by so many people. When I discovered they were there I read through them and I found a common theme. So many messages started with, “I didn’t know Elena well,” or “I hadn’t known Elena for long,” but her spirit and enthusiasm for life had inspired them.

With all of the time I spent over the weeks at the hospital I was able to read most of a full collection of Ernest Hemmingway’s short stories. It allowed me to read for distraction between visits to her bedside, yet not be tied to a long book that my attention span was not capable of processing.

After reading all of the comments on Elena’s Blog, I came to the realization that most of us live our lives like a novel. There are many predictable chapters as we wind our way through life. Of course there are marriages, births and even deaths. Predictably there are several chapters for work accomplishments and perhaps an award or two. There is an order, for most of us a fairly predictable order, to the various stages of life. While reading through the many comments by her friends I came to understand that Elena lived her life like a collection of short stories.

She would meet new people, this doesn’t mean boyfriends, it means people, and for a short period of time have an intense relationship and then move on. While she never forgot any of these people, and she always attempted to maintain contact, she was on to writing a new story but never a chapter.

Of course with everything in life there were exceptions. Elena had a core group of life friends that she always stayed in constant contact with. Without surprise, this small collection of life friends was made up of those that accepted Elena for who she was and embraced her free spirit. From them I expect nothing less than that they will be the ones to continue to help us through this life-altering loss. They will always be a part of our family, and we want to celebrate the chapters of their books as they are being written. So keep the wedding invitations, birth announcements and other life celebrations coming.

“Lighten Up Dad” was always Elena’s message to me. While I don’t believe a parent and child could be closer, we did have our differences. The one area where we were the most different was being responsible, and I have to admit that this was a conflict between us for the past few months. Please understand that I have no regrets, it was my job as her father to guide her in life, but Elena would have none of it.

Looking back some people are just meant to burn so bright you can’t look into the light for very long, and that was Elena. The brightest light in our family has gone out forever but she will never be forgotten.

So, for those of you that expressed that you would have loved to have gotten to know Elena better, don’t dwell on it because that just wasn’t her. You were allowed to stand in her light and draw energy from it, but only for as long as your short story was being written. The fault was never yours; it was just Elena’s way.

I can safely say that Elena’s final message to all of us would be to “lighten up”. There is nothing wrong with being career driven, but remember that all that really matters are family, the friends we have, the people we love, the goodness in our hearts and the memories that we share.

God is fully aware of just how much goodness she had and he brought that bright light back to be with him. We will all miss her and for most of you that memory will fade with time. This is OK for it is the natural order. However, for her family and core life friends I know that she changed us for life and I say to you, and ask you to remind me, to lighten up because above all that is what she would have wanted.

Thank you all for your support to her family during this life altering loss.


Post Script

This Blog has taken on a life far beyond anything that I could ever have imagined.

I’ve stated a few times that we would be taking the Blog down but I am learning that there are many people who have drawn strength and meaning from it. I’m not making any decisions now but we may try and find some forum for other families suffering through similar circumstances and include all of this for them by continuing to make it available.

In closing there are some people who I would like to personally thank.

My wife Mary carried the weight of this horrific process by making it easy for me to be at the hospital every day. She put her grief aside to allow me to grieve while she was every bit a parent to Elena as I was. She is the rock that my life is built on.

Then there is my niece Cheri who is a nurse and was our translator throughout this process. Talking to doctors is only slightly more understandable than some obscure Amazonian dialect and Cheri helped us through this while also being her normal wonderful and loving person.

My sisters Connie and Lynne carried me on their backs as well, all while dealing with their own fears and grief. They are the best and no man could ever have better sisters.

My other two daughters, Melissa and Laura, propped me up throughout and were by my side at the end. Laura………. We’ve shared a great deal but having you there throughout was a level of comfort that I could never express. And Melissa what can I say? Having you on the phone several times a day and there at the end meant so much. A father couldn’t be prouder of whom all of his children have become, each so different but consistent in your compassion and love of family. I have a legacy that would be the envy of any father.

Finally, there is my best friend Stan, who is coincidently also my boss. The luckiest day of my life was the day you hired me 16 years ago for that one-year project. Your witness and faith in God have been an inspiration and your steadfastness and caring mean more than I could ever express.

There are so many others that I can’t begin to recognize you all so I’ll just have to say thank you until we meet in person where I will expect a huge hug.

Thank you all.



  1. Ron,

    I am so happy to have met and experienced Elena through her life and she will continue to bring joy to our hearts through her thoughts and knowing she is looking upon us. You raised an incredible person who I was so lucky to have met and whome introduce my future wife to. Your family is incredible and Elena will live on throughout our everyday lives.

    Matt Banzin & Andrea Colella

  2. It's Jeanette.

    I have no words anymore, so I used Billy's:

    This was our song


    When you look into my eyes
    and you see the crazy gypsy in my soul
    it always comes as a surprise
    when I feel my withered roots begin to grow.

    Well I never had a place
    that I could call my very own
    but that's all right my love
    cuz you're my home.

    When you touch my weary head
    and you tell me everything will be all right.
    You say use my body for your bed
    and my love will keep you warm throughout the night.

    Well I'll never be a stranger
    and I'll never be alone
    wherever we're together
    that's my home.

    Home could be the Pennsylvania turnpike
    Indiana's early morning dew
    high up in the hills of California
    home is just another word for you.

    Well I never had a place that I could call my very own
    but that's all right my love
    cuz you're my home.

    If I travel all my life
    and I never get stop and settle down
    long as I have you by my side
    there's a roof above and good walls all around.
    You're my castle, you're my cabin
    and my instant pleasure dome.
    I need you in my house
    cuz you're my home,..
    you're my home.

  3. Hey Lord, take a look around tonight
    And find where my baby's gonna be
    Hey Lord, would ya look out for her tonight
    'Cause she is far across the sea
    Hey Lord, would ya look out for her tonight
    And make sure she's gonna be alright
    And things are gonna be alright with me

    Hey Lord, would you look out for her tonight
    And make sure all her dreams are sweet
    Hey Lord, would ya guide her along the roads
    And make them softer for her feet
    Hey Lord, would ya look out for her tonight
    And make sure that she's gonna be alright
    Until she's home in here with me

    Hey Lord, would you look out for her tonight
    If she is sleepin' under the sky
    Hey Lord, make sure the ground she's sleepin' on
    Is always warm and dry
    Hey don't you give her too much rain
    But try to keep her away from pain
    'Cause my baby hates to cry

    Hey Lord, won't you look out for her tonight
    'Cause it gets rough along the way
    Said Lord, if this song sounds strange
    It's just because I don't know how to pray
    So won't you give her peace of mind
    And if you ever find the time
    Won't you tell her I miss her ev'ry day


    I miss you too

  4. Goodnight my angel, time to close your eyes,
    And save these questions for another day.
    I think I know what you've been asking me,
    I think you know what I've been trying to say.
    I promised I would never leave you,
    And you should always know
    Wherever you may go, no matter where you are
    I never will be far away.

    Goodnight my angel, now it's time to sleep,
    And still so many things I want to say.
    Remember all the songs you sang for me,
    When we went sailing on an emerald bay.
    And like a boat out on the ocean,
    I'm rocking you to sleep
    The water's dark and deep, inside this ancient heart
    You'll always be a part of me.


    Goodnight my angel, now it's time to dream,
    And dream how wonderful your life will be.
    Someday your child may cry, and if you sing this lullaby,
    Then in your heart there will always be a part of me.

    Someday we'll all be gone
    But lullabys go on and on
    They never die
    That's how you and I will be


    I love you.

    Everyone does.

    You are Aiden's God Mother.

    This song is from Billy to us; from you to me; from me to you; and will be from You to Aiden; and anyone else who understands it.

    I love you Elena.

    You are not and never will be gone.

    Ron , I love you and all Elenas Family. Thank you for her!

    I love you Ryan.

    None of us will ever be "healed" by this. But we can all help each other grow in understanding and thank you Ron (Dad) for you wisdom.

    I will "Lighten up." But it's not yet a requirement for me or you, right . It will take some time for me.


    Thank you for ALL of it.

  5. To my very good friend Ron, and his family,

    Experiencing the loss of a special loved one is compelling. Nothing is more painful in our own lives,than this.

    The pain is profound. We go to hide in secret places in our hearts and experience undescribable wordless emotions.

    We dream heavy and deep and are thrown into a quest to find a deeper understanding of the experience so our souls dont burst into flames and burn to a crisp from the questions and the pain.

    We seek to find God. We become humbled, we become driven, and we can become powerful through the pain.

    Some of us instead, sink into a place where we dont want to live, work or experience life on this plane any longer. Some of us shrink and die too.

    As you said regarding Elena's life adventure, she was writing her own book of life and had done a magnificient job writing her own life manual.

    Her book was written for us to learn from, and grow from.

    Ron my friend...I have been told that losing a child is a challenge that God reserves for those with the strongest of hearts.

    Your own strength through the years that I have known you has been inspirational.

    My prayer for you and your family is that you find programming instructions from Elena's book of life to carry on and inspire others who need to be lifted up.

    Elena's smile shines.

    Use it! May it drive us all to be excellent, and love each other in God's light.

    -Greg Gracer