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Aside

some astute observers may have noticed that there is a certain someone glaringly absent from my previous post. i’m sure it was obvious that my mom, Ellen (no middle name…i know, it’s weird) Capozzi, didn’t even receive an honorable mention in yesterday’s tribute. i’ve done this because i believe she deserves one all to herself.

to the uninformed onlooker my mother appears meek and mild (which she most certainly is), but to those who know her, Ellen is as strong and determined as they come. life has not been a tiptoe through the tulips for my mom; raising 4 boys, moving often and navigating tough times with my father gave her more than most could handle, yet she remained steadfast. her love stayed strong and her resolve grew with each triumph over life’s many obstacles. never was this resolve more apparent than during the final days of my father’s life.

mom had to watch the man with whom she had recently renewed her marriage vows deteriorate at a pace that was painfully shocking. she was there from the beginning and every single step of the way thereafter: feeding, reading, joking, laughing, praying, crying and singing to him as he lay on his final resting place. as i stated about mike during the final 12 hours, mom stayed by dad’s side until the very end, covering him with love. there isn’t a single human being who knows how to handle themselves amid the torrent of suffering of a loved one, but mom did what she does best, checking in on each one of us even as she sought to meet every one of dad’s comfort needs.

during my father’s memorial service, my mom found the courage and strength to speak in the face of what would appear to be crippling loss. during her short message of thanks to all those who came to show love and support for dad and our family, she spoke plainly and truthfully that folks need not pity her and that she would be fine. ever considering the well-being of those around her, my mom let the crowd of almost 600 know that they need not be concerned about her. she knows where her strength comes from, and that will never be shaken, no matter how painful the situation.

there is no amount of space i could fill up to express the gratitude i feel at this very moment for my amazing parents. they offered us a safe place to grow and covered us with love from the day each one of us was born. dad left 4 men behind (myself being the most manly, of course) to care for his beloved Ellen. it’s our turn to cover her, and we intend to do so.

i know what she said, and i believe without a doubt that she will be alright, but if you know her and have the opportunity, do yourself a favor and reach out. she will certainly appreciate it and you can count on being made to feel special even if you have called intending to offer comfort to her.

-dave-

a tribute…part 2

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Aside

The Walking Dead, saison 1I am a major fan of The Walking Dead. I’m not usually into zombies, but something about this show seems to do it for me. For all those who watch, the characters (those not yet undead) are faced with the choice between embracing the death growing inside them or living with the hope that life is still good and worth living . Some choose to dive into this world of walking death with full force, capitulating to its apparent hopelessness and choosing to leave their lives of kindness, generosity and trust behind. Others remain hopeful, seeking to treat the people they meet as they would like to be treated (welcoming them, killing off zombies for them, etc). This sort is the minority.

The main character on The Walking Dead, at least for now, is a man named Rick. He is the leader of a group of survivors (folks who have yet to fall prey to the zombie apocalypse), and is often forced to make decisions as to whether or not he should welcome strangers in or cast them away to fend for themselves. More often than not (as of late) Rick trusts no one, tending to throw others out into the streets rather than welcome them in (as had been previously done for him twice before).

The more time that goes by, the more survivors fall victim to the death that is permeating the world. Rick and his companions are fighting a losing battle, constantly struggling to make it through another day.  All the while folks are being driven to insanity, losing the version of themselves that would stick out their neck for a person to whom they had no particular allegiance.

Our pre-apocalyptic world is not so different. So many of us wake up without expectation, without hope. Our day ends with the swipe of our brow and a prayer of thanks that God got us through another one. We don’t seem to live for the thrill that somehow our whole wretched existence might just be turned upside-down. In fact, most of the decisions we make have a desired outcome of creating a more comfortable life.

Many, if not most people are in search of stability. There’s a steady longing for peace and certainty that comes with being human, but it seems to me that the life God has invited us into is not quite so stable. It is clearly more dangerous to embrace a life of faith, to believe that love is worth it. It killed Jesus, and it’s been known to kill one too many Walking Dead characters.

The way of love and non-judgment (a.k.a the narrow way) is as difficult as it gets. It doesn’t take much to inflict pain, to go along with the way world bends, to treat others as you have been treated, but loving others as you would like to be loved is a fight against the tide. You will often meet resistance in the form of distrust, since many previously unloved folks are accustomed to being treated like they are an inconvenience, or conversely, a charity case. Not only that, but the folks who “know the truth” will try to tell you that your fight is futile and that the work has already been done for you. They will insist that you are trying to earn some sort of favor with God, rather than understanding that you are just trying to take that Jesus guy seriously.

Fact is, there is hope all around us. There are people who would rather die than kill and seek the good of folks around them at the cost of their own comfort. In a world where death sits on the throne, for me the only way to live is as a conscientious objector. Our rebel king gave us a Way, not just a new fairy tale to believe in so we can feel settled as the storms come.  I say bring on the storms! Somehow life will always break through, and I want to be a part of the kingdom that fights fire with water, not a passenger waiting for my ship to come save me from the treacherous waters.

Maybe in the end Rick and his friends will realize that their existence is not worth holding onto until they have given up the fight to stay alive. Self preservation is one of our worst enemies and it causes us to neglect the people who would enrich our lives the most. Our lives defined by comfort and stability are as life-threatening as the dangers facing the folks in The Walking Dead. May we take risks that will awake us from our zombie-like state.

For more on the kind of life I am trying to describe, read my friend Ryan’s blog here.

-dave-

look alive