A Rough Awakening

I haven’t been updating this site with the new entries from Italy as often as I’d like to considering there are 14 entries and photos to match.  My excuse is that I’m a little shaken up by the course of events over these past few weeks.  It’s that instinctual feeling that you know something very bad is about to happen that it shakes your internal instincts to the core.  You don’t know where it’s coming from or when it will end…all I know is that my instincts still say that whatever is going on is not finished yet.

As you can see from the Day One entry, Death was fucking with me before I started my trek across Italy.  Now, I see why.  It is so hard to see how America is being hit after the massacre in Aurora, Colorado last week. 

After being prodded by my co-workers to buy an antenna for my TV (so I don’t have to get cable to watch regular TV because all I really want to watch is just a few of the regular FREE channels), I finally broke down and got one on Thursday night.  In a way, I wish I hadn’t.

Sitting down to have breakfast watching the “Today Show” for the first time in almost a decade, I watched the news unfold as they reported the massacre in Aurora, Colorado, the worst mass shooting in the history of America.  One of those victims was one of the hockey community’s own, Jessica Redfield.

With 12 confirmed deaths ranging from a 6 year old girl (whose mother is in critical condition and has no idea that her daughter is dead) to a 51 year old father, who was at the show with his two teenage daughters (both made it out unharmed)…we are left with a huge sadness and emptiness in our hearts because of this lunatic.  He didn’t just do this to Aurora, Colorado…he did this to humanity.

As I walked through Target on Saturday with one Batman title after another sitting on the DVD shelves, I just felt a stab of pain each time I saw the DVDs.  This isn’t fair to Batman…but it just brings back horrible feelings on what has happened to us all. 

Evil has touched humanity in the fiercest way possible.  His act was an act of terrorism in itself…it invoked terror and fear into the hearts of many…and claimed the lives of 12 people, wounding over 50+ others.  People died shielding their loved ones from this lunatic.  One man, Alex Sullivan, was there to celebrate his birthday, saying it would be the best one ever…only to die less than an hour later…making it his final birthday celebration.  He also never made it to his one year wedding anniversary that was supposed to take place on Sunday.

This all brings to head the realization of the seconds we have in life and how everything can change in the blink of an eye. 

Even before my trip to Italy, I felt Death following me around.  He finally stopped pushing me off of trains and making random objects fall on me (from out of nowhere) trying to break my bones just to get my attention.  He’s never been this violent with me before when he was trying to warn me of things to come.  All he kept telling me during this trip until now was…make amends.  You don’t want to carry any of this anger with you into the next lifetime.  Make amends NOW.

An old gypsy woman gave me charms in Sorrento, Italy because she said Death was following me (like I didn’t know that already).  She kept praying and telling Saint Peter to watch over me. 

Lately, I’ve been becoming so absent-minded that I’ve lost my phone, paid for something and just completely left the store without it (on more than one occasion).  I’ve been so rattled over these last few weeks leading up to the Aurora, Colorado shootings that I couldn’t tell you which way was left and which way was right.  This is what happens every single time Death is about to do something BIG.

I’ve been watching the signs every which way I turn and I can’t help but think that I’m not out of the clear with Death yet.  It was as if he was saying that Aurora was the first of things to come. 

I’ve seen photos of the big storm that hit NYC last week and couldn’t help but notice the concentration right in Midtown.  When I first saw the lightning outside of the office, I purposely moved away from all metal objects.  My boss thought it was strange, but I just had this look on my face like Death was coming.

If Death’s coming for me…I have no idea.  If he’s doing this because I’m about to witness something horrific…I also have no idea.  It all works the same.  I just saw it as a sign.  Something Wicked This Way Comes.

In a way, I wish I had never gone to Vatican City while I was in Italy. 

I was following a priest inside of St. Peter’s, I wanted to see how far I could go into the depths of Vatican City before being caught when the Door of Death stopped me in my tracks.  Considering what had happened prior to reaching the Vatican (being hit by a train and a random object falling on my hand), I was so freaked out.  I had no idea this door was there.  I had no idea that I had entered into Death’s realm.  I turned and walked straight for the doorway out of St. Peter’s, completely freaked out.  Don’t think I didn’t hear Death whispering to me all the way to the front door. 

He was trying to teach me a lesson about life.  When I got to the front doors, he did something to me that changed the course of events. 

I literally saw a vision of the man I’ve been so mad at over the last eight years.  The man saw me from the outside gates of St. Peter’s.  It was like he couldn’t believe his eyes.  He knew me.  We looked at each other like how in the hell does this happen?  We haven’t seen each other in eight years and we run into each other in Vatican City?  A whole world away from Indiana!

This was the same man that broke my heart so badly that I moved to New York City in order to heal. 

I stood at the doorway to St. Peter’s realizing that something strange was going on.  Why weren’t any tourists going out of these doors?  I looked to my left and saw that tourists were only going in and out of one set of doors.  Here I was on the other side looking out the door at this man, and then realizing something was amiss.

I was so scared to go out that door and face the man that I’ve been mad at for over eight years because he broke my heart.  I could either snub him and pretend I never saw him in Vatican City or I could suck it up and face my fears. 

So I walked out that door.  The sunlight bathed my face.  The man looked at me, but then was called away by another woman.  He turned and I realized it wasn’t him at all. 

I stood in front of the door thinking…what the hell was that?  I could have sworn that was the Rockstar.  I looked back at the doorway and saw Death standing there.  He said, “Now you understand.” 

This is one of those lessons that exists on several levels.  There’s the whole facing my own fear…aka my anger.  There’s the ‘fate’ card.  There’s the ‘forgiveness’ card and there’s the whole ‘saving my own soul’ card.  In other words, Death was telling me to forgive that guy who broke my heart before it’s too late.

Forgiveness means telling him the truth about why I left.  He doesn’t know why I left.  I put up that wall and he could never see in.  Five years after I left he asked for that wall to be brought down in his first single off of his first album since I had left.   

I tried to talk to him after I heard the song, but I just got so frustrated with him that I said, “Forget it!”  He can believe whatever the hell he wants to believe and just left it at that.

In Italy, I realized how much I missed him. 

As I rode by Mount Vesuvius on the train, I started to realize the world I had created without him might have been a mistake.

The choices we make out of anger may seem like the right choice at the time, but it may not be the correct choice after all.  I chose to live in New York, become a hockey writer, get a job paying an exorbitant amount of money to give me a comfortable life…sure I was happy…but I was also empty.

I remember about 5 years ago, I was sitting at this bar with my friends when a guy came over with his friends to talk to us.  As I was chatting with this guy, he looked at me funny and out of the blue says, “You’ve already met him.”

“Excuse me?” I responded.

“You’ve already met the one and for some strange reason things didn’t work out between you two.”  He went on to tell me that no matter how hard we tried to date and be with other people, it would never work out.  We had to work things out with each other because we belonged together.

I hadn’t thought of that conversation in five years.  But as I stood on that train watching these teenage boys playing soccer (who were also trying to see if I would play along with them), I kept thinking about the life I let pass me by.  I thought of that interview he did on television a couple of years after I left.  They asked him why he had never married or had kids.  I watched him get choked up, trying to hold back the tears responding, “Life happened.”

I remember him telling one of our mutual friends that he wanted to have a baby…”If it meant she would stay.”

I thought about those things as the train carried me to Sorrento.  I watched families board the train and leave the train. 

I sat at the Trevi Fountain for an hour and a half a couple of days before looking up at Poseidon staring back at me as I made my wish.  I made that wish for a whole hour and a half on my birthday.    I was making a wish for something I’ve always wanted, but never had. 

The reason why I wished for an hour and a half…it was because I was afraid to make that wish.  Just like the next day, I was afraid to step forward and change my life by forgiving the guy that had broken my heart…but I did it. 

Why?  Because I felt like that 15 year old girl standing up on the high dive trying to get her lifeguard license and thinking…just get it over with and do it. 

I don’t know how I dove off that high dive again and again and again.  My chest hurt like a son of a bitch each time, but I did it just to get it over with…no matter how many times I stood at the edge, scared out of my mind.  I didn’t become a lifeguard, because I wasn’t a strong enough swimmer.  But at least I tried and failed instead of always wondering if I could be a lifeguard.  It was only after I failed that I learned that I didn’t want to waste my summers lifeguarding after all when I could be out spending the summers with my friends having fun.

After feeling my skin start to crisp in the sun in front of Poseidon, I decided to quit being an idiot and just get up and throw the penny in over my shoulder.  I watched countless tourists doing it.  Why couldn’t I do such a simple act like throw a penny into the fountain? 

I don’t think I was scared to throw the penny in…I was afraid of the wish and it coming true.  By throwing the penny in, I was changing my universe to put myself in line with that wish. 

by ~buaiansayapanomali
by ~buaiansayapanomali

With all new beginnings there is a death of one life and the beginning of another.  With each new beginning there is always that fear of change and changing everything you have grown so accustomed to.  While it can be exciting, it can also be devastating…because you are letting go of something you once loved.

As I traveled around Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, I really started to miss my best friend that I left so many years ago.  I realized Death was following me and was putting these thoughts into my mind.  I realized that I walked away from marriage and a family with someone I knew I was going to love for the rest of my life because he broke my heart.  He didn’t leave me.  He was following me to Los Angeles because that’s where I was going to be and that’s where he wanted to start that life with me.

I walked away from it all because of the lie and the hidden truths.  As much as I braced myself for what was to come, nothing could have ever prepared me for how destroyed I was inside that night he told me he chose to love someone else.

I left because I was broken.  There was nothing he could have said or done to change that.  I had to piece myself back together again.

It’s taken eight years in a city I’ve grown very comfortable with for me to realize that I wanted that life with him more than anything.  Because I was so angry and pissed off at him…I walked away from the one wish I wanted more than anything…to marry the person I love and to have a family with him. 

It was in Italy that I learned that life isn’t meant to go on journey after journey alone.  It was meant to be shared with someone.  As I sat in Positano, I kept thinking about how much he’d love this place.  I sat on the great big porch next to the beach, eating my spaghetti with meatballs thinking of how I could never be one of those people out on the beach again.  I could picture him running around on the beach, enjoying the sun and the surf, while I had to remain confined to the shade, out of the sun.  I felt like the sick child watching all of the kids having fun outside while I was stuck inside and would never be able to join them.

You start to realize your own mortality at this point.  You see that world you should have had with someone as it passes you by as you sit ‘solo’ in a restaurant in Italy while everyone else around you is with someone…and you’re the only person sitting there alone.

You watch the people around you on the boat…and realize you are the only person alone.

You hand your passport to the guy at US Customs and he looks at the line behind you and asks you why you didn’t go to Italy with your girlfriends.  Why did you go by yourself on vacation?  He’s not asking from the Homeland Security point of view.  He’s asking with sadness in his heart.  Why are you alone? 

It just hits that nail a little harder into your own coffin in life.  This is the world you created.  Somehow, it doesn’t feel as great as it did before…being alone.

You don’t see your adventures in life as being free and independent anymore.  You start to see your life as a half empty page…it’s missing something.  It’s missing the real story on why you were put here on earth.

It’s amazing what life you create out of anger.  Instead of pursuing a life with someone, I chose to be alone.  I chose career and money, because he told me he chose to love someone else.  He meant he wanted both worlds.  He wanted his cake and eat it too.  That wasn’t the world I envisioned for myself.  In the end, he lost us both.

I never would have seen this trip to Italy as being the revelation of my heart and my soul.  Each trip I’ve taken these past few years have all helped me heal in some way.  I am always open to possibilities, but this trip to Italy was a swift kick in the leg (thank you, Death, for using a train to kick me in the leg as you pushed me off the train) because it forced me to look in a place inside myself I did not wish to look.  It made me look at the man I loved and forgive him.

It’s prodded me to write a 12 page letter telling him why I left and be 100% truthful about it.  It’s not meant for us to get back together, it’s meant to push me towards making amends. 

Italy was Death’s way of saying how important fate is in all of this.  Fate and Death are intertwined.  You can’t go throughout your life with anger in your heart, because life can change in a brief second.

Just reading Jessica Redfield’s near death experience at the Toronto Mall and then a month and a half later, she dies in another shooting incident in a totally different country…it shows just how Fate and Death are one and the same.  They are intertwined.  That’s why they called them the Three Sisters of Fate.  The Fates can cut the golden thread of your life and it will be over in an instant.

Imagine if you never lived the life you were supposed to live.  You created a new world because you were dead set on it being better than the last one that nearly destroyed you.  Imagine making all of that happen and realizing that you made it all come true…you were happy…but you also realized that you were empty at journey’s end.  You start to think of the reason why and then Death shows you what your life could have been if you had never left the one you loved.

YOU made a mistake.  This is Death’s way of saying, “You can fix it while there’s still time.” 

Oh yes, time…Death and Time are also linked to each other.  You can see it at Death’s Door in Vatican City.  He holds the sands of time in his hand.  It’s a symbolism of how life is all but sands in an hour glass.  At any moment it could run out.  What if it ran out before you did the only thing that could save your soul? 

If Aurora has taught us anything, we see Death and Time interwoven together.  One minute we could be absolutely happy and content, then the next moment it could be stripped from us forever.  This is the rough awakening.  When that moment arrives, what is the first thing you wish you could have done differently?  What is the one thing that scares you to death that you wish you should have done when you meet Death at his doorstep?

That was answered for me in Italy.

Don’t waste life doing all of the wrong things…do the one thing that means everything.

About Michelle Kenneth

Michelle Kenneth has been a member of the NHL credentialed media covering the New Jersey Devils since 2008 for Inside Hockey. She is the owner or PerfectionistWannabe.com.