I've taken a few days away from writing since being hit by the car. My body is healed, but my psyche still needs some healing. I'm left with the lingering thoughts of how short life can really be. I keep having flashbacks to earlier this week as I heard screeching brakes and a large black SUV tire stopped inches from my head as it crushed my front tire of my bike.
I moved to Brooklyn in March after deciding that I didn't like the new structure of the office I was in under the new Vice President. Brooklyn wasn't my first choice. I have lived in and loved many places. Rochester, New York holds a particular fondness for me. I also really enjoyed Chicago and Washington, DC, but the job offer came here.
When I moved here, I was still hurting from the loss of my Gramma B. (I guess to be correct, it's Grandma, but I always called her Gramma and that's what she is to me). I didn't spend enough time with my Gram. I saw her briefly as I came home for the holidays. She was always helping in the kitchen or keeping busy when she came over or we went there. I remember as a kid that I thought she was cooler than every other kids Gram because she wore Reebok sneakers. I moved here to Brooklyn less than three months after her funeral. My mom was still (and continues) to be taking the loss really badly. When I was in Oneonta, I was only a four hour drive away and felt like I was more easily accessible to my family. I moved into Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn. My parking wasn't worked out then (it still isn't) at work, so I started by walking to work.
I noticed that there seemed to be money on the sidewalks everywhere. I'd find at least four or five pennies every day.
When I saw the money here, the first thing I thought of was my Gram. You see, I was very worried (I'm still not quite sure, in fact) that living here would be super costly and that I hadn't negotiated enough salary to make it work. I was also struggling emotionally with not just the loss of Gram, but the loss of my Oneonta community, the separation from my friends there, and the loneliness that happens when you move somewhere new.
I see a shiny penny, or dirty old green or black one, on the ground, and I bend to pick it up. I smile, thank God, and then say, "Hi, Gram! Thanks for watching out for me." Funny thing, I also think of my grandpa (dad's father) who always used to pick up pennies and say, "these things add up, you know."
After a few weeks of picking up pennies and nickles, dimes, quarters, and even two one dollar bills, I stated saying thanks to God and hi to them both. Neither one had an easy life. and both were very kind to me. I can picture them up in heaven figuring out where and when to place these little blessings for me to find.
This is the last photo that I have with my Gramma.
The thing that some of you don't know about my Gram, and why I bring her up, is that she lived every moment to the fullest (more about my grandfather another day). She wanted to see, do, hear, and experience every moment she could in life. I feel like I can't live up to how amazing she was. Many of you may feel that way about your grandmothers. Mine was truly inspiring. She travelled all over the country alone and with friends. She sometimes got hurt, and sometimes got lost. She didn't have a lot of money. She always had adventure. Her very spirit was one of adventure and curiosity.
Even with her challenges, Gram always smiled. I don't even remember her not smiling when she was crying at my grandpa's funeral. She had a smile and tears. The first time I ever saw her lips not smiling was in her casket. She also had so much love to give. She was always offering a place to stay, warm food, a cup of steaming hot tea, a warm hug, ears that would listen, and a message of "there, there, it will be ok."
I didn't realize most of this until she died. I just thought she was kind and loving to her family. She gave a lot to a lot of people even though she had so little.
Why do I bring this up today? As I think about the past few days, I realize that I could have died on the spot on Tuesday night when that car hit my bike and knocked me over.
I'm proud to say that, like my Gram, I am living life to the fullest. I'm not letting life pass me by. I'm embracing the good and the bad and being as giving as I can in a city that costs so much.
I hope that, no matter when I leave this earthly realm, people remember me as a man who lived life to the fullest.
Remember…pennies add up to dollars, and life is too short to let the tough stuff get you down. Live it while you have it.