Saturday, October 15, 2011

It's Just Another Day...or Is IT?

Today, I awoke with a smile and the intent that nothing would spoil my day. It's my birthday. I'm 53 today and life is too short not to enjoy it.

I awoke to the cool fall air in my room from the open window, snuggled down under the electric blanket, surrounded by my fuzzy fur-kids. Then I heard a warm and wonderful "Happy Birthday" from Joe with coffee in hand.  Followed was an unsual choral surprise of the Happy Birthday song, by Joe and the Big Black Fuzzy Things! (the dogs)

Then I was informed that a dear friend had passed. An artistic man who I realized I have known over 30 years. An influential artist who shared his love of the arts with all ages and and supported all levels of talent. A man who believed in people when they didn't believe in themselves. A man, who, 19 years ago contacted me for an audition which he was the director for introducing me to Joe, my partner. The rest is history. His son wrote this on Mike's wall:

It is ironic that a man whose life was so influenced and driven by words cannot truly be described by them. My father lived a life that could fill volumes of books and pages, and he always did his best to share that life with those around him. He understood that we, as human beings, have a duty to one another to share our experiences so that we may educate and impact everything around us. Do not make speeches, rather, live as he lived. Love as he loved. Rest in Peace, Mike Cornelison.

My morning would be filled with sadness of the news of his passing, but rejoice because I was lucky enough to have known him, to have worked with him many times, and though our paths had created distance, was able to still be in contact with him through facebook (and those chance meetings in town).

It reminds me of how deep friendships and connections can affect our lives. I'm a true believer that friends don't have to be in touch everyday. And that our connections with people are influential, in all aspects, and affect  who we are and who become. 

I'm indebted to so many in my life.

To my parents: For my birth. For the sacrifices they made to provide food, shelter and love. To protect me, to comfort me. To allow me to remain a child, for what it seems like forever. And I'm blessed, because a little over 2 years ago my father was fighting for his life....and won! I'm so incredibly lucky to still have both in my life today.

To my brother: An estranged relationship, but proof that family ties are stronger than conflict. I love him despite our differences.

To Relatives: So many. Some very close, others known only through others.  But none the less we are family. And we wish each other well. I have very fond childhood memories with some of my cousins. Forever influenced by our childhood dreams...reunited all too often by death, rather than the celebration of life. But always picking up where we left off.

To my school years: So many classmates that I am still in touch with or have reconnected with. My elementary school days were of a time when the encouragement of children was to do your best not focus on a lifetime career. I don't remember being bullied. Perhaps it wasn't allowed because discipline was. I do remember a mutual respect, and if you mistreated each other, there were repercussions allowed by the teachers, to teach respect and kindness to others. My junior high years, going to a school where I felt I really didn't fit in, but found a place anyway. Trying to make sense of losing a best friend to Leukemia, and realizing years later that most of my teachers gave unselfishly to my education despite the fact that the world wouldn't accept their own life choices. And High School. Where you want independence all the while hanging onto the security of home. College and careers...many, many paths in my life would bring me here today.

To my artistic friends: A time when so many people believed in my talents, when I doubted them myself. Those, like Mike, that allowed me opportunities to reach for the stars, the laughter at the aftershow parties, the fun of the performances and rehearasals and the comradery between people that are built through a common interest. Those who to this day include me in audition notices. Those who still hire me for my talents, those who remember a show we were in together. The connections we made have lasting memories, so many are good.

Friends past and present: Too many connections to mention each and everyone, but I can say this honestly. If we have met, you have touched my life.

Other Connections: However we have been brought together, through common interests, we have connected. And I'm grateful. I've made many wonderful friends online, that I have never met face to face, but have shared my inner most thoughts with.

And last but not least to Joe. For the journey. A roller coaster of ups and downs, but always a wild and exciting ride. A true blessing to find a soul mate that you can disagree with but still have a ton of love for. Through all of our years, he is the reason I am able to share my thoughts today. A writer, a philosopher, and a history buff, Joe has always believed in me...

I have made great and lasting friendships over the years. I'm 53 today, and my life is incredibly blessed. I have a choice to focus on the sadness of those who have left my life too soon, or the choice to rejoice in the memories they have given me. I choose the memories. For not to have them in my life at all, would be the tragedy! And I treasure those that are here today, and wanted to let each and every one of you know, that I think of you. I thank you, even if we don't speak often, you are in my life...and I'm a better person because of it.

Thank you everyone, from the bottom of my heart, for your love, your kindness, your patience, your support, your thoughts and prayers, even the Kick in the butt when I needed it. Thank you for making this year, the most blessed one of all!