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What is it all for, this thing called, life

Many years later, I reflect on his pain, his strength, and his willpower to overcome trauma in the only way he knew how - he locked it away in a box and pressed on.

By Kristen ViscardiPublished 10 months ago 6 min read
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What is it all for, this thing called life?

I'm not different than anyone else that has raised the question in the face of trauma, death, disease, mental illness, abuse, poverty, and war. As age has creeped in, it has not given me clarity. It has provided me with skills for resilience.

I’ve run through more shit storms than the average person, but I have witnessed empathetic, giving people suffer travesties that are downright cruel. I ask the question, why? I understand that God does not cause the stressful events in our life, he just gives us His presence and the strength to get through them. These are the conundrum of counterproductive thoughts that spiral in my mind – why is this happening?

As I read about the lives of people in past generations, my issues are minuscule. History informs us of individuals that faced violence, slavery, executions, poverty, disease, short life spans, and devastation that I cannot fathom. I can only imagine nor speculate, but contribute with my thoughts to the relevance of my era/culture. I observe those around me, and I am humbled to self-reflect on how I educate myself, learn coping skills, and help others as they go through heartache. Isn’t that what life is about if you believe in God or a higher power – helping people in need?

I can speak to the feelings raised by my aging parent who buried three siblings and his parents. My father's brother died tragically, when he was hit by a drunk driver walking across the street at the age of 16. I never heard stories from my father, nor my grandparents – I only saw his picture on the wall. The truth is, even many years later, it was too hard to talk about, and so I never asked. The only words spoken were from my grandmother saying, “when you lose a child, you lose a piece of yourself.” My grandmother went on to bury two more sons – one who lived with down syndrome, one of heart disease, a husband of heart disease, and a granddaughter to cancer.

My grandmother took care of her ailing father and was an instrumental advocate in getting certain services for my uncle when living with down-syndrome was frowned on. Many people living with developmental disabilities were sent to institutions. She found a purpose, and she provided an amazing life for her son. My grandmother never lost her faith - she helped others in need, she was kindhearted, and she became of service to others with her time – she remained a beautiful soul until her last breath. She was the best Italian cook on the planet – my hero.

But why? Why was she faced with such adversity, such tragedy, and why did tragedy continue to happen even though she remained steadfast in her beliefs? She prayed every day, never missed church, volunteered, and was the glue to our family and her sisters. As I write these words, I echo, “there has to be more to this life.”

My father, in recent years has acknowledged his brother, David - they were less than 2 years apart in age. My father grew up in an era where showing weakness and tears was not accepted – and so he didn’t, he braved on, and took on the role as “caretaker." As I went through a tumultuous and horrible divorce, my father felt helpless, and now as I reflect on his emotions, it was like watching a death – the death of his child. My divorce had to trigger tremendous sadness from the memories he locked away regarding his brother.

My father is not a “crier,” he is a fixer and a stoic man who faces adversity with strength and grit. My heartbreak and the hurt my children were going through brought a flood of emotions for him, and I was oblivious to his pain to recognize the devastation it caused him. My dad picked up the slack financially and emotionally in the most valiant way - he vowed to make sure my kids would never go without, and he gave them his time, his fatherly presence, and his undivided love during times of chaos. My father once again put his own feelings and hurt aside to support me and my children as my life spiraled.

I could go on about the life he provided for my children – he took them with him to his hunting camp, cooked for them, played cards with them, brought them wherever he went. My kids were fixtures at his home. He provided laughter, love, and a stable place to be. I was always there supporting my children and doing my best as a single mother, but he provided that missing piece they lacked.

Many years later, I reflect on his pain, his strength, and his willpower to overcome trauma in the only way he knew how - he locked it away in a box and pressed on. My father is a responsible person, but he is a courageous man to choose his family and overlook his own needs. As I explain in my mind and heart the phrase “there is more to this life,” here is why I believe this to be true; - During my separation from my husband to the point that my body was failing, and my children were in crisis, I witnessed something heartbreaking and beautiful all in one. It is a memory that will never leave me, and I am forever grateful for.

I happened to be staying the night at my parents’ home, I was walking down the stairs - I heard my father sobbing on his knees. My mother approached him and asked him what was wrong? My father replied, “I asked God last night to take my life and give it to our daughter and her children, and I woke up, and I am still here, and they are still in pain.”

Seeing me hurting was more than he could bare.

This was the ultimate sacrifice, the biggest act of love I have ever witnessed. My father to this day, has no idea I observed that moment. As life comes full circle, and devastation continues to happen regardless of the goodness, or empathy of human beings, I remember this moment of selflessness from my father.

God does have a plan for us, and he needed my father here in this physical world to be a father figure to his grandchildren. My children hold their grandfather to the highest regard and are all showing up for him in his time of need as he ages. I write these words down to never forget, to never take for granted, and to look back in times of question.

Dad, your grandson wrote his senior paper on you, he regarded you as the most important influence in his life – you showed him how to be a “man,” to hunt, to fish, to look people in the eye, and to treat people with respect. To your granddaughters, you became their rock, a hero, and someone to teach them the traditions of growing up in an Italian family, not to mention all your grandchildren who adore you. Your seven grandchildren love and adore each other like siblings because of you.

First and foremost, you gave us all your time, every day, in and out.

As your body seems to fail you, I can leave you with this thought; “there is more than this life.” Your body is only a piece to a much bigger puzzle. Your willingness to step up to the plate for us and in life for others, is a gift God gave to you – you have a role in this life as a giver.

Behind all the complaining and self-doubt, no one has ever doubted you or your ability to provide love in the greatest way.

God does not offer us the answers, and when we are faced with our own grief, we soon become aware of the reality of the light beyond that gives us the strength to keep going. Life is fragile, and the most traumatic stress fades in intensity with time - its about learning our role on earth and becoming authentic human beings. I choose to believe that once our physical body dies, it is just a power outage, and we live on beyond this existence - that gives me comfort and hope.

We all have experiences individual to us. We all question the bigger picture. For me, I wanted to acknowledge the tremendous love of a parent, my father, who gives to his family so much more than he realizes. You are angry with how your body failed you, but your heart has contributed so much more – your life is much more than this physical life. The unconditional love and knowledge you have given all the lives you have touched, is priceless.

Is there more to this life? - absolutely…

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About the Creator

Kristen Viscardi

I’m just a lady who still believes in dreams manifesting. I’ve raised my 3 kids as a single mom working multiple jobs and now I am looking for what makes me happy.

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