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December 22
13:46 2018

By: Mike Rudon Jr.

What a hell of a year it has been. So much so that this is the third column I’m writing this week. The first was terrible, a real funeral dirge. I read it and cried myself to sleep, it was that sad and that bad. The second was better – or at least a little more positive. I spent a lot of time in that one alternately beating up on myself and feeling sorry for myself, and yet managed to thank my faithful seven readers from the bottom of my heart and still send out wishes for love and peace this Christmas. Imagine that. What can I say? I’m a wordsmith. This is what I do.

I think this morning I woke up feeling blessed – soul replenished and all that good stuff. I hugged my kids and for the first time in a long time felt that everything is really going to be okay. My kids are beautiful. I’ll maintain to the day I die that they got their good looks, amazing personalities and charm from me. And they are blessings each and every day, even on those days I want to give them away – or at least raffle them to make some money.

Just a few days ago I watched a video interview with a father whose beautiful baby girl, not even one year old, drowned in a pigtail bucket. After so many years in the media, I admit I’ve gotten a little cold. I think many of the old-timers have. But as a father I felt his pain and anguish, and I cried with him. His little family will never be the same. Ever. He’ll never hold his baby girl in his arms again, never feel her hands holding on to his and never hear her say Daddy. It broke my heart.

So did the story about Tevin Cacho – this little boy who was so excited because he wanted a bike for Christmas. Instead he was run over by a truck. He may die, and even if he lives, he will be brain damaged and blind, in all likelihood. His family will never be the same. All the light and joy he brought into their lives is gone – snuffed out in an instant.

Then there’s Anny Young – a beautiful young woman who is very likely dead – murdered and buried somewhere in a shallow grave. Her family has been searching non-stop for her. I watched as they responded to false alarm after false alarm – dreading that the body would be hers, and at the same time hoping that the body would be hers so that they could lay her to rest. Their pain is real. That family is torn up. There will be no joy and happiness in their Christmas.

Do you want to hear more stories? There are many. As many as you care to read. Stories of grief and trauma and death and heartbreak – of families viciously torn apart by violent murder, or by tragic misfortune.

And yet – how many of us really count our blessings. I always say I do, but I realize that deep down, I was too consumed in my own problems to recognize what was and is right in front of my face. I am so worried about the bill collector coming to collect, that I couldn’t appreciate the breath of life in me. I am so caught up in my drinking, and depression and frustration and bitterness and hurt that I can’t even begin to live. I have sat down in a comfortable home, with food on the table and my loved ones around me – and all I could think about is that this was not where I wanted to be.

I sat down with a friend this morning and I watched the tears in her eyes because life was beating her up. And as I told her that she needs to breathe, and count her blessings, I realized what an absolute, abject hypocrite I’ve been.

I am so frigging thankful that at my worst I am able to breathe, I am able to walk, I am able to write, I am able to work and I am able to love and be loved. I am forever grateful to old friends and new who have continued to see something in me when I didn’t. I am thankful to that one person who continues to love me even when she has seen me at my most unlovable. I am thankful for my Church brothers who have seen me keep away – but have never let me out of their sight or out of their prayers.

And I am thankful for the person who inspired me with three simple words – Nope. Not Today. Those are words I intend to live by. Stay the journey with me. I’ll be back in 2019, God willing. But they say only the good die young so I think my chances are good. Stay safe. Be Kind. And love without limits because tomorrow is promised to none of us.

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