heaven

Death.  It encompasses so many emotions.  Sadness, grief, anger and fear to mention a few.  This past weekend I lost a dear friend to death as he passed away suddenly at the young age of fifty four.  Ironically we had a conversation just three days before passing.  We laughed at our differences in political beliefs, jointly expressed our distain for Anderson Cooper and had a conversation about death.

Three years ago this September I came as close to death as one can.  I was in a coma for six days and being kept alive by a series of machines and cables.  I saw things so beautiful and peaceful that there are no words to provide them justice.  I am not penning this piece to urge you to go to church or sell all your belongings.  I can tell you without doubt that are journey does not end here.

When we cry at death but to who are those tears actually flowing for?  I know it is natural because one that you love and care for so much has left this level.  IF only we had the strength and courage to know that we will see our dearly departed again on a level that is incomprehensible in our present world.

I am not a church goer or a bible thumper.  I am just a regular guy that happened to see the next step in our journey that is truly amazing.  This doesn’t mean we should live a care-free lifestyle.  On the contrary we should take time to observe and listen.  Don’t be so quick to get angry with someone you disagree with.  Try to learn something new every day.  I truly believe that life is quite similar to when you were in school.  We are handed many challenges and hurdles every day that don’t make sense yet they all serve a purpose.  It may take days, years or a lifetime to figure them out but the answer is there.  You have to put aside your emotions and open your mind and heart and pray for understanding.

The test will end someday my friends and I believe with all my heart that is when we are ready for the next level.  Take solace in your loss and heartfelt pain in knowing your loved one is in a much better place watching you as YOU learn what they already know.  Thanks for reading and look for your lesson that will appear before you today.

sewer pump

When I was a kid (some will argue that I still am) I looked forward to going on class field trips.  You would miss a half a day of school; get to take along a sack lunch filled with junk food and fight to sit in the back seat of the bus.  In elementary school it was fun to sit in the back seat of the bus and make faces at cars that stopped behind you at a red light.  In high school those that sat in the back seat usually smoked Marlboro Reds, carried knives and now are either working as bouncers or have been featured on episodes of “The First 48.”

Most field trips were educational and served a purpose.  We went to the Natural History Museum, the local fire department, the zoo and the art museum.  I’m not saying that being in fifth grade and looking at a Monet was exhilarating but it got me out of playing crab soccer and trying to climb the rope in gym class so I’ll gladly take the former.

There was one field trip, however, that both traumatized and confused me as to what the intended purpose was supposed to be.  One day my fourth grade class piled into the yellow school buses for our trip to the Strongsville Pumping Station.  If you are confused about what a pumping station is and what purpose it serves allow me to enlighten you.  Sewer pumping stations (also called lift stations) are used to move wastewater to higher elevations in order allow transport by gravity flow. Sewage is fed into and stored in a sealed underground pit, commonly known as a wet well.  In common speak we ventured to the spot where all the shit water from the city comes together.

I remember descending down a spiral staircase with my classmates until we were probably five stories beneath street level.  There we were able to view the raw sewage flowing like we were stuck in a tropical storm in a Third World Country.  My conscious mind is still scarred with the indelible tattoo of seeing cigarette butts, toilet paper, turds that looked like Lincoln Logs and a red rubber ball.  Not exactly a Kodak moment or a suggested tourist attraction (although it does parallel a visit to your local water park).

Looking back I did learn two things from our field trip that day.  People in my hometown don’t chew their food and I understand the need and popularity of bottled water.