I’m No Stranger to the Loss of Loved Ones

The universe shed

a tear of sadness today

for a man who touched many

in his own special way.

He greeted those close

with a big bear hug.

and when parting, expressed

 feelings of friendship and love.

He lived a life

void of want or of fear

and followed a drummer’s beat,

audible just to his ear.

He knew what he wanted,

the way he liked things to be.

He would tell you about it,

particularly.

Vinny, Vin Man, Vincenzo,

Mike, Michael, Barbaro;

He answered these calls

with a hearty, “Lets Go!”

Up for any adventure,

Michael always came through.

He was the perfect wingman

with a take no prisoners attitude!

We have loved and lost him,

no longer where he was before.

He is now wherever we are

and will be ever more.

–Frank Antonicelli, Matt Mumber

 

As you’ve read from my book Know Your Enemy, I’m no stranger to the loss of loved ones. Though it is no less hard these days, it is always a reminder of what matters in life (to me). It reminds me of how love is infinite, but time is not.

Matt Mumber, MD, a good friend and co-author of “Sustainable Wellness: An Integrative Approach to Transform Your Mind, Body, and Spirit”, and I collaborated on the poem above as a way of coping with the recent, sudden death of our mutual, long-time friend Michael.

This collaboration led me to again take account of the remaining people in my life and the people who have been in my life. I could choose to focus on the loss, but instead, I choose to focus on the time I did have with the people I love(d) like Michael and how much they (and he) contributed to my life. I choose to focus on the people I still have in my life.

People might look at my life and be sad for me for what I am now lacking, but the reality is that I have been rich. I have been blessed with such amazing people in my life and amazing experiences. The enemy of cancer in my life has actually brought about quite a huge shift in my life, some of which allowed me to find these people and value my life like I hadn’t before.

If I could, of course, I would choose for my wife and mom and Michael to still be here. I still miss them and love them and there really isn’t such a thing as “moving on” from that. They live on in me forever, though. They live on in remembering who they were, what they taught me, and continuing to remember that my time on this earth is limited and to make every minute count.

Spring is coming into bloom again and flowers around us are reborn from death. Change is all around us; the cycle of life continues with or without us. Similarly, I’ve found with loss comes transformation and renewal and rebirth of sorts. We can choose to dwell in the muck or we can choose to soar and be reborn stronger than before.

What will you choose?