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Saying Goodbye

I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet on the blog for the last little while. I find this time of year to be hard. My mind is filled with memories, most are fantastic but some are sad and for me, this makes writing positive posts really hard. You see, today marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of a dear friend & mentor of mine. A person who I thought of as my second dad. His name was Pete and he was my first karate instructor. Pete was funny, supportive, and slightly unorthodox. He said what he felt, even if it was offensive or went against the grain. He believed in me. He encouraged me. He pushed me. I can honestly say, that because of him, I’m a better person.

This is one of very few photographs that I have of Pete and I together. It hangs proudly on my wall and some day, I will start to tell my girls about Pete. About who he was and what he believed in.

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Here’s what I’ve learned in my life. Saying goodbye to someone is hard. That time smooths out the rough edges of your pain, but that it never takes it away. I often think of things that I’d love to share with Pete, but can’t. I know he would have liked Eric, but I’m sad that they never met. I would have loved for my kids to have gotten to know him the way I did. He was amazing with kids and always knew the right thing to say to draw someone out of their shell or to put them in their place. He had his faults, which we all do, but he worked hard to always become a better person. He was someone I deeply respected and don’t think I will ever stop missing.

When I look back at the 18 years I knew him, I have one big regret. The image above, is one of maybe a handful that exists of the two of us together. We both didn’t like the camera, so photos just didn’t happen. Sure, I have memories that are frozen in my mind of the fun we had together. I remember what he looked like when he laughed (which was often). I remember the sound of that laughter. I remember so many things… but I wonder, how long will it take for these memories to fade? When won’t they be as clear? There’s a fine balance to be had in life between being in the moment and enjoying it and documenting a moment, so that you can relive it later.

So here’s my request to you. Take a look around you at the people who mean the most to you. Then think, when was the last time you took a photograph together? Do you have something to look at when that person is no longer with you? Do you have something that will help you share those memories with your kids or grandkids? The excuses of “I don’t like having my picture taken” or “I’m so fat right now” or “My hair’s a mess” all seem pretty flimsy when faced with the reality of not having a keepsake when someone is gone.

Pete – if you were still here today, this is what I’d want you to know. I married a good man. He’s a wonderful father to my kids and supports me so well in life’s adventures. I have two amazing little girls who challenge me to grow and change and be better. They are the lights of my life and I cherish our time together. I got my ni-dan a few years ago and fought my 20 fights with a spirit you would have been proud of. I thought of you the entire time, wishing you could have been there watching me. I don’t train as often as I would like right now, but I’m hoping I will be able to make the time more often again soon. I miss you. I miss our long chats about life. I miss being able to hear you tell me like it is. I miss so many things, but I’m grateful for the impact you had on my life. Thank you for everything you did for me. I love you.

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