This was from a series of posts I used to write for an old blog of mine called, The Pigeon Hole. I would secretly write down the funny and endearing things Scott would say in natural conversation and then share it on my blog. He was an incredibly sweet man and loved to tease. And I thought I’d give you a peak into a different side of him.
2.”If you get arrested tonight, I’m gonna be pissed.”
3. Him: “You got a mouse in your pocket?”
Me: “What? No? Why?”
Him: “Cause you’re acting pretty cheesy.”
4. Me: What movie ya’ watchin?
Him: “Goblins. I’ve never seen it before.
Oh what? You think I’ve seen it? No. No no. I’m not really into this. Oh, well, yeah, I do like this type of stuff but not really. Well, not goblins anyways… Dragons. I really like dragons. Dragons better than goblins. Goblins are pretty gross.”
5. “Play-Doh is a not a right. It’s a privilege.”
6. Me: “Hey, I’m on Facebook. Can I read you my uncle’s status right now. It’s kinda cute.”
Me:”If you purchased $1000 of shares in Delta one year ago, you would have $49 today. If you purchased 1000 shares of AIG, you’d have $33. If you purchased $1000 if share in Lehmann Brothers, you would have $0. But, if you purchased $1000 of beer, drank all the beer, and returned the cans, you would have $214. Therefore the best current investment is to drink heavily and recycle. It is called the 401-Keg Plan.”
Him: “Ha! That’s funny.”
Me: “I thought so.”
Him: “Hey, you should comment him back and say: Did you know why they call a 401-K: 401-K? It’s because it is directly from Section 401-K of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.”
Me: I don’t think so.
Him: You don’t think he’d get a kick out of it?
7. Me: “Want some double-dipped peanuts?”
*We share the chocolate covered candies*
Him: “They almost have a peanut buttery taste to them.”
*insert silent pause*
Him: “Could be the peanuts.”
8. *looking at a water tower*
Him: Do those really have water in them?
Him: They’re for fires?
Me: No, just part of the city’s water system. That’s all.
Him: I think they’re for fires; they just knock it over.
While there are many forms of loss such as divorce, unemployment, estranged relatives, the death of another human being cannot be compared to any other experience on this earth. It is a totally unique experience. When it’s unexpected, there’s a whole other set of challenges that present themselves.
Everything is cyclical. You will have dark periods that cycle out and return, and with time and healing, the dark periods grow shorter. Do not expect them to disappear completely though. We loved that person; And it’s because we loved that person that there will always be sadness associated with their absence.
I’m not an expert (I don’t know who would want to be an expert in this). These are all things I’ve learned and observed through the last two years.
My long time friend and fellow writer, Trisha Lynn, and I did a FB Live this week to
discuss some ways we cope with the losses that we’ve experienced. (*to see a replay of this go to www.facebook.com/31MainStreet ) Here, I briefly recap those suggestions, as well as discuss some other tools that weren’t mentioned in our Facebook Live:
Music – PURPOSE: Creating new pathways and associations in your brain. Music can understand you in a way that people can’t some times. When talking to others who are grieving, I’ve noticed a commonality. A lot of us have songs or entire genres associated with our loved one. In the beginning, it can be painful to listen to a song that feels like it belongs to someone else who is no longer here. So until then, I highly recommend finding an artist or genre that you never considered before. It could be EDM, Classical, or Jazz. For me, there was a whole other world of music that I never knew about (*for more on this see my post: How Music Worked With Me this Year )
Journaling – PURPOSE: Our minds race. Thoughts can build up and intertwine with one another, binding us, making it impossible to function. Many times, our thoughts can get so tightly wound up. It can be hard to make a decision as simple as what to do first in our day, so we go back to bed. Journaling (first thing in the morning or last thing at night in particular) can be a wonderful tool to rid ourselves of the useless thoughts. There’s a book to reference for this. It’s called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. In the book, Cameron offers a means of decluttering one’s mind. She calls it “Brain Dump”, and I think that’s the perfect term. Get rid of all of the crap bouncing around in there, close your journal, and be one step closer to clarity.
Learning Something New – PURPOSE: Creating new neuro pathways within our brains. Learning something new will build your confidence in this foreign world. It will give you a sense of control that you feel you’ve lost. Some skills that I’ve learned over the past two years are real estate and shooting. Both of these areas have served different purposes for me personally, but the world is boundless with possible new careers, skills, or hobbies you could develop.
Reading – PURPOSE: This serves as a great escape from reality and can be incredibly comfortable and relaxing. It also serves another purpose. It goes along with the suggestion above: learning something new. I highly recommend reading books that feed you in a positive manner. Books like, The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, come to my mind. As Olson states in his book, reading just 10 pages a day will still move you in a positive direction forward. This fosters both patience in the process of learning, and also, it’s effective in the absorption of content.
Faith – PURPOSE: It’s my ‘why’. The promise that I will be reunited with loved ones some day is what keeps me going. While I don’t push my beliefs on another, I will say that believing in something bigger than myself has gotten me through some extremely dark times. (If you ever want to have a respectful conversation about it separately, I’ll gladly discuss my beliefs.)
Exercise – PURPOSE: Get rid of toxins. The enzymes in a sad tear have a different make up than the enzymes in a happy tear. These are toxins being released. Exercise elevates the heart rate, getting blood cycling throughout your body, but also, helping you to literally sweat out bad feelings. There’s so much already written about this, and I invite you to research it on your own, but endorphins have been way more powerful in my life than any other outside substance.
Physiological Exercises: PURPOSE: These are calming activities done for severe panic disorders as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The sudden death of a loved one brings trauma. Traumatic memories are stored differently than other memories. Our brain boxes them up tightly, so we can function in other aspects of our lives. The problem is that the mind takes this tightly packaged memory and puts it in the emotional section of our brain, so if we have a trigger, a stimulus that pops the top off of this memory, we experience the emotions as if the event is happening all over again. This is overwhelming. Here are some recommended activities that one can use to calm his or her self down from a panic situation. While Trisha and I explain it in the context of PTSD, it is applicable to many other situations. Parents use this for children with intense emotions or who may fall on the spectrum. With the demands of our world nowadays, these activities are beneficial to anyone who feels like they are overwhelmed with panic. The first step before any of these recommendations is to recognize the rising feeling of panic, then proceed with any of the following exercises…
The A-B-C Trick – Trisha explains this as first, choosing a category. The example she gives is “Animals”, but you could decide on any category (i.e. food, cars, TV shows). Once your category is selected, go through each letter of the alphabet and name an item within that category. So for Trisha’s category, “Animals”, one could say, “A – Alligator; B – Baracuda; C – Chamillion…” And so on. Do not stop until you’ve reached ‘Z’. Repeat as desired.
Shoulder Tapping – This was recommended to me by a fellow widower, who experienced intense trauma in his life. Here, the individual takes his or her arms and crosses them over their chest, each hand on his or her shoulders. Then, just lightly tap their shoulders with their hands, remaining silent while tapping. (I was also told that one could tap their own sinuses to alleviate stress. This is depicted in my blog: Panic Attacks: 5 Quick ‘In-the-Moment’ Exercises to Alleviate Them)
While I know most of these are fairly simple recommendations, I also know that adding them into your life, when you’re under mental stress and emotional pain, is easier said than done. Here, I reference the book “The Slight Edge” again. Jeff Olson, the writer, points out that this “…path can be uncomfortable…scary. Especially if you’re the only one around who’s on it.” He also continues on to say that, despite this, if we take small baby steps forward, we will see change. Positive change. Pick one small way to cope and take your first baby step, even if it’s itty bitty.
They say that if a person passed herself on the street that she would view herself as a stranger. The theory is that our own image in real life is unrecognizable to us; we’ve only seen our face on flat photographs, through the lenses of a camera, and in mirrors. An ironic side note that I’d like to make: it’s also been said that our soulmates are the mirrors in our lives.
I’ve spent half second increments of time bargaining with God.
Maybe we could have you back and I’d promise not to ever speak to you. You could just be the kids’ dad.
Maybe you could come back just for one conversation on what I’m supposed to do in my life without you.
These ideas intrude my mind, and I brush them away like mosquitos. Blood sucking. Useless. Irritating. I know that these thoughts are impossible requests, and it angers me that they creep in from time to time. It feels cruel.
That being said though… Considering all of what I just spoke on, I wonder if you came back, would you even recognize me?
You see, two years ago I was stripped bare. A tree. Shaved of all leaves. All branches. Shaved of all bark. Left to die.
As this dying tree sat there (to some, already dead), she had few choices…
The tree could say it was good while it lasted and give up.
Look to its own sap filled insides, now exposed to the elements, without bark and know there’s not much time. She could take a deep breath but had no leaves with which to inhale. Maybe ask the Sun for help, but she had no branches with which to reach.
So she remembered that she still had roots. She turned herself upside down, reached for a knife and carved herself into something useful.
I’ve spent the last two years uprooting myself and carving me into something of use to this world. That’s all I can think to do if I’m going to be here without you.
I reflect on my past life. I remember someone so scared of so many forces outside of herself, and I remember the person consistently loving me through those fears. I think of us, making our way out onto the patio to analyze under the stars and plan our life. I think of the beautiful soul that was beyond this world. A soul I knew so well then and understand so much more now. It took your death to show me the depths of how truly enlightened you were.
Regardless of what I knew then or what I know now, one thing is positive.
I carry you with me.
Sophie came to me last weekend. She cried, “I miss the memories.”
I thought she meant that she missed making memories with you. She went on further, “It’s not just that I miss Dad. I miss the memories of Dad. I’m losing them.” My heart ached, but then I realized it in that very moment. We carry you.
“I know, honey, it’s hard when we feel those memories slipping from us. Write them down while you still have them. Old-woman-Sophie will appreciate it.”
“Ok…” Her tiny voice quivered.
I grabbed both of her cheeks to look into her eyes, “We will never forget Daddy. Daddy’s presence is so strong both surrounding us and within us.”
“That’s for sure.” She said, with a clear tone.
“We will miss him every day, for every event. We will miss his laugh and his smile. We miss the memories that fog within our minds, but Daddy is so much more than those things. We carry him everywhere.”
She and I hugged and cried on and off for the afternoon, but we both knew a single truth: You have been absorbed into us.
It’s because of this, I’ve had the strength to change. Thank you for being my motivational speaker. Thank you for stepping out of work to call me because you got a text that said:
I need a Scotty pep talk.
You don’t know the thousands of times I’ve wanted to text you during these last two years… To need the comfort of your husband over his own death is a duality that few will ever know. Just a bare tree…yearning for your comfort before realizing that you are absorbed into my roots.
It hasn’t been pretty. It’s been ugly.
But it’s been necessary; while I’m not sure you’d know who I am any more, I am certain that I will always recognize you. Like the Maya Angelou quote says:
People will forget what you said.
People will forget what you did,
but people will never forget
how you made them feel.
Your spirit is unforgettable.
Until we meet again, I live every day for the reunion.
In loving memory of Angeline O’Neil (Angie) who passed away in the comfort of her home on February 7, 2018.
Angie was born in Detroit on December 17, 1937 to Antonio and Frances Bartolotta. Later, she would meet the love of her life, James O’Neil, while working as a secretary downtown. They were wed on October 20, 1962.
Like a true Italian, Angie loved cooking and could always be found in the kitchen. She was best known for her pignolota and her cannolis. If she wasn’t cooking, she was cheering on the Lions and the Tigers. She also made time for the ones she loved, whether it was sitting at the table with a cup of coffee or watching Turner Classic Movies from the couch.
Predeceased by her husband, James, 3 brothers, Rosario (Russ) Bartolotta, Christopher Bartolotta, and Dominic (Danny) Bartolotta, 1 sister Rosa Maria Zerilli (Rosie), and a grandson, Scott Bajorek.
While she was considered “Mom” to many, she’s survived by her children: Brian O’Neil (Lori), Lisa David (Greg), Kathleen Peach (David), and Patrick O’Neil; grandchildren: Megan Bajorek, Matthew O’Neil (Jaime), Jason Sultini, Justin Sultini, Kristen Sultini, Erica Dewey (Lucas), Savannah O’Neil, Jacob O’Neil, and Clarissa O’Neil; great-grandchildren: Sophia Bajorek, Lydia Bajorek, and Jaxson Bajorek; siblings: Anthony Bartolotta (Marge), Sally Humphreys, Francis Bartolotta(Sue), and Frances Legato (Rob);
Visitation is Tuesday, February 13th at 10 a.m. Mass starts at 10:30 a.m.
St. Mary’s Queen of Creation: 50931 Maria St. New Baltimore, MI 48047
Luncheon immediately to follow at St. Mary’s hall
* In lieu of flowers, the O’Neils ask that Angie be honored by making a donation to the Sandcastles program; A grief support program for children and their families. Click the link below to do so online or donations can be made at the church or with the family.
I love starting my day by hearing a song that is 100% from Scotty.
Chili Peppers, Hall & Oats, Cake, Metallica, Bell Big Devoe, John Legend, Earth, Wind, and Fire.
This morning it was Gap Band…
Music was hard initially after losing him.
He and I found so much enjoyment from cutting it up at a wedding/event or just dancing around the house with each other and later, with our children. Something that bonded two people in such a way; brought them both so much joy… Remove one of those people,and there’s just gaping, salty pain. Through nausea, I’d ask myself during those days: How can I possibly find joy in music again? How can I ever dance again?
And I began to mourn these pleasures of life while mourning him.
All in silence.
A few months into grief, I was introduced to new artists. I allowed myself to listen to them, and I did so on repeat. These were different types of musicians. Ones that never played in the background of any of our memories together. Music to which I couldn’t dance. Eventually, I began to enjoy music in a different way. A darker but absolutely necessary way
The magic of music is that it has the same properties as water. What do I mean by this? Walk into your kitchen right now, fill up a glass with water, and set it on the counter. Then, grab a single piece of paper towel and gingerly dip a corner of your paper towel into the glass of water that you poured. Just the corner. What happens? You watch the water rise up further than your dipping point.Water creeps. It’s polar, which means at a molecular level, it attaches to itself…the molecules climb one other to reach further.
I can tell you this is how music worked within me this year. I let just a little bit of it in. Just a corner of the symbolic paper towel into the glass of water; At first, it was one depressing song on repeat. Then, it was several angry ones (on repeat). The angry songs gave me energy to listen to upbeat stuff… and before I realized it, music was in my life again.
Don’t get me wrong. To this day, there are still songs that could take me to my knees, but I refuse to let that happen now. And strangely, I feel like it’s him, laughing over my left shoulder, bobbing his head and saying: Girl, don’t you deny this beat!
I’m happy to say that my kids and I have honorary dance parties in our kitchen again,
and we know it’s probably a joyful moment for Daddy too. He speaks to me through music, and what once was something too painful to accept, is now something I deeply cherish.
I’m here to tell you, whoever you are, whatever you’re going through, I know you’re in pain, and I’m so sorry that you carry it. I know that some pain just never heals, and I’m sorry for this fact of life as well. My heart hurts all of the time. It’s not going to go away. I know this.
Of all these things that ‘I know’ though, the one I know for sure: not any of this is a reason to stop listening to the music, to stop dancing, to deny yourself the beat.
It mercilessly rips a piece of your heart from you, leaving a gaping, throbbing, exposed hole.
Desperation and panic whisper in your ear, “You gotta cover it up. The hole must be filled.”
You fall to your knees and begin digging into the earth.
You maniacally shovel in dirt.
Dirty fingernails, salty tears.
You spend all of your time shoveling unto the point of exhaustion, and then, you collapse. Tired muscles. Aching head. You fall asleep.
And you dream that you are whole again.
Time passes. And you awake.
Sleepy eyes, you see that there… it sits….
That fucking hole.
That’s when you realize:
Nothing will fill it.
Filling the hole is like wearing shoes two sizes too small or drastically changing your hair color. Filling the hole, makes you feel even less of yourself than you did before, when it was just you with a hole in your chest.
Grace and love whisper in your ear, “You have a choice.”
And so, you choose…
I’m not going to fill the hole any more.
And instead of filling it, you decide to build a fortress around it…A heavily guarded monument.
You fall to your knees and begin building.
Bricks, made of resilience.
The mortar is new identity.
Your rusty nails are filled with hope.
With all the strength you can muster, you build.
You spend all of your time building unto the point of exhaustion, and you collapse. Tired muscles. Aching head. You fall asleep.
And you dream that you are whole again.
Time passes. And you awake.
Sleepy eyes, you see that there… it sits…
A fucking castle.
Your fortress is complete.
And you, with the master key, will open the front door.
You, with the only map, will navigate the catacombs.
You will visit that vulnerable spot, behind a secret door.
And you’ll reminisce who you were before and what cracked you open on a Friday afternoon.
Last night, I crawled into bed with my four-year old daughter to snuggle. Brushing her hair out of her face, I could feel her thinking as she sucked her thumb, “Whatya thinking about?” I asked. She shrugged, staring at the ceiling, thumb in mouth.
“How are you feeling?” I pressed.
Eyes still on the ceiling, she mumbled, “I’m sad… I miss Daddy.”
My voice shook in reply, “I know, baby. I miss him too, but the sadness won’t be forever. I promise you, Lydia. We can’t be sad forever.” My words were meant to be comfort to her, but they felt like a plea to God. This sadness doesn’t last forever. Right?
Lydia took her thumb out of her mouth, turned her eyes to meet mine, “Mom, yes it does. I’ve been sad forever. Every day I’ve been sad. And the next day. And the next.”
That’s when I realized it. My daughter is depressed.
My four-year old, curly-haired silly little girl has depression. She wants her dad back, and all I can offer her is to do everything in my power to help her find happiness again. I held her until she fell asleep. Then, I tiptoed out of her room, shut the door slowly, laid in the hall and cried.
This is my life.
This morning, I was perusing Facebook, when I saw Scott’s beautiful face in my news feed. My heart stopped for split second, and maybe against my better judgment, I clicked the attached link.
It was an article posted by the Macomb Daily. When I read it, I felt pain, and I felt confusion. What does this institution have against my family and I? Why would they allow the defense attorney an entire article to say whatever he chooses without any sort of fact checking?
If this reporter would have come to either of the preliminary hearings that I and ten other family members and friends of Scott sat through, they would have heard solid witness testimony discrediting all of Arnold Weiner’s claims — firsthand. The reporter would have heard a direct quote from the judge about the accident, “It doesn’t get any more reckless than this.” If the reporter sat in court, firsthand, he would hear that upon his arrest, the defendant was in possession of illegal drugs. These things are not secrets. Court is an open forum for journalists and citizens alike, to check in and observe proceedings. So why would a journalist take the word of the defense attorney as truth? Without fact checking?
It’s in my nature to leave the details of court in court. This accident was like a large water balloon filled with poison. Striking me out of nowhere, its acid filtering into my pores. Its side effects gradually taking their toll. I do my best not to broadcast the poison of my life. Therefore, I leave this negativity to be handled privately, amongst family and friends. It is because of this, I will not dissect every untruth that Weiner said. However, I do want it to be known: In 1985 Weiner was disbarred for embezzling from the elderly. (*See link below)
This represents the old saying: Consider your source.
I trust that the public understands the garbage that they are being served. And I pray, pray, pray that an article like this doesn’t tamper with a potential jury. My beautiful family, his beautiful family, and I are being forced to relive the worst day of our lives over the course of months. Each witness from September 23, 2016 comes and tells the same story, again and again. And while other stories may grow old, may lose their impact, this one stings. Every. Single. Time. Every account is reliving that day all over again. On top of that, in our daily lives, when we are not expecting it, articles like these pop in. Articles like these, dismissing the impact that this loss had on a community, a home, a family, three children.
Lydia is currently in group therapy, and after I process the poisonous feelings from this article today, I will be calling a children’s counselor for her. One on one. I will do everything in my power to ensure my children are ok.
But it will never change what’s been robbed from them. No matter how “ok” I can make it for them, it will never change what’s happened.
My children were robbed of their father by a selfish man.
Justice will be served.
***Here is a voicemail that Scott accidentally left me a month before he passed away. It is him talking to the girls.
Love you all — Thank you for your continued support.
*Edit: If you are comfortable, please share this link to your social media platform and ask The Macomb Daily to retract their article with the hashtag #JusticeforScott We need an army right now and do not want this false interview to tamper with a potential jury. Thank you for reaching out to me and my family and for your continued support. It means the world to us ❤️🙏🏻*
**Second Edit (8/20):
Good morning friends –
I just wanted to pop on here and update you all with the goings on of Tuesday’s Macomb Daily (MD) article. It was an exhausting few days there, but our family made it through, and I’m happy to say we’ve been having a relaxing QUIET weekend at home.
First of all,
My blog post reached over 25,000 people, and you all were beyond supportive in sharing it, writing something of your own, writing to the MD, or messaging me privately to send your love. I could not ask for better people in my life, in my community, in my Facebook-sphere.
God is good.
And you all had a hand in proving that to me. 🙏🏻
As far as retracting the article: after speaking to prosecution and our attorney, it simply won’t happen. The article quotes a man who lies, but the reporter himself does not lie. Did he give both sides of the story? No, but unfair doesn’t mean illegal; I should know: Not all things are going to be fair.
Adding to that, I believe it’s really shown to the defense what they’re up against. My soul purpose in writing what I did was to give Scott and I, our families, and our children a voice too. I didn’t think it would reach as many as the MD article reached, but I had to try and publicly answer Mr. Weiner, the defense attorney.
And holy smokes, you all really went to work for us, and we did pretty damn good. There was even interest from other news sources. The Bajoreks/O’Neils are not here to fight this in the media though. We know the facts are enough to bring justice, and we trust the Macomb County Prosecutors and the system.
Thank you again for being so passionate with me. Thank you for loving my husband, our kids, and our family. Please kiss your babies today and tell that person in your life what you love about them. 💕