What You Believe

July 31, 2013

FAMILIES THAT HURT and FAMILIES THAT HEAL

 

At this moment I have no idea the position you hold in your particular family, whether that be a child, an adult, a parent or a grand parent.  But I'm certain there is a common thread that weaves us all into the same proverbial boat. If you haven't experienced it yet by the time you're a grandparent or at least well into your years, I'm pretty sure we will all share similar, all be it diverse dramas in our lives.  The range of issues that a today's family is bombarded with these days can run even the most well balanced individual anywhere from blind sided shock at best to nothing short of emotionally overwhelming at worst.

 

If you had of asked me a couple of decades ago I'm pretty sure I would have said we had the perfect family, yet there are some days now when I feel like the most positive comment I could offer is that we put the "fun" in dysfunctional, and even that might be a stretch because there are times when we're actually not having that much fun, but that's OK. I believe that facing the honest truth about oneself is a healthy exercise and with as much transparency as possible might actually be a valid way of gaining greater "family health", if you know what I mean.

 

I began writing this blog in response to the massive interest in Jesse that was originally generated by the local media coverage of his accident. Months of a steady stream of calls and emails to the papers enquiring about his condition led to the reporting of the events of his accident and his ever changing condition. I must compliment the media for their sensitivity and professionalism in reporting, however along the way there were a few misreported facts. None of which were critical but nevertheless it did motivate me to get personally involved with the reporting of Jesse's story and how our family was and is dealing with it all, all presented from our own unique perspective.

 

This blog presents me with the opportunity for the PROFESSION of our beliefs, our strengths and all the other good things that carry us through the challenges we face. It also allows us the opportunity for the CONFESSION of our weaknesses, and limitations and all the things that potentially impede progress towards our goal of Jesse's complete recovery. We often read stories of the incredible personal strengths that some people have that seem to propel them soaring past insurmountable obstacles in their lives. Recovery from devastating accidents or extreme poverty, or desease or abuse and the resulting psychological trauma. These are the stories that encourage us all, but as heroic and superhuman as these individuals seem to be I think we all know from the experience of our own lives that these same people are also plagued with their own demons of insecurity, fear, and doubt. Why is that? I would guess that is just all about being part of a family, the family of man. To clarify, that would be human nature.

 

I think a recent event I attended demonstrates the paradoxical strength and weakness reality in all of us that I am referring to.

 

Last week Jesse spent the week in respite care at Bloorview Children's Rehab Hospital under the watchful care of their medical staff while Bonnie, Kristin and myself vistited our daughter Breanne in Vancouver. Breanne is currently performing the lead role of Elle Woods in the Theatre Under the Star's production of LEGALLY BLONDE in Stanley Park. The week was filled with music (as we took in three shows, and now we can't get the darn songs out of our heads) and sightseeing compliments of Breanne who has gotten to know the city through living there the past few months.  Last Thursday night the cast of the show met at a local music club to present a cabaret night as a fundraising event for Jesse. Breanne had organized the whole event with the help of some of the cast in gathering raffle and silent auction items for the event. Unfortunately the club was very late in confirming the venue so in the end there was very little time available to promote the event. When the night finally arrived the club was filled with pretty much only the show's cast and a two or three people off the street. Breanne being the positive force of nature that she is was compelled to comment before the performances started, "Oh great, I don't know how much money we're going to raise...all we have is a room full of broke-ass musicians!" That was so funny and so uncharacteristically negative of her, but I think a little air was beginning to seep out of her balloon at the time.

 

The night however was amazing. Incredible performances from Breanne, and all the cast as well as Legally Blonde's musical director. Hoots, hollers and whistles permeated the air as they all supported each others talents, and talents there were!  (Be patient my friends as there is a point to this story.)

Kristin spent the evening circulating, celebrating and getting to know all the cast while Bonnie and I sat teary eyed most of the evening. For some reason the night was quite emotional for us. After all we had a private showcase of some of the best musical talent in the country pouring their hearts, souls, and talents out for our Jesse. Some of the singers related heartfelt stories of their families and of course many of the song lyrics told their own stories much of what was relatable to Jesse and our family. All the cast had done what they could to buy raffle tickets to help out as they were aware of the absence of an outside crowd of supporters. They all seemed like heroes to us, striving to use their talents to the max in order to help Jesse. This was quite the diverse group.

 

Their strengths were obvious, but I wondered as I watched, about their weaknesses. What about the hurts that they themselves carried? What about the disappointments they have had to accept? Have those who were gay felt the rejection of their families? And what about the others? Are they waiting years for forgiveness for past hurts? Have their families been broken? What regrets to they all carry? All these questions for ordinary people with extraordinary talents. At the end of the evening the money was gathered from all the pots and ready cash was donated in a last minute Call to Action. When it was all added up we had just short of $2,000. What a miracle! But let me offer this for this is what I believe.

Their talents can take them far in life. They have already accomplished much, but it was not their talent that raised that money. It was their CHARACTER. It was character that drove them to dig deeper into their somewhat sparse resources and do what was right, to take the opportunity to seize the moment and answer a higher call, an unselfish call to rush to the aid of a little boy that they don't even know. To want to push him to the heights of a better life. They are all dreamers, dreaming of something better, something wonderful for Jesse. Talent is wonderful but will only take a person so far. We all know the stories of super talented singers, musicians and actors who have laid waste their lives at an early age through alcohol or drugs or wild living.  Don't misunderstand me. I am not slamming talent in any way.

 

These are the gifts that God has given them.  But for this night it was their CHARACTER that eventually won the day, and this group had it in spades. As the evening ended and we dried our wet eyes we were showered with love and hugs and good wishes. It was an evening that we will not soon forget.

 

I can actually relate to those folks on another level as I too was once a professional singer & musician for several years. Then visual arts and writing swept me up as time went on. I know from experience that artistic people most often go against the grain of traditional society. Let's face it, the artist works a non-traditional job and through it maintains a non-traditional life style. They generally follow the course of their inspiration and beliefs and this is a critical point because all your actions are motivated by

 

WHAT YOU BELIEVE.

 

Imagine this if you can. There is a small crowd of people and a dog sitting in the midst of them.  There is no indication of who the dog belongs to. At a particular point everyone walks off in a certain direction except one person who walks off in an opposite direction. The dog follows him. You immediately know who the dog's master is because he always follows his master. In my life as a musician, an artist and a writer I have found myself walking contrary to a traditional life style many times. As a Christian, even more so as my faith leads me to follow Jesus Christ. As I watch masses of people walk off into the cares of this world, Jesus walks the other way and I follow him. Why? Because I know my master loves me and because of this, I love him in return. I am not afraid nor am I embarrassed to confess this. I am so thankful for the gifts and talents God has given me and so cognoscente of the talents he has given others but I believe it is the STRENGTH OF CHARACTER that will carry us down the long road of challenge to find a walking, talking, laughing, and loving boy named Jesse at the end of it.

 

At many times in my life and especially over the past fifteen month journey with Jesse I have felt the power of God's love. I stand up and promote it because I believe it's important as it's been said that

 

People who don't stand up for SOMETHING, will fall for ANYTHING.

 

And I prefer the standing to the falling.  So I encourage you my friends to think about this and to understand your position as it relates to your family members, your relationships and to God for we know not when or where our wounds will come, but I assure you we can know the source of their healing.

 

Lastly, I would also love to know you all better. Please leave a comment below this blog or on Jesse's Facebook page. I'm sure there is much we can learn from each other.

 

With deep respect to all of you,                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Bob Arrigo

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