All posts tagged grieving

Take the Road Less Traveled

Published June 7, 2016 by Maryanne


Bike riding is one of my favorite forms of exercise for several months out of the year; throughout New Jersey’s spring, summer, and fall seasons. Even in winter we may have some warm days to bike ride.

My husband surprised me with a beautiful bike before we were married, the first summer I was living with him. I was so proud of myself for learning the area fast and being somewhat independent, I loved taking bike rides to a favorite park in the area.

This particular park was beautiful. I’d see deer, ducks and ducklings, geese, and of course many dogs being walked. A 20-minute ride from our home to the park and back could turn into a 45- to 60-minute extravaganza, as I loved to diddly dally, stopping to pet every cute dog and pausing to see the deer and ducklings … or even a squirrel or rabbit. I’m just always so in awe of it.

From time to time I’d see my husband’s brother’s girlfriend, Eileen, in the park and we’re exchange pleasant words. She was retired, and with me being self-employed, we’d often be in the park when everyone else was at work. She’d greet me with a big smile and big, “Hi!” It always lifted my spirits to see her, she was just such a happy person.

Right after Thanksgiving of 2015, Eileen passed suddenly. She wasn’t ill, it was just one of those things that happens. And just as suddenly, I stopped going to the park because I couldn’t go without shedding tears thinking of her. One day I road my bike towards the park and when I got there, I turned around to come back home, as I was not about to enter; it was just too sad.

After a whole winter of not going to the park, I started again in the spring. However, once my 19-year-old cat Derick died, I couldn’t bring myself to go to the park again. It was just too depressing being out in the sunshine when I was once again mourning. Instead I stayed at home with the shades down.

When my spirits finally lifted and I tried heading out to the park again, I realized something about the park changed. It just didn’t have the same positive vibe it once had.

In one area, there’s this little bridge going over water and people are supposed to walk their bikes over it. One day as I was walking my bike, a guy was running with a stroller. He almost ran right into me and screamed at me, “Get out of my way!”

I called the town and tried to explain what happened — that no one should run with a stroller and they should possibly have an official moderating the park. What if I wasn’t such a petite person? If that guy banged into someone who was larger, the child could have went flying out of the stroller and possibly ended up going over the bridge and into the water.

There were other incidents, but after that particular, I stayed away from the park for another few weeks. What was going on? Was I attracting bad things coming my way because I was so down about the losses in my life? Or was I just in a world of my own, not paying attention because I wanted to shut out all the noise around me? Is this why my essence was attracting such negativity?

Or perhaps I just needed a change … for closure … two many things about that park reminded me of what I lost. Mainly seeing Eileen there. But also, whenever I stopped to talk to people about their dogs, I was always telling them about my cats — Derick who just died at the age of 19, and Billy Cat who died two years earlier, also at the age of 19. When I moved to this area to be with my husband, my two cats came with me … it’s as if we all embraced the wonderment of a new township together. Me, a person who commuted to NYC for work for so many years, now was driving a car. And the cats who always lived with me in apartments, now had free roam of a large house. And then back to Eileen, the one who told me how to pronounce the Indian name of the park. I considered that park “my” park since 2006 … and now life was so different.

That’s when it dawned on me … there was another park near our house that could possibly be better for my spirits. (This one had a name I knew how to pronounce on my own!) Maybe this “new” park had my name on it?

This park was a little quieter. Maybe too quiet. Without all the dogs and possibilities of running into someone I knew, it might be a lonely ride. I got on my bike and went anyway.

And, wow, what a great peaceful ride it was. At this park, people weren’t running with baby strollers. They weren’t even talking on cell phones. They seemed to be there to take in the scenery. And they were more polite. People moved out of each others way. People nodded or smiled. It was a more beautiful vibe.

There were less dogs. But there were also less geese and less geese droppings. There were less hills, but one clean straight path to just ride on as the sun hit my chest. All alone with my thoughts, my ideas, my inspirations. I was able to think about Eileen and the cats without feeling such a heaviness like I felt in the other park. The memories were now simply sweet … thanks to the peace of a quiet, less traveled road.

Yes, the road less traveled was a lovely one; and certainly a case of less equals more.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “Love Cats” available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions:

Billy in the Sky

Published September 20, 2013 by Maryanne

Billy in the Sky“Billy in the Sky” (Art collaboration between my husband and his friend Patrick, photos by me)

Dennis and I are still very heart-broken over the loss of our Billy Cat, who we had to put to sleep at age 19, on September 3.

The other night we received Billy’s ashes and paw print from our vet. It was done so beautifully, the little box has a gold name plate and the paw print has a little heart on it.

I’m still having a hard time getting through the day. My heart is pained and the loss is so great. I have to be honest and say that it’s sad that some people just don’t get it, which makes the loss even more painful and harder to heal.

I am so grateful for all the animal lover friends and family I have that do get it. Those who have helped in the most heartfelt ways. I will never forget the kindness.

In honor of Billy, I had his picture put on new address labels I had printed and I wrote a dedication to him in my upcoming October newsletter.

I still miss him terribly. Our home still feels empty without his presence.

We will always love you, Billy.

Another Sad Day, Another Loss

Published September 11, 2013 by Maryanne

loss of a friend

Another sad day.

I just returned from the funeral of a dear friend.

My friend Joan, entertainment editor of The Montclair Times, who I worked very closely with for eight years from 2001 to 2008, died last Friday at the age of 82:

Our desks were right next to each other, so we were very close. Plus, she was my favorite co-worker from the get-go. She just had this positive spirit that made me want to be her friend.

Joan was an attractive lady with a lust for life. She always came to work with her hair done beautifully and perfectly matched her jewelry to her outfits. She never gossiped. She just loved to talk about cultural things and all the fun we had in our personal lives. She never spoke of boring, mundane topics like doing laundry or getting your nails done — it was always about music, and theater, and restaurants, etc. She was just so upbeat — always. I never saw Joan mad about anything and she never complained. Working together so closely for seven years and we NEVER had a fight or disagreement. Except when I said I was thinking of leaving Montclair Times, she was discouraging me because she didn’t want me to leave! She even had her good friend try to talk me out of leaving! And that was the only time I was mad at her. Ha-ha, I gotta laugh now though, it was cute that she went to such extremes to try to keep me there!

Joan was super funny and we had so many laughs. I could talk to her about ANYTHING. She was so hip, she just “got it.” She’d really take her time with young kids who were starting out in the entertainment business and offer advice to them. She was so completely supportive of the arts/entertainment community. She was always eager to help give someone a start in their career. If I had friends perform at the local bar Tierney’s, she’d put them right on the front cover of the entertainment section.

Joan was a very hard worker and always had her section published a week before deadline. She loved to work and always came in smiling and waving this cute little wave. It was adorable.

Thanks to Joan, I had hundreds of articles published in the entertainment section and met so many terrific people in the industry. I was so grateful for the opportunity, yet she always made me feel like I was helping her so much — like I was doing her the favor, when in reality if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have stayed at Montclair Times so long. Of all the jobs I had in my life, I stayed there the longest. And every year on my birthday and for Christmas, Joan gave me amazing gifts to show her appreciation. Not to mention all the entertainment freebies.

Joan and I hung out together outside of the workplace too. We went to plays, restaurants, bars and jazz clubs together. I got to see her beautiful home too. We went to the Christmas parties together. She was like a big sister or aunt to me. I told her everything! She always gave great advice, some of which I’ve included in my business newsletters (and when she saw the emails she just KNEW I was speaking of her wisdom!)

When I left Montclair Times in 2008, Joan shed a tear and walked me out to my car, helping me carry all my belongings that were stored in my desk for seven years. And since 2008 Joan never forgot to send me a birthday card and even sent me a card when I got married.

I only visited Joan a few times since I left Montclair Times.  We kept saying we’d have lunch someday but never got around to it. The last time I saw her, earlier this year, she was frail and seemed sad.

When I heard of her retirement, I was excited for her but deep down it didn’t sit right with me because I knew she absolutely adored her work and said she wasn’t ever going to retire. I had a strong feeling it was just a matter of time. And sadly I was right.

I am so blessed for having the opportunity to work so closely to such a fascinating, inspiring woman. I lost the one photo I had of us together, but I saved quite a few emails she sent me that I will cherish.

Joan will not be forgotten. Not by me. Not by many.

Rest in peace, beautiful Joan. As I said to your daughter today, I loved you! (And will always love you!)




Happy Birthday, Grandma! (Aug. 14, 1918 to Jan. 27, 1995)

Published August 14, 2013 by Maryanne

grandma 1918Grandma

GrandmaGrandma’s wedding picture

This is what I wrote on Face Book in Grandma’s honor this morning:

Happy Birthday to the coolest Grandma ever! Rest in Peace, my beautiful Grandma (Aug. 14, 1918 to Jan. 27, 1995) the person who taught me to be fun, positive and to live each day to the fullest; the person who had the best quote, “Take a chance, Columbus did” and when she was mad at you, “Don’t be so sour-castic!” To the Grandma I could wake up in the middle of the night and tell her I met Johnny Rotten and she’d be happy for me. To the Grandma who made the best linguine and clam dish. To the Grandma who loved and forgave unconditionally. To the Grandma who loved and accepted every one of my friends — and kids would rather talk to her at my parties than be with other kids, that’s how great she was! To my Grandma who loved Elvis, flirted with Elvis impersonators and was buried wearing her Elvis watch. To my Grandma who everyone talked to, even strangers, because she was so beloved. There will never be another Grandma like you! I miss you more than you’ll ever know!

I received so many wonderful comments, even sharing memories with my two cousins Laura and Michelle, which was awesome. My good friend Todd put this touching Elvis song on his music page for her:

Loving Arms

And this is my own special Elvis dedication to her. I listened and had a good cry in her memory.

I’ll Remember You

And Grandma, the angel, gave us the most lovely day in New Jersey today.