Throughout life we’ve all dealt with pain and suffering from to time to time. Those aches and pains that that put you to the test to get through it. Sometimes I sit up at night looking back on some of those experiences that have occurred over the years thinking about how those people, events, and problems that have caused life not to be peachy. I think about how those experiences changed my life for good, and it allowed my stubborn attitude to look past my clouded mindset, to help me see the light after a rainy day. Like I said before you live, you learn, and you move on. Here’s my story:
It’s those times or time periods that really put you up against the wall and one is forced to grind through it and overcome while others fall, crash, and give up. When we were children that pain was falling down and scraping our arm or leg, and we learned rather fast that that pain wasn’t something we enjoyed, and so we learned from that suffering and rationalized in our mind that is something we should try to avoid. When we were 16 we had our first love. That first taste and feel of that electro-chemical emitted in our head that makes you feel on top of the world while at the same time head-over-heels for the other person. We also remember saying it was going to last forever, and while I envy those who find true love the first time around, for love may take a lifetime to find. First loves aren't usually the last, yet at the time we told ourselves and others that he/she is the “one.” That first taste of heartache usually leaves you with rotten taste on one’s tongue, and yet most push through the pain and overcome the suffering and learn from it. When one graduates from high school and college one once again feels on top of the world. The four hard years taught one about a lot of long nights hitting the books, those love games that were won and lost, those games that put, you and team, to the test to seek out who was best. You hope that in the end, that those years of knowledge and experience in higher education, give you hope that the ups and downs of early adulthood, give you the tools and wisdom to make it in this cut-throat world. In the end, those individuals who rise up from the challenges, pain, and suffering to become smarter and hopefully wiser for the tough times ahead, but wouldn’t it be nice to know ahead of time when those problems are going to pop-up? Lol
Growing up everything came easy to me in life. I did not get my first B in school until I got to high school. I broke a lot of bones as a young boy from playing sports and just being a boy experimenting with everything that could be messed with. I loved making my own bike ramps out of whatever I could find, I love playing sports for hours even if it was by myself, I simply always had to be moving at all times. My mom used to call me Seany-Shiner because I would always go hard all day outside and always managed to get a black eye. I remember getting a baseball bat thrown at my face when i was 7 because the player was angry he got out, so I got 7 stitches because the bat he threw almost made me go blind. I lost so much blood I needed 3 towels on the way to the hospital. When we got hurt, we cried or got upset, but we got back up and moved forward remembering how to avoid that fall and how to do it better. I’m blessed to have a photographic memory, so I can really see what I did wrong and fix it.
At a younger age, you are sheltered by one’s innocent mind, and as adolescence hit, we really started to feel not just the physical pain of life, but for the first time that mental and emotional pain that can put the physical on the backburner. My father got in trouble with the law when I was in 7th grade. My mother got cancer for the first time when I was in 6th grade and it put him in a bad place. In high school, some of my so called friends made a MySpace page about it. Your father teaches you how to become a man, but my father taught me a lot more than that. He taught me a lot about how to be a good Father, a good husband, and how to always to be able to forgive. My dad from that day forward changed forever. My dad proved to me, my mom, and my sisters that if you set your mind to something, anything is possible. It taught me that sin and forgiveness is a part of life, and actions speak louder than words in my eyes. I don’t know many men that will do more for their family than my dad. He’s been at the same job for the best 25 years because he’s the hardest working man I have ever met. The 80 hour weeks in the summer when its 95 degrees, all the 5:30am-6pm days showed me that there is no greater man than my Dad. Just thinking about his pain and suffering to provide for my family makes me want to cry tears of gratitude and appreciation. That man lost a lot in his life like his maternal mom who died when he was 2, but did not find out his step-mom was not his real Mom until he enlisted in the Air Force at 17, yet he’s always happy and forgiving to others. The experiences that happened to me as an adolescent and young teen really tested me as an individual to the harsh reality of human beings wishing to gain approval and attention all the while bringing down a quiet, respectful, and ambitious young man hoping one day that some people would take my approach and just be nice to everyone because I don’t know where they came from and what they’ve experienced to frame their actions and personalities at that present moment in time and in mindset. In the end, I look back on this time period and I remember the people that were always there for me no matter what, the people I did not know who were just good people, and those that were friends with you one second and forget about you and talk about you while separated, but you learn that in life that children will be children, boys will be boys, and that forgiveness is important, thick skin must be grown, and life goes on. Never let things bother you for too long, or it will drive you nuts. Lingering on your thoughts on life will leave you scratching your head Like You’ve got Lice.
The period of my life that has tested me the most was just recently. After the 2010 baseball season ended at La Salle, and I went home, I got a job working for my friend’s parents’ company, Garden State Highway Products, for the summer before I went back to school. I worked 45 hours a week, and even moved up within three months, I went from knowing nothing to making highway signs projects worth up to $500,000. If you drive up and down the AC Expressway, 95, 295, the Garden State Parkway, more than likely I helped make the new signs you see. At the end of the summer, I got a letter in the mail from La Salle. The words cut a hole I my heart so deep I didn’t think it would ever heal. This letter came with no warning which after I looked into NCAA law and through conversations with NCAA officials the Athletic Administration at La Salle broke the law by not giving me proper forewarning. I had arm issues all my junior year after seeing great success my sophomore year after beating the best teams in the conference and even beat the Conference Pitcher of the Year at his place in front of 10-15 scouts there to see him. The arm problems put me in a bad place not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. It caused me not to care about anything. I even overheard the team trainer telling my teammates and coaches that there was nothing wrong with me, and that was just a weak person. By the end of the season, I could not wait to go home because I did not care about school or baseball anymore. That letter pushed me down to new depths I had not felt in a long time, and I knew my life would not be the same. I enrolled in a new school full time while working 40 hours a week at my job, and busted my butt to get the straight A’s I knew I was capable of. That pain and suffering taught me that life is full of surprises both good and bad, and to never give up when one door closes.
By the beginning of 2011, my mom was experiencing pain so extreme that she was put out of work. She worked as long as she could because she’s so stubborn and really enjoy going to work every day knowing that she was helping people. I will never forget that Friday night in the Sunroom before I went down to my friend Robert Green’s place in Atlantic City and eventually the club for the night. I was 21 years old. I walked into the dark sunroom to see my dad sitting on the couch and my mom sitting in a plastic chair opposite from him. We got to talking, and it culminating in me asking her, “Mom, is it cancer?”
I had dreams for years leading up to this night in my sleep. I knew that this day was coming, which is why I’m so adamant on the idea of seeing the future. I started feeling tears drip down my face the moment I heard her response, and said to myself, stay strong Sean this is not what she needs. I held in the tears up until my Mom said, “Sean, its ok, we’ll get through this, I will get through this.” She was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer with a 3 inch tumor entangled in nerves.
By this time, those single tears turned into a steady flow of pain being expelled from my tear ducts. I went out that night, told my friend Robert and my other two friends about it, and had fun, but I knew life wasn’t going to be the same anymore. The time and growing doctor visits seemed like they all blurred with one another. I remember the countless months I spent at the hospital watching my Mom sleep or noticeably be in pain, pain so excruciating that she took almost 2000 mg of pain killers a day just be to comfortable. You never want to come home to your Mom screaming in pain for hours on end. You never want to pick your Mom off the floor because she thought you left for work, so she tried to walk on her own, then getting a ticket speeding to get to work on time and having your mind preoccupied by what just happened at home. I’d cry myself to sleep every night just so I could show her a smile every moment I was with her. I remember all the times she only wanted me because I was the only one that could calm her down when she wanted to give up. I’d say, “Mom, why are you being so mean to them(my dad and sisters), they didn’t do anything to you? I know it’s the pain talking, but you’re an amazing person don’t let it change you. I’d tell her about the things I learned because I started reading more about science and philosophy and she couldn’t help but laugh at my youthful excitement because I finally found my true passion in life. I told her how much I loved her out loud and in my head to God before I went to bed at night. I will always remember that covenant I made with her and God about my life. I promised that if she lived, I would show God and myself that I would change and I would show the world my true potential because from this life experience I learned life is too short and if one wants something bad enough you’ll achieve it because I know my Mom wanted to live to see me grow. I read around 30 books in a 6 month span of seeing my mom fight cancer, and did countless hours of research on cancer to help Mom in any way possible.
Suffering and pain are a part of life. The experiences in life that put you up against the wall are those that challenge you to rise up and change as a person. It really drives me nuts when I see people that complain about the little things in life like not getting the newest technology or complaining about someone else because life isn’t so easy for everyone. I empower my students to show respect, be open, listen, and ask them to remember that life comes with its ups and down, and that the bad things happen because it only makes the good things feel that much better. The ability to feel and show emotion is one of the greatest things about being a human, but as humans we are intelligent enough to learn from the past to make changes in the present and future. My life experiences helped me realize one should never get down on oneself for too long because every struggle is a test by a higher power and energy, God, to see how strong your faith in yourself and essentially Him is. Only those who are willing to learn, listen, forgive, and move on from life’s challenges live a happy and healthy life.