Year Two.

Dear Scott,

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?

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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.

Or.

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.”

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“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.”

“Yes.”

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.

Love,

Meg

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Obituary: Remembering Angeline O’Neil

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. img_6532Later, 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, Jamesimg_6531, 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

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* 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.

http://www.aboutsandcastles.org

Truth, Poison, Robbery, My Life: a Response to Bad Journalism

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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***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, 

Thank you.

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. 💕

Happy Sunday.

Big Love,
Megan

❤️

#JusticeforScott
 

(*Sources on Arnold Weiner, the defense attorney:

http://www.adbmich.org/coveo/notices/1986-07-01-85n-23.pdf

http://www.noethics.net/News/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4427:attorney-arnold-weiner-of-auburn-hills-mi-convicted-felon-&catid=154:michigan-attorney-misfits&Itemid=100 )

 

 

 

Being Ok With Nothing

         On our third date, Scott and I had a long conversation about where “this” was going. We talked about what we wanted for the future, and I remember my neurotic tendencies enveloping it all. Finally, Scott grabbed my hands, looked me in the eyes, and said, “You’re gonna be my girl.” 

         My heart skipped a beat, and I smiled. Looking into his eyes, I felt the sincerity emanate from him. This was it. I was his. He was mine.

          What neither of us realized then is that we don’t get to keep people. They are lent to us for an undetermined period of time. . As much as we can “claim” someone on this earth. The truth is that nothing truly belongs to us. The only things we possess of our own are thoughts, feelings, and spirit.

         This is something that I quickly realized after having my oldest daughter. Holding her in the hospital and again, looking into her curious eyes, I knew. She wasn’t mine. She was my DNA. Her title in this life would be my daughter, but my responsibility was only to guide her on the ways of the world. And funny enough, many times now, she’s the one who guides me. 

        Eventually, she will leave me. She will have a family of her own to tend to, and it will hurt. If I’ve done my job right though, she will flourish on her own. This is my perspective with all of my children. Of course, I would later learn a deeper version of this lesson.

—-

         Scott died on the phone with me. Mid sentence. One moment he was “mine”. The next he was “gone”. 

        I knew, before, that life was short. I went to bed every single night and prayed to God, listing off the things in my life that I was grateful for. I said I love you. A lot. And still, nothing could have ever prepared me for the way my life would literally become the cliche that everything can change in an instant.

        I’ve asked “why” often since Scott was taken, and that’s an answer I won’t get in this lifetime. My “why’s” began with desperation, then they were bitter; then they came from a place of deep sadness and defeat… Now, I find myself slowly growing into humility. 

Why? 

Only He knows.

The answer isn’t for me to understand, but what I’m learning for sure is that people are lent to us. They come into our lives to teach us. They teach us in the literal sense, but moreover, they teach us in their actions and way of being. The relationships we form, both atrocious and Godly, contribute to our growth. They prepare us for something bigger. 

And for today anyways, I’m going let go of all possession and to look to bigger things. 

Love you all. 

The Things I Don’t Talk About

This is a photo of my oldest daughter four months before her father was taken from her. 

I don’t talk about my kids much on here, and that’s for a reason. 

For, when I think about the impact that this has on my beautiful children… when I look at this photo of my daughter… and I see how her face used to light up…and I remember the morning that I told her that her daddy passed away and watched that beautiful light shrink from her eyes into an abyss within seconds, the feeling is more than just uncomfortable. It’s unbearable. It’s helplessness. It’s deep sadness. And it’s anger.  It’s a faceless monster. 

We recently moved, and while disassembling my daughter’s bed, I found her dad’s obituary hidden under her pillow. She’s been sleeping with it every night for 6 months. 

I actively work to not think about how this has and will affect my kids. I’ve avoided it because the pain is crippling.

Our oldest and he were cut from the same cloth. They think alike. They’re both brilliant and rational to the point where (at times) it’s difficult for them to relate to others. He was a safe place for her to where she could turn. He was someone who understood her… in ways even I, her mother, can’t. 

Our 4 year old was the apple of his eye. He was her prince, and he was honored to be so and have a true “Daddy’s girl”. She’s a born romantic, and I relished the fact that she was going to grow up with the perfect gentleman of a father to set the example. 


Our son was two when his dad died. Every day he asks to see a photo of he and his dad on the slide. It’s all he has… and now I’m left to raise a man by myself. 


So right now, I’m scrambling. I’m sifting through the anger. I’m sifting and sorting to find a way to be enough for these kids. I’m frantically trying to find a new way of living that will turn this anger into fuel. To avoid bitterness. To avoid depression… To honor their dad and his way of living. 

I’ve learned that avoiding thoughts doesn’t mean the feelings go away. I’ve pushed away the angry thoughts of what’s been taken from my family, hoping that somehow they will just take the hint and go away. 

They don’t. They only get louder.

I guess now is just my time to listen to them… and allow myself to feel the misery. It’s just my time. 

Coping with PTSD in December

Well, here we are. It’s the end of Christmas break (hallelujah!).

Weeks ago, I was so looking forward to the “busyness” of December to slow down.

Before grief, I knew that December was a demanding month for parents; Take away one parent, add intense emotional pain and the demands of every activity my children are involved in, and you’ve got me: someone who was just pushing through the tunnel to get to the light:

Christmas Break.

Little did I realize that once the “busyness” stopped, then other things would come to take its place. Things like reality.

My current reality (and just going to put it out there): I’m living with PTSD because my husband was killed on his way home from work, while we were in the middle of a conversation. I am now left to make a new life for our three babies without him. I attended a funeral without him for the first time ever as an adult (my sweet grandpa, RIP). Other glaring firsts: My first wedding anniversary since his death. My first house signing. This was also our first Christmas without him. It was our first New Year too. We were forced to leave him in 2016. And it’s because of all of those reasons, that I find myself using the eff word a lot these days.

When my therapist told me that I have PTSD, I thought she was being dramatic. I’m not suppose to have PTSD. That’s something that men and women who serve our country get. People in uniform who run into burning buildings and kick down doors. Fighters. Defenders. Not a mother of 3.

Sure. If I hear sirens when my kids are not with me, where I know they are safe, I fall to my knees. Sirens. It’s always the fucking sirens.

Then, the other day, while driving on the way home, the red lights of a state trooper filled my rear view mirror. My heart sank as I pulled my car to the shoulder of the expressway.

I was speeding.

My heart sank and guilt and grief turned into curdled lumps. Sirens again. And they’re my fault.

To my surprise, I watched the trooper  zoom past me. It wasn’t me that he was heading towards. My heart sank again, and I knew to where he was going before I even looked ahead, but I looked anyway.

Up ahead there were dozens of flashing lights…and I bawled. Traffic came to a stand still. And I had to fight the urge not to get out of my car and run.

I wanted to run up to the scene. I wanted to find my husband, drag him out of his stupid car myself, and hold him in my arms. I wanted to beg God to please grant me a miracle. It’s something I’ve longed for since hearing his accident.

We were rerouted around this fatal accident. And as we passed, I didn’t see any other person… I saw my husband. Let me be clear here, I’m not speaking figuratively. My emotional reaction was so strong to seeing this other car that my mind thought it was my husband.

So that was new. Hey, I guess that’s another “first” to add to my list of this December.

December is a month where all of us, by nature, reflect on the past. Family traditions, etc. This is so bad for the grief process. I repeatedly say that in order to survive this grief, I have to be present. December took me by my face and shoved my nose in the mess of my recent past. It forebode me from being in the moment. Ok, I feel the need to say the eff word again, so I’m going to: Fuck December. Seriously, fuck it.

All sarcasm and negativity aside — I am now looking to January and February… and every other month for that matter. My goal: Focus on that which gives me hope.

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Lovely Days

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Happy Anniversary.

When we talked about it a few months ago, it’s not the one that either of us thought we’d be having . I was looking forward to the ‘surprise date’ you were planning for us, and I think of it often… what was it?

What would we be doing right now? This morning?

That, I do know …

You would pop up to the first sound of your phone alarm – set to the song “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers, and I would pull the covers tighter, with my eyes still closed and listen as you opened drawers and selected a shirt from its hanger. On special days like Fridays (or anniversaries), I could hear you dancing or singing as you chose your ensemble. The creaking of the floor boards as you walked back and forth from the bathroom to our bedroom were like an extra blanket to me. Pure comfort.

Then, once your shower was finished, you were dressed and cleaned shaved. You always came and sat at the foot of the bed on my side, tucked into my little nook of blankets and the grumbled mess that I am in the morning. You would sit there, with your socks in your hand, and I would feel you thinking.

That’s when I would open my eyes.

This was our time to discuss plans for the day. See, it was the same thing every weekday morning:

6:45 a.m. Bill Withers’ Lovely Day

6:47a.m. Choose a shirt. Take a shower.

7a.m. Sit by Meg with socks and think.

My mornings are different now. They’re still the exact same replica of the one previous to itself, but the routine, itself, changed overnight. Mornings are difficult for me. You’re probably laughing because they always were, but this isn’t the “hit snooze 12 times” type of difficult.

I wake up every morning, sore from head to toe. The therapist tells me it’s because I’m a person who “internalizes” my emotions. I lay in bed and subconsciously beg God every morning that this isn’t true. Please tell me how to undo this. Immediately, I become angry with myself for even asking that.

Then there’s fear…

How am I going to get our babies and I through the day today? Do I have the strength to get up and make them breakfast? Get them to school?

Usually by this time, one of the kids has woken up, and I’m reminded that there is no questioning. There’s only doing.

And I’m doing my best.

6:45a.m. Lay in bed, awake.

6:47a.m. Pain, begging, fear..

7a.m. Get on with the day.

I know you’d be in awe of the way others have supported us. It makes me sad to know that some of these kind faces will never get the pleasure of hearing your enthusiastic voice. My God, do I miss your voice.

These are the things I miss the most. I miss my morning guy. I miss acting like you annoyed me, when secretly I admired your cheerful disposition and your energy. I’m really pissed at myself for not telling you every second of your beautiful life that I felt this way.

I’m sure our date would’ve been perfect, but it’s not the dates that I miss. It’s things like ordinary mornings and the sound of your voice.

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