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Healthy you, healthy kids

Since becoming a mom, I’ve realized how important what I eat is, especially since my kids are eating what I am.  Do I really think switching to brown rice or whole wheat bread is all I need to do? Not by a long shot.  This millennial generation that I am part if is incredibly busy and always on the go, which usually means we don’t have time for healthy food diets, exercise or even eating sometimes. But in the larger scheme of things, it is imperative that we make a conscious effort to be healthier, for us and more importantly for our kids.

Our kids are influenced by our behaviors, attitudes and actions, and what we choose to be, is what our kids will choose to perceive and portray.  If we want to promote lifelong healthiness, we all need to get the ball rolling, literally!

With the spiking rates in childhood obesity, diabetes and cancer, it is our moral duty to help prevent these health disparities from clinging on to our children. Can we really totally prevent out children from ever developing any of these issues? Probably not, as fate must play its course, but we can take a proactive approach in promoting healthy eating and behaviors from a young age. If our kids are watching us trade in apples, granolas and yogurt for ice-cream, sodas and chocolate we can only expect their unhealthy behaviors will soon develop and emerge. We want to help our children maintain healthy weight and normal growth.

As we are disciplining our children in appropriate behaviors, it is the same we must institute for healthy living.  We may first need to start disciplining ourselves, as I know I need to, before we set acceptable rules for our kids.  By instilling this discipline, we will all quickly learn what behaviors are acceptable in terms of eating, exercise, and playtime.

So, how can we kick off these healthy habits? It all starts with innovative ideas integrating health and fun.

Making healthy eating part of movie night or game night is a great way to get everyone involved and sets aside some family time.. Let  everyone help cook dinner, throw on some music and make it an unforgettable time.  Teach your kids about what your cooking and talk about the health benefits of certain foods.  Let your kids lead healthy choices by coming up with their own recipe ideas. You can even make a scrapbook together of all your great recipes. .It’s a great way to incorporate laughter and fun, the two most important ingredients in a healthy diet!

Turn off the TV, put down that iPhone, throw on your walking shoes and get outdoors! Take your kids for a stroll, run or challenge them to a game of softball, tag or red light green light 123. Any outdoor activities will show your kids how important everyday exercise is. While your out and about, invest in some bonding time and take a few minutes to talk about sports and find out what interests them. It’s a good way to learn more about your kids and motivate them to join a sports team.  If you were an athlete in High school or college, show your kids pictures and it might spark an interest.

As the sun starts rolling around plan regular outings and trips to the park with friends and family and kick off an annual sports day. Do relay races, potato sack runs and games. Not only will kids want to practice Their moves leading up to the day, they will be pumped and excited to beat their little sister, best friend or cousin. A little competition is healthy.

Join a spin class, take hip hop classes, or try out yoga, all together. Moms, use the once a week to take your daughter to your favorite exercise class of your choice, then stop for smoothies, maybe a manicure and enjoy the day. Dads, use the day to find a favorite sport like boxing, karate, track or basketball and make a pit stop at the arcade or for smoothies too! Everyone loved a good smoothie. The point is to use the time to educate and engage your kids about healthy living, while living happily!!

Create a body chart with your kids and educate them on what each organ of the body does and what it needs to function.  Let your kids be creative and colorful and use lots of highlighters and words. Let it be their creation that they can be proud of and maybe even hang on their wall in their room.

We all need to start somewhere to be a healthy role model. Find your role and start teaching your kids the healthy way.

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Postpartum- How I Turned The Blues Into Joys

It’s been over a month since I brought my beautiful daughter into the world and words can’t express how amazing this journey has been beginning from the time I found out I was pregnant all the way to present, post pregnancy. Creating life is a true test to one’s spirit, mind and soul and I’ve found inspiration is hidden in all corners of the world and its up to each individual to find it, embrace it and live it. Believe it or not, I’m not experiencing any “postpartum blues,” but yet, I’m overcome with postpartum joy! Well, I can’t say I haven’t gotten bored in the house at times, but that’s where hobbies like writing this article comes in.

During my pregnancy, like so many first time moms, I was constantly adapting to my new skin and evolving changes and sought advice from reliable articles, blogs and books. During my reading sessions, I have to say I was not looking forward to what many were referring to as the “postpartum blues or state of depression.” To be honest, it was a little unnerving to think that’s what I had to look forward to after 9 months of waddling, bruised ribs, food aversions and hourly pee breaks.  Though the valuable insight is a sure way to prepare women for what may happen after birth, I think many of these articles forget to mention how delightful the whole experience really is. I’m so happy that I’m so focused on my postppartum joys that the blues don’t even exist!

Caring, cuddling and cooing have all become a divine pastime for me. Some days I lay beside this little life I created and gaze into her big bright eyes thinking about all the incredible memories we are going to make together and all the places her father and I will take her. What a masterpiece she is delicately formed and carved to be a rare gem that has created a perfect balance in my life.

Vishanna Kira Maharajh was born on February 8th, 2012 at 5:37 PM at Long Island Jewish Hospital. On February 10th, I brought her to her new home where she was about to begin a life filled with endless love and joy. I placed her in her new crib where she would spend her many nights peacefully sleeping, dreaming and smiling. The first few nights I couldn’t sleep because I just wanted to stare at her. I would immediately get up to her every sound and movement, respond to every squeal or cry and cradle her in my arms until she fell into a deep sleep again. I was soaking up every inch of this perfect little girl and learning all I could about her the same way she was learning all about her new environment and family. I knew my job was to make her comfortable and make sure she felt loved and secure. But above all, I knew I wanted to make sure she knew that I was here for her and wouldn’t let anything happen to her. Thats what I decided to focus on, and so far its been smooth sailing.

So many describe the postpartum blues as a few different things beginning with lack of sleep. Yes, there is now way of getting around this. My little one needs to eat every 2-3 hours and it’s my job to make sure she’s fed whether it’s 3am or midnight. It’s also my job to respond to her if she’s crying, fussing or just uneasy, and if that means being ripped from my sleep to do so, then so be it. But there are a few ways to battle cranky sleepless nights. Having a support system is a necessity, whether it be your husband, partner, mother, sister or even friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and have a loved one take over for a bit while you catch a snooze. For me, my husband is my savior and when he takes over, I get to catch up on my dreams! Also, when she is sleeping I do take advantage of this time and try to take a nap along with her. I’ve also found eating healthy snacks in between naps helps to wake me up and keep going along with a an occasion splash of water! But, the best thing about my little one sleeping is watching her., I can’t help but stare at her often and watch her smile or sometimes let out a playful laugh as the angels entertain her.  For me, watching her sleep is a blessing and I can’t get enough of it. One of my favorite things is rocking her to sleep in my arms and listening to her deep breathing, so angelic and perfected. I may be worn out to the max at times, tired, cranky and begging for a cup of coffee, but it all melts away once my little angel is safely and soundly sleeping.

We all are aware that pain after pregnancy is inevitable, but learning how to cope with it can help avoid yet another obstacle that is responsible for postpartum blues.  I have to say I was lucky enough to have a complicated free pregnancy and a delivery that I can now look back at and say, “that wasn’t no bad.” Now, I did have an all natural delivery without any drugs, by choice, and I have to say it was the best decision for me. Is that why my postpartum pains weren’t as bad as I read they may be? Maybe it was a factor. But I think the trick to getting over the pain is to think positive and try out different techniques and remedies that may work for you, such as a full body massage from your partner, long hot showers, yoga, a little time for yourself when you can, and maybe some light reading just to get your mind off of the pain. All of these things, especially the long hot showers worked to relieve my pain and spread a little comfort. But, what really helped me get better quickly was focusing on my baby and being a mom and having a family to provide for. Once I felt comfortable enough in my new role as “mom” and caregiver, I was able to block out everything else and just enjoy the new experience. Besides, things got so busy really quickly, that there was not time left to think about pain.

Choosing to nurse your loved one is a great decision with many benefits for both mom and baby. Many new moms, myself included, will find nursing to be a little frustrating, painful and just hard to figure out. In my experience, I decided to nurse and supplement with formula as I felt my baby wasn’t getting full just from my breast milk. Either way, nursing is a job by itself and the first 2 weeks my nipples were sore all the time, my breasts hurt and Vishanna constantly wanted to nurse. It’s like a 24 hour job without getting paid. But, I was being rewarded. The bond that develops between a mother and child during nursing is irreplaceable and no one could ever rekindle that. Its truly a wonderful feeling to stroke her head and gently run my hands down her back as she gently feeds.  When she stares up into my eyes and I interlock my hands in her little fingers, we become one and this a moment that overcomes the pain and frustration. Nursing is truly a joy and should be thought of as a great reward rather than a burden.

These are the ways I’ve learned to turn the postpartum blues into joys and I’m enjoying every minute I spend with my baby rather than trying to overcome unsettling mood swings, unexplainable depression or irritability. While it’s a proven fact that women do develop postpartum depression and it can be very serious, I believe it’s up to the individual to choose whether they want to focus on the negative or positive of caring for a newborn and all the after effects of giving birth.

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Caribbean Nations Addressing Emerging Population of Special Needs Children

1 out of every 5 children in the U.S.is born with a special healthcare need. In New YorkState alone that equates to over 800,000 children.

Children with special needs, complex medical conditions or developmental disabilities, are challenged with a wide array of conditions stemming from premature birth, chronic illnesses, or severe injuries. These conditions often require a continuum of medical, educational, and rehabilitative long-term care and specialized services.

Children who are born with special needs are not limited to a particular demographic, race or culture- all unborn children are at risk for complications. Research in the Caribbean dating back to the 80’s and 90’s suggest that children in the Caribbean are at risk for or already have a special need.

In a 2007 interview with Angelita Arnold, Director of the Mico College Child Assessment and Research in Education Center in Jamaica, she was quoted as saying in JIS News “the number is significant. There is not a classroom you can go to inJamaicawhere there is not one child without some kind of special need.”

At the Caribbean Symposium on Inclusive Education in St. Lucia, it was found that there were 253 children with special needs who are presently attending Special education schools inSt. Lucia. Although this represents only 0.64% of the total school population, the number continues to grow and these children still deserve to be appropriately educated and cared for.

In 1996 a survey conduced inTrinidad and Tobagoreported there were over 50,000 children in the twin island republic with special needs or some type of developmental disability. In 2006 a survey conducted by Families in Action (FIA) at a Port-of-Spain primary school led by a project team of Medical Psychological, Social Work and educational partners showed that 70% of the children 7-13 years of age were characterized as academically impaired.  Of these children, 15% had medical problems that could affect learning.  Most recently, a 2009 article in Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday reported that 32% of students are intellectually challenged due to a number of learning disabilities that educators did not recognize as a special need, rather identified the child’s learning disability with their incapability to grasp concepts.

Learning disabilities (LD) refers to a group of disorders that affect a broad range of academic and functional skills including the ability to speak, listen, read, write, spell, reason, organize information, and do math. The disorders are neurological in origin and reflect information processing problems in the brain. LD’s may co-exist with various conditions including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), behavioral disorders, sensory impairments, or other medical or neurological conditions like autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and Tourette Syndrome.

LD often leads to long-lasting psychological harm unless they are caught early. Babies born prematurely, meaning slightly early or two weeks late have a raised risk of learning difficulties.

I in every 8 babies are born prematurely every year. Premature birth is a major cause of serious health problems with pre-term infants at greater risk of medical complications and long-term disabilities, such as chronic lung and heart disease, developmental delays, and feeding issues, which may require specialized care and support for months, and often years, after they are born

The most recent wave of a developmental disability to hit the seas is Autism; a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. In Trinidad and Tobago, as of October 2007, there were over 300 families registered with the Autistic Society of Trinidad andTobago, but local awareness remains relatively low and funds are needed to advance the cause of the Society.

Many Caribbean countries are beginning to recognize the need for educational and social programs that address the growing needs of the special needs population who are faced with complex medical and or life-limiting conditions.

Guyana has recently been taken up appropriate tactics to combat the severely growing number of Guyanese children with autism. Ministry of Health’s Rehabilitation Services program and the Ministry of Education’s Special Needs Unit at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) recently held a special workshop which addressed the lack of capacity and basic knowledge of strategies inGuyana’s special needs schools to address autism.

At the end of June, therapists from the Strategic Learning and Special Education Institute, a private institution in Trinidad which works with special needs children, will host a professional workshop in Maryland for parents, therapists and teachers, hold individual consultations with parents and their special needs children, conduct teacher training and child assessments.  This is a wonderful opportunity to raise national awareness of how children with special needs can learn to become independent and live fulfilling lives – with the right teaching methods and resources.

Just last year the education ministry in Jamaica became aware that hundreds of students with special needs are waiting to gain access to schools. This has been a problem for years and the ministry is now trying to address it. After being diagnosed, most of the children with special education needs are forced to return to the mainstream classroom where their educational, medical, and social needs are not being met.

Grenada announced the implementation of a training program for educators involved in teaching children with special needs. The six week training for 20 teachers, including three from Carriacou, is expected to enhance the trainees’ knowledge, skills and understanding of inclusive and special education best practices.

The Ministry of Education in St. Lucia has increasingly attempted to broaden the scope of delivery of Special Education services by establishing the Student Support Services Unit, which includes the Special Education Unit, catering for children in Special Schools, as well as supporting children with learning disabilities at Infant and Primary schools.

Although these countries may not be far in combating the issue, they have each taken measures to promote and encourage education and awareness which is the first and most crucial step.

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Men & Women are Equally to Blame

From the beginning of mankind, men and women have been in an unwavering war of nonsensical arguments. They’ve found themselves a never ending cycle of raging tempers, and constant insecurities. While we tend to blame one another for our mishaps and pin the fight on one thing he or she said or did, we really need to recognize the truth.

It is the joint effort of a couple, to over time, ruin a relationship and diminish anything that once resembled love. Men and women are equally to blame for the miserable outcomes that follow any argument or quarrel.

Men Don’t Show Enough Affection; Women Want Too Much
Sometimes a woman thinks, “Since we got married, he never comes near me unless we’re having sex. Is something wrong with me? Isn’t he happy to see me?” Dr. Tracy Cabot, a love and relationship columnist and author of Letting Go, and How to Make a Man Fall in Love with You, put it well as she said, “Women want to be loved for their souls, their intelligence, and their personalities, sense of humor, depth and ability to please you. They need reassurance that sex isn’t the only reason you want them.”

Wanting your significant other to display the physical act of loving and caring is a perfectly normal craving for every woman, and men need to fulfill it, not ignore it. Women want to know they are safe and secure in their man’s arms. Now, some men were raised in a family that affection wasn’t a word uttered, furthermore the foundation of their upbringing, so it may be hard to overcome that void. Not all men are the soft, sensitive, mushy type women want all the time. Men need to be men.

Women don’t always realize that men cannot change overnight, nor can they do exactly what a woman expects them to do all the time. Women wanting too much can cause a man to back away and stop giving anything at all. Sometimes women should just be happy with what they do have, and stop complaining about what they don’t have.

Bringing Up Fights from the Past
Women and men have a tendency to bring up old fights from the past. Why combat with immaturity. What happened in the past should stay in the past. Bringing up old arguments never solves anything, but makes the situation worse than it should be and opens a fresh can of worms that could have been left unopened.

It’s a bit irrational when women begin ranting about the girl she swears she spotted him with about 3 years ago. Of course he answers with, “I thought we already talked about this. You know she was my co-worker and we were on our way back from a business meeting. You know nothing happened.” Although the woman clearly remembers that nothing happened, she still decides to press it, “Well, I don’t really know that, maybe you lied, or maybe you left out the important parts.” Men are now losing their tempers and dip into their bag of old memories. “And you think its okay to come home whatever time you want? Don’t think I forgot about that 3am sneaking in.” That was about 4 years ago, and now the woman is getting offensive about her “one” night out with her friends.  

Hence, the fight get’s worse and inevitably ends with both parties getting no sex that night. Not only does it cause tempers to rise, but it can also leave unhealed wounds and hurt feelings that can sometimes be irreparable.

Men are not mind readers, but women shouldn’t always have to guide them
Valentines Day has arrived and your significant other did not plan a thing, not even a movie or dinner. You assume he knows you’ve been dying to go see the new Broadway musical, so you think he would have gotten tickets; considering you’ve been mentioning it everyday for the past 6 months.  When you ask him he wonders how he should have known that and why you just didn’t tell him that. He would have gotten the tickets if you said you wanted them. Needless to say, Valentines Day is nothing more than anger day now.

You’re already in your pajamas, popcorn popped, and movie in, ready to cuddle with your man and watch a movie. He comes into the room, seeing all this, and still decides to ask, “Me and the boys are thinking about going to the bar. Is that okay?” A woman’s response- “Do whatever you want. If you really want to, then go.” So, he takes that as an okay and flies off the couch and in the car. Of course you’re angry and now he’s wondering why.

A woman’s infamous line is, “You should have known what I wanted. Why do I have to spell it out for you?” Men are not mind readers, and maybe he really didn’t know. Women, if the answer if no then say no, not “Well, do what you want.” If you want something in particular during those special holidays, then why not just tell your husband or boyfriend. Be upfront, and if he messes it up, at least it’s not your fault.

But, sometimes I think men really should know by now. The old “how was I supposed to know that,” excuse is getting pretty worn out. Men and women have been dating for centuries and men should e able to recognize some signs by now. If a woman has been dropping hints for weeks about something she really wants, men need to listen and adhere. If a woman answers, “Do what you want,” men need to know that really translates to “hell no.”  But, sometimes men really don’t know and women need to guide them. Men and women should work together once in a while. Life might not be so complicated.

Men and Women are equally to Blame
Are we seeing a pattern yet? Both men and women are equally wrong in all their fights and need to recognize their individual faults. I cannot safely say that I believe a woman is always right, although that saying has been coined. Let’s say, “A man and woman is always wrong.”

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Graduates Should Pursue Higher Education

It’s time to go back to school and students are gearing up for making many significant decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. While many high school students are planning for a college education and deciding what state university to attend, some college students are weighing their options for higher education vs. joining the workforce.

After a rigorous 4-year streak in college, students are overwhelmed with the thought of committing to another 2 or 3 years of obtaining another degree. Others are facing mounting financial obligations and cannot foresee the dollars to enhance their education.  So, many begin looking towards getting a job, whether it be a lower paying job than they deserve or opted for, or a job that is unrelated to their individual fields.

This population of graduates must be aware of that the number of employers seeking higher educated candidates is increasingly rising.  Graduates with Masters Degrees and PhD’s are becoming front line contenders for high paying and challenging jobs in diverse marketplaces.  Higher education plays a vital role in furthering a career, no matter what profession he or she plans to pursue.

Employers want to know how you are unique from your competition. By pursuing an advanced degree, you already have the upper hand over your competitors. If you have spent your time and money studying, it shows you have a vested interest in your future and in your career; it shows you deep commitment to yourself and your field and it turn, to the company that is potentially going to hire you.

The financial benefits of higher education are only of many to mention. Statistics show that people with higher education make as much as $200,000 more over a lifetime than those with lesser education. Many employers use your level of education to determine the salary that you will receive when you are hired. Most often, promotions, and pay raises are tied to the completion of courses and programs specifically designed for career advancement. College and university graduates are also more likely to have access to better healthcare and dental benefits that come with more established careers.

Another thing that people often forget is that college or university allows you to experience a rich social and cultural scene, and meet all kinds of different people while pursuing a field you love. It will also allow you to see different places, and for many people it is their first chance to live on your own.

A constant flow of retaining information also allows you to improve your reading, writing, and math skills that will help you with all aspects of your life. Improving these basic skills can help you better manage your finances, boost your ability to do multiple aspects of any job or responsibility, and ensure you with confidence in your everyday activities. It also allows you to study in a field that interests you and to follow an area of study that you are passionate about. Pursuing things that you are passionate about and gaining confidence with an education will help you lead a healthy and fulfilling life.

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Children Addicted to Cell phones- A Growing Epidemic

In the recent years of progressing technology and dynamic inventions that have synchronized communication and created user-friendly on the go tools across the medium, a growing epidemic has tragically urbanized. Today’s younger generation in the United States have become intolerably addicted to cellular phones and everything the mobile handheld device has to offer, including text messaging, mobile emails, video conferencing, and more.

This is an all too familiar subject for parents who remember the days when a cordless house phone was a rare item, none the less a cell phone with additional special features and mobile applications that enhance user experience.  It is true that today’s generation makes it seamlessly effortless to always be in touch with the world and up to date with the latest trends, and this generation is the first to grow up in a mobile world where the technological capabilities are endless. But, it has become evident that almost no world exists outside of this technology. Teenagers are being defined by this mobility. They are taking control, and becoming out of control.

Teenagers and young adults are the casualties of this spiraling degradation of childhood life. Four out of five teens (17 million) carry a wireless device (a 40% increase since 2004), according to the study titled “Teenagers: A Generation Unplugged,” conducted by CTIA, The international Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry in conjunction with Harris Interactive, a leading market research and consulting firm in the wireless industry. The average American 8-18 year-old uses media for 7 hours and 38 minutes a day, and 20% of that time is spent on a mobile device. That’s a huge chunk of time that is being taken away from everyday life.

There are a growing number of children who are constantly neglecting basic tasks such homework, household chores, sleeping, or even going to school because they are engulfed with their phones. Teens are uncomfortable if they are stripped of their phone, thrown into a dimensional world where nothing around them makes sense. A teen becomes engraged when a cell phone is taken away. Fighting, temper tantrums and dragged out arguments are spurred. Now, parents are using taking away a child’s phone as a form of discipline. That’s how bad it has become to know that a child without a phone is a form of punishment. Without their phone, a teen almost loses functionality. Not a minute passes without them checking missed calls or voicemails, and text messages are being sent in mass numbers a day.

A Pew Research Center and the University of Michigan study says nearly one out of three kids between 12 and 17 years old send over a 100 texts a day. Good old fashion Communication as we used to know it has been overthrown. Instead of walking down the street to a friend’s house to ask them if they want to ride their bikes, a shortened version of a text is sent saying, “wanna get ice-cream, meet me at da corner.” At school these days, the cell phone is almost as common as bagged lunches.

Not only here in the United Statesis this emerging problem surfacing, but across the globe this phenomenon has taken over. According to an article by Yuri Kageyama from the associated press, in Tokyo, Japanese youngsters are getting so addicted to Internet-linking cell phones that the government is starting a program warning parents and schools to limit their use among children.

Russian officials have recommended that children under the age of 18 years not use cell phones at all. Similarly, the United Kingdom, Israel, Belgium,Germany and Indiah ave discouraged use of cell phones by children.

While some countries are worried about the social impact phones are having, others are focusing on the major health issues that have recently come to the forefront. Schools inFranceprohibit cell phones as a precaution for the kids’ health, now that 2,000 independent studies worldwide have linked the electromagnetic fields (EMF) produced by cell phones with a laundry list of health concerns. Countries issuing warnings or creating laws to protect children from wireless radiation are a growing group.

While many teens believe a cell phone is a way of personalization and reflecting their individuality and lifestyles, it has taken over their lives, becoming the only hope for social gain.Nearly half (47%) of US teens say their social life would end or be worsened without their cell phone, and nearly six in 10 (57%) credit their mobile device with improving their life, according to a national survey from CTIA and Harris Interactive.

Teenagers and young adults are in a growing world where technology will continue on an upward descent and parents must be aware that this may be the root of many of their children’s problems. Incessant exposure to “all day TV,” violent video games, instant messaging, and the always accessible cell phone interferes with the development of the psychological traits known to be essential to positive outcomes for children, according to Leah Klungness, Ph.D., psychologist in private practice and co-author of The Complete Single Mother. Overexposure to technology creates emotional numbness, confusion between fantasy and reality, and pent-up anxiety that leads to aggressive behavior in children. While the tools to enhance overall life is always readily available and has helped to increase the foundation of our existence, it is also becoming the foundation for the downfall of teenage life. We must at least be open to the possibility and let ourselves adapt.

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Death: When It’s Your Time, It’s Your Time

Death is a delicate subject we all desperately want to avoid. To explore the unknown comes with a large price to pay- fear. 

It becomes an unbearable burden when we begin to question death and dabble to unravel the mysteries surrounding the end of life as we know it.  We subsist in our individual worlds, some filled with usual routines and conventional rituals, others surviving day by day with unpredictability through a series of unexpected events.  But each of our worlds coexist as one, as we will all face the inevitable one day, whether it finds us today, tomorrow, or in 10 years; and we cannot avoid it. When it’s your time, it’s your time.

The tragedy of young officer Michael Califano, victim of a horrible car crash on the Long Island Expressway in New York, was a devastating shock to his wife, three boys, and the entire squad of The Nassau County Police Department first precinct. This 44-year old man was a loving, kind-hearted, and spirited father, community member, and decorated police officer who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. As Officer Califano was sitting in his patrol car writing a summons for a truck he pulled over, his care was struck by a flatbed tow truck. Although the truck with passengers he pulled over were also at a standstill in front of Officer Califano’s car, waiting for their ticket, somehow, only his car was hit, tragically killing him.

Why should he have to be the one to leave behind 3 young boys, a wife, and an entire squad who relied on him? It’s a complicated thing when we begin to question the unanswered. All we can label this as, is a tragic accident that took the life of a man whose time was up here on earth.

Diane Schuler caused a deadly head-on collision by driving the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway, in New York, killing eight people, including her 2-year-old daughter and three young nieces.  Known as one of the worst crashes in the New York region in memory, it left behind grieving loved one’s wondering why their young children, innocent bystanders, did not survive.  Yet, Diane’s 5- year old son Bryan was the only sole survivor. Why did he make it and not the other 5 children? Is Bryan more deserving of life than the other kids? Of course this is not true, but any parent would only wonder.

While there are many scientific explanations and medical diagnoses as to why many people face death at a young age, such as Officer’s Califano’s 1 –year daughter who died of a congenital heart disease, it still does not explain why a little girl who did not even have the opportunity to experience more than one year of her life, was taken away from her family. Was it her time as well? Is it the fate of Officer’s Califano’s wife to experience death so many times in her life and literally have her family ripped away from her?

Many of us, based on our spiritual and religious backgrounds, believe fate is the deciding factor in death. It is outside our realm of control and left up to the more powerful or stronger spiritual being we may believe in.

Some believe we were all put on earth for different reasons. Some to become famous celebrities, authors, or dancers, others travel the path of destruction to become drug addicts, junkies, or alcoholics, and majority of us, average everyday people hanging on to materialistic things always wanting more than we already have.

Once we have completed our tasks or fulfilled our sole purposes, then we no longer belong here. So, maybe those five children killed on the Taconic fulfilled their purpose of bringing joy and happiness to their parents for those short few years. Maybe Officer Califano fulfilled his purpose of helping his community as a cop for so many years, and maybe his 1-year daughter fulfilled her purpose of giving her mother the strength to cope with her husband’s death.

The roads we travel, the routes we take, the days we miss from work instead of jumping on the subway and heading into the city, the times we cancel our flight to attend a best friend’s birthday party, or even the slightest movements we make, all play a role in our fate.

Yes, some of us make choices that may ultimately lead to an untimely death, others spend a majority of their lives correcting those mistakes to undue the damage, and some of us just live; but all in all, when’s it’s your time, it’s your time.