One Year After..

One Year After..

A take on my experience dealing with the death of a sibling. 
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          As a young impressionable girl, you always looked up to your older brother in many different aspects of life. Mostly, learning what you can and can’t get away with. An older brother is someone who gives you Indian burns on your arm until you scream but will take you out for an ice cream date afterward. He will teach you how to ride a dirt bike and take the blame when mom gets mad. An older brother is someone who was born with a main goal of protecting his little sister and loving her more than she could ever know. He teaches his little sister to not take sh*t from anyone and that it’s okay to be stronger than the boys she plays with on the playground; “because if they push, you better push back.” He teaches you to love sports because you grew up watching him play baseball. He prepares his little sister for pain, for the many heartbreaks he knows that she is going to have to live through. Your parents are there to keep you on a straightened arrow but your brother is there to make sure fun can be included in that plan. Unfortunately, what all of these lessons he relayed over the years don’t teach you, is how to live without him. 

It is impossible for others to understand what was going through your mind when you found out. One second you were sitting in your apartment, trying to get your already crazy life together and  then, at the blink of an eye, everything changes. Life as you knew it was broken. Anger, confusion, and sadness suffocate you until you completely black out and just stare, emotionless at the lights going by as you’re traveling down the highway to your childhood home that you shared with your brother who, you now realize is never coming home again.

 “Why did this have to happen?” is the never ending, never answered question that races through your head. I eventually learned you can’t ask why because it will absolutely tear your sanity to shreds. 

When you lose a sibling, you lose a piece of you. The biggest part of your childhood is gone and it’s hard to actually face the fact that you will never get to see this person again, hear their voice that one last time, see their smile again and at this point, you’re begging for one last Indian burn. Only being able to see him in your dreams is this uncontrollable feeling of constantly wondering if he is going to visit you tonight while you’re sleeping. He has become the angel you never knew you needed, until now. 

In your darkest hours is when he will show the most love and protection. 

When you walk down the street, you see someone that reminds you of your brother and for a second there’s a sense of hope that this entire mess was just a bad dream. But, then you must come to terms with the fact that this isn’t a dream, its your new reality. Your new reality will become more real with time and you’ll start to get back into a routine. As one year passes by, you notice your brother in your actions and through your words and that’s kind of scary because you know and can feel that he is smirking at you for making the same dumb mistakes that he did in the past.

Of course you wonder what it would be like to have never lost your big brother. To have never experienced such an immense loss that spins your world upside down. There’s not a day that goes by that you don’t think about him, but there is so much more to him than just his death and what has happened as a result of it. 

When the day that I had to burry my big brother came, I somehow muddled up enough strength and composure to read the poem that got me through his death in front of 2,000 people. The outpouring of love from his friends and my friends who drove over 2 hours to support me on this terrible day will never be forgotten or unappreciated. I didn’t quite know how to act or what to think. No one ever gave me a handbook on “What to do when your brother passes away while you’re in college.” I was given this poem by one of my brothers friends, who lost his older brother as well and this poem is truly is one of the most special things in the world to me. This poem was a light that was meant to lead me to where I am today. I would love to share it. 

If Tomorrow Starts Without Me…

Author: David Romano 

If tomorrow starts without me, and I’m not here to see,

If the sun should rise you find your eyes all filled with tears for me;

I wish so much you wouldn’t cry the way you did today,

While thinking of the many things we didn’t get to say.

I know how much you love me, as much as I love you

And each time that you think of me, I know you’ll miss me too.

But when tomorrow starts without me please try to understand,

That an angel came and called my name and took me by the hand.

He said my place was ready, in heaven far above

And that I’d have to leave behind all those I dearly love. 

But as I turned and walked away a tear fell from my eye.

For all my life I’d always thought, I didn’t want to die.

I had so much to live for, so much left yet to do.

It seemed almost impossible that I was leaving you.

I thought of all the yesterdays the good ones and the bad.

I thought of all the love we shared, and all the fun we had.

If I could relive yesterday, just even for a while,

I’d say goodbye and kiss you and maybe see you smile.

But then I fully realized that this could never be,

For emptiness and memories would take the place of me.

When I thought of worldly things I might miss come tomorrow

I thought of you and when I did my heart was filled with sorrow.

When I walked through heavens gates I felt so much at home.

God looked down and smiled at me from his great golden throne

He said, “This is eternity and all I’ve promised you”

Today your life on earth has passed but here life starts anew.

I promise no tomorrow, but today will always last

And since each day is the same there’s no longing for the past.

You have been so faithful so trusting and so true.

Though there were times you did some things you knew you shouldn’t do.

You have been forgiven and now at last you’re free.

So won’t you come and take my hand and share my life with me?

So when tomorrow starts with out me don’t think we’re far apart,

For every time you think of me, I’m right here in your heart.

If my brother never passed away, I’d probably still just be a girl selfishly enjoying college and making mistakes without a care in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I still do those things, but my outlook on the world has definitely changed. 

This whole situation as a whole sucks but it just forces you to become a stronger person. You become a different person after the death of your sibling and are eager to live life in honor of them. You’re eager to do things that you have never done before because you know you have an angel looking out for you. You become brave because your older brother embodied that characteristic. You become obsessed with bettering yourself because you now have a bigger reason to live.

Now, one year later, you live every single day to the fullest since you really don’t know when your last could be. Valuing relationships you never thought you needed to take a second to be thankful for, being closer with your parents because you aren’t the only one who lost part of your life, and cherishing life in a different light are just a few of the many things that this whole experience encouraged me to do. You really find the simple things in life that are often overlooked and appreciate its presence in the world. 

I hope anyone going through anything similar can read this and have hope that it will get better. Yes, there will be days that you want to scream but the better days, where he shows you that he’s with you are worth it. Im forever grateful for the twenty five years I was able to spend with him, even though it doesn’t seem like its enough time. We beg for more time and thats something that we always cant salvage.

 Thank you for the lessons you’ve taught me and thank you for the strength you have given me, My sweet angel. I live everyday for you. 

I’ll always love you Dylan. Xoxo. 

Gracie, your little sister. 

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Laughing Girls

Women have domineered the world of comedy television despite a variety of obstacles.
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In life, as in media, people have to pretend to be so many things that they may not understand what’s really happening in the world around them. In the terms of comedy, women have transcended a medium that previously was dominated by males. In the beginning, there were the few people who leaped from vaudeville into standup, then came the league of extraordinary ladies.

Names such as Joan Rivers, Betty White, Phyllis Diller, and Carol Burnett shattered the glass ceiling. Women are now a pioneering force in the world of comedy.

From shows such as I Love Lucy bringing the scent of a woman’s perspective to the then-new medium of television to Mary Tyler Moore giving a single woman’s views on the world and the workforce, to the series All-American Girl with Margaret Cho bringing diversity to the center stage to the comedic misadventures of Issa Rae in the HBO series, Insecure; women have made a triumphant rise in the field of comedy.

The Early Days

Comedy television in the early days relied heavily on the idea of a woman exclusively playing wife. Armed with either advice or in the case of two of the early greats, Audrey Meadows and Joyce Randolph, a dry wit to keep their husband’s personalities at bay. These two women were relegated to portraying the housewife with great wit for their husbands poorly conceived get rich quick schemes. These characters were not very common and were brought back to the world of comedy only after women really established that they had a position of power in their marriages.

However, other characters at the time were the happy housewife that never really had issues with their lifestyle or their husband. These can be shown through three different women in comedy television. The first is the ever-memorable Donna Reed.

After making a name for herself as Mary Bailey in the hit film, It’s a Wonderful Life, Donna Reed took on the role of Donna Stone. She was the happy homemaker whose work was more or less playing gracious hostess and helping to organize community events. This is the traditional housewife of the 1950s and much of these characters were prominent.

Shows such as Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best and The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet were recognized for their similarities in that they were more conservative versions of women. While some characters managed to defy the stereotypical stay at home mother, others came to prominence as the zany housewife that couldn’t leave well enough alone, or that has something else in her life working against her. Enter Lucille Ball.

Lucille Ball made a name for herself starring alongside her then-husband, Desi Arnaz on the show, I Love Lucy. I Love Lucy became a cultural icon for the simple fact that it was Lucille Ball in an unfiltered setting. She was able to play zany, the mother, the housewife and every avenue in between.

Armed with a sharp wit and a physically comic style that had people laughing until it hurt, she made the show everything she wanted. After I Love Lucy, though, she and Desi divorced and moved on. However, Lucy found herself still in the light of the small screen.

After the success of I Love Lucy came the hit series, The Lucy Show, and following that was the third hit series, Here’s Lucy. These shows took a woman and the issues of her life as well as some of the issues in being a woman and pushed them into their rightful place in pop culture. One thing to say about these shows is that despite Lucille Ball being divorced from Desi Arnaz, none of her characters ever tackled the angle of being a divorcee. She was always a widower, as many single women in television were but soon that changed.

Lucy, however, took control on the show. Mentor and friend, Carol Burnett, spoke about how Lucy had to take charge after her husband was no longer dealing with the writers. Burnett said that when Ball stepped up and took control is when the “s” was added to the end of her last name (Burnett). However, much like a great deal of women, Lucy took the reins and began to use the shows they were on as a platform for the issues they wanted to see portrayed.

Comedy television really opened up for women with the series, Hollywood on Television. Betty White was one of the producers, creators and starred in the series. This made her the first woman to create, produce, and star in her own series. Others would make this similar feat but White was a catalyst for women taking the center stage in the world of comedy.

Others to follow would be Joan Rivers, Phyllis Diller, Carol Burnett and the like. Though rivers, made a name for herself as a standup comedian her work on the small screen will never be forgotten. Phyllis Diller, however, has more than little recognition for her debut on the small screen.

Based on the novel, House Party by Patrick Dennis, The Pruitt’s of Southampton was a series that perfectly captured the eccentric essence of the starring comedienne Phyllis Diller. The series centered on the life of Phyllis Pruitt, a wealthy widow, who discovers that she owes the IRS ten-million dollars in backed taxes.

Though the show garnered Diller a Golden Globe nomination, the show was a ratings flop and was retooled halfway through to become The Phyllis Diller Show. This plan didn’t work either and the entire series was canceled. However, another female comedian was going to make great strides in one aspect of the comedy genre.

Carol Burnett came to prominence from starring on The Gary Moore Show, which is where she originated her iconic charwoman character. However, she left the series in 1962 and had a ten-year contract with CBS. She had a clause that she could exercise that allowed her to do a thirty week, one-hour variety show.

She exercised the clause but was met with a great deal of resistance from the Mike Dann, the head of CBS at the time, said that sketch comedy was a man’s genre (Burnett). However, Burnett proved what all female comedians have been proving to the world for years, women are funny and gender doesn’t matter.

The Days of Diversity

Women have often been held back in all aspects of life but in the world of comedy, women have been a triumph. They have persevered despite the want by men to have comedy remain a boy’s club. Some ethnic groups have come into their own with women being the catalyst for this type of change. One example of this is the show Julia, starring Diahann Carrol.

Julia was a show about a single mother and a nurse. This show ran from 1968 to 1971, but it began only a few years after the Civil Rights Bill became law. However, Carrol was concerned about just what the show should have been in terms of racial activism. Carrol said, “The racial involvement was very minuscule on all television shows. It was absolutely let’s stay away from that. That’s too controversial, so we knew that going in. First, you make the success, and then you have other steps. (Carroll)”

Julia really started an ongoing sequence of shows that would ultimately use an African American man, woman or couple. Other racial groups, however, have faced suppression but slowly were able to rise to prominence. One example of this is Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl. Usually, when shows tackle a diversity angle they have a focus on the assimilation of the traditional idea from the character's culture and incorporate the ideas of the country they are living in.

Margaret Cho created and starred in All American Girl and broke the racial divide, but a growing amount of tension about her being the face of the series made it difficult to really have the show be what it could have been. On the PBS series, Pioneers of Television, Cho discussed some of the problems that occurred with the production of All American Girl.

She said, “I didn’t have these attributes they think of when they think of a female star of a show. I wasn’t thin, I wasn’t white. I think because I wasn’t white they had to somehow make me conform in other ways that would make me palatable to an audience. When you're the first person to cross over this racial barrier, you're scrutinized for all these other things that have nothing to do with race, but they have everything to do with race—it’s a very strange thing."

After a while, networks do come around to the idea of diversity and make room for the exploration of issues surrounding some a specific culture. One show that made this possible was Cristela on ABC. Created, written, produced by and starring Cristela Alonzo the show featured her as a woman who has taken a lot of time out of her life to take care of the family. Now she is finishing her college career and is slowly becoming a lawyer. The show really delves into issues of family, masculinity and, especially, racism. One episode that covered the gender hierarchy in terms of salary was aptly titled Equal Pay.

In the episode, Cristela has to represent a bank that is being sued for not allowing women to make as much as men do. At home, her brother-in-law, Felix is bragging about how men should make more than women so they can be the breadwinners of the house. It turns out that her sister, Daniella makes way more than Felix does and she doesn’t tell him because she likes him to feel “manly”.

Many of the episodes also dealt with her boss Trent Culpepper being a hardcore racist towards Cristela. Though, this was a reality that is true for many cultures. More often than not this wasn’t only positive for women but also for the culture and this is something that many shows featuring women have in common.

New York City is a common setting for many sitcoms and in terms of 1990’s television, it took center stage as an additional character in shows. However, the idea of gentrification has followed New York City in being a character.

One major example of this are the two shows Fox’s Living Single, and NBC’s FRIENDS. Both shows are about a group of men and women in their twenties and early thirties navigating life, work and the pursuit of romance. An article from the online news site, City Lab, compared both shows from the viewpoint of how each set of characters carried themselves, and the café’s they frequented.

Writer Brentin Mock expanded the idea that the café setting wasn’t ideal and essential to the series, Living Single because these were people with real lives and real jobs. Mock wrote, “The characters—executives and service workers, the self-employed and the full-salariedwere a continuance of the movin’ on up theme of economic advancement found consistently throughout the evolution of black television, from “The Jeffersons” to “Blackish.” The suggestion was that black urban mobility remained limited despite good financial footing. Coffee beans were not the essence of social life in the city for the black characters: They had to go to work.”

The newest show exploring diversity with women in comedy is the Netflix’s remake of the 1970’s sitcom, One Day at a Time. This show centers on veteran Penelope Alvarez, portrayed by Justina Machado, a single mother of two kids, who is learning to deal with new situations all around her. Some of these include her daughter coming out as a lesbian, dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with anti-depressants, and her mother almost dying. The show has many different aspects that play into it aside from the idea of cultural assimilation.

Unlike the original series, which focused on the struggles of single motherhood, the new show is multi-faceted, with storylines delving into the citizenship struggle of Penelope’s mother Lydia, as well as the issues of Penelope wanting to become a nurse practitioner, as well as her dating again.

Comedy without Comediennes

Throughout the world of both sitcoms and network, comedy has trickled a drama actress whose talents in the craft have made them comedy idols. One major example of this comes from the show, Cybill. This show starred acclaimed drama actress Cybill Shepherd in a sitcom that was about Cybill Sheridan, a twice-divorced actress who is still working on making her mark in Hollywood.

The show has also been described as what Cybill Shepherd’s life could have been like if the series, Moonlighting, or the film The Last Picture Show hadn’t been successful.

Prior to the series, Shepherd had been more of a dramatic actress, but part of the 90s was spent trying to find the perfect female duo to have a copycat of the British series, Absolutely Fabulous. Cybill is one show that came close thanks more to the comedy sense of co-star, Christine Baranski.

Baranski has since become a well-known actress for her roles in shows like The Good Wife and the sequel series, The Good Fight, as well as her role in How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carrey. Her portrayal of divorced socialite Maryann Thorpe on Cybill garnered her an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1995.

Despite the great chemistry among the characters, the series was not renewed for a fifth season and left on a cliffhanger ending. Comedy has not always been motivated by comediennes and many great drama actresses discover a challenge in the works of comedy. One such example can be found through the women of the sitcom, NewsRadio.

Headlined with great male comedians like Phil Hartman, Dave Foley, Andy Dick, Joe Rogan, and later Jon Lovitz; the women of NewsRadio had roots in being dramatic actors and in choreography. Maura Tierney, who portrayed the intelligent reporter, Lisa Miller has made a name for herself in the world of drama with her time on NewsRadio being a speed bump in her career.

Vicki Lewis, who played bubbly if not off-color, office assistant Beth, did more comedy but in guest roles in comedy shows. However, one of the most intriguing characters in the show is Catherine Duke portrayed by Khandi Alexander.

Catherine Duke was the only character that wasn’t white and managed to give the show a different vibe. Prior to this, Alexander was a choreographer for Whitney Houston. She left NewsRadio during season four to pursue more dramatic roles. Indeed, she ended up with a long-standing role on CSI: Miami as a medical examiner, Alexx Woods, and a powerful guest role on the Shonda Rhimes political soap-opera, Scandal. Her quick style of the show was both memorable and unique.

Her reason for leaving NewsRadio was because she wasn’t being used enough on the show. Drama actors have never been eliminated from the comedy category but they certainly have done things in a style that puts them on par with comedies great’s.

The Life after Public Life

Older women have been a force in the field of comedy and the series, The Golden Girls was the proof that this was true. This show had women in it that were, according to comedian Cristela Alonzo, “They’re not young, they’re not attractive, and they had real problems.” This show really delved into the idea of life after life and the way it was done made it so much better.

Comedic actresses Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Beatrice “Bea” Arthur, and Estelle Getty had a great deal of fame in other roles during their careers in acting. All four women had satisfying careers and women would go on to do another version of The Golden Girls, but would center on the new definition of old.

Age is but a number, but in Los Angeles, aging can often be a horrifying realization. As the concept of old has been pushed back, so has the idea of what aging means for both men and women. In old age, men become distinguished, while women are considered well beyond their years and are thought of as haggard.

Then came the series, Hot in Cleveland. This show, much like The Golden Girls, brought a series of older women together under one roof and explored just what went on in life after life. However, the idea of old in Hot in Cleveland is the early to late fifties and early sixties.

The Golden Girls had more or less the early sixties, and early seventies defined as old. White’s character on Hot in Cleveland, Elka Ostrovsky, was what really defines old as White celebrated her ninetieth birthday while on the series. Much like Estelle Getty, White became a sharp-witted grandmotherly type for the women in the house.

In the end, women have transcended a medium that was so male-oriented that they were relegated to just being the housewife. As women have evolved in the real world and have made strides in media. However, many women’s issues are still being explored but are not explicitly as inclusive as older shows.

One example of this is the sitcom Maude when she finds out that she is pregnant again and must decide whether or not she is going to have the baby or not. She and her husband Walter actually have a talk about whether or not Maude should have an abortion, a controversial conversation at the time, since Roe v. Wade had not been made into law yet.

Women’s issues revolve around the idea of a standard, but in these mediums, unlike real life. The standards they have faced since the earliest days are still around but as characters evolve and more is revealed about them, women have become so much more than anyone could have imagined. Aside from breaking the glass ceiling they have pioneered the genre of comedy and managed to mold it into the modern shows we see today.

Cover Image Credit: Edwin J. Viera

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Global Diatomaceous Earth Market 2018 Growth Rate Analysis and Share Forecast to 2023

Global Diatomaceous Earth Market Research 2018
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