A year ago this time perhaps I was you. I had everything I could ever need in life, yet the feeling that I wanted more tugged on my brain like a child incessantly pulling their parent’s pant-leg to get their attention. I deserved more pay for my job. I needed a bigger home and a better car. I required the latest and greatest iPhone to uphold my status as a true “technophile”. My taxes were too high, gas was too expensive, my lawn wasn’t green enough and my bank account not nearly full enough. Yes, not too long ago I wanted more – and that want filled me with a repressed jealousy of those who had that which I desired. Family members who took extravagant trips, neighbors with better landscaping, friends with bigger TV’s all served to fuel my desire on a daily basis. It wasn’t fair that these people had these things. I worked just as hard, I faced as many, if not more hardships, and I did everything I was supposed to do, yet I still did not “have it all”.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a bad person. I gave to charity. I held doors open for people. I left tips for my waiter/waitress (and always gave more for exceptional service). I thanked people who did nice things for me. I lent tools to neighbors who needed them – and thanked them when they reciprocated in kind. I did all the “nice” things I was supposed to, yet inside there existed a part of me that felt an entitlement to niceness from others for no other reason than I was owed it. In my mind, I truly believed that you should get what you give, and since I was so nice, well dammit – I should get some of that back!
This feeling of entitlement was often exacerbated by other’s rude actions. If someone cut me off while driving it was my moral imperative to make some rude gesture or lay on my horn to remind them of just how awful a person they were for doing that. People who I did not care for were afterthoughts – and more often than not, perceived as obstacles I needed to maneuver around so that I could make my way in the world. If I was in a rush to get somewhere, and and someone in front of me was slowing me down, I was rightfully justified in letting them know they were the cause of my inconvenience. If someone had the nerve to criticize my opinion, it was on me to re-educate them because I was confident that my experience and knowledge was superior to theirs and their ignorance must be corrected. Yes, it was my duty to ensure that people knew what was right, and damned if I wasn’t going to let them know in order to help them see the truth…
386 days ago everyone else but me just did not “get it”, and they deserved little of my attention because, frankly, my wants and needs were more important. I walked through life with a Cheshire Cat grin buttressed by my cocksureness. I had it all figured out until my world came crashing down and the reality of true loss made its presence felt in a tangible way that tears at the fabric of my being to this very day. Rees’ death was a supernova that destroyed everything I thought I “knew”. Immediately following his death, the Rich Specht that was ceased to exist. Rees’ passing gutted me, literally and figuratively. The pain of his death rendered me and Samantha completely inert – and totally dependent upon others. I was no longer the smug, know-it-all Mr. Fix-it; rather I was the broken, humbled and shattered mirror image of myself whose family and friends were left behind to try and pick up the pieces… and put them back together they did as best they could.
I would love to say that the pieces all fit back together again, but that would be a lie. As I approach the one year anniversary of Rees’ death, there are still pieces that are missing from what once was, leaving gaps in the reflection. Every once in a while there seems to be moments where I discover those pieces; sometimes they catch a flicker of light and I have the opportunity to put the piece back myself and other times I seemingly step right on them, their razor sharpness slicing their way painfully back into the mosaic of my shattered being. Regardless of how many pieces I replace, the mirror will never be the same, as the cracks remain ever present reminders of event that shattered me in the first place.
I now stand, one year later, a changed person: The tragic events of October 27th serving as the catalyst of the reaction that produced my current state. My changed perspective finds me appreciative of what I already have, and sorrowful for that which I lost. No longer do I believe that happiness and kindness is something I am entitled to. I look upon others and realize that their own perspective probably means they think the way I used to – and it is no more their fault for feeling that way than it is a tree’s fault for crashing through a home during a storm – it’s just nature. I now realize that people’s perspectives never change unless the agent of change is wrought upon them by an external force. In my case the agent of change of was the death of my son. My good friend, Rob Edwards, told me that some people are put here on Earth to change others, and that it may very well have been Rees’ job to change me and my perspective. If that is the case, then it only stands to reason that it is now my job to carry on the essence of the hardest lesson ever taught to me and use my experience to help change others’ perspectives. Regardless of what I accomplish for others, I do know that there are two little girls who see what we are doing and recognize the importance of making it a priority to respect each other. If ReesSpecht life were to end this very moment, I know that my daughters saw their parents take this awful experience and use it to do something good. In turn, they will now carry on Rees’ legacy to their family and friends. This essay my daughter wrote proves it:
In losing our little Rees Specht’s life, my family gained a Respect for Life. Our perspective is not what it was, and our hope is to change that perspective for others, one piece at time.
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As always you have taken your loss and grief and turned to hope and love, how lucky you girls are to have you as their Dad!!
We are back in San Diego celebrating our Grandson Jack’s first B’day, same place we were when we heard of your tragic loss. I never met your little boy, but when I look at Jack I am amazed at what a gift a child is, I also give Jack a little extra hug and kisses when thinking of Reese, I don’t know how to explain it but Reese makes me appreciate Jack and life in general a lot more. Thank you Richie and Sam for sharing.
Love and hugs always,
Mary and Gitau Mbuthia
ooooops I found the fb share button so followed through there.
I’m still at a loss for how to offer words of comfort…but this is the best os your essays to date. I would like to post it on my Facebook page, but not sure how to do this so it can be read in it’s entirety. Will try copy and paste. You and your family are in my prayers always.
There are no words to express how truly amazing this is! You and your family are an inspiration!
Thank you Caroline. This one felt “Right”
As always, very heartfelt and beautifully written. It is a very steep lesson to humble ones soul – my heart goes out to you. May you all find peace. Keep doing what you are doing because you are touching lives, one person at a time.