It was a sunny Sunday the first week of May and the Cherry Blossom festival was in full bloom. I passed a sea of happy and familiar faces as I raced my chubby twelve-year-old body towards the Leather tent. There was nothing I wanted more than a bracelet with my name on it.  

     The line was long, but I was in the perfect spot next to the small slit in the tent. I had an access view to the happenings outside. As I watched people pass, the sun appeared to shine brighter as this curly haired boy with his face painted up as a clown exited a tent opposite of the one, I was in. He marched across the lawn with a smirk and a swagger. I no longer cared about the bracelet, I wanted to catch another glimpse of the boy with the hair like waves who the sun chose to follow. 

     The crowd grew and the carefree boy disappeared. He reemerged a few years later while my friends and I watched a baseball game. As we stood in line to get snacks from the food stand, a boy circled his bike around the empty parking lot across the street. It only took seconds for me to realize he was the same boy from a few years prior. I was drawn to this larger than life kid and I wanted to know more about him. As luck would have it my friends knew him and within the hour, we were huddled around him, and the beginning of our friendship began.

     His magnetic smile brightened up the saddest of days and his laughter was contagious. His doe eyes were filled with light and mystery, and he had this way of getting you to do things that you really didn’t want to do, like sit on the park bench for hours why he rapped Rob Base and made me sing the chorus to Joy and Pain even though my voice was horrible and completely flat. Many nights were spent in his backyard learning every word to Home Sweet Home and he was not satisfied until we could repeat the whole song without the music. And when we weren’t learning lyrics, we were listening to conversations between truck drivers as he yelled Breaker-Breaker into his handheld CB.

     If he was playing a video game, he would summon for you. He liked the audience and the company. It was impressive how he was able to carry on a full conversation but still manage to get the top spot on whatever arcade game it was.

     His imagination was boundless, and his storytelling abilities is probably what made me fall in love with writing. Whether we were on the train bridge, under a Willow or sitting in a cemetery, he had the ability to transport us to wherever we wanted to be. Being with him was truly magical. He saw your soul never your appearance. I struggled with weight for most of my adolescence years but he is the one who inspired me and drove me to fight hard to accomplish whatever it was I wanted to accomplish, and if someone ever whispered a fat joke or made me feel embarrassed he’d rise to his feet and silence them and never again would they attempt to make me feel ashamed or ridiculed in his presence.

     Our childhood was comparable to the friends you watched in blockbuster movies. We were curious like the kids in Stand by Me and fiercely devoted to each other like the Greasers in The Outisders. Stay Gold was how we often ended chats even as adults and Let’s Do it for Johnny was something he’d say when trying to convince you to do or go wherever he had planned.

     He was an old soul filled with wisdom. He understood what mattered in life and was not impressed with materialism.

     The year he left for military school was one of the saddest moments in our young lives. But even far away he always found a way to connect. When he was only allowed a few phone calls a week he told me we have to resort to letters. He insisted that I write him every day for two weeks. It was imperative that I included everything about my day, and he promised when he got my letters, he would in return do the same for the following two weeks and he did. We learned a lot about each other in those letters. I learned he had friends that he grew to love, schedules he had to keep and counted down the days until he could come back home to us.

     As we grew older, life took us in different directions, but we always circled back like true friend do. Whether it was a chance encounter or a planned night out, his reaction to seeing a friend was always the same, A Chris like roar,  a giant bear hug and then something so ridiculously funny that would rob me of my breath and make me smile days later after thinking about it.

     He was the type of friend that would wade in a flooded parking lot to retrieve your submerged car, so you didn’t have to get your clothes wet. He loved a good Bazaar, where he could plop a few dollars on the table at the big six.

     About a week ago we spoke on the phone, he sounded strong, happy and ready to confront whatever battle he needed to in order to stay around longer for all those he loved. We ended the call with plans to see each other the following week and a LOVE YOU SO MUCH! If I knew that would have been the last time I spoke to him, I would have raced to his house and held on to him as long as I could. However sick he may have been he still found time to write Happy Birthday bff on my Facebook wall just last Tuesday. It breaks my heart into a million pieces to know, that will be the last birthday wish I get signed by him.

     While driving to work last week, Home Sweet Home came on and at the time I had no idea he would only have a few more days on this earth. After singing the song word for word I decided I wanted to write Chris a letter. I wanted him to see how I saw him. I wanted to relive our memories through my words and gift those words to him. On Saturday morning I woke up to a cross in the sky. I remember thinking Today is going to be a good day. Now I ask myself, was he trying to tell me, first by the song then the cross, but my eyes were not open to see.

     I imagine him seated in front of a bunch of new souls, his arms flailing as he tells stories of his time spent on Earth, offering advice to the ones preparing to come start their journey. Giving tips on how to survive like be funny, because humor will help you through the worst of situations or never end a conversation without telling the person you love that you love them. If you find yourself sitting next to a heater put your cheese sandwich on it, it will be like a grilled cheese, (One of the first tips he gave me) Or, when life throws you unfortunate things, fight like a Tiger and never give up.

     Chris Manganiello was one of the best friends I ever had. He’s my youth, my soul, my muse, and now one of my guardian angels. I have no doubt he will stand with the Warriors in Heaven, beg for the souls of the sinners and make God laugh every day. I will love him until I take my last breath and when that day comes, I hope he is one of the ones waiting to welcome me Home Sweet Home!






A long time ago, on a riverbank in a small town, a few friends and myself found refuge underneath two very tall Weeping Willows. Their long, sweeping branches concealed us and the sloped ground underneath was the only seats needed. Beneath those trees, we dreamt of futures, shared stories and jokes, ran and rolled then stretched out on our backs and absorbed the hidden world that was our own.

Cars coming on and off a bridge yards away, drove past but never looked in our direction. The sun light sprinkled its rays through the branches as we danced to music from a boom box someone brought. Hours passed before we even thought about time. The moon replaced the sun and its beams weaved through branches illuminating the earth. As we stood and twirled our shadows mimicked us across the grass.

We grew up and moved on and abandoned our trees. They still stand tall, but they lost their youth. Their branches no longer hide the earth below.

My husband listened to my friendship stories for years while we were dating. He understood how much I loved those friends and the trees. He planted a Weeping Willow in the backyard of our home the first year we were married. It was one of the best surprises of my life. I have this irritating ability to inadvertently ruin surprises for myself. I love surprises. I’m not the person who snoops to find out what gift I may be receiving. To me, the anticipation is just as much fun as the reveal. The fact that I hate to stumble upon a gift or gifts (An organ for Christmas, a Texas Instrument Computer, A new winter coat) may be the very reason Life arranges for the surprises to be ruined. But the day he planted the tree, I had no idea or any knowledge prior that he was about to present me with my most cherished gift.

After a long day of work, my stomach grumbled, and my feet were tired. I wanted nothing more than to retreat into our new home. My husband had the day off. He had plans to clean up the yard and cut the grass. He was a landscaper and was using our yard for a new cut he learned. As I pushed opened the back door, he was walking up the back steps to come get me. “Look at the grass do you like it?” I did like it. The diagonal lines gave a neat effect. As I looked at the grass he again said “Look, do you like it?”  Again, I replied “Yes, I love it, but I’m starving let’s go eat.”

As I turned to go back into the house, he yelled “Mar, look all the way back.” My eyes moved from the grass to the back of the yard. There stood my very own Weeping Willow. It was love at first sight. It was not yet grown and had many years to become the type of Willow that my friends and I once played under, but in a blink of an eye it rose and showered its branches over the yard and provided a new hidden world filled with new dreams, more children and refuge from the sun when the day was too hot.

I spent many afternoons under the tree writing as my children played and imagined. We studied the trunk of the tree and swore we could see faces within the bark. They used its branches to make crowns for their heads and swung on a tire that hung from one of its limbs. We decided to give the tree a name. Beauteous felt right. Under a Willow feels like a forest filled with fantastical beings or a magical land filled with fairies, talking trees, and all other whimsical creatures to a child. As Beauteous grew so did they. The children from yesterday no longer wanted to frolic under the tree, but they did enjoy laying blankets beneath its branches to find shelter from the sun. They gathered their friends under Beauteous when they wanted to share secrets while listening to the music of their adolescence. Our Beauteous was strong and tall and so loved. As the tree aged, intruders descended upon its sturdy shell and set up their infantry inside its trunk. No matter how we tried to save Beauteous the army of pests fought harder to destroy.

The once bountiful tree was becoming frail and the ground beneath exposed. A stormy night and high winds were what got Beauteous in the end. I didn’t witness the fall, but I will never forget looking out into the backyard and seeing our tree splattered across the lawn. The invaders weakened his soul enough that when the big storm came, he didn’t have the strength to weather the storm. There he lay and there we cried.

“I’m going to polyurethane the trunk and build a rock garden around it,” my husband said when he saw how sad the death of our tree made me. We moved it to the side of the yard, replanted the trunk into fresh dirt and built a flower bed around it. The week we were to go get the polyurethane I noticed a few doves trotting around in front of Beauteous. I inched closer to the tree to take a photo. As the birds flew away a glimmer of green caught my eye. New life was sprouting from Beauteous.

I’m sure there is a scientific reason as why this tree decided to grow back, but I choose to believe that this tree/ Beauteous loved us as much as we loved it. Its trunk may never again rise to a great height. It may look disheveled and its branches awry, but as long as it keeps sprouting, I know Beauteous continues to flourish.

The energy Saturday morning was positive. The vibe of Friday night still lingered. The joy of watching our team escorted through our hometowns and sent off to fight for a state title could have been enough. In that moment they were winners despite what the next day’s outcome would bring. They already achieved something no other Warriors that walked the halls before them did.

When we pulled into the parking lot at Hershey stadium the love for these boys, this school, these towns were immediately felt. Men who I remembered being boys dawned their Warrior Pride gear, some even wore vintage jerseys and jackets that made one feel as if they were walking into a time capsule. We were no longer the teenagers walking the halls of the schools, we were now the parents, the aunts and uncles, the grandparents and the fans of the team storming that field.

As we made our way from the parking lot down to the stadium, we could hear the chants of our cheerleaders. They stood outside the stadium wearing their smiles and performing their cheers. They also played a large part in the success of our team. It was their chants that encouraged the crowd which in return pumped up the players. We were all in this together and each of us had roles to play. They picked the appropriate phrase to write on the banner our players burst through. Our tribe. As they rushed through, shredding the banner, hawks soared high above, circling the stadium as if they  were aware that the game about to be played was one to be remembered. Under the blue fall sky, we were banded together in support of our team. We were Warrior Nation.

The afternoon game was chilly but not tortuous. Our bleachers were filled with the young and the old, huddled together, hoping, praying for a good outcome. We swayed to the music and stamped our feet to the motivational tunes played by our loyal band. Nails were bitten, fingers were crossed, and nerves were screaming while we sat, waited, and wondered which team would be the first to score.

The Green and Gold fans gasped as the opposing team reached the goal. When halftime came, a crowd ran to the front of the bleachers to catch a glimpse of the team as they trudged by on their way to regroup. The eyes of the boys walking off the field were filled with rambling thoughts and far away stares. Looking back now, it’s realized that those sullen eyes were seen before, swimming in the depths of the thoughts of the same boys galloping by. The looks were not ones of defeat. Their intense glares were the foreshadows to the resurrection of their team. The comeback kids were rising. An encore that will be talked about for generations to come was moments away from being performed. Together, they were their own army, none of them willing to accept defeat.

The students in the student section cheered their friends and schoolmates on. They wore the players jackets, waved the Warrior flags and painted their favorite players numbers upon their cheeks.   They never stopped believing in the power of their fellow Warriors.

Half time was filled of strategic conversations, “if only they could do this, or maybe they should try this.” Everyone was collectively sending out thoughts and hoping that fate would twist, and our team would end on top.

The second touchdown made by the other Warrior team in the third quarter caused our heads to fall and hearts to stop. Still there was a magic that lingered in the air. A feeling deep in the pit of Warrior Nation that this was not how the story would end. The bus came to a halt when our Quarterback fell. As he clutched his knee we prayed for his healing. Hurt and bloodied he rose from the ground and limped back to the field. Like Daniel in the last scenes of the Karate Kid this soldier of a boy refused to be taken down. And then… the game changed.

A boy with just as much determination, will and fight swooped in like one of the hawks above and caught the ball in flight that was heading towards a different target. A quick decision being hailed as an “immaculate reception,” was the twist of fate no one saw coming and some couldn’t believe.

With eleven minutes left in the game we were on the board and only one touchdown behind. It could be done; it would be done. Our boys rallied together, tackled hard, deflected key passes and ran down that field protecting their brothers.

Our offense raced towards the goal as the football flew above and we all watched with bated breath as the ball fell into the hands of our star receiver. The catch was the momentum that set them in sync. A pack of champions communicating in a language only they could understand. Another trick about to emerge. The six foot plus tight end pretended to go in for a block only to slip away and head to the corner. As he turned, we became aware of what was about to happen. Touchdown! With a mighty kick from the ever-important kicker the ball sailed through the goal post and tied the game.

The nation of Warriors was on their feet. This team, this dynamic, this love for each other, this bond that can never, will never be broken unleashed their power of revival. An amazing thing to be able to witness but could be felt outside of the walls of the stadium as well. Their hometowns exploded with cheers, hugs and sobs of joy. Families and friends who were unable to travel circled their televisions to watch our team claim Victory. But we weren’t on top yet, another touchdown needed to be made with less than minutes to spare.

Another long pass from our resilient QB floated across the sky into the hands of our smooth but fierce receiver but fell one yard short from the goal line. One more huddle, one more plan made before they took their spots and rested their palms to the turf. A shuffle then a collapse of uniforms fell to the ground. The Green and Gold resurfaced with their arms to the air. The third and final touchdown along with history was made, but still, there was time for the opposing team to fight back. The white and blue QB threw his ball into the air landing mid field and closer to their chance to tie up the game. The clock counted down but not fast enough, there was still time for anything to happen. As our boys rushed the QB he threw his football into the air and it was met by the palm of our  6’3 defensive end.

They had one more chance and only one more yard to go but the pack charged in and the opponents were knocked out of bounds before they could move forward. Our fearless QB took his injured knee to the ground and Warrior Nation erupted.

Our heroes became heroes because they weren’t only thinking about themselves. They fought for their friends on the sidelines that endured injuries throughout the season and were unable to play but still showed up to support, coach and encourage them to keep going. They fought for the ones that worked just as hard, sweated just as much and dreamed just as big but didn’t get too many chances to jump into the game. They fought to show the up and coming athletes what it meant to be tough, what it meant to persevere. They battled for their coaches who spent hours, days and months shaping them into the champions they would become. They rallied for their fans both young and old who refused to stop believing. They kept going for their families. They did it, and when they did, they gave each other credit without one of them asking for the glory.

As the celebration on Hershey’s field came to an end and we made our way back to the parking lot, I caught a glimpse of something that summed up who this team was. A line of yellow school busses waiting to escort them home. It was that moment when it occurred to me that our team were humble like the transportation used to take them to the State Championships. And as I passed the busses, I thought it was appropriate that the number bus they rode in on was number nine.

I’ve walked the roads with drifters, sinners, lovers and misfits. I’ve cried with the beaten and struggled with the damned. The battles I listened about were ones I’ve never endured, but yet I felt their pain. In every single face I saw my own. I understood that the situations that felt so unimaginable to me could become my reality too. I’ve learned never to judge because when you do, funny things happen. You find yourself in your own version of their struggles. It’s in those moments that their behaviors make perfect sense. And you say to yourself, aah I thought I would handle this differently.

You walk paths and take journey’s meeting members of your tribe along the way. You share stories of youth, sing to the music, spend days passing time doing what’s required of you in order to survive. Just as you think things will never change or people will never leave they do. It doesn’t set in until a handful of those people are gone that you realize they were important in your life at one time. They’ve disappeared from your now, becoming your past, while continuing to be someone else’s present.
Tribes come together then drift apart but sometimes we’re lucky to have those chance encounters where we all meet up again. And when that happens, a part of us that was missing returns and we remember how good it once felt to be together.

Remember every choice has a consequence. You may kid yourself by convincing yourself that a bad choice feels right. The bad choices are the easiest ones to make. It’s the right choices that feels like work.

You can fool some people but there are others who will always know your true intentions. Often, they are the ones that keep quiet.

Don’t fool yourself, you are not fooling them.

Tonight friends and I engaged in a deep conversation about relationships. Everyone has had relationships that they needed to end for one reason or another. After listening to many different stories I came up with a conclusion. If you see a quality that you hate to love about yourself inside someone else maybe it’s best you choose to let that person go before you become the worst that you could be.

Hey everyone, I started a new blog. This blog will be dedicated to my writing endeavors and the process of trying to have my first middle-grade novel published. I will keep this blog Moments and Memories seperate from my writing blog.
But, please feel free to stop by Writing Like Crazy and accompany me on my journey to publication.



P.S. Wish me luck

I have not written a blog post in months. Today, I am inspired to write one because September is my favorite month. The number one reason I love this month is because it is my b-day month and the number two reason is because of the Writer Mama’s September Giveaway. The Writer Mama writes a fantastic daily blog and each September has a super fun giveaway. Be sure to stop by and leave a comment.

Good Luck.

Happy September 🙂

Hello everyone. Have you missed my Friday’s Song? I have. Today I took a quiz to see what Dave Matthew’s song I would be and the result was Grey Street. I love the song and was pleasantly pleased. After listening to the lyrics more deeply I realized that yeah, this could have been me. But the difference is, I am happy with the life I have been given and do believe that someone hears my prayers and they listen.
Have a great Friday and enjoy listening to some Dave. He always sings to my soul.


Grey Street lyrics
Oh look at how she listens
She says nothing of what she thinks
She just goes stumbling through her memories
Staring out on to Grey Street.
She thinks, “Hey, how did I come to this?”
I dream myself a thousand times around the world
But I can’t get out of this place.
There’s an emptiness inside her
And she’ll do anything to fill it in
But all the colors mix together – to grey
And it breaks her heart
How she wishes it was different
She prays to God most every night
And though she swears it doesn’t listen
There’s still a hope in her it might
She says “I pray But they fall on deaf ears,
am I supposed to take it on myself?
To get out of this place? ”
There’s lonliness inside her
And she’ll do anything to fill it in
And though it’s red blood bleeding from her now
It feels like cold blue ice in her heart
When all the colors mix together – to grey
And it breaks her heart
There’s a stranger speaks outside her door
Says take what you can from your dreams
Make them as real as anything
It’d take the work out of courage
But she says “Please
There’s a crazy man that’s creeping outside my door,
I live on the corner of Grey Street
And the end of the world. ”
There’s an emptiness inside her
And she’ll do anyrthing to fill it in
And though it’s red blood bleeding from her now
It’s more like cold blue ice in her heart
She feels like kicking out all the windows
And setting fire to this life
She could change everything about her
Using colors bold and bright
But all the colors mix together – to grey
And it breaks her heart
It breaks her heart
To Grey

Today is one year ago that my father passed away. Not one day has gone by that I haven’t thought about him. I will miss that man forever and wish that other people have the chance in life to meet someone as extraordinary as that man.
I wrote a poem for him.

It has been a year but in our hearts you remain
Time heals wounds but doesn’t lessen the pain

You were a man that so many aspired to be
We were blessed to be part of your family

There were so many things that made you unique
A giant smile, a genuine laugh, an honest critique

A man of virtue who eloquently guided his clan
A man God sought out to follow his plan

Heaven’s gain, unfortunately was our disaster
We were left behind. We lost our master

No one will ever replace the man you became
Even a sunny day will never be the same

All the riches couldn’t buy the happiness you supplied
Our lives forever changed the day that you died

Until we meet again, our sweet, kind, loving man
Save us a spot on the other side
If you can

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