30 Things To Do Instead Of Falling Back In Love

30 things to do whether you’re in love or not

Thought Catalog

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When a relationship ends, we forget that the only objective available to us isn’t to get right back into another one. We see a huge, gaping hole waiting to be filled and we assume that it has to be someone else’s mind and heart and spirit that must fit perfectly inside of it. That we’ll just be a little bit empty or a little bit lonely or a little bit undone until we meet someone new – and even if we’re okay with that, it’s a problematic way of looking at things.

Because here’s the truth about that hole – it’s there. It’s real. It’s begging to be filled (spare me the innuendo). But it isn’t in the shape of someone else, it’s simply in the shape of what they offered us – be that stability, excitement, validation or understanding. There are an infinite number of activities, an infinite…

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The importance of finding your passion & having the courage to pursue it.

As Jack’s birthday approaches, his life & his impact have been on my mind more than ever. My journey with grief over the past 7 months has been filled with its ups & downs that have nearly always left me more confused about my life and unsure of what lies ahead for me in a world without Jack. Recently, my family had a private service, burying Jack’s ashes in his final resting place. For the service, I read a new favorite poem that has helped me see the light in the darkest of times. The poem is titled “He is Gone” and challenges the reader to focus on the life that was lived rather than the death that has occurred. There are so many things that we have all learned from Jack in his short time on this earth but the most impactful lesson I learned from him is how important it is to find what you are passion about and having the courage to pursue it.

In a world focused on material goods and wealth, Jack stood out, recognizing that those are not the things in the end that matter. It matters what experiences you had, the relationships you made and the causes you fought for. At a young age Jack become my inspiration in so many ways, but perhaps the times he inspired me the most were Relay For Life. Seeing him work endlessly as a team captain and committee member for years for a cause he felt so passionately about was simply incredible. I don’t know many people who would be willing to work as hard as he did for such an important cause. And after the weeks of stress it always caused him, I got to see Jack have some of the greatest nights of his life, laughing & crying, as he shared his story with all the other participants. We would drive home, exhausted but inspired by the sunrise we had just watched as yet another Relay came to an end.

Jack’s greatest passion was fighting cancer & providing hope to others. And I am forever grateful that while he is gone now, he has created such an impact that will live forever. It is not everyday that we find causes we are willing to dedicate our lives to, but I think when we find those things that we are most passionate about, it is imperative that we fight for them. Finding a good job to pay the bills is important, don’t get me wrong. But few of us are lucky enough to find a career that also is our true passion in life. Our jobs on this earth matter but are they more important than the impact we leave here once we’re gone? Will you be remembered for how much money you made? Perhaps, but you will undoubtedly be remembered and honored for the good you did in this world.

On Jack’s 19th birthday, and everyday there after, we can remember the impact he has had on our lives and carry on his message by living out our own passions. No matter what it is that you are most passionate about, it is imperative that you live it out in anyway you can. We are lucky enough to live in a day and age where there are organizations for nearly every cause you could think of. So find one that speaks to you and give it all you’ve got. Despite the hardships you may face because of it, know that living out what you truly believe in will be worth it. Everyday that we get on this earth is a chance to show the world who we really are and what we stand for. We don’t know if we have 60 more years or 2 more weeks in this life so why would waste your days not living out your values and working towards your dreams?

Stay Golden,

Em

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To the man who taught me to love unconditionally

Last week, I experienced holidays in a way I never have before. In the timeline of 5 days I attended 4 Thanksgivings/Friendsgivings, all of which Jack would’ve been at, if he were still here. I sat around at each of these events, and imagined where Jack would be or who he would be talking to, every time bringing myself to tears thinking about how much his presence was truly being missed.

The grief I’ve been feeling is a complicated one to say the least but in some other ways very simple. Jack, is, was and always will be my number one priority, and now that times have changed I don’t know how to keep him in that role because there is nothing I can physically do for him. I can’t run to the store and pick him up a Crunch bar, I can’t let him put on his music instead of him having to listen to Colleen & I talk endlessly in the car. There are many things that I simply, just cant do anymore, and as much as that kills me I know that’s not  the way Jack would’ve looked at it.

A little over a month ago my family received a beautifully bound book titled “Life is… (and other life lessons from a real life super hero)” given to us by a collection of Jack’s friends. Over this past break, I finally got to read through the book in its entirety. It was the happiest and most depressing compilation of ideas I’ve ever read because every single piece that was written about Jack was gleaming with humor, love & strength. It was incredible to read page after page of the legacy that Jack left behind to us all.

And that’s where my heart breaks time & time again. The realization that all we have is what he left us. And that while he left us with an infinite amount of memories and lessons to be learned, the fact is that we won’t have any more new memories with him. And I have no idea how to live with it. I don’t know how to live without Jack, to fully realize and accept  that I don’t live in the same world as my younger brother, who I can’t remember ever not having in my life.

As I go about my daily life, there has not been a moment since Jack got sick again in March where he has not been on my mind. But it doesn’t hit me all the time that he’s gone. Sometimes it’s moments you’d expect, when I hear a song that we use to listen to or we’re praying before our thanksgiving day feast. But other times I’ll be sitting in class or laughing with friends and I’m suddenly overcome with the thoughts of how I will never see Jack again in this lifetime.

These are the ways my grief is so extremely complex while also being incredibly simple. The emotions I feel are unpredictable and uncontrollable. Sadness can turn to anger to laughter in moments without me consciously knowing what’s going on in my mind.  But the underlying fact is always there…

I miss Jack.

I miss my baby brother & I have no idea how to live without the man who taught me how possible unconditional love is.

Jack and I did not always have the close bond we shared in our last years together. We fought as all siblings did but once Jack got sick in 6th grade, everything changed. As a 13 year old girl I faced problems well beyond my face breaking out or getting my crush to know I existed. My annoying little brother who had spent years of our lives fighting with me, now meant so much more to me. Anything and everything he wanted or needed from me was done. It didn’t matter how small the task was, I made it my mission to make Jack’s life easier in any way possible.

Of course, it was not always easy. I would get irritated and annoyed but I learned how to value those in our lives because there will come a day where they’re not there anymore. Through Jack that while we really can’t control what happens to us, we can always control how we react to it. He taught me patience and how to selflessly love those around you. Unconditional love is something we all strive for and while I have not always loved everyone in my life unconditionally,

I love Jack unconditionally.

I love him on his bad days, on his good days, at South Campus where he would avoid me because he didn’t want to be seen with his embarrassing older sister, and on nights where all I wanted to do was go to bed but would end up talking with him for hours about everything under the sun.

I love him for all that he has done for every single person he ever encountered and I love him for making me into the young woman I’ve become.

While I still don’t have all the answers & I am worlds away from figuring out what this all means, I take a deep comfort in the fact that I am not alone in this grieving process, which just shows how deeply everyone loved Jack.

Among many other lessons, to love one another unconditionally is what he left us with and in many ways if we keep on loving one another unconditionally then we will always be able to keep him close.

Stay golden,

Em

My Condolences to the World

I am currently sitting here, in my Captain America T-Shirt and a Cubs hat, thinking about the incredible life that my younger brother Jack lived in his short 18 years.
I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I’ve lost my baby brother, my greatest pal and my biggest inspiration. And sometimes it hits me like the strongest tidal wave but other times I just figure he’s upstairs taking a nap or at Portillo’s with his friends. In a lot of ways that’s one of the hardest things, the way I can convince myself that everything is normal, that he’s still here, that there will be a time, very soon, that he’ll come home and we’ll watch Hot Fuzz or we’ll go get ice cream and drive around listening to music. The constant hole I feel in my chest reminds me otherwise.

There’s something else though, that I’m having an extremely hard time with, and that is what I want to say to all of you.

I’ve been getting what seems like thousands of messages from so many wonderful people, and I truly appreciate every single one of them. And every one tells me how sorry they are for my loss and how amazing Jack was. And with every message I receive, I want to extend the same condolences to everyone who has extended theirs, because if there is anything I have learned in my 18 years with Jack Kunkle it is that he touched the lives of every single person he met, and that my family and I are not the only ones suffering from the loss of the phenomenal kid.

So as you have all graciously extended your condolences, I will do the same.

I am so truly sorry that we must all live in a world without Jack Kunkle. Jack, as many of you know was a man of strength, integrity and most importantly good humor. He was the one who taught my family how to handle the cards we had been dealt and to constantly seek the humor in it all. And while I surely will never as funny as Jack, I know for a fact that his sense of humor is what has gotten me through the last 7 years of our battles with cancer and what will continue to help me get through the rest of my life without him by my side. To see how you all have been touched by my amazing brother has been such a blessing because it gives me confidence to say that Jack Kunkle is not really gone. In physical being yes, but in spirit, not in the slightest. He is alive and well, living through all of us and the legacy he created in his short, but productive 18 years on this earth. Since a young age, I’ve always looked up to Jack and his ability to be so much more that what had happened to him. He handled the cards he was dealt with a deep faith and strength, that I can only hope I can find now that I can’t just walk down the hall into his bedroom to see. As my older sister Leigh said in her blog post about life without Jack, I feel it so important to never be without him, always wear you blue baseball cap, and always always treat others how Jack Kunkle would treat them. His kindness and respect for every one is not something that should stop with him but should be carried on by all of us. Because let’s face it, Life without Jack is going to be hard, so the least you can do is help one another through this impossible time. Help each other to never be without him. Help each other to live by the values that Jack displayed every single day of his all-too-short life, because if everyone loves the way Jack Kunkle did, his legacy will live on for many more years to come.

 On September 18th, the world suffered a loss unlike any other and I can hardly even express to you how sorry I am. But I am so grateful that Jack passed surrounded by thousands of prayers and love. All of us are so lucky to be able to grieve over this loss because that means we were lucky enough to know the incredible man that is Jack Kunkle. Whether you knew him as a friend, son, classmate, nephew, fellow thespian, brother, Mr. LT, a cousin, neighbor, Kairosian, or just knew someone who knew him, I want to extend my deepest condolences to you, just as you are keeping my family in your prayers, I am keeping you in my prayers because even though I know Jack is having a blast hanging out with Jesus, we’re all going to need a little help as we continue our lives without the unforgettable, John “Jack” Harry Kunkle.

Stay Golden,

Emily Kunkle

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