Who Am I...?
I would consider this question not completely answered until my time here on earth is complete. Especially given the circumstances of my life at this moment, I'd have to say that if I were to die tomorrow, I would not be satisfied or serene with how things turned out. So let’s pray I have some time to reflect on my past mistakes, learn from them, and try to use them constructively in helping others so they don’t have to go through what I have during my twenty four years of living. I was born on October 24th during the year of 1988, to my mother Lauren DiBenedetti and my father Raymond Valente in the wonderful state of Massachusetts. My parents ended up being better as friends rather than spouses. They were only married for a few years and got divorced when I was around two years old. Soon after, possibly too soon, Mom remarried a gentleman by the name of Gary Maltz. He ended up having a tremendous impact on me. Dad also got remarried, but unfortunately set a world record for shortest marriage ever; it lasted a whopping two weeks. I lived with my mother and stepfather in a little town in Massachusetts called Bolton. I stayed with them Monday through Friday so I could get an education in a smaller school system. During the weekends I would stay with my father in Natick and play hockey for a variety of different teams depending on my age. On July 9th 1993, I was blessed to have a sister enter my life. For some reason I was upset about it at the time, although I don’t recall the details of the resentment. I’m sure it had something to do with the fact I was not the center of attention anymore. Hayley Matlz, born to my mother and Gary, is technically my half-sister, but in my opinion if the word sister has to be described as half, it means I must love her twice as much as normal people love theirs. She's an amazing person, and one of the strongest people I've ever met. She has been through quite a few trials and tribulations throughout her young life, but thankfully dealt with them much better than I ever did. I’m going to fast forward a little bit to the first monumental point of my life that forever changed what things could have been, what they were, and what they ended up being. On September 17th, 1999 I went for a traditional visit to my father’s house for the weekend. Rather than taking me to hockey practice like we usually did, he took me to the mall and we had matching bracelets made and he bought me a couple video games. I found this odd, but was reluctant to express my curiosity in such a fashion that it would make me seem ungrateful or unappreciative. I remember sitting in the driveway with him, talking about something much too deep for my liking. This was the icing on the cake so to speak. The day had been so strange and unpredictable up to this point that I actually ended up predicting what the point of it all was. Let me elaborate a little bit. Sometime during our emotional talk sitting in the car, I just threw it out there, not knowing the gravity of what I was saying. I interrupted my father midsentence and said, "Dad... what are you dying or something?" A question in which I was half kidding, half trying to lighten the mood. It wasn’t until he started crying and replied, "Yea T-Man I am..." This was a pivotal moment for not only myself but for everyone that was a part of his life. I was eleven at the time, and had just found out that my father had been diagnosed with stage four throat cancer, and he was now about to start a journey through hell, that neither of us were ready for. He started both chemotherapy and radiation to battle the cancer, and during all of it he told me he'd beat it. I was a firm believer that he was stronger than the disease and demon inside of him, and honestly thought he could conquer it. This was the first time I had ever expected the best and received the worst. He fought a long and hard fight. Gave it...
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