You only live once, that’s the motto — YOLO. You’ve heard the song, you’ve seen the phrase, its ubiquity is obnoxious. YOLO hit its peak last week, exploding all over tweens’ spring break Facebook albums, trending on Twitter and even making its way out of my mother’s mouth. You know it’s only downhill from there.
But YOLO was also “So Last Week” for another, more personal reason. Last week, my mom lost a sister, my cousins lost their mother and I lost one of my favorite people in the entire world. Mary Angela Balducci Brennan, affectionately known as my Auntie Mary, died at the age of 60. An unexpected, unplanned, unprepared for stroke struck and she couldn’t recover.
Mary was hilarious, affectionate, vulgar when the moment called for it and nurturing when needed. At the four wakes and funeral held over the past week, hundreds of visitors paid their respects to my sassy aunt, many of them saying she had taken them in at their most desperate moments. When I spent the summer in New York last year, she was my second mother. Voicemails saved on my phone carry her loving voice, asking if the heat wave was too strong and offering me a bed in her air-conditioned home.
She was selfless, honest, caring and genuine. She kicked my family’s butt at Scrabble regularly, traded books with me every summer and offered me any piece of jewelry I complimented. She took my college roommates and me to Stuart, Fla. for a raging sophomore spring break surrounded by retired 80 year olds and taught me the special Balducci way of cooking — though admittedly I still consider opening a can of soup a triumph.
To lift our spirits last week after we received news of my Auntie Mary’s condition, my Dad decided the family should go to the movies. We headed to my favorite Keystone Arts Cinema, where I love to pretend I’m cultured and deep while sneaking in a beer. After debating between a few flicks, we sat down to watch “Jeff, Who Lives at Home.” Starring Jason Segel as Jeff, a lowlife 30-year-old pot-smoker who lives in his mom’s basement, the film centers on a day in his life.
After receiving a strange phone call, Jeff sets out on a mission to discover its origins. On his journey, he repeatedly crosses paths with his paranoid, dissatisfied brother Pat (Ed Helms), who is in the midst of a midlife crisis. Jeff accompanies Pat as they trace the straying steps of Pat’s wife, who has decided cheating on him is the only way to feel loved and appreciated again.
The story unfolds in strange, funny ways, and honestly seems fairly pointless at times, but by the end a unifying theme becomes evident— YOLO. Each character learns to appreciate each other and the life they have, recognizing it’s a waste of time to do anything but love.
As my senior year comes to a close and the fact that I’ve got a month left slaps me in the face, YOLO rings ever truer. Life’s too short to hold grudges, avoid what you makes you happy or miss out on experiences that could create and shape your journey.
Unless you’re Jesus, you only get to grace this beautiful earth as yourself once. Eat, drink, be merry. Make that extra effort to help someone in need, because if my Aunt Mary’s life is any sort of indicator, its something they’ll appreciate forever. You only
live once, that’s the motto — YOLO.
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