Workiversary: looking back on my first year at FOX

Exactly 365 days ago, I said yes to one of the most incredible opportunities and started my first day with Fox's integrated marketing team. What an extraordinary journey this year has been and privilege it is to have a career driven by passion.

When I first stepped through the doors of my office in midtown, I made a promise to myself: I would spend every moment making as many connections as possible, absorbing as much as I could and exploring all the amazing opportunities a career in television has to offer. And I did just that. 

This past year, I have met so many impressive, inspiring individuals in sales, marketing and beyond. I made lifelong friends and gained invaluable work and television experience. I found myself constantly challenged by my endlessly talented coworkers, and amazed by the extraordinary power of television. And most of all, I surprised myself. 

From my early mornings spent mapping out seating charts for the 2015 Emmy Awards, to the late, coffee-fueled nights dashing through Fox's News Corp Building to get client ticket packages out before deadline, I wrap up this whirlwind of a year with so many unforgettable memories. 

My heart is full of so much gratitude for all the amazing experience, adventures and people this year has brought me. A huge shout out to my endlessly hilarious, generous and talented coworkers, who always have me skipping to work and feeling like I'm living the dream everyday. I am the luckiest girl in the world.

Reflections on 25 Years of Love

Today my amazing and incredible parents / best friends celebrate 25 years of wedded bliss and my heart is bursting with so much joy and love for them both.

Everyday I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have been raised by the two most selfless, loving and supportive individuals, and am endlessly humbled by the love they have generated together and continue to share with all those around them.

Together, my parents have spent the past 25 years striving towards one goal: giving everyone they love the opportunity to make and create the best memories. 

From my innocent, idyllic childhood in the late 90's, which was full of quirky pop-up dance shows, family cookouts, piles of Barbies and balmy summer afternoons spent shuffling us between soccer fields. 

To my painfully awkward teen years in the 2000's, when everyone but my parents questioned my love for Doc Martens and Mick Jagger. And fast forward again to my college years, where my parents afforded me the amazing opportunity to study abroad– an experience I will never forget, and one that completely changed the direction of my career. 

And now there is my adult years, where my parents have continued to cheer me along this incredibly weird, unpredictable journey that is life. From heartbreak to morning commutes - thank you for guiding me through these 22, beautiful years of existence. I am so lucky that I can call you my parents. You're my heroes. My best friends. My cheerleaders. My role models.

I love you both endlessly. Here's to you keeping that flame burning brighter and stronger with each passing day, year, and decade! Cheers to you!

LET THE WAVE CRASH OVER YOU

My grandfather used to joke that when he died, he wanted to gift everyone who came to the wake a Budweiser. This was years before he really got sick. Years before any of us could imagine, mind you, fathom the idea of planning his funeral arrangements.

For the majority of my adulthood, my grandfather was in pain. Between his diabetes and high blood pressure, hospital visits and check-ups became routine. And yet, we never took any of his health complications seriously or as possibly fatal. That is until the week before Easter 2016, when he had a heart attack. It was the first time he truly skated towards death, and we were afraid.

While he quickly recovered from the initial heart attack, he returned to the hospital less than a week after discharge complaining of chest pain and difficulty breathing. At the hospital, the doctors discovered that he had been suffering several mild heart attacks a day and he was now down to a 20% heart function. Even more problematic, due to the low activity of his heart, his kidneys had shut down and liquid was getting backed up in his lungs. My grandfather and family quickly realized that the medicine and doctors were only postponing the inevitable. After two days in the hospital, he decided to discontinue treatment.

In the days leading up to his death, my family camped out in his room. My aunt, uncle, father, mother and sister planted firmly by my grandmother’s side, as my cousins and I made FaceTime cameos. Dark circles under our eyes and voices squeaking while we played him Rod Stewart and begged for his attention. Praying he would stop asking to sit up. Desperately telling him over and over what a great grandfather, husband and friend he had been and how much we loved him.

My grandmother was by his side the morning he passed. His last words were “I love you, Ginger.”

***

My grandfather never asked much, but one of his final requests was to have his ashes scattered in his three favorite spots: Salisbury Beach, my aunt's lake house and Vegas. He loved Salisbury because it was home to Brown’s Lobster Pound, where he would spend many summers with his kids and grandkids cracking lobster shells and taking in the sea air.

And so, reunited in memory of my grandfather, my family gathered on Saturday and started our trek in an isolated corner of the beach. It was unbearably cold that afternoon, but remarkably beautiful — bursting sapphire blue and blazing gold sand in a perpetual sunrise across the horizon. We huddled together in our winter jackets, amidst driftwood and seaweed, to hear my aunt's eulogy and take a moment of silence. 

"Mom, are you ready to say goodbye to dad?" My aunt asked my grandmother, tears brimming in her eyes. My grandmother simply nodded, silently continuing to watch as my aunt turned and marched knee-deep into the water to release the ashes.

I would be lying if I said it was an easy sight to witness. My grandfather was my number one fan. My best friend. My favorite person– so full of curiosity, life and light. It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to the man who has touched my soul, changed my life and inspired me so greatly. But there was something very poetic and appropriate in letting my grandfather's ashes fade into the sea.

You see, to me, my grandfather is my memory of youth. He represents the limitless—the infinite possibilities of this world. Of being alive, connected, and so, so free. He is the feeling of racing down a hill on your bike, the breeze carrying you for miles along the violet and peach sunset skyline. Holding hands around a home cooked meal. Looking out a window, watching storm clouds fade into rays of sunshine. Running breathless to the finish line of a cross country race. Reading in the corner chair of the living room, warm and endlessly content. My grandfather is the never-ending pull and tides of the ocean. 

 But I didn't just see my grandfather on the sea's horizon. I saw myself. I saw my grief. 

After first learning the news of my grandfather's passing, I felt a 100-foot tall wave of sadness crash onto me. All I could think to do was flail around and scream in anguish. Desperately seeking the relaxing tides of the night before, I attempted to swim against the current. But the waves continued to fall on me, pushing me further and further away and under the break line. I was drowning. How could the most amazing man in my world cease to be? How could I possibly be expected to carry on without him? 

I don't know if I will ever get the answers to those questions. And Saturday I realized and accepted that. Watching my grandfather's ashes disappear in the ocean, a deep sense of calm overcame me. I finally found the strength to remain still. To release the tension. To stop the fight. To join forces with nature, and ride the waves. 

Life, like the ocean, is always changing — from calm to overbearing. But always it remains beautiful. Let the wave crash over you. Don't try to mask it or block it. The only way to make sense of it is to plunge into it and move with it.

I will forever look back at this past week as such an incredibly bittersweet time. In many ways, I'm still confused and scared to go out into the world without my grandfather, but my life is changing. And that in itself is incredible. I will let the current of change carry me where I need to go, knowing my grandfather will never be that far away from me in the tide. 

 Grandpa, I loved you so much and I always, always will. I assure you I will never, ever forget you. I will think of you everyday. 

Saying Goodbye

You know what I'll miss? I'll miss your laugh. The way it always filled the room. Even in the deepest winters and darkest moments, it was enough to melt the heart —bursting with this ferocious enthusiasm and contagious sense of urgency to embrace life and live in the now.


You know what I'll remember? I'll remember rushing down the basketball court, sweat dripping down my forehead and slicking my hands, and looking over to see you in the bleachers smiling back. I'll remember the countless mornings I spent in my college's radio studio, and how you were always the first (and oftentimes, the only person) to call into my 6 a.m. shift. You always requested Rod Stewart. I love you for that.


You know what I'll hold? I'll hold onto the eternal sense of youth you gave me. Everyday I spent with you, I was 5 years old again and the world was our playground.

I will never forget the Thanksgiving we hosted in the hospital after you got sick. We plugged our crockpots into an outlet in the waiting room, and spent the next few hours shuffling back and forth to your room. It's one of my favorite memories together. In a time when we were face-to-face with the eternal truth of impermanence and mortality, your playful disposition never changed. You continued to tell jokes through the night, until all of the onsite staff dropped by to catch a glimpse of your standup routine.


You know what I’ll carry? I’ll carry with me your eternal and endless love. I am so grateful to have shared the past 22 years of my life with you. You are the light of my life. Thank you for always reminding and encouraging me to live, love, expand, explore and connect. To live in a place of authenticity and to embrace it unapologetically.


I love and miss you so much already.

The Nature of Daylight

Growing up, I always felt a terrible sense of insecurity when thinking about the impermanence of life. Somewhere between puberty and my high school graduation, I had adopted the mindset that life was a battle to be fought. I watched as the years slipped by and relationships faded—their original magic swallowed by a tidal wave of stress and anxiety. Learning multiplication sets turned into memorizing calorie counts. Reading for pleasure turned into screaming magazine headlines about getting the perfect beach-body. Sweet Sixteen parties and prom woes were put on the back-burner for hospital visits and wakes. Gratitude was exchanged for a sense of pity—“How could this happen to me?”

And so, I struggled and fought (incredibly hard) against the brute facts of reality. Life was unapologetic and fleeting. And I couldn’t accept this truth. More honestly, I refused to.

I still remember the day I first learned about the death of an old friend, Branden Meyers. I was finishing up a double shift at my college’s radio station my freshman year, when the request line rang. I picked up the receiver, only to hear the uncontrollable sobbing of a former high school classmate, Abbi. “He was in a car crash. He’s gone, Marissa. Branden is gone,” she wailed.  

I rushed out of the radio studio, desperately seeking a place to clear my head. But outside the reality was just as unforgiving—the sun’s rays were harsh against my unbelieving eyes, and the air was far too cold and dense to let my thoughts float away. 

Branden was my first crush. To be fair, I think he was my entire friend group’s first crush. He was incredibly hilarious (and good-looking), unforgettably kind and irresistibly charming. There were so many things that drew me to Branden, but I will always remember him most for his daring nature. I loved and admired his audacity to be as big and radiant as he was.

“How could his light go out this early?” I asked everyone I knew for the answer. I looked—no, I begged—for a sign. Anything that would make Branden’s death more than just a tragedy.

I spent the next week stumbling around—confused and hurt, harboring resentment and bitterness towards life—until my boyfriend at the time gave me just what I needed: a reality-check. “This is just the way things go, Marissa. It’s not personal. For each of us, it will end. It will all end. Some people are allowed to postpone this reality for longer than others. But eventually, everything and everyone will fall apart.”

With those words, I felt like someone had just punched me in the stomach. I knew it was true. I felt it was true. And all I could manage to do in that moment was break down crying.

But this time, tears were not shed for life’s perceived injustices. Or even over my own hurt.

I cried because I was finally free to let go. Face-to-face with the eternal truth, I chose to end my game of hide-and-seek and open the door to healing.

Suddenly it hit me—There really is nothing radically wrong with change, or even with the death of emotions and memories, as well as the physical body. Who said we were supposed to survive this anyway? Who gave me the idea that all things were built to go on forever? After all these years, I can’t possibly say that permanence would even be a good thing.  For everything I have missed, I have gained something else. For everything I have lost, I have only made more room for wonder, imagination and magic.

And so, today I can say that without an ounce of tragedy, life is loss. That even the most rooted structures in our lives are transitory. That everything will change. That trying to hold on will cause more suffering. That letting go will hurt like hell, but the pain will move through you instead of lodging inside.

The single thing I wish for myself, and for you, is that we regard the poetry present all around us with open arms. It’s not ours to keep. Nothing is. And there in lies the beauty of life.

Farewells

Today after work, I walked down to the waterfront and watched the sunset. I couldn't help but think of you, Pépère. I thought of the way you viewed the world with such innocent, tender eyes. The way you loved unapologetically and unforgettably. The way you looked so calm and peaceful in your final years, simply observing and being present. I wish I could have shared tonight with you.

The sky reminded me of the afternoon we spent together in York, Maine. The entire Lavertu family was there, and we were watching from the balcony all of your grandkids and kids run around. You were supposed to avoid the sun, so you sat next to me instead and told me about your 50th high school reunion that you organized. You were so proud of it-- so rejuvenated by your trip down memory lane and reconnecting with the individuals who once shaped your world so tremendously. We laughed as your told me about your teenage shenanigans and dreams. 


I asked you if this is how you thought things would turn out when you graduated high school. You smiled. "It's better. Everything is better than I could have imagined. The world is constantly changing. But that is what makes it the most beautiful. It's full of rhythm and energy."

I miss your rhythm everyday, but especially tonight. And even though I know and have accepted the fact that the song has changed without the option of rewind, I will never forget the poetry you gave me, and more importantly, the poetry you showed me that exists in everything.

You hold such a special place in my heart. I love you endlessly.