Even the Best Fall Down Sometimes
A Memoir of Finding Hope And Strength in the Darkest of Times By: Rick Forget
Intro â€œIt is what it Isâ€? Some people have everything handed them to them, while others have to work for everything.
There are events in our lives that we cannot change of see coming, but they shape
how we grow up and interact with others.
We all have happy memories, sad memories and
angry memories but it is how we deal with them that make us who we are. At a young very age I went through things that most children do not usually go through, but I could not change anything around me that was going on. I learned that some of our lowest points can make us some of the strongest people. There have been a lot of things in my life that I wish I could change, but they happened for a reason, so I live with no regrets. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to accept things for what they are and deal with them. Easier said than done though, like usual right? On October 10, 1992 I was born as Richard Ryan Armstrong in Boston Massachusetts and lived with my mother, my two older brothers William, and Steven and my older sister Alicia. My father had gone to prison for breaking and entering a neighborâ€™s home, so when they came looking for him before his arrest my mother ran, and took all her children with her. She could not keep running forever and the police caught up with her and decided that her being a single mother while my father was in prison, she was not stable enough to take care of her children and would be better if we went into care of DSS. When DSS also known as Department of Social came they assumed that it was best for all of us to be separated and sent in separate directions. I was so young that the earliest memory I have of a foster home was in Worcester. I felt like I had lost my family, even though I did not really know them.
I had a lot of bad memories in my first foster home; I was put in a Spanish speaking home, so I had to learn a new language while adjusting to the fact that I was not a normal child and at a young age I knew that I was different. Shortly after that my social worker Owen Bailey, a main who I looked up to so much because he was almost like a father figure to me decided maybe I could try to live with my older brother Steven. Soon after moving there I was teased by the other children that had lived there with Steven. The foster parents treated me like shit; the Christmas I spent there I was locked in my room with one gift. At the age of 5 I was already frustrated and pondered the thought of living life like a normal kid. One day while living with Steven, who had been adopted by these foster parents, they had told me that they had decided to adopt me too. I was scared because of how I had been treated would continue, but I was excited cause I thought I would be able to settle down in one family. Then one day Owen Baileyâ€™s truck was in the driveway when I woke up, all my stuff was packed up and outside and Owen took me away. I watched the house fade away in the distance with tears in my eyes losing my brother again but hope that I would not find a family again. I remember sitting in the truck on the long ride to God knows where with Owen in the pouring rain. He told me that I would be trying summer weeks with my other brother Billy, but spend weekends in Douglas Massachusetts with another foster family. When we arrived in Newbury, I was the happiest kid in the world. I loved being there, it was just Billy, his adopted father Steve, and I and we always had so much fun. I thought for a while that I would end up getting adopted with Steve. While I spent weekends with the Forgets in Douglas, I learned a lot of manners, respect and responsibility. It had not really crossed my mind to be adopted by them even though I got along with everyone. 4
Then one summer weekend while I was with the Forgetâ€™s they asked me to go out on the deck where all the other kids that they had adopted were as well. Mr. and Mrs. Forget asked me to a part of their family. My mind started racing in a million different directions. This was everything I could have ever asked for, and I felt so comfortable around this family. I knew that this felt right so I made the decision and yes to be a part of their family. On March 23, 2003 I went to court with my new family and made it official, I was no longer Richard Ryan Armstrong; I was now Richard Ryan Forget. One thought always lingered in the back of my mind, was my real family and if I had lost them.
Chapter 1 “Is this real life?”
After being adopted, I had two brothers, Mario who was older and Richard who was younger. I also had an older sister now, Rachael. We were all a couple years apart but for some odd reason we all got along and it was very hard to separate us three boys who literally did everything together. It had seemed as though life was going to well to be true. There is one event in my life that forever changed my life and made me who I am. I thought that the only sense of loss could be losing my biological family by being taken away. I had never experienced any other way of loss. Death struck me at a young age and it made me grow up very quick. I grew up and matured quicker than my peers. I lost my best friend, but most importantly I lost my brother, the one I thought accepted me and understood me best. Right after I was lost for a while in my own little world. Losing him, made it hard for me to get close to people, I had the fear of losing people I got close to. After losing him, I no longer felt comfortable with where I was and who I was surrounded by. I remember every single and small detail of October 3, 2003 a week before my 10th birthday. It was a Friday afternoon, and my brother Mario and I had just gotten out of school and gone home when he decided to head next door to our neighbor’s house. Mario and I were only two years apart and my younger brother, Richard and I were four years apart so we were all pretty close. He hopped on his bike and headed down my long driveway and went next door until dinner time. Dinner time came and my dad was making French toast while my mom was out driving a friend home with my sister. My brother and I were in the living room, when Mario came home from next door. He came into the kitchen and asked my dad if he could go back
after dinner, my dad said no so Mario asked if he could go back before dinner and tell his friends he wouldn’t be back after. My dad said yes and continued to cook, as I followed Mario to the door. I watched him as I usually did because he was older and a role model to me. He buckled his red helmet and fixed his grey hooded sweatshirt and we said goodbye to each other and he headed down our driveway when I saw a truck slam on its brakes and stop by our mailbox. I wasn’t sure if what I saw had really happened so I got my dad and said “a truck stopped by the mailbox.” My dad went to the door and looked but didn’t see anything and went back to the kitchen. I thought something isn’t right, and that’s when my neighbor came to our door and said the words that changed my family forever. “Mr. Forget, Mario was just hit by a truck.” At the age of 9 I wasn’t sure if people survived those kinds of things so I began crying and became distraught. I had experienced my second sense of loss. My dad ran out the door to the bottom of the driveway which was a mess with fire trucks, police, ambulances and neighbors. My dad had told me and my younger brother, Richard to stay by the house. My grandmother had lived with us and could hear me crying from inside and became worried. Shortly after my dad came up the driveway and said he was going to the hospital with my brother and called my mom and told her the bad news. He told me and Richard we had to stay home with Meme. The whole time they were gone and I was at home I couldn’t stop crying and just hoping Mario was okay. Around 11:30 at night, while my Meme and my Aunt who came to help take care of me and my brother we heard a sound from the basement. I thought someone was breaking in. It was my parents and my sister; I thought maybe Mario was with them. They came up the stairs and I ran to see them when I saw my mom and sister crying and my dad, someone who was so strong, distraught. My mom then burst out, “He didn’t make it!” I couldn’t believe it, my role model, my hero, my best friend, my brother was gone forever. I was the last one to say anything to him 7
and he was gone from us. I ran and hid as all our family and friends came to support us. I didn’t want to see them I just wanted my brother back. After his death and funeral and everything I became a very depressed person and angry person. I wasn’t a happy person anymore; I didn’t want to be around anyone. I separated myself from my family and my friends. As I went through I high school I wasn’t popular, I didn’t put in a lot of effort in anything I did, a part of me had died. My friends had watched me become a different person, and when I thought of him no one could talk to me and relate because no one had gone through what I had. That’s when I started to realize that I hadn’t really been accepted I was viewed weird and different because I had lost a sibling and I separated myself from everyone. It was extremely difficult to cope with because I thought I would never feel that sense of loss again after I was adopted. In my family, I never wanted to go anywhere with them, I feel as though since I was the next oldest son my parents couldn’t even look at me because Mario should be there ahead of me. I always carried a burden on my shoulders that I shouldn’t be the one that Richard looks up to and that I had to be some sort of superman to him. I remember the night he passed away my uncle Richie, said “Rick, you now have to be Richards role model and the older brother.” That became a huge burden on me. As I got older though I realized, Mario wouldn’t want me to be lonely and separate myself he wants me to be happy and live my life. Dealing with this loss, made me wonder if I would ever feel this low again in my life. While dealing with this loss though, parts of me changed, some for the better while some were for the worst. It was a part of me growing up though and maturing while trying to cope
with the loss. It became an everyday challenge within myself to see myself in the mirror for who I was.
Chapter 2 “Needing a Map” Some moments are harder than others. Those are the moments when we fall, that test us to see if we will be able to pick ourselves back up. We get lost in finding our way and listen to what people want us to be and do what they expect. We all struggle to find who really are, we all find our likes and dislikes. I read a book in my freshmen year of college that related to a lot of things that I had been going through. In Easter Rising by Michael Patrick MacDonald, MacDonald goes through everything we do as kids. He deals with loss, and being accepted for who he is while trying to change and find his way. He has a group of friends that he spends a lot of time with. He looks up to his older siblings like a majority of us do. MacDonald has one major event in his life though that changes who he becomes and the way he acts, and I have been through the same thing. MacDonald in the beginning of the book loses his brother, Davey who commits suicide and jumps out in front of a train, and was killed. When that happened MacDonald completely changed who he was and the way he looked at everything. He decided that he couldn’t be himself anymore and had to change. When he decided to change he lost himself even more. It was almost like something inside of him had died when his brother did. I know when I saw my brother die; it was almost a question of “Is this real?” It took a while for me to realize that he was gone forever and was not coming back. I think MacDonald struggled with the same realization. MacDonald and his brother were pretty close even though they didn’t always see eye to eye on every topic. At the end of the day MacDonald still loved his brother no matter what. 10
MacDonald looked up to his brother but never wanted to be him. It was very evident from the beginning of the book that MacDonald never wanted to be like his brother. When Davey and his buddies would jump on trains and leave Southie, MacDonald would kind of just stay back and never was excited to join. He felt as though he could hang out with his brother while in Southie too. My brother and I were very close but we had a lot of common interests as well as a lot of dislikes as well, just like most siblings. I always enjoyed the time with my brother though even if we were doing something he enjoyed doing that I didnâ€™t like running through the woods pretending we were Native Americans. I know personally when I lost my brother, my family did change and I will not deny the fact that it did because it was very obvious. We had family members who would visit us kids because there were four of us so it was a fun time. After my brother died, that changed dramatically. No one came to visit us anymore because there was one of us missing and apparently the rest of us could be forgotten about. When Davey died, it seemed as though MacDonald never really spent time with his family or at home. We always see him outside doing something and his family are never involved. I guess that it was the opposite for me when I lost my brother; I looked more towards my family the whole time and tried to get through the pain with them. MacDonald tries to hide the pain by going out and doing his own thing. When MacDonald pushed his family away he also pushed away help of finding his way back and who he was and just become more lost. MacDonald tried changing his identity, by listening to punk music and changing the way he dressed and his hairstyle. He felt as though maybe if Davey wasnâ€™t there anymore there was no point of being the old him and starting a new was the best option. MacDonald dyed his hair, cut it several different ways and just wanted to fit into a new group. When I my brother died, I 11
tried changing who I was too. It’s funny cause; after my brother died I turned to punk music too. It was different then McDonalds kind of punk but I felt as though the lyrics and the music helped me understand why things were happening. I didn’t really change how I dressed though, but I did change how I did my hair. The music changed how I acted towards my family and they saw it. I started to separate myself from my family because I felt as though If I didn’t have my brother I could not have the rest of my family. MacDonald tried changing his identity because he no longer felt as though he fit in. He no longer felt comfortable in his own skin. Changing his identity only made him more lost, but when I lost Mario I did the same exact thing. Without Davey he felt as though if Davey couldn’t see the old him, then he might as well change. I felt the same way when I lost my brother, if he couldn’t see me grow up the way I was starting to, I might as well change. I felt as though maybe I was different then all my friends. None of my friends had lost a sibling the way I had. How could they possibly understand the hurt and loss I had felt in my heart? I became afraid of going to school, knowing the fact that kids would look at me differently and as the kid whose brother had died. There was almost a sense of hopelessness within me, and to just quit on all my goals and dreams.
Chapter 3 “Normal is Different” The main character in the memoir Easter Rising by Michael Patrick MacDonald takes long strides and tries so hard to be different. He pushes himself and is trying to find himself. Michael Patrick MacDonald goes through several events that lead him in a certain direction. I saw myself and a lot of similarities through MacDonald. The sense of loss makes it difficult to keep moving forward not knowing what he will lose on the way. He spends so much time trying to separate him and make him different that at the end he looks back and realizes that he is no different and is actually normal. MacDonald looks all around to find who he is, that he is so blind to see that it is right in front of him. I did the same by running away from help when the whole time, I knew I needed it, but looked everywhere else. MacDonald lived a normal childhood by living with his family and hanging out with his siblings and his friends. Unlike MacDonald, it took me a while to feel normal and secure in my new environment. Then one day, MacDonald suffered a tragedy that changed how he viewed several things. MacDonald’s brother Davey killed himself and this is MacDonald’s first experience with death and loss. This is the start of the change within MacDonald. The day I lost Mario was also the day I changed. He felt as though he is seen differently from his peers. He started to question a lot the things around him. “In the weeks after his death though, it seemed impossible not to think of him constantly.” (pg. 14 MacDonald) Soon after Davey’s death MacDonald started to separate who he was and where he was going. He separated himself from his friends and family as though that since Davey is no longer around nothing matters. 13
MacDonald struggled to cope with the lost easily. I know when I lost my brother it took so long to realize that it happened for a reason, and I may not know the answer reason right away but there is one. He begins to start looking for answers of whom he is and why death struck his family. He feels as though separating himself from his family and his group of friends is going to solve his problems. He starts pushing away what is close to him maybe for the fact that he is scared to get close to anyone again for the fear of losing them like when he lost Davey. “I had to get away from all the memories and connections to the small world of Patterson Way that had witnessed Davey’s suicide.” (pg.14 MacDonald) MacDonald starts to turn to music, maybe for the feeling as though it helps express and describe the way he is feeling. He begins to listen to punk music. “I admired the freak in a way, and went back to Strawberries to buy a sex pistol album. I felt embarrassed though, not because of the name of the group, but because I was buying the album and I looked “normal.” (pg.16 MacDonald) MacDonald does not fear the consequence of separating himself from the people close to him. He sees how people treated the freak when he followed him to Strawberries, and notices how different this guy is then society. Punks were seen as obnoxious and out there. Society did not accept them for the mere fact that they were different. MacDonald feels as though punk music has accepted him, and he starts to view society in a new way. With a new view on society, MacDonald begins to start looking on the exterior of himself and trying to change his image. He wants to be different and stand out amongst his peers. With the new way of punk he already is different than his friends at school, but it is not enough for him. He wants to get people’s attention. One day he cuts his hair without looking in the mirror so that no one can ask how or what kind of haircut it is because he didn’t bother looking and just cut. MacDonald also dies his hair pink which makes him standout in school and sent down to 14
the nurse’s office because his teacher thinks he needs to see a psychiatrist. The nurse thinks he may be on drugs because he is so different. “Drugs? I said stunned. I hate drugs, I told her. Idiots do drugs. Normal people do drugs.” (pg.47 MacDonald) He is literally pushing away anything to him that seems normal. MacDonald really went out of his way to be different in school and his neighborhood. He has changed his haircut, his hair color, the music he listens to, and the people he surrounds himself with. MacDonald is trying to recreate himself when deep down he can’t hide from what has happened in his past. Things in the past have an impact on us, and make us take a step back from our daily lives, but it should not change us and we should just be who we are. MacDonald drastically changes who he is since the time of Davey’s death. “That’s when I felt like a monster. I wanted Davey to go away- like he never existed.” (Pg.14 MacDonald) He let that one event change what he stood for and where he was going. That is the one thing he should have not done. He let himself forget who family is and friends are. MacDonald tried so hard to start over when Davey died that he was constantly lost with no sense of direction of where to go. He was blind to see that he did not need to be different to fit in. MacDonald’s struggle to be different than the normal people backfired. We all have major events that happen in our life that may change the course we are going down for a while but we should not change who we are. Staying close is better than separating ourselves because it’s easier to go back and talk then try all over again. Sometimes the answers are right in front of us. MacDonald separated from his family and friends when in the end that he is all he needed.
The thing MacDonald needed to learn is just to be himself. He could have continued to listen to punk music, but he didn’t need to go the whole ten yards by changing his appearance and the group he hung out with. That may have made things worse for him, and made it harder to deal with loss, because every time he dealt with a loss he had to turn to his family, which means he had to go back and deal with them. Towards the end of the book, MacDonald starts to wonder where he truly comes from, and his heritage. His grandfather gets on his case about dressing punk and listening to punk and asks MacDonald if he thinks about where he is from. This is where MacDonald starts to find himself again. He spent so much time separating himself from his family that in the end it brings him closer than ever. MacDonald tried his hardest to be different when he did the opposite, and was actually normal. Normal people go through death, and they struggle to find out who they are and where they are going. Life wasn’t meant to be easy. It was meant to be a challenge and like Darwin always said only the strongest, well fed will survive. Well I truly believe that I am a living testimony to that. At the very first moment that I had felt lost, I could honestly look anyone in the eye and tell them I don’t plan on ever finding my way. I had the mentality of a quitter, till I realized Mario would not be happy with my choices and I need to open my eye and to start living my life for myself and not everyone else’s expectations.
Chapter 4 “The End is just a new beginning” I thought I had hit rock bottom. When I had that feeling I knew instantly it was time to change and be who I really was. In my family, I never wanted to go anywhere with them, I feel as though since I was the next oldest son my parents couldn’t even look at me because Mario should be there ahead of me. I tried so hard to shut myself out of my parents’ lives no matter what I did. Even though I realized that by doing that it was like losing another son. I could not do that to them anymore, it just wasn’t right and they certainly did not need another loss of a son. Not a day went by where I would question why I am still here when I don’t want to be, but Mario would love to be here. I always questioned God, why Mario and I couldn’t swap places. Several nights I went to bed crying thinking that it was not fair that someone was robbed of their life ahead of them and of all their dreams and goals. I always carried a burden on my shoulders that I shouldn’t be the one that Richard looks up to and that I had to be some sort of superman to him. I grew up though, it was time to put away all these feelings and step and be “Superman” and show people that I got knocked down more than once, but I had the fight in me to get back up and give life another round. I could never be the brother that Mario ever was. As I got older though I realized, Mario wouldn’t want me to be lonely and separate myself he wants me to be happy and live my life. He would never me to try to be like him, he would want me to be just me, and not who anyone wants me to be. I learned that death teaches us some of life’s greatest values. Death is not meant to be painful but peaceful and if we embrace it we can only get stronger. His death made me
stronger person, I no longer had to be someone I wasn’t or separate and isolate myself from everyone. When I look back on his death, I realize that he taught us what he was set out to teach us before he died. He showed my family how to love and how the smallest kindest actions can change someone’s life. I think the most personal lesson I learned from the tragedy is family is not always blood. Some of the best families are made up of a lot of different people. I love my family so much and would not change a thing about it. On some of my hardest days I think “Family First” and I can look towards them for help and answers. I always look up to the sky every day and take in a breath knowing that Mario is always with me and it helps me get through everyday knowing that I can be myself and be happy with who I am. I will always love my big brother, I am living this life for myself and him, and he is with me every step of the way.
Conclusion “Only the strongest fall” I spent a majority of my childhood lost and always looking for answers. The answers had always been in front of me all I had to do was open my eyes. Since my first experience with loss I feel like I became a stronger person and no matter how lost I get in the future I can always look back on my experiences as a kid and that will help me get through some of the hard times ahead. Some people have never gone through a hard time in their life, or experienced any adversity which is there to disadvantage. I want to take all my experiences with loss, death, change and finding hope and answers to help improve the lives of people who really struggle and do not see the light at the end of the road. I have been to the end of the road and I know that the light at the end is a very bright light with a lot of hope and strength. At a young age of nineteen I have learned some of life’s hardest lessons that not too many nineteen year olds can say they have been through. My senior year went well because I always reminded myself of what I had been through and nothing can be as hard as what I had gone through. It helped me power through low points of the year. In college as a freshman that sense of loss came back though because I was in a new environment with a new group of peers and administration. I realized that all I have to do is be myself and never to change. A fellow peer who I went to high school with and attended the same college said to me “Rick, you changed from who you were in high school” and he said it as if almost it was a bad thing. I looked him straight in the eyes and with great meaning behind it replied, “No, I did not change who I was, I just grew up.” He did not say anything back and just
walked away knowing that I had been right. Being lost for so long only helped me get on the right path and in the right direction of where I wanted to be headed.
About the Author
Richard R, Forget was born in Chelsea, Boston on October 10, 1992. At a young age of two, his biological parents could not take care of him so he was put up for adoption. He was in foster homes till the age of 6. He then moved to Douglas, Massachusetts where he was adopted and spent his childhood. He has two biological brothers and one sister, and he has two adopted brothers and an adopted sister. His adopted family has been the closest thing he has had to a real family. He would never change anything in his past. At age of 9 he lost his best friend, role model and his brother in a tragedy. At a young age he matured quicker than his peers. He says that it has made him so much stronger than his fellow peers and friends. He graduated from Douglas High School in 2011, where he played on the Varsity Golf team since he was in 8th grade, played baseball during his freshman year and sophomore year. He then was a starter his junior year on the Varsity Volleyball. Richard puts a lot of effort into everything he tries. He says that his greatest asset is that he is a quick learner and will keep fighting for what he truly believes in.
He enjoys spending time with his family and his true friends. He believes in family first, which is very close to him. When he is with his friends he enjoys playing golf, basketball and volleyball. He also enjoys the summer and relaxing on the lake. He works full time in the summer at his familyâ€™s business, a small water park Breezy Picnic Grounds and Waterslides in Douglas, Ma. He is an assistant manager and is willing to help out wherever is needed. He enjoys the responsibility at such a young age. He hopes one day to hopefully run the business and have it handed down to him. He is currently attending Nichols College while pursuing his bachelorâ€™s degree in Criminal Justice. When he graduates he hopes to become a local police officer in Douglas. He participates in Campus Activities Board, and enjoys relaxing with his buddies. He is single, and owns a huskie puppy, Louie.