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Taking what I can get and smiling the whole way through

I'm one of the very few to be blessed with a true answer to the classic question,

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

My answer to that question was always, "a journalist and a baseball scout." It took me getting to know someone who is now very special to me to know that I was always wrong.

Granted, I stole her answer, but I still think it's something I'll strive towards for the rest of my life.

The thing I really want to be when I grow up is "happy." But I'll take what I can get.

I'm supposed to look back at my four years here right now but I just don't want to.

As it stands, at 1:22 a.m. on March 19, 2014 I am very, very happy.

This month I suffered one of the worst losses of my life.

My best friend, Ryan, lost his five year battle with leukemia. I tell people he was my best friend for the last 23 years (which is a pretty long time for a 21-year-old).

I can't imagine that a day is going to come where I'll actually be able to wrap my head around losing my best friend but if there's anything that just having a friend like that will teach me it's that happiness is always possible.

I'm lucky enough to have a number of friends to help me through anything.

When I got the news that Ryan had passed I was with another friend, Billy.

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Billy is a veteran, home after a four year stint in the USMC.

I almost felt bad looking sad in front of him. I couldn't imagine the things he's seen.

But he was there.

He told me he was there.

I went to the funeral that Sunday and people were there. For Ryan. For each other. For me.

I followed up the worst week of my life with probably one of the best times I'll ever have.

I spent four days in New Orleans with six good friends.

I was far from cured. I had a prayer card in my pocket the whole time (and still do) but you couldn't catch me without a smile on my face all weekend.

I try and walk around every day with a smile on my face. Looking back isn't difficult for me because all the things I want to remember from my past I still bring with me.

The friends I made day one of college are the roommates I live with now. The friends I played football with in high school are still the same people that come into my bar when I'm working.

I sit back at work and see the smiles on my friend's faces and know I got a great group of people around me.

As of right now I'm a happy man. I'm sure on May 19, I'll be even happier.

But, like I said, I'll take what I can get.

Gerard Gilberto is a senior journalism major from Staten Island, N.Y. He can be reached at


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