This weekend was rough for me since Sunday was Father’s Day—my third without Cristian. I started the day at Sunday mass at Mary Queen of All Saints Parish in Pennsauken, New Jersey, which is near Philadelphia. I met with DIPG families who had attended the Third Annual Childhood Cancer Symposium put on by Alex’s Lemonade Stand the day before. The all-day event took place at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown and offered educational meetings and sessions for families dealing with childhood cancer. While I’m sorry I wasn’t able to attend, I’m glad I got to meet with the families on Sunday. I had the pleasure of meeting Annette McKeon, who is doing amazing work for the DIPG community with her foundation, Aimee’s Army. I also got to see the Griffins, who are amazing people, and the Farinas, who give a lot of support to the Cristian Rivera Foundation, as well as to me personally and spiritually. After mass, we went back to the priest’s house and had pastries, coffee and great conversations. Then I drove back to New York City and picked up my older son JC. Together we visited my grandfather, who Cristian liked a lot and is getting ready for his 93rd birthday on August 5, and then we paid a visit to my father. JC and I finished out the day with a nice dinner, where we joined a couple who lost their child to DIPG too.
I was glad to spend the day with other DIPG families and remember all of the children, including Cristian, who have gotten their wings. No matter how many years go by since Cristian’s passing, Father’s Day never gets easier. Luckily I have some great people in my life who help get me through it. I received so many amazing messages on Sunday and I appreciate all of them. I want to thank everybody, especially Jeff Lavino, who sent me a wonderful email. Jeff is my former business partner, soon to be my partner again, and one of my very best friends in the whole world.
Cristian also played a big part in getting me through the day. He has been sending me so many blessings in the past month. I know that all of the amazing and beautiful things that have happened to me are because Cristian has been showing me the way, opening doors for me, sending me amazing blessings and filling my heart with an abundance of happiness and peace. I love you, Cristian, and I cannot thank you enough for all you have done for me and how much you mean to me.
I always write inspirational things about Cristian in this journal. It is a journal about Cristian and it’s on his foundation’s website. But I also want to recognize my son JC. JC is on this Earth now and has been very supportive. I see the pain he bears at the loss of his brother. I am blessed to have a son like him, who is such a great student and a good kid. JC and I have recently had some very adult conversations about life and I have been blown away by how intuitive he is. JC is not as outgoing or opinionated as I am, but I’ve grown to learn he is very observant and it blows me away how much he actually knows. I understand that it must have been hard for him, after years of being an only child, to suddenly have a little brother and think my time—and my love—was split between them. But I love them BOTH so much and I feel very fortunate that I got to experience love in the purest form from both of my children. I’ve accomplished many things in my life—I was a DJ, a concert and event promoter, a record producer, an artist manager, a record label owner, a nightclub owner, and the list goes on—but the one achievement in my life I’m most proud of is being a father to two incredible boys, JC and Cristian.
John “Gungie” Rivera
Forever Cristian’s Daddy