Good Vibrations Gratitude…Saturday #32

Okay, I missed getting this up on Friday but I didn’t want to miss my chance to making my gratitudes for the week.  For what it’s worth, I  haven’t been to bed yet.  So it is still like Friday.  Kind of.

cf405e2987ad50292c6bf9f99dd3bd71It has been busy settling into my daughter’s Pre-K year.  I have been enjoying the process and watching her grow.

I have realized that between raising my daughter by myself and keeping up with her activities, working full time, travelling, trying to have some semblance of a social life and trying to find time to write that I was spreading myself too thin.  It is evidenced by the fact that I haven’t been to the gym since March, I can’t remember the last time I went and had a pedicure (which is something I try to do a couple times a year) and my writing and creativity has suffered.

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I have taken a step back from things and decided that I needed to focus on my daughter and myself.  I have been doing a lot of reevaluating of my life.  I am in a difference phase of grief and I am trying to live my life again so I need adjust to the changes within myself as well as make sure that I am setting myself up for success in this new chapter.

So without much further ado…Good Vibrations Gratitude, um Saturday…

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Here is what I have been thankful for this week-

  1. My daughter loving Pre-K.

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    This picture was actually taken last week.  But this week was my daughter’s first full week in Pre-K and so far she loves it.

    I just can’t believe that this class is her last stop at her daycare.  Next stop is kindergarten.

  2. Celebrating Princess Style

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    My daughter was invited to a friends princess birthday party.  It was so much fun to see all the princesses and princes enjoy themselves.  Belle and Moana even showed up.

  3. Making new friends

    I actually made a new friend at the Princess Party.

    I was chatting with another mother who I did not know.  (I knew most of them because our kids are in school together).  I was talking to this new friend about my recent trip to the LBJ Presidential Library and she was excited.  I am not used t this.  Most people think I am a bit of a nerd.

    Turns out she is reading a book about each U.S. President and created an Instagram with her sketches about what she learned.  If you are into history, you should definitely follow her.

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  4. First day of gymnastics

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    My daughter had her first gymnastics class of the Pre-K year.  To say she was excited would be an understatement.  This was the only picture I got where she was not running around.  It always brings me joy to see her happy and learning and growing.

  5. First day of dance

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    We also had our first dance class of the year this week as well.  My parents had come in that day for her 4th birthday this weekend and were able to watch the class. She was so excited that she did snow angels in the middle of class.

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    I don’t know what was up with the snow angels but overall, she is more focused than last year.

    What are you grateful for this week?

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Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #31

It’s Friday! You made it.  You survived the week!

Do you know what this means?  It’s time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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I currently have a broken keyboard.  I dropped it and now the “L” key only works if I press down really hard on it.  So I am grateful for Amazon for giving me an ability to order a replacement which should be here tomorrow.  (And I apologize if there are any typos).

Today’s post is going to be a little different than my normal gratitude posts.

I am one week into my 40’s.  I am also in a new phase of my grief process.  With every beginning comes a period of reflection and a period of learning.  But I am optimistic that the next chapter is going to be a good chapter.

So I want to take a period to reflect on what I am grateful for in the previous chapter.

I am grateful for my time with Bryon.  I don’t know why it had to end this way, but even despite the sadness and pain, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

I am grateful that he didn’t give up on me.  I was a very closed off and stand-offish person and he persisted.  I am grateful for all the love he gave me and the fact that he loved me at my worst.  I am grateful that he worked hard to give me a great life even if I didn’t appreciate it at the time.  I am grateful for all that he taught me.

I am grateful for everyone who is remembers Bryon and isn’t afraid to talk to about him.  I am grateful for those who keep his memory alive.

I am grateful for my daughter.  She was my reason for getting out of bed in those early days.  She brings me so much joy as I watch her grow and learn.  She brings me laughter.  She reminds me of all the wonder in the world and to appreciate the little things.  I am so lucky to be her mommy.

I am grateful for my family for always being there, for reminding me where I came from and for always having my back.

I am grateful for my family for all the love they give my daughter.

I am grateful for my job and the ability to work from home.  I am grateful for the flexible schedule and for all the education opportunities that my employer provides.  I am grateful for the team I work with.

I am grateful everyone who has helped me and my daughter survive the trauma and aftermath, both physically and emotionally.

I am grateful for everyone who has helped me around my house.

I am grateful for everyone who helped me keep my sh*t together and who has held my hand as I completed the hard tasks of widowhood.

I am grateful for everyone who has check in and fed my cat when I am away.

I am grateful for my friends who have sat with me and let me cry.

I am grateful for those who have stood by me even when I have been distracted with all that comes with single parenting, work and grief.  If I haven’t seemed like a good friend, it’s honestly because my own cup hasn’t been full in a very long time.  What is in my cup goes to my daughter.  I don’t even take care of me so I am sorry that my cup usually consists of the end of the soda bottle that is probably more saliva than soda.  (The previous sentence is based on a statistic I have heard.  I haven’t looked it up because it’s after 1 am and I am feeling tired and lazy).

I am grateful for those who recognize that I am doing my best even though I drop the ball most of the time.

I am grateful for all the meals shared, especially the tacos, the wine and bacon.  (Though I don’t think we did all three at once).

I am grateful for all the phone calls, texts, messages and SnapChats.

I am grateful for people listen to me babble on and on.  I am only imagine what it is like to listen to me.  Social awkwardness + grief = me.

I am grateful for everyone who loves or has loved my daughter.

I am grateful for anyone who has made me laugh, especially in the past two years.  I really needed it.

I am grateful for everyone who loves me or have ever loved me.  Especially at my worst.

I am grateful for everyone in my life, for teaching me.  People and experiences are life’s biggest teachers.

I am grateful for those who listened and empathized and tried their hardest to understand.

I am grateful (admittedly cautiously grateful) for those who have hurt me because that hurt has taught me important lessons.

I am grateful for those who did not respect my boundaries because you taught me to reevaluate my boundaries and enforce them.

I am grateful for everyone who encouraged me to open about my grief.  Being open is the opposite of my introverted nature.  (Yes, I am an INFJ and we are often mistaken for being extroverts but I am an introvert).  I am grateful for all those I have met through this journey.

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A new chapter is beginning.

It is exciting but so many things are unknown.

I don’t know what it means for myself or for those in my life.  It is exciting and scary because I don’t know what is going to happen.  I don’t know who is going to stay and who is going to go.  I have no idea what my life is going to be like a year from now.  Heck, I am not sure what it is going to be like a month from now.

Everything is going to work out the way it is supposed to.

Though trusting the Universe is a weak area of mine…

But I know I can’t stay where I am at.  I can’t continue to live in the past.

It’s not fair to me.  It’s not fair to my daughter.  It’s not fair to those around me.  And it’s not fair to Bryon.

I am was lucky to experience the love that Bryon and I had.  But he’s not coming back.

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I know the best way to honor Bryon’s memory is by living again.  But the letting go part is not as easy as it seems.  Just like the rest of my “grief journey”, it is a process.  It is still going to take time.

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Birthday Eve ramblings

I begin this post 45 minutes before my 40th birthday. I am also typing on my phone as I lay in the guest bedroom of my brothers house in New Hampshire with my little cuddle bug lightly snoring next to me. This is not how I usually write so I am not sure how this will affect my writing process.

This evening on my birthday eve, I had an amazing dinner with my parents, my daughter, and my brother at Hawaiian Isle in Plaistow, NH.

Scorpion Bowl
The quintessential Boston Chinese Pupu Platter
Pineapple and fortune cookies
…in bed.

After dinner, my brother treated us for ice cream at Moo’s in Salem, NH.

Tomorrow I head off on an adventure with some of my besties and my daughter will spend the weekend with her grandparents.

As I write this, I have two major thoughts.

The first is that I am so happy to be done with my thirties. It had been the happiest and the most tragic decade of my life.

I started my 30s one month into my relationship with Bryon. We fell in love. I moved to New York. We adopted a cat. We got engaged and married and had a baby.

3.5 residences.

5 jobs through 3 employers

5 cruises.

5 countries. 8 if you count overseas territories….

20 States.

3 Canadian provinces.

4 cars (Mean Green, the Silver Bullet, the Bronze Bomber…and the Subaru).

I could go on but while this decade had a lot of happiness, but it still ended tragically.

Life was good and then Bryon died and I spent the last two years in deep, profound grief.

I am so ready for a new decade. I am ready for the next chapter of my story.

The second thought is that I can no longerf dread getting older. Afterf seeing Bryon die so young, I truly know each year is a gift.

Bryon will never be middle aged. If you are middle aged, you are lucky.

Bryon always joked that he was an old man in a young man’s body. He looked forward to being an old masn and he never will be.

One time when my daughter was an infant, the three of us went to have dinner at a local diner. We were seated near two grumpy old men. Bryon was amused by them and said that was going to be him and his best friend when they got old.

But know only one of them will become an old man. *knock on wood* because I am superstitious AF.

So I go into my 40th year embracing my age. My wisdom. My scars. My blessings.

But just not my gray hairs.

Happy third birthday in Heaven

Today’s post will be a quick post.  I just wanted to share a few photos on how we celebrated Bryon’s birthday.

His birthday is exactly one week after his deathaversary but I try not to dwell too much on his deathaversary.  I prefer to celebrate the fact that he had lived.

My daughter and some friends released balloons at the cemetery.

“Table Top” in the grass.  Nice to see gymnastics class pay off.

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Balloon-Release!

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UP…

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…UP…

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…And AWAY!!!!

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I am sure he enjoyed them. Especially when I got in the car and one of his favorite songs came on.  He saves this one for birthdays and happy occasions.

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After the cemetery, we had dinner at one of Bryon’s favorite restaurants, Swifty’s.

I enjoyed my first Sam oktoberfest.

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I don’t care if it’s still August.  It’s been a hot summer and the humidity has been wicked.  I am so over it.

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I love these people.  They have stayed with me through thick and thin.  Of course, a few were unable to attend and we missed them.

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I feel like I should write something more profound but between the fact that last week was Bryon’s deathaversary and this week is his birthday and my birthday tomorrow, my head kind of feels like it is going to explode.  I have been emotional and cried a lot but I am okay.

The good news is that I am leaving on a birthday girls trip tomorrow but I have a lot of things to do between now and then.

So this post is going to have to be enough.

Thanks for reading along.

“I told you so” – A Bryon McKim birthday story

August 25ish, 2011

I was watching news coverage on Hurricane Irene which was heading directly to New York City.

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For the first 31 years of my life (minus three months in Indiana), I have lived within 20 miles of the ocean, with 15 of those years living in a Coastal Maine town.

If there is one thing I have learned, it is that you don’t underestimate an ocean storm.

Seriously, we have all seen The Perfect Storm, right?

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I went to Wal-Mart and stocked up some supplies.  Items such as candles and batteries and non-perishable food.

I came home and Bryon mocked me.

Our conversation went something like this.

Kerry: Hey, we should make sure our floor in the basement is clear in case the basement floods.

Bryon:  Um…we live 200 miles inland.

Kerry:  And this storm is 400 miles wide and heading straight for New York City.

Bryon: This isn’t the Maine Coast.  You are worrying about nothing.

Worrying about nothing was a common grievance Bryon had about my personality.  It’s ironic that I wouldn’t learn to worry less until he died.

Bryon and I both liked being right and we were both stubborn.  I dropped this issue because I knew I wasn’t going to convince Bryon.  But I didn’t forget…

Sunday Morning, 
August 28, 2011
Bryon’s Birthday

Our basement is flooding.  We were unprepared for that.

As we are wet-vaccing our basement floor, I decided at that point that it would be a good time to point out to Bryon that I was right.

Bryon did not appreciate being told that he was wrong.

An argument ensues.

I get pissed and decide since Bryon knew all the answers, he can deal with the flooding basement.

I storm upstairs and sit angrily on the couch.

A period of time passes.  It felt long but it was probably 5 or 10 minutes, Bryon comes upstairs and says that being pissed at each wasn’t going to help the situation.

I knew at that point he was right so I head back down to the basement.

We continue to wet vac until we notice that the water was seeping in through microscopic cracks in the cement.  So Bryon took my Jeep Compass to Lowe’s…in the middle of a hurricane to buy some hydraulic cement.  Luckily we patch up enough of the cracks and the flooding is controlled.  (Though it took a month and a strongly worded letter for our rental company to address the issue).

We were lucky.  Hurricane Irene caused so much damage in Upstate New York but Albany was pretty much spared.

The storm let up in the afternoon and we met our friends at Mahar’s.  The woman who would become our future daughters Godmother posted this picture of Bryon on Facebook.  She was going to call him Hurricane Clifford.  (Clifford was Bryon’s middle name and it was a hit among his friends).  Bryon requested she call him Tropical Depression Clifford.

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Bryon and I would later laugh about this day.  I just look back and I see what two stubborn people we were.

Luckily we forgave each other.  We got engaged at Mahar’s a week and a half later.

Though…I was right.

Happy Birthday in Heaven, Handsome.

Two years of widowhood- an honest assessment. And what now?

Six months into widowhood, I wrote a blog post about what to expect in widowhood.

I decided to do a blog post summing up my thoughts.

Kind of a sampler of random thoughts.

Before I delve into my experiences, I want to mention that everyone’s experience with grief is different.  This post is based on my experience.  Your mileage may vary.

Secondly, I use the term widow and “she” because I am writing from my perspective.  But this also applies to widowers as well.  I just thought my writing flowed better saying “widow” instead of “widow or widower”.

And third, this is no way a complete list of things I could say about widowhood.  But this is a blog and it will be ready for those words when I write them.

Widowhood is hard to reconcile.  And accept.

I thought I was going to grow old with Bryon.

Then he died and I had no say in the matter.

Survivors guilt is a real thing.  I tormented myself for months, wondering what I could have done for a different outcome.  It took me many months to come to the realization that there was nothing I couldn’t have done.

I don’t know why this had to happen.  I probably never will.

But it did happen.  Whether it is for a specific reason or as the result of the butterfly effect or a combination of the two, I don’t know.

Sometimes shitty things happen to good people.

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Our society doesn’t know how to handle grief.

After Bryon died, I was barraged with cliches.

Everything happens for a reason…

You just need to find your new normal…

It was all part of God’s plan…

He will always be with you in spirit…

God doesn’t give you more than you can handle…

He will be watching over you and your daughter…

He’s not hurting anymore…

People mean well.  They feel like they need to say something to make you feel better but they don’t know what to say.  So they revert back to these cliches.

The problem is that these cliches rarely make people feel better.  They usually make people feel worse.  The best case scenario is that the grieving person just ignores it or rolls their eyes.

This is usually the opposite effect than was intended.

If you know someone grieving, ask how the grieving person is doing.  Take them to lunch. Share a story about the deceased.  But please, please, please, try not to use a cliche.

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People will disappear

It doesn’t matter how popular your deceased spouse was.  People disappear.

It starts with the funeral.   You won’t hear from 70% of those people again.

And as time goes by, the amount of people who check up on you continues to goes down.

People move on and forget about your deceased .

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If you make it to two years out, the people that are still here are your nearest and dearest.  Hold on to them.

People will kick you when you are down.

My late husband was a popular person.  In fact, he is way more popular posthumously than I am alive.

I have had people use me and my situation to latch onto my husband’s popularity.  You know, offer to help on social media where everyone can see but they never call after a snow storm.  Or people who try to take pictures with my daughter treating her like a photo op instead of a real person.

It’s sick.

A couple of times it has surprised me because this behavior came from people who I thought were my true friends.

I am going to clear something up.

Widowhood is lonely, even with amazing friends and family.

But just because a widow is lonely does not mean that she must accept all friendship, even if she is being used and treated poorly.

It is insulting.

For me, the opposite is true.  Life is short and I need to spend my time with those who care about my daughter and me.

I’ve also learned there are a lot of narcissists and toxic people around and it is important to set boundaries.

If I cut someone out of my life, there is a very good reason for it.

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At first these realizations upset me but now I am appreciative of them because they taught me important lessons.  And I can make room for true friends.

Your tolerance for bullsh*t goes way down.

When Bryon and I got married, I thought my tolerance for bullshit went down.

And it did.

When Bryon and I became parents, I thought my tolerance for bullshit went down.

And it did.

But it was when Bryon died that my tolerance for bullshit plummeted.  When you watch one of the two people you love most slowly die, you quickly learn what is important and you lose any tolerance for people who try to make your life miserable.

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It does get better.

It take time but eventually the pain lessens.

Though I haven’t figured out if it is actually getting easier or if you just get used to their absence.

But the pain never goes away entirely.  You will still have bad days.  There will still be things that trigger you.

But there is hope.

Where does this leave me now?

As I said in my blog post on Tuesday, I feel like am  stuck between two worlds.  I am looking forward to the next chapter but I am struggling to let go of the past.

The first year of widowhood was about survival for me.  Getting out of bed was enough of a challenge.

The second year was about getting used to Bryon being gone and getting used to envisioning a future without him.

The second year was also the year I learned to love myself.

And now I am about to embark on the third year.

What does that even mean?  What does that mean for this blog?

While I miss Bryon every single day and I will still have sad days and moments where I cry.  But I can’t stay in deep sadness forever.  Grief is exhausting and I have been grieving for two years.

Do you know how exhausting it is to work full time, write a blog, raise a daughter by yourself and experience and process deep and profound grief at the same time?

I know Bryon doesn’t want me to be this sad forever.

Bryon gave me so much in our years together and the best way to honor him is to start living again. He made the most of his 30 years.  He accomplished more in those years than most people do in 80.

But it is hard for me to listen to people complain about becoming older.  Bryon didn’t even make it to middle age.  I need to make the most of the years I have left.

So the third year is going to be the year I start to live again.

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Two years

Two years.

I am trying to let that sink in.

Two years ago I was sitting next to you during the last hours of your life.

We were both clinging on in a way.

It was what I imagine Purgatory to be like.

As much as I wanted the agony to be over, I had no choice to but to cling and wait out our last hours and minutes together.  Because once Purgatory was over, you were going to be dead.

(There was no way, at that time, to foresee the agony that would follow during the months after).

I don’t know why you were clinging on but you did.  I am sure it was because of some deep spiritual meaning that I can’t understand in this human form.

Or maybe you were waiting for Chelsea to score even though we weren’t watching a game.  Besides, your heart stopped beating at 6:47 am which is probably still too early, even for English Premier League Soccer.

I am in a much better place now than I was last year.

Your first deathaversary really kicked me on my ass.  It put me in a funk that I couldn’t seem to shake off until Christmas.

Last year I would have said that your death made a big impact in my life.

Which it did.

But now I realize that your life had an even bigger impact than your death.

I will probably never understand why our years together were so short but I am grateful that I had you for as long as I did.

I am grateful for the memories and all I learned from you.

You loved me at my worst.

Sadly, you never got to experience me at my best.

I’d like to think that you would be proud of me.

I am better person because of your love.

You always believed in me.

You were right.  I am a lot smarter than I ever gave myself credit for.  Though I am sure you roll your eyes a lot every time I mess something up or forget to do something.

I remember how appalled you were when we were in our dating days when I half-joked that whenever I hear a noise in my car, I would turn the music up and hope that the noise went away.  You told me that you were going to take care of the car and I happily obliged.

Well, I’ve actually kept up on car maintenance.  I even checked with my Dad to make sure there wasn’t anything I might have forgotten and he said I was all set.

Though, truth be told, I am too scared to let car maintenance slide since I drive with our daughter in the car.  If it were just me…then…eh…

But I have been trying hard to learn these new skills.  Because you aren’t hear to take care of the things you used to take care off.

Last year I was still grasping the concept that you died.

This year I am grasping the concept of how much time has passed since you were gone.

I used to marvel at how much has changed since you were here but now I can’t help but notice how much has changed since those early months after you died.

It might seem silly but it started when I noticed that the heels on my boots were wearing out.  And then I remembered that I bought those boots after you died.  How can it be possible that you have been dead long enough where I can wear out a pair of boots?

Friendships have run their course.

(Do you remember when I used to let people walk all over me and use me?  I would get so upset and those offenders and the situations always angered you.  At the time, I didn’t realize that it hurt you to see me hurt.  You encouraged me to stand up for myself more.  Well it is safe to say that I don’t out up with being treated poorly anymore.)

You died a month before our daughter turned two.  Now she is almost 4 and she is going to be starting pre-K.  And your best friends son who was born after you died is almost 2.  I am not going to lie but your absence hurts the most during their milestones, first and achievements.  You not here to see them grow up.

At this time last year, I was still struggling with adjusting to life without you.

Now, I feel like I am used to you being gone.  Or maybe I am just used to your absence always being present.  But I know that nothing is going to bring you back.

I have to accept that this is our story even if it’s not the ending I would have written for us.

I keep hearing that you are supposed to live in the Present.  But my Present feels like I am living in limbo between two different worlds.

One of the worlds I live in consists of the past.  While I am not in denial about your death, part of me is having a hard time letting go of the past.  It just feels like every time I complete a task, your existence on Earth is erased just a little each time.

I took your name off of the bank account.  It was time.  The process only took about ten minutes and the guy working at the bank was really nice but when I got back to the car, I cried.

People talk about you less. When you first died, everyone was willing to talk to you and share memories.  Now it feels like I can only talk about you with a small group of people. I guess most people have moved on. I am not quite ready to move on.

It feels like you have been forgotten.

I don’t want you to be forgotten.

I also live the other life that consists of the future.  I hope it’s a happy time.

I live in a world where I am so ready for that next chapter.  Whatever it might have in store for me.

Though I get overwhelmed when I think of all I need to do physically and emotionally to get to the next chapter.

I have been in a deep sadness for two years but I know I can’t stay this sad forever.

I am tired of feeling sad.

This type of sadness takes so much energy out of me.

And I know you don’t want me too.   You want me to live my life to the fullest.

But you are one hard Mo-Fo to get over, Bryon McKim.

You changed my life and I will never meet anyone like you.  But maybe from here I am supposed to be the one changing people’s lives?  I am still trying to figure this out.

I want to be happy again.

I am ready for my next chapter.

No matter what happens, I will love you forever, BCM.

I promise I will never forget you.