Widow at a wedding

This past weekend, two of my closest friends got married.  I love these two people so much. I can not stress enough how much of an honor that my daughter and I got to be a part of their day.  The we were with Bryon and me on the best days of my life and they didn’t leave my side through the worst days of my life.  While I would do the same for them, I  prefer that the days be happy. 

The wedding was held at the lovely Otesaga Resort in Cooperstown, NY. I wish I could share more details but I was chasing after my daughter.  Please take my word for it when I say that this wedding was epic.  

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“I do myself, Mommy!”

 

The weather was warm for December.

Everything was beautiful; the bride, her dress, her hair, the music, the guests.  

The food was amazing.  And there was an open bar.  

I got to see lots of old friends and I made some new friends.

But my heart was heavy all night.  Because Bryon was not there.

This is not the first wedding I have gone to since Bryon’s passing.  My Maine best friend got married last summer.  I meant to blog about it because it was a beautiful ceremony that deserves it’s own post and I hope to write about it before I visit her in Ann Arbor this spring.  

But that wedding was in Maine and that was my turf.  Some of my old friends I saw at that wedding had never even met Bryon (though that doesn’t lessen their empathy).  Both the bride and groom had lost their mothers in their 20’s and the only time I felt sad was when the father of groom gave a speech and mentioned the groom’s mother and if she were there.  My eyes teared up because it made me think of how Bryon isn’t going to be there when my daughter gets married.

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I was very anxious about this wedding but I kept those feelings to myself. I felt selfish for even having these feelings. Weddings are happy affairs.  There is very little I do not share with the bride but I wasn’t going to burden her with my grief leading up to her big day.  Especially when I know it was hard on her that Bryon wasn’t there.  

(And to note, I have discussed this with the bride after the fact.  She is not going to be blindsided by reading this).

A large portion of these guests knew Bryon.  There was no way I could even pretend he wasn’t dead or that I wasn’t a widow.  All through the night people approached me and said kind things about Bryon which I did appreciate.  Because enough time has passed from his death where sometimes I think people forget about him and the last thing anyone who is grieving wants is for their loved one to be forgotten.  

I have come to the conclusion that it was a good thing my daughter was there.  I spent the night chasing her and that prevented me from getting drunk and crying on the bathroom floor.  And that is not a flattering look for anyone.  Though chasing her did hinder my ability to take photos.

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“Mommy, why do I have two forks?”

There were so many couples at the wedding though I don’t know if that is true or if that was just my perception.  I started thinking back to my wedding day.  How pretty I felt in my dress.  How I felt when we had our first dance. We were so in love.  

There was no way that I could have foreseen exactly what “in sickness and in health” would entail.  Bryon would tell me that I nailed that vow.

I started to wonder if I would ever feel that way again.  Will I ever love again?  Will I ever love someone enough to marry them?  Will I have a second first dance and cut another cake?  Five years ago, when I married Bryon, I thought that was it.  We were going to grow old together.  Forever and always.  I never dreamed that this would be a possibility.

I know that I do want to love again.  I just don’t feel like I am done yet.  But is it even possible to feel that way about someone else?   Is it a glimmer of hope or an impossibility?

I honestly don’t know.

I know is that I need to learn to cope.  It is frustrating when you want to be happy and instead you are an emotion mess. 

Bryon might be gone but the sun stills shines.  My daughter still laughs.  There are people that I love that are still here.  There are still happy times.  I just need to accept that there will always be some sadness attached to all the happy moments.

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On living and dying

I received some very sad news this morning.  A friend of mine back home had been battling Stage IV cancer for a couple of years now and there isn’t anymore that can be done.  He will be going to Hospice.

My heart is heavy knowing what is in store for his wife and children.  While no two situations are exactly alike, I have a better understanding than most.

So if you are reading this and you are healthy, please be grateful.  Be grateful for the health of those around you.

Because life is temporary.  

And so are we.  

Someday you are going to die.
I am going to die.

Everyone close to us is going to die.  

Please take time to appreciate those in your life.  

Hold on tight to those who matter.

Don’t waste time on those who are toxic.

Please, please, please don’t live with regrets.

We always think we have more time.  

Except we don’t always have more time.

If there is something you want to do, do it.  If you don’t have the means, find a way to make the means.  If you don’t have the time, find the time.  But do it.  Or at least do something that is a step in that direction.  They say that you don’t regret the things you do, you are more likely to regret the things you didn’t do.

You are here.  

You are breathing.

You need to live.  To do.  To think.  To create.  To love.

Be passionate.

So while you are here, please, please, please make today count.

They say you are supposed to do things that scare you…

They say you are supposed to do things that scare you…
 
My intuition has been telling me try making a YouTube video. This is my first attempt. I have a lot of learn. Please watch it and tell me what you think.

Don’t know where I am going

I have no idea where I am going.

I am still trying to figure out the person I want to reinvent myself to be.

I have no idea what the future entails.  I am not sure what I want from the future.  Bryon’s death has given me the opportunity to really think about how I want to spend the remainder of my days.

Because life is temporary after all.

If it were just me, I probably would have sold my house and would have had plans to go somewhere new.  Where I have never been before.  On my own.  But I probably would have wound up in Chicago or Florida because that is where one of my best friends and my cousin live, respectively.

But I have my daughter and it is important for her to have roots where her father and I had our lives.  And to be around those who loved her father and love her.

During my widowhood, I feel like I live in two different time dimensions.  The first dimension is the same dimension that we all live in where time moves forward in minutes, weeks, months, years, etc.  The second dimension of time is where the past is in the present.  The times that I try to cling to a memory for as long as I can because for that brief period of time, I can pretend that I am still in that moment and that Bryon is alive.

I have resigned myself to the fact that I live in this first dimension of time.  I am still here on Earth for an undetermined amount of time.  I want to make the best of my years here and do as much good in the world as I can.  I want to be the best version of myself I can be.

Because I can’t go back and be the older versions of myself.  And I don’t really want to either.

Even though my soul feels broken without Bryon, I don’t want to be the person I was before he got sick.  I didn’t know what was important.  I was selfish.  I worried about things that were insignificant.   I did not appreciate all that I had and I did not appreciate Bryon.  I let my fears rule my life.  And sometimes I just went along with things Bryon wanted because I didn’t want to risk an argument.  But in the process of not rocking the boat, I wasn’t always true to myself.

Going forward, I must always be true to myself.

Even if it means rocking every boat in the marina.

Death changes everything.  The timeline of my life has been broken into two very distinct pieces- the before and the after.

I can never go back to who I was when Bryon was alive or who I was before Bryon came into my life.

I can never go back and be the lonely shy child who grew up in the outskirts of the Boston suburbs.

I can never go back and be the restless teenager in rural Downeast Maine.  The girl who knew there was an exciting world out there and felt trapped in her small town.

I can never go back and be the girl who went to college but had no idea what she wanted to do.  The girl who had no confidence and was equally afraid of success and fear.

I can never go back and be the 21 year old who was spending a semester “studying” abroad in Winchester, UK.

I can never go back and be the 25 year old girl who had just broken up with her college boyfriend and who was working three jobs to get by.

I can never go back to the 27 year old girl who was involved in politics.

I can never go back to any of these versions of myself.  But I still carry something from each version.

The child version of myself represents my Boston Irish roots and my inner child who isn’t afraid to get creative.

The high school version of me represents my restless spirit that I will probably never outgrow and also reminds me that I love to run.

The college version of myself reminds me that I need to be more confident and not be afraid of my dreams like she was.

The 21 year old version of me was proud of herself that she went to England and got to visit London, Paris and Dublin.   She got to see places she had dreamed about for years and she got to experience a different culture.  Most importantly, she learned that “pants” don’t mean the same thing in the UK as they do in the US.

The 24 year old version of myself taught me that sometimes it is better to let go of something instead of chasing it.  You can’t make anyone love you.  It is best to wait for real love.

The 27 year old version of myself taught me ambition and how to get over my shyness.  This girl also represents who I was before I learned how to love.

And I think about everything I learned from Bryon.  He taught me how to love.  He taught me to believe to in myself and that I was worth nice things.  He taught me how to live like to the fullest.  He taught be to not be afraid.

It was because of him I got to be a wife and a mother.

 

I know that he is a part of me now.  But I still wish I could live in my memories with him and not in the present and future.

As promised- the penis picture. (No actual penis pictured)

No, this isn’t a graphic picture.  Just a picture from 4 years ago. I said this post was coming in another post where Bryon was being a goofball. 

I was having a miscarriage and I had been working on crocheting a baby blanket for my cousin.  Bryon took me here to buy yarn to work on a non-baby project.  

Now some people have strong political feelings against Hobby Lobby but this was no political statement.  It was just Bryon being Bryon.


Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #6

Okay, I know I skipped last week.  I was too grumpy and that is all I can say about that.

1.  Veterans Day–  This could have been it’s own post but I was grumpy and depressed and didn’t write it.  Grief is horrible like that.  But I didn’t want to neglect saying that I am thankful for all those who have fought for our country and for the freedoms we have.  I appreciate the veterans in my family.  My father is a Vietnam veteran and both of my grandfather’s were WWII veterans.  Many of my friends are veterans as well.

My father and my grandfathers.

2.  Birthdays– Two weeks ago my daughter and I had two very important birthday parties.  The first was the first birthday of the son of Bryon’s best friend.  The second birthday party was for my daughter’s godfather, who was also Bryon’s law partner.

Days like this are bittersweet.  Bryon was always much better at  me at prioritizing social engagements than I was.  He had no problem saying no whereas I would over commit and spread myself thin.  He use to tell me that I was trying to “put 10 pounds of sh*t into a 5 pound bag.”  But as I traveled between these two birthday parties, I knew Bryon wouldn’t have missed either of them.  I couldn’t help but feel his absence.

I feel grateful that so many people still include my daughter and I in their lives.

3. I am grateful for my cousin.  Yesterday was her birthday.  I am thankful we only live two hours apart and that our kids can grow up together.  She is amazing.

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Her profession even shows how amazing she is.  She is a hospice nurse.  While Bryon didn’t make it to hospice and died in the hospital, I can attest that end of life care is very important.  Not only to the dying patient but their loved ones.

4.  My friends.  Seriously, nothing would get done around myself without them.  I have a core group that will drop everything to help me.  And I am lucky because I am an overwhelmed widowed mother who works full-time.

5.  My childhood friend.  One of my best friends from childhood sent me a message yesterday.  I haven’t responded because I was busy with work and wanted to write a well-thought out message and I failed.  She and I had been friends since we were little and we were particularly close in middle school.  It was a time when we all had spiral perms and wore Hard Rock Cafe T-shirts and the Baby-Sitters Club were everything.  I will say that her spiral perms were always better than mine because her mother was a hairdresser and my perms came from a box.

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I don’t think any pictures exist of us.  I wish they did so I could post it here.

I moved away after 8th grade in 1993 and while we wrote the occasional letter, we pretty much fell out of touch.  We later found each other on Facebook.  We got married around the same time and we both had daughters one month apart.

So to my old friend, if you are reading this-  I am grateful you are still in my life and I owe you a response to your message.  I really need to see you when I am in the Boston area next.

The second year is a b*tch

During my first year of widowhood, I learned what coping mechanisms did not work.

I tried to outrun grief, literally.  I ran a half marathon 6 weeks after Bryon died.  It was one of my biggest accomplishments in my life.  I hope to do it again.  But with only 6 weeks of training, my knees were not happy with me.

I tried to eat my emotions.  I gained back all the weight I lost when Bryon was sick and then some.  My knees continued to be unhappy.

I tried to keep busy and outsocialize my grief.  But now I am exhausted and nothing is getting crossed of my to-do list.  Being with friends is important but I have ignored spending time with myself.

There was one night I had some Spanish red wine.  That night I watched Jinger Duggar’s wedding and I bawled my eyes out.  But the next morning I had a headache and I was too old to be waking up with headaches.

I would go to Target whenever I was sad.  Nothing could cheer me up more than buying my two year old daughter a pair of pink cowgirl boots.  However, that cheerfulness would never last long.  My daughter had a great wardrobe that year.  A wardrobe she promptly outgrew and I gave away.

Writing helped my grief.  It helped me sort out my feelings.  But it also caused me to intellectualize my feelings which can prevent a person from feeling those feelings.  It is a mechanism I have used my whole life.

While I participated in some questionable grief practices, I have never denied my grief.  I have always acknowledged it.

But maybe I did something wrong because now I feel a flood of anger consuming me.

Let’s say grief is like an ocean.  Grief, like the ocean, can make a person feels small and insignificant.  Both grief and the ocean can be peaceful and serene at times and stormy and dangerous at other times.  Well I am standing in an island in the middle of this grief ocean and my anger is like a large wave crashing down over me.

Anger for all that happened to Bryon and for all his physical, mental and emotional pain.

Anger at how the events transpired.

Anger that Bryon and I never got to discuss what was happening nor did we get to discuss “what if”.

Anger that Bryon isn’t here to help me raise my daughter.

Anger that Bryon didn’t get to accomplish all his dreams and that we didn’t get to accomplish our dreams together.

Anger at the isolation I feel.  Everyone else gets to live normal lives  and not the “new normal” that I was told I needed to find when Bryon died.  I want the old normal.

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The second year is isolating.  Just as the reality of Bryon’s death is hitting me, people think I should be “over it”.

The second year is a b*tch and I still have nine months of it.