My best friends birthday

Today is my best friends birthday. I won’t share how many years she has but it is more than me.

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With the exception for three months where I lived in Indiana, we have always lived a plane ride away.  So we don’t get to see each other nearly as often as we like.

But as a birthday challenge of sorts, I wanted to see if I could reconstruct all the times we have seen each other.

2006

We first met in April of 2006 at the Young Republican Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.  More specifically, she was sitting in front of me on the shuttle to the hotel from the Romanian Embassy.

 

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Washington, D.C., 2006

 

We saw each other again at the Young Republican National Federation (YRNF) Cleveland Board Meeting but we weren’t really friends yet.

It would be at the YRNF Fall 2006 Board Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.  This was when we would become friends.  I had just lost my race for State Rep back in Maine.  This was also the board meeting where I met Bryon.

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Louisville, Kentucky, 2006

 

2007

March- We had a YRNF Board Meeting in New Orleans.

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New Orleans, 2007

Then there was the Young Republican National Convention in Hollywood, Florida in July.

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Hollywood, FL, 2007

That fall I lived in Indiana.  I know there was an evening I was staying the night near Chicago and my work partner and I took the train in to have dinner with her and another good Chicago friend. Sadly, I don’t have a pic.  It was 2007.  I still used a flip phone.  Don’t judge.

She also took a flight to Louisville to work on a campaign.  We knocked on doors somewhere in Kentucky.  I don’t have any pics of that weekend either.

A friend and I drove up to Chicago one weekend and we went to Navy Pier.

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Chicago, 2007

Sometime in the Fall of 2007 was also the YRNF Board Meeting in Houston, Texas.

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Houston, 2007

By the holidays, I was back in Maine.  Her family didn’t celebrate Christmas so she came to Maine to celebrate with my family.   She flew into Manchester, NH and my Michigan Best friend (who still lived in Maine at the time)  came with me to pick her up.  During a blizzard.

We celebrated the holidays in Maine.

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Maine, 2007

It’s not a Sullivan holiday without a trip to the range.

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Maine, 2007

We then took a trip to Boston.  There were Irish pubs…

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Boston, 2007

…and Scorpion Bowls…

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…and some wicked bad karaoke.

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Boston, 2007

We also walked the Freedom Trail in the freezing rain.

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Boston, 2007

And we went to Cheers and these guys were our dates for five minutes.

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Boston, 2007

2008

I was still living in Maine and I was traveling out to Albany for the New York State Young Republican Leadership Conference and she decided to fly in.  (This weekend was also when Bryon and my love story began)

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Albany, 2008

 

I had missed the Young Republican Leadership Conference that year because it was the same year as the Maine Republican Convention.  I guess when scheduling it, Maine didn’t matter or something.  But we had a Maine Young Republican Conference in Portland and she flew in for that.

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Maine, 2008

She flew in that Fall to help with some campaigning.  There was a hurricane in the Gulf of Maine that weekend.  Luckily, it was far enough out in the ocean that we really just had rain.  But we ending up painting signs in a barn.

Oh and there was some more bad karaoke.

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Maine, 2008

 

And then there was the YRNF Fall Board Meeting in Nashville.

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Nashville, 2008

2009

First there was the Spring YRNF Board Meeting in Orlando.

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Orlando, 2009

Then there was the Young Republican National Convention in Indianapolis.  And I have no pics from us.  I feel like she may have worked and drove in late.  Or maybe I was a jerk friend who spent too much time hanging out with my boyfriend.  I was also running for Northeast Regional Vice Chair and I know I was consumed with that.

Since I have given you a lot of pics of bad karaoke, here’s one of Bryon singing good karaoke.

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Indianapolis, 2009

The Fall 2008 YRNF Board Meeting was in Kansas City, MO.  I had tonsillitis, went against doctors orders and I barely left my room.  I emerged for meetings because I was the Northeast Regional Vice-Chair and had to be there.  So no pics.  But we were both there.

2010

We both happened to be in Indianapolis for two separate events.   I was in town to watch Bryon’s alma mater’s basketball team play Butler in the Bracket Busters.  You were in town with your boyfriend for a race.  We met up for dinner at St. Elmo’s Steakehouse.  This was the winter of illness so I was out of it because I had bronchitis.

That spring she came out to visit me in Albany but I had picked up a really bad case of Gatroenteritis while working in the ER.  But she still came anyway, but I was not any fun.

2011

We did not see each other this year.  This is a sad year.

2012

And the beginning of 2012, she came out to Albany for my engagement party

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Albany, 2012

Then there was my wedding

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Albany 2012 Photo: Heidi Benjamin Photography

And her wedding in Mexico

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Mayan Ruins, 2012
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Bachelorette Party, Mexico, 2012

 

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Mexico, 2012

2013

We didn’t see each other in 2013.  We were too busy being newlyweds.

2014

I flew out to Chicago in February for your baby shower.  We went to the Sears Tower and we were both pregnant and stopped to rest on every bench we saw and used the bathroom every time we saw one.  A far cry from our old days.  No pictures because we both feeling tired and pregnant.

2015

Your family came to visit mine in Albany.  It gives me goosebumps to think that this would be the last time you would see Bryon.

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Dinosaur BBQ, Troy, NY, 2015
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Albany 2015
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Albany, 2015
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Albany, NY

2016

Bryon had been in the ICU for 4 months and been transferred to NYC.  You made plans to come to NYC on Bryon and my birthday weekend and you arranged with my father to meet halfway between Albany and NYC so you could bring my daughter to see him.

But that weekend never happened.

Well it did.  Just not the way you planned.  But it ended up being a funeral weekend in Albany.  I was grateful to have you there for me.

2017

Life goes on.  And you made sure to make time for me this year.

First was Vegas in Feb.

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Las Vegas, 2017

Ann Arbor in March.

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Ann Arbor, 2017

And my daughter and I came to visit you in Chicago in July.

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Chicago, 2017
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Chicago, 2017

We were supposed to go to Disney in September, but Hurricane Irma had other plans.

2018

I realized that I needed to use my Southwest credit from our canceled Florida trip.  So I came out to see you in March.  We took the girls to Wisconsin Dells and the Museum of Science and Industry.

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Chicago and Wisconsin, 2018
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Chicago, 2018

And this is where our story currently is.  It is so cool to see our girls growing in these pics and that they will grow up together.  Who would have thought that a friendship forged during drunken YRNF weekends would turn into a friendship that spans two generations?

And we get to continue our story this coming weekend. I am so excited!

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Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #23

Fun Fact about this blog.  Almost all the posts on this blog are written between midnight and 2 am.  Last night I chose to sleep instead.  So I apologize for the post being up later than usual.

It’s Friday-

Time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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  1.  Wedding Weekend
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    Obligatory Tribe Photo at the Tribe Wedding. Though the bride appears to be missing.

    Last weekend my daughter and I were in a wedding of our good friends.  These friend are very special to me and I am grateful that I got to be a part of their big day.

  2. My daughter
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    ‘Nastics class

    She makes me so proud.

  3. That the storms missed Albany.

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    Being from New England, I joke that Albany is in the Midwest.  But we don’t usually get tornado watches.  I know watches just mean that the weather conditions are present where a tornado could begin.  I know that tornado warnings are when you are supposed to stay calm while freaking out.  But nope- anything with the word “tornado” in it freaks me out.

    I am grateful that we missed the storms and grateful that my friends Downstate were safe.

  4.  My Kitty

    Yesterday was my kitty’s “estimated” birthday.   He turned nine. I didn’t remember it was his birthday until 3:15 pm.  I guess that makes me a sh*tty cat mom.  While he can be rather stand-offish to everyone else, he loves me.  Bryon and I adopted him when he was studying for the NY Bar exam in 2011 so my cat and I have been through so much together.

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  5. #Jamko

    Blue Bloods is one of my favorite shows.  Like, I actually DVR it and watch it every week.  I also binge watch it on Netflix when I need background noise.

    I have been so emotionally invested in Jamie and Eddie.   Way more than I ever was with Luke and Lorelei.  What do they call it?  Shipping? And they finally got together in the Season Finale!  Yay!

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    Now if only Elena and Gabe can get together….though I am not nearly as emotionally invested in them as I was with Jamko.

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What are you grateful for this week?

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New York, New York

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a New England girl and Boston is my city.

 



But I do feel some shame when I think about how little I time I have spent in New York City even though I have lived in Upstate New York for almost nine years.

The first time I went to NYC was when I was a senior in high school in 1996.  My cross country team traveled from rural Maine and we ran a 5k in Van Cortland Park in the Bronx. We also saw Les Miserables on Broadway, went to the Natural History Museum, shopped at Macy’s and saw Trump Tower, the Plaza Hotel and FAO Schwartz.  We also ate a Bennigan’s in New Jersey. I loved all of it. I was amazed that NYC was so big and that it made Boston look like a small town.

My second time in New York City was December 2008.  I had been dating Bryon for a couple of months and we met in the city to attend the New York City Young Republican Club Holiday Dinner.  Bryon took me to see all the store windows decorated for Christmas. He also took me to see the tree in Rockefeller Center and that was the first place he told me that he loved me.

 

I returned a few more times that year.  I was still living in Maine and I was running for Northeast Region Vice Chairman of the Young Republican National Federation.  I would stay with friends and campaign around the Mid-Atlantic. Bryon would join me. The trips were fuzzy but I remember going to a bar called Stitch in the Garment District that had $20 drinks (Bryon didn’t let his status as a poor 1L in law school stop him from getting me drinks) and I remember walking by the Brooklyn Bridge with Bryon.

But I have only been to NYC four times since I moved to New York State 9 years ago.

The first was right after I moved here. Bryon and I drove to Queens to attend a cookout at a friends house.

The third time was in November, 2013.  I was pregnant with a baby I would miscarry later that same week.  Bryon and I took a one night cruise on the Norwegian Gem out of NYC and the following day we explored the city.  Only being pregnant, I was not good company. I was tired, had sciatic pain and could only tolerate eating saltine crackers.  I remember we had lunch at McGee’s Pub, which is the bar that inspired McLaren’s on How I Met Your Mother.  Then we saw Pippen at The Music Box Theater. I had wanted to see the Rockettes but Bryon really wanted to see Pippen.  He told me we would see the Rockettes the next time.

The next (and fourth) time Bryon and I would go to NYC would be when I had him transferred to Columbia Presbyterian and I temporarily moved down there.  A family who was friends with my daughter’s godmother took me in. I will always be grateful that they welcomed me, a stranger into their home and did everything they could to make me feel welcome even though we had no way of knowing how long Bryon’s recovery was going to take.

Aside from the one night where my daughters godmother took me to Times Square and to a Mexican Restaurant in Harlem on the same block as the Seinfeld Restaurant, I did not see much of the city. The family I stayed with lived in Hamilton Heights.  Every morning I would walk a block to the subway station, stopping to get an Iced Coffee at Dunkin Donuts. The hospital was one stop on the express (three on the local) away in Washington Heights and I spent my days in Bryon’s room in the MICU located in the Millstein Building.  The security guards knew my name. When I was hungry, I either got food in the cafeteria or I went to the Chipotle or Starbucks on the same block.

Since then, I have driven by NYC on a few trips where I have flown in and out of Newark, NJ.  We also drove by the city on our way to and from Philadelphia last month. I remember saying to my friends that I had not been to NYC since Bryon died.  I know there is so much that city has to offer. We had so many ideas of things we wanted to do with our daughter when she got older. I am thinking about possibly doing a weekend trip next fall.  I want to take her to see the Rockettes. We will see if I am ready.

I think it is safe to say that if I visit NYC again, I will be avoiding Washington Heights.

So now that I have gotten all that out of the way, I will get to the point of this post.

I am choosing to remember Bryon and our second trip to NYC.  

It was May 2011. Seven years ago.  I was pissed at Bryon because we never went to the city.  So he did what any good boyfriend would do.  He took me down to NYC.  And typical to his zest for life, he packed a lot into that one day.

So he took me to the city.

We drove downstate and took the Metro North train into the city.  We arrive in Grand Central Station.

We went to the Top of the Rock.

We then went to Chinatown where I may have bought an “imitation” Coach purse.  Bryon was dissapointed that I wouldn’t go into the places with a back room. It scared me.  Bryon normally couldn’t care less about purses, but when it was time to haggle, he jumped right in and haggled with the lady.  Even though I was paying, he wasn’t satisfied with the price given.

Bryon then took me to McSorley’s.  McSorley’s was an experience.   It is the oldest running Irish Tavern in NYC.  You have two choices of beer, light and dark and you order them in increments of two.  We ate the cheese platter which consisted of cheese, saltines and raw onions.  The place is full of history but the best is the legend of the wishbones.  the legend is that when the soldiers went to war during WWI, they put a wishbone up above the bar and took them down when they returned.  So the wishbones that remain memorialize the soldiers that did not come home.

After McSorley’s, Bryon took me to a dish shop called Fishs Eddy.  I don’t remember it being the best place to be when you were tipsy.

Then we went to Little Italy.  We had dinner at a pizza place and then went somewhere else for cannoli.  I have no idea the names of the places we went.

We finished the night at a hidden bar above a Five Guys.

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A city with so many memories.  A city that I will always associate with Bryon’s death.  A city that Bryon planned on taking our daughter at Christmastime.

I need to decide if I want to take my daughter down this fall.  It would be a shame to not take advantage of all the city has to offer.  Nothing in life is definite and if I were to leave the area, I would probably kick myself for not going down there.  So now I need to decide, Rockettes or the Natural History Museum or both….

Have you ever been to New York City?  What is your favorite thing to do?

Field trip to the farm

A few weeks ago, my daughters preschool class went on a field trip to a local farm for “Baby Animal Days.”  The kids got a chance to pet the baby animals.  It was a very cold and rainy afternoon but the weather did not ruin the fun.

Here are some pictures from the memorable afternoon.  Do you live on a farm?  If not, have you ever visited one?

A little life update. Well, kinda.

I realize that I probably oversold the topic.  You probably read that and got very excited.

But I have nothing life changing to report.

I am still living in the same house with no plans to move.

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I am still working my same “day ” job.  (I have day in quotes because I work many of my hours after my daughter goes to bed.)

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A Monday joke because it is Monday

And no, I am not dating.  Not even close.  And that is okay.  I am focused on myself and my daughter at the moment anyway.

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So I didn’t mean to get your hopes up on anything you could possibly gossip about me.  Well, I did have a little bit of a wardrobe malfunction this weekend.  Nothing scandalous, just annoying. But that happens a lot when you are…well…shaped like me.  Whatever.  Though I am a little pissy because I spent close to $100 bucks on alterations at David’s Bridal.  Luckily Kimmy Gibbler had double sided tape.  She’s amazing.  She thinks of everything.

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So nothing major.  Same house.  Same job.  Same relationship status.  Just taking a little time to re-center going from Spring (though really it has been more of a Sprinter this year) to Summer.

It has been a crazy 6 or 7 weeks.  I would count but I am too lazy to at the moment.

At the end of March, I went to Chicago and Wisconsin.  In April,  I went to Philadelphia and Boston/Salem.  In May we had the Derby Party and a very special wedding.

Needless to say that I am tired and hopefully things will be slowing down here.  I don’t mean that in a manner that I don’t appreciate the busyness of the past 7 weeks.  It has been a fun and happy time. But it has been tiring.

As we enter into summer, I need to recenter and re-focus.  I have a lot of housekeeping to do,  literally and figuratively.

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Around my house, I have been slowly cleaning out and donating items.  Usually one or two bags or boxes a week.  It still hasn’t made a dent but I refuse to let anything new enter the house.  My new rule is, if it comes in a box, the box then has to be filled with items to donate.  Even if the box came from Amazon with a birthday present for someone else’s kid and the original contents of the box won’t be staying in the house.  The rule in the McKim house is that if something comes in, something has to go out.

I plan to stay closer to home this summer but I do have some traveling happening including a trip coming up on Memorial Day weekend as well as a trip to Boston in June for a Red Sox game.  A college friend of mine has expressed interest in meeting up in Boston and I would love to see her so that may be happening.  But my travel will be more spread out and casual in nature.

Staying close to home doesn’t mean boring.  My daughters dance recital is coming up and I am keeping her in dance and gymnastics over the summer because she enjoys it so why not?  I also have a few concerts to go to that I am really excited about.

I will be spending more time on my writing.  I started writing a book and I hope to finish it before the end of summer.  It isn’t the book I envisioned I would be writing first but I felt the inspiration to start it and went with that.  I don’t think this will affect the frequency as to when I post on the blog.  I will update you all when it is close to being finished.

I also have a few other ideas for projects but they are in the baby stages so I am going to refrain from sharing them.  I want to see if they will take off before I share them.

What do you have coming up this summer?

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Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #22

It’s Friday.  You know what that means!

Time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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Here are some of the things I am grateful for this week.

  1. Girls Night

    I got a chance to catch up with Kimmy Gibbler and The Architect.  And it was a lot of fun.

  2. Inner circle

    Not THAT Inner Circle.

    (We are also going to ignore the fact that this song was popular during my freshman year in high school.   Because I don’t feel like feeling old today.)

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    We are talking about this inner circle.  And the non-pictured husbands and boyfriends.

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    I can’t imagine life without them.  Not just because they got my through the worse of my grief and they don’t make me feel bad when I talk about Bryon.  But just because they are awesome people.  This might sound cheesy but for the first time in my life, I feel like I belong.

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  3. Wedding Week

    On Saturday these two adorable kids are getting married and I am grateful that I get to be a part of their day.

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  4. 8 Years of Friendship with Robin Brillantes

    Facebook reminded me that Robin Brillantes and I became Facebook friends eight years ago yesterday.  She remains one of my most favorite people of all time.  I couldn’t figure out how to play the cheesy video that Facebook compiled so you get this picture of us from last Saturday.

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    Of course one of our friends says that Facebook is the lowest form of friendship.  But I am not going to worry about that with Robin Brillantes.  Because we know our friendship is amazing because it is built on love, laughter and tacos.

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  5. That I am still remembered on Mother’s Day.

    My daughter made the picture and cards  at school and my parents sent the flowers and the teddy bear.  Though my daughter has already claimed the teddy bear as hers.  I had a feeling that they had that in mind when they ordered it…

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    What are you grateful for this week?

    Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mother’s out there!

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How to handle it when people start to forget your spouse.

It’s a scenario that is very common to those in the widow world.

Our beloved spouse dies. Whether your spouse died after a long illness or if your spouse died suddenly and unexpectedly, you are in shock.

Then we have a funeral or a memorial service. Friends, family, co-workers and even acquaintances may attend.  People tell stories about the deceased and assure the widow that they will never forget the deceased and that they are there for her if she needs anything.

A good portion of those people disappear forever.  They mean well but to tell a widow that they are always there for her.  What did that mean? Was it a lie?  The funeral is not the hardest day for the widow.  It’s the weeks and months that follow.

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The pessimistic side of my personality feels that these people only told the widow that because it made them feel better.  

The optimistic side of my personality reminds me that that time period is a big jumble in my mind and it remains blurry in my memory, a lot like a dream sequence in a 1980s sitcom.  But without the cheesy transition music.  So does it really matter if all those people who said they would never forget my husband have forgotten my husband?

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For the first few weeks after the funeral, there may be people to check up on the widow.  They may see if these needs anything around the house. They may have made her dinner and played board games.  They let her cry in her dinner.  They may have kept her company as she drinks wine and binge watches the Gilmore Girls.

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But gradually the amount of people checking in on the widow gradually drops off until one day she begins to wonder what happened to all the people who said that they would never forget their spouse.

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It happens to every widow.  On some level.  And it stings.

I was shocked when I came to the realized that very few people talk about Bryon now.  It’s pretty much just my inner circle. Even though I still feel like I am getting my feet steadily on the ground, it is like Bryon never existed to anyone outside my core group of friends.

And what happened to all those people who said they were going to share stories of my late husband with my young daughter?  She was a month shy of her second birthday when my husband passed so she won’t have any memories of her own. I was counting on those stories for her to know her father.

I do have a core group of friends who are very present in my life and my daughters life. I am one of the lucky ones.  Widowhood is lonely. Some widows don’t even have a core group of friends or family to lean on.

So how is a widow supposed to handle it when they are struggling to move forward and the rest of world has already moved on?   And while I have moved forward, it doesn’t mean that I want Bryon to be forgotten.

Here are the five things I remind myself to feel better when it feels like everyone has forgotten my late husband.

  1. Remember that this is what normally happens.

    Many people were affected by Bryon’s death.  I think of their grief as a hole and depending on their relationship with Bryon would determine the size of the hole.  

    On one end there are some people had small hole that might trip them if they weren’t looking.  But they can just look up and keep walking.

    On the other end  (where our close friends and family are) is a hole that is the size of the hole that was next to Anne Perkins house on the pilot episode of Parks and Recreation.  This hole is impossible to avoid and it caused drama in Anne Perkins life. Her boyfriend even broke his leg.  It is much harder to function with this kind of hole.

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    But I am the widow.  But I wasn’t dealing with a hole that needed to avoided or filled.  I was dealing with the fact the whole foundation my life was built on was destroyed.  Everyone else had their distractions and they had their homes to go back to with their spouses and significant others.  It is hard to find distractions when your whole life is destroyed.  My husbands death affected every area of my life.

  2. Give yourself a pat on the backgiphy (1).gif


    Because you have done such an awesome job at surviving and existing that people don’t feel like you don’t need to hear stories about your deceased spouse.  As far as they are concerned, you have moved on. Why shouldn’t they?  We live in a society that has a twisted sense of grief.  You are either completely beside yourself with grief or you are completely over it and there is little room in between.tumblr_inline_n4t9qcHeke1snxyd1.gif

  3. Accept it

    This is your life and you can’t make people understand.  Unfortunately I feel like you can’t truly understand widowhood until you have been there.  No one can understand the pain and emptiness that fills up most of our life. It is what it is.  And really, that is a good thing that they are blissfully unaware. The world doesn’t need more hurt.

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  4. Realize that maybe people are actually thinking about your spouse and you just don’t know it.Maybe people are remembering your spouse and you are just not aware of it.  We make assumptions based on what we see and maybe people don’t want to bring up your deceased spouse because they are worried that they are going to hurt you if they do.  They don’t realize that we are not delicate flowers.

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  5. Take that upset energy and turn it into gratitude. 

    This one is the most important step.  It is best not to waste your energy dwelling on negative feelings and instead, use that energy to be grateful for all the people who remain a positive force in your life.  Even if that positive person is you.giphy (2).gif


    I will hold onto those friends who have been by my side through the past two years.  They aren’t getting rid of me.You can also take some of that energy and focus on yourself.  Give yourself some self-love.  You deserve it.

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  If you are widow, how did you cope when it felt like a loved one was being forgotten?