Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #11

It’s Friday!

And that means it is time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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These are the things I am grateful for this week-

  1.  Our 70F degree day

    A 70F degree day is a rarity in the Northeast in February.  But I enjoyed it.  It was nice to walk outside without your winter coat and not be cold.

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  2. Being a Maine Girl

    Because the day after that 70F degree February day, the temperature dropped down to 31F and we got a few inches of snow.  But I am from Maine.  I drive a Suburu Forrester and I wear LL Bean coat and LL Bean boots.  I can handle it.

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    But I also take comfort in knowing the winter days are numbered.  Spring will be here soon.

    The snow did not ruin my cats plans.  He did what he does every day.  Living his best life possible.

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  3. Family dinners.

    I cherish the meals shared with my closest friends.  Friends who are so close that we refer to each other as family.  I also learned about a new wine and it was approved by Carter, the wine connoisseur.

  4. Chinese Food for lunch.

    It’s a favorite of mine.  Usually I would get sweet and sour chicken but lately I have been into pork lo mein.  This might become my Friday treat.

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  5. This moment.

    I am in trouble. But this moment is precious and it will stay with me forever.

    It was funny because when I was putting her to bed that night, I was alarmed that her neck was pink.  Then I remembered that she put A LOT of blush on her neck.

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    What are you grateful for this week?

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Top 10 songs from my grief mix

 

Yesterday was the 18 month mark since Bryon passed.

Honestly, the day kind of snuck up on me.

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On an unrelated note: I have been juggling Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.  I am sure it will all implode soon.

I read my post from the six month mark.

I know I have come a long way in my healing journey.

I was still sad.

But the sadness didn’t debilitate me like it did a year ago.

I was still able to function and go about my daily business.

I went to the gym.

I abstracted cancer cases.

I took my daughter to a bounce house place because dance class was canceled.  She burned some energy.

But I still felt sad.

I was being hit with a grief wave.

But I am far enough into my grief journey to know the best way for me to cope.

My view on grief waves can be shown on this very hi-tech, wicked awesome graph I made.  Sadly, I spent more time on it than I care to admit.

 

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Everything is moving forward, as shown in the green.

The black line represents time which moves forward at an even, steady pace.

The blue shows the grief waves which are more turbulent in the beginning but decrease in intensity as time moves forward.  (Though beware, you can get a rogue grief wave at any time.  I just did not demonstrate that because, frankly, there wasn’t enough room.)

The red line represents healing.  It is all over the place.

For me, I have learned that it is better to just go with the grief wave than fight it.

Ride it out.

Don’t try to resist it.

Do what you need to do and it will pass.

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So I went with it.

I still cried.

I still thought about what should have been.

I thought about the things I missed about him.

And while I wasn’t sad enough to watch Sleepless in Seattle or eat ice cream, I may have belted out to the songs of my grief mix.

Lots of widows have their own grief mix.  And if they don’t- they should.

So I am going share my top ten favorites from my grief mix.  Not all songs are about death.  Some are about breakups but my only major requirement for a song to be in my grief mix is that it is sad and there are at least a few lines or verses that resonate with me.

I wasn’t going to put them in any particular order but I could hear Bryon tell me that I can’t have a half-assed song countdown and that I need to count down like Casey Kasem.

Without much further ado, here are my top ten songs from my grief mix.

10.  Didn’t We Almost Have It All by Whitney Houston

9.  All Out of Love by Air Supply

8.  Could’ve Been by Tiffany

7.  Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks

6. Don’t Cry Out Loud by Melissa Manchester

5.  All By Myself by Eric Carmen

4. Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton

3.  Yester-me, Yester-you, Yesterday by Stevie Wonder

2. It’s So Hard To Say Good-Bye to Yesterday by Boyz II Men

1.  Take My Breath Away by Berlin

What songs do you listen to when you are feeling sad?

One of the things I miss the most…

There are so many things I miss about Bryon.

I miss his hugs.

I miss his humor.

I miss his smile.

I miss watching him play with our daughter.

I miss that I didn’t have to worry about the car, the bills or anything really.

But one of the the things I miss the most was his intellect.

I am sure anyone who has a Facebook knows that our country is very divided on an issue.

And anyone who knows Bryon knows that he was extremely intelligent.

He was probably the smartest person they knew.

And possibly the smartest person they will ever know.

Bryon was so smart that he stayed off of Facebook whenever the U.S. Supreme Court made a major decision.

He would always rant to me, “I went to law school.  I know more than most.  And I am NOT a Constitutional Scholar.  But you go on Facebook and everything thinks that they are a f*cking constitutional scholar.  Where did they get there law degree from?  Legal Zoom?”

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The same was true for major trials.  There was a very public trial (I am not saying which one) which was televised and Bryon watched a lot of it.  I mean, we all watched a lot of it but Bryon was watching it with objective intellectual curiosity.  The verdict was rendered and people shared their opinions on Facebook.

Many of his outspoken friends felt that the verdict was wrong.  There was this one “friend” and I am going to use that term loosely because no one really likes her and I don’t feel bad about it because she is arrogant.  Come on, we all have that “friend”.  You know, they always have an opinion about everything and they think that they are the smartest person in the room.  Well this “friend” was writing on Facebook about how the verdict was wrong.

It was one of the few times I ever seen Bryon get defensive about his profession.  I remember him saying “If she actually watched the trial, she would have known that the prosecution did a sh*tty job.  I am so tired of people thinking that they know more about the law than lawyers.  I don’t go into *her place of work* and tell *the worker in her position* how to do their job so maybe she shouldn’t tell people in my profession how to do their job.”

It was very similar about debates on Facebook.

Bryon would get annoyed anytime there were major debates on Facebook.

He would normally say things like  “Correlation does not mean causation” and he would remind me that statistics are very easily manipulated.

He would say that it was very unlikely that anyone was going to change their minds by reading Facebook debates.  He usually refrained from debating on Facebook.  He regularly would have to talk me out of  Facebook debates.

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But as much as Facebook debates would annoy Bryon, he would always have real conversations with me.

I always wanted to know his opinion.  Because his opinion was always solid and I could always trust it.

Bryon would look at an issue as a lawyer, a economist, as a Republican, as a Catholic, as a father, as a New Yorker, as a Millennial, as a Bills fan, etc.

I knew his opinion was not based on emotion.  He was able to see issues from all sides, even those he did not agree with.   He would often say “He/She/They are not wrong, but…”

It wasn’t uncommon for him to argue the side he doesn’t agree with.  I admit, that would drive me nuts at times.  I know there were many times I got frustrated and would say “Stop! I know you don’t believe that.”

He was one of the smartest people I have ever known, if not the smartest.  But Bryon was unique because while he was aware of his intelligence, he would take the time to explain things without making people feel stupid.  He was secure enough with his intelligence and did not feel the need to tear people down to prove it.

One of the biggest gifts Bryon ever gave me was that he taught me to be a more critical thinker and that most issues are not black and white.

I used to make self-deprecating comments to him about how dumb I was and he would tell me that wasn’t true because he couldn’t be married to me if I wasn’t smart.  He was very matter of fact about it.

I mean, sometimes he would start to lose his patience and he would smile and say “You’re the dumbest smart person I know.”  I know I am not the only recipient of that comment and I am sure there are many people who are going to smile at the memory of him saying that to them.

I have many intelligent friends to have discussions with about today’s issues, but I am really missing my conversations with Bryon.

Those conversations would be full of knowledge, insights and humor and there was a sort shared interest in those conversations.

Bryon would start out the discussion by objectively discussing an issue from several angles.  I would say my opinions and ask him questions.  Then we would discuss what it meant to us and our values.  We didn’t agree 100% of the time, but overall, we shared the same values.

And if I didn’t know how I felt on an issue, I would talk to Bryon.  I could count on him help me figure it out.

And right now, that is one of the things I miss the most about him.

 

Boston with my cousins

If there is an upside to my grandmother’s funeral, it is that I got to spend time with my brother and my cousins.

Facebook reminded me (through “On This Day”) that my cousins and I also did this back in 2007 when our grandfather passed. We all crammed into my brothers car and he drove us around the city. Always a fun time.

 

And we learned that even in our 20’s, we were still mesmerized by the magic of a slinky descending down the stairs.

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Our grandmother died eleven years after our grandfather passed, almost to the day.

The night after the wake, my cousins, my cousin’s best friend who lives outside of Boston, her boyfriend (also local) and I went out for some Boston Chinese at the Peppercorn House in Woburn. (Woburn is ten miles outside of Boston and it is where my family is from). It was amazing and I highly recommend it. The food did not disappoint. My parents went a few nights later and they enjoyed it as well.

And now I have two honorary cousins!

(And my parents graciously watched my daughter at night on this trip so I was able to have a break and spend time with my cousins. Thanks Mom and Dad!)

We toasted.

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We ate. I got over my fear of edamame.

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We read our fortunes and I made everyone say “…in bed” after their fortune.

Because I am that person. And I am not sorry.

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After Chinese food, we went to an Irish bar called Waxy O’Connors. It was loud and there lots of people wearing Patriots shirts. I was right at home.

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I am going to leave this next photo without an explanation.

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The following day, after the funeral and the luncheon were over, my cousins and I were trying to decide where to go that evening.

I suggested that we just go to into the city. We did have the challenge of doing something predominately indoors since it was February and my cousins live in Florida. And we were joking that my cousins husband was delicate because he is a Florida native.

We ultimately decided to go to the Pru and see Eataly and have a few drinks at the Top of the Hub. That way we could walk around and still be inside.

My cousins, my brother and I took two ubers from Woburn to Alewife Station which is the beginning of the Red Line. ($35 on the way in, $25 return if you were curious.)

We got our Dunkins. I bet you can guess which drink this Northern Girl got and which drinks her Florida cousins got.

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We had to change trains at Park Street and my cousin got this picture without us noticing. She is sneaky like that. #ruleofthirds

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We walked around the shops at the Pru. The strap on my purse broke and I looked for one but decided I didn’t want to spend the money. My cousins were able to fix the strap.

We walked around Eataly. It was busy and crowded so we didn’t eat there. I would like to go back at a less busy time.

But I did take this picture of cheese.

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All the restaurants had waits. We decided that we didn’t want to spent an hour of one night in Boston waiting to eat at the Cheesecake Factory but luckily we found a little pizza stand and had pizza for dinner.

We then made our way to the Top of the Hub.

We had actually been here once before in 2012. We were all in town for my grandmother’s 90th birthday.

 

But I had never been there at nighttime. And I remember when I was 18 years old deciding that it was going to be a life goal of mine to go to the Top of the Hub at night.

Life goal accomplished. It just took my 21 years to do it.

 

We decided to head to another bar from our trip in 2012. Another cousin, who couldn’t come out with us, introduced us to The 21st Amendment which is near the Common.

The temperature was in the single digits and my cousins live in Florida and my cousin’s husband is the Florida Native so we knew we didn’t want to be walking outside much. Luckily my brother is a human GPS and he was able to ascertain which subway stop was the closest.

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The trains stop running in Boston at 1 am so we left around midnight.

My brother acting goofy in the Common.

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I am fairly well traveled and Boston is my favorite city.

I can’t wait to be there again.

Maybe as soon as April…

And I hope my cousin doesn’t mind that took some of her pictures off of her Facebook. I love you Cuz!!

Edit: My cousin granted permission to use photos. Love you Cuz! Thank you. #crowleysondunkin

And we forgot to take a Subway Selfie so I am going to put this one from 2012. Also taken from your Facebook…

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Shadow of a dead man

Sometimes I feel invisible.

Despite pouring my heart out over 165 posts and approx 165,000 words, I feel like no one sees the real me.

They just see Bryon’s widow.

It might be hard to imagine, but I am a complete person. Bryon saw me a complete, real person.

I told a really good friend of mine (and Bryon’s when he was alive) that I had a nagging feeling that some people only read my blog because they wanted about happened with Bryon.

As if because I have chosen to share the parts of the story that I feel comfortable about sharing that that someone entitles everyone to the complete story.

I have not told the complete story. I will tell it when I am ready to tell it.
Yes, I am aware that I have chosen to share my story on a very public forum. I did that so other widows, grievers and anyone else struggling with the cruelties of life can be helped by reading about my healing process.

I put my story out there so people can feel a little less alone.

If one widow feels a little less alone, then it was worth it.

Just because I share my story does not mean that I give up the right to keep private what I wish to keep private.
I share what I feel like sharing, when I feel like sharing it.

No one is entitled to more.

When I shared these feeling with my close friend, she wisely said that she thinks that people forget that I am not just Bryon’s widow, but that I am my own complete person.

I am not just a widow.

I am a complete person.

I understand that life circumstances have made me a widow and since I have to be a widow, I am glad that I get to be Bryon’s widow. He was a great man and I got to be his wife. And I loved being his wife.

Life made me a widow and I am glad I get to be Bryon’s widow.

I have accepted that.

But I am more than just a widow.

I am a complete person.

Bryon died and I had no say in that. Even though I tried to prevent it. I will always think about those 5 months. I will always think about the “what ifs” and I will always be haunted by the dreams of what could have been.

That is a lot of live with.

I have been punished enough.

You are going to have to trust me on that.

Now I am in my 30s and I am expected to resign myself to wear a black veil and mourn for the rest of my life.

It doesn’t matter that I am a complete person and I still have decades more living to do.

I am tired of being viewed as just Bryon’s widow.

It’s bad enough actually being a widow.

I find myself in a place where I can’t move forward because everyone views me as just a widow.

Very few people understand.

Acknowledging that I am a complete person and I deserve to move forward from my husband’s death makes people uncomfortable.

My reality makes people uncomfortable.

The reality that I live with every single day makes people uncomfortable.

So I need to keep being “just a widow” to keep people happy.

Too bad it doesn’t work that way.

When Bryon was alive, he was very popular and well-liked. He was an amazing man. He was the center of my world.

And I lived in his shadow. But that was okay because I knew I was the center of his world. And that was all that matters.

But now he is dead.

And I live in the shadow of a dead man.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #10

It’s FRIDAY!!!!!

That means it’s time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude.

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These are the five things I am grateful for this week.

  1.  Brunch with friends

    I like brunch.  But I like doing it the Mom way meaning we get there right when brunch starts, usually around 10.  It’s a good time.  The kids are ready to eat and it’s before the hipsters show up.

    I also like that I get to brunch my way now.  I prefer brunch is establishments that are not diners. Bryon loved diners and I am not a fan. I feel like diner food is not any better than the food I cook.  I like to go to brunch and have something fancy that I could cook but generally don’t have the patience to.

    Plus, I don’t like diners because many of them are small and I am claustrophobic.  Now I know many other establishments are small.  But I can deal with my claustrophobia for fancy brunch.   Like, I can tolerate being in a small space but not for generic food that I could make at home.

    Bryon was always more of the breakfast fan than me so he would win.  That and because the issue wasn’t important enough to me.   I am glad I went along with it because diner breakfast always made him happy.

    I guess of the “perks” of widowhood is I get to do whatever I want.  It’s bittersweet, really.

    And Kimmy Gibbler has the same attitude about brunch so we had brunch at a local place called Savoy Taproom.


    I had the adult ice coffee with aquafaba  and creme brulee French Toast.  I had no clue what aquafaba was but the waitress explained it to me.  It’s apparently a vegan alternatives to egg whites and apparently putting egg whites into iced coffee is a thing now.  The egg whites create the froth.  I tried it but I made it clear to the waitress that I was not a vegan.  For some reason, I felt that that was important and that the waitress wanted to know.

    I always considered myself an iced coffee snob and I had no clue.  *shrug*

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  2. Advocating for MS

    For the second year I got the honor of advocating for people living with Multiple Sclerosis at the New York State Capital.  I am not going to elaborate on that because I will be writing a post about that.  I have several friends with MS and I am thankful that I get an opportunity to advocate for them.

  3. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

    Because…duh

  4. Signs from Heaven

    I know I spoke of Bryon’s Valentine’s Day sign that came in the form of Vagisil.

    But I have heard that the deceased communicate through songs on the radio.  There are certain songs I hear all the time since Bryon died.  There was even a period of time I heard Hall & Oates at least once a day and I don’t spend much time in my car.  My deceased husband also seems to really like Michael Jackson, particularly “Billie Jean”, The Police- “I’ll Be Watching You”, Earth Wind and Fire; “September” (I think that is because we got engaged, married and became parents in the month of September), and Berlin’s “Take My Breathe Away” because Top Gun was his favorite movie.

    I haven’t heard much in the car for the past couple of months.  I just figured that Bryon was done sending those signs.  He was going to find a new way to communicate with me.  But the past three days have been a Bryon McKim jam session every time I have been in car.  It’s nice to know that he hasn’t forgotten about me and will still try to spend time with me in the only way he can now.

  5. Having the courage to cut off my grief hair

    I had been wanting a change for awhile.  I hemmed and hawed over it for months.  I liked my hair long but it was so damaged.  The ends felt like straw.  I also wanted something different and I have never been a blonde so I went for it.  I am a new person so my outside should reflect my inside.

    This was a big step for me.  I have never been a risk taker but I told myself that it is just hair.  It grows back.  It can be changed back.  But it was also hard because I was attached to that hair.  I have hid behind that hair for almost two years.  But I decided it was time to get rid of it and shine.

    Now I just need to lose some weight and maybe get a tattoo and my physical transformation will be complete.


    What are you grateful for this week?

 

My big mouth

I have been told that I have a big mouth. And that this mouth is going to get me in trouble.

I have been told that I inherited it from my grandmother’s. She was a civic activist in her town and her mouth got her into trouble. Though I think her mouth did the city a lot of good. The people who didn’t like probably were up to no good and didn’t like being called out.

Note: This is not the grandmother that just passed away. This was my other Grandmother.

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I almost got into an internet pissing match today.

Because I opened my mouth.

So today was Valentine’s Day. I did okay. Thanks partly to a shit-ton of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

But I am also active in the online young widow community.

Yes, there is enough young widows and widowers that we have online communities.

A member of one of these communities was upset about a MEME.

The MEME would appear benign to any NORM.

(A NORM is the term used in the widow world to denote a person who is otherwise normal and has not suffered the trauma of watching their person die. Most people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s are NORMS. I believe the first time I heard that term was in my friend Michelle’s blog.)

So this MEME showed an old couple and said something to the effect that real love was that of Grandma and Grandpa.

This one might have been it-

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Now, stuff like that makes me roll my eyes and say “Must be nice”. Yes, I get that this sweet. And I have nothing against elderly couples. However, some of the widows in the widow community were very upset by this. It’s understandable. We were all married and we all thought we were going to grow old with that person and then they die.

So of course I have to comment saying that posts like that make young widows feel worse than they already do.

Then I forget that I made the comment.

The page (I have the screenshot but for some strange reason, I feel the need to protect the guilty) responds later and while they apologized for my loss (thank you very much) they suggested that I not be on Facebook today.

Riiiiiight.

I should be banished from social media and communication from my family, friends and the outside world because it is too much of a burden on people to take a moment and think about someone other than themselves who may be hurting.

Oh and they accused me of only thinking of myself.

We know that what they say when you point fingers…(that when you point a finger, you have three pointing back at you).

Like, the whole widowed community should be banned from Facebook because the pain of the reality that they live every single day makes people inconvenienced or uncomfortable.

I’m sorry.

Actually no, I am not sorry.

#sorrynotsorry

I was going to let my anger dictate what I wrote next but then I decided that I shouldn’t be mad at the person running the page or the sheeple who liked her comment.

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First off, I remember all those times I got mad about people and Bryon would tell me that a fight wasn’t worth it.

Either that or he would say that you can’t argue with stupid.

I decided both Bryon-isms applied to this scenario.

I reminded myself that most people don’t understand the magnitude of this kind of loss. Personally I am surrounded by an army of allies who witnessed what I went through and are sensitive to what a widow goes through. To say my allies don’t understand my loss would be disingenuous.

While some of my friends and acquaintances may have said somethings that were well-intentioned but thoughtless (which I thought this MEME was) no one, and I mean no one, has completely dismissed my feelings. Well one person did but the person made the comment behind my back to one of my best friends and I ended that friendship.

I can’t expect a person to be sympathetic to young widows and widowers if they have no experienced that loss or if they have not witnessed a close friend or family member experience that loss.

They are ignorant.

They do not know.

So instead of engaging in a rude conversation, I said that I hope they never experience this kind of loss but if they do, I sincerely hope people are kinder to them.

Apparently that was the wrong answer. This person then writes back asking how it was rude and then tries to make comparisons that that don’t compare to the scenario.

I was tempted to write back and illustrate the holes in the logic. This person was clearly feeling defensive.

Then I decided that it’s truly wasn’t worth my time and that I couldn’t argue with stupidity and ignorance.

It’s amazing how prideful people can be. A simple “I am sorry. I didn’t realize how this could be offensive to __________” would have worked and it would have saved that person from a lot of typing.

But some people really can’t admit that they may have been wrong.

And I do not feel bad for one second that I stood up for the widowed cause.

At the end of the experience, I had three takeaways.

  1. I am a very different person because in the past, I would have been sucked into an argument with these random internet people. The fact that I did not get sucked in proves that a change has happened with my personality. And I like this change.
  2. Those of us who advocate for “grief awareness” have ALOT of work to do.
  3. The behavior by the guilty party is not limited to ignorance about widowhood. This works in many different areas. You don’t know what a person is going through unless you have walked in their shoes. We all could benefit from being a little understanding and empathetic.

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