It has been a roller coaster.
(And of course, I can’t mention roller coasters without thinking about Step by Step.)
The roller coaster started on the day I realized Bryon had been dead for 18 months and it ended (I hope) yesterday when I realized it was the second year anniversary of Bryon’s original surgery.
I am emotionally hungover.
It was something I had to go through. I had to get those emotions out. I think I am coming out of it and I feel very different about myself and my life.
I have had to take a step back. I didn’t deactivate my Facebook but I am currently what I call “Facebook-lite” right now. It felt like the more I engaged Facebook and all the happiness of others, the more isolated I felt. I had to turn inward.
I am lucky for my friends who knew the exact amount of space to give me. They have been giving me enough space to work through my mood but they know I don’t really want to be alone. My friends also did not take my mood personally. And for that, I am grateful.
Lately I have been thinking about the passage of time.
Widows are very keen on noticing the passage of time. It’s like a widow super power.
We notice it beyond the Facebook memories.
Facebook reminded me that Bryon and my love story began ten years ago last weekend.
I realized that in a period of ten years, Bryon and I spent a total of 8 living years together, almost 4 of those years we were married. And the last 2 of those 10 years were spent in trauma and then grief.
Since Bryon fully entered my life, 20% of that time has been engulfed in sadness.
That blew my mind.
It also blows my mind to think that when my daughter turned three, she has essentially spent an equal amount of time without her father than she had with her father since he went into the ICU when she was 18 months old.
This July she will officially pass the period of being alive longer without him than she had with him. Two months before her fourth birthday.
It also blew my mind the other day when I walked into my daughters daycare. I saw my best friends younger son and he walked over to me. I picked him up. Then I thought about how he was born after Bryon died. He never knew him. And he’s getting bigger every time I see him.
When Bryon first died, it felt like we were still married. His clothes were still hanging in the closet. I still had Bryon’s shows recording on the DVR. I still wore my wedding rings.
Eventually the clothes came down as I needed a place to put the clothes I bought during the retail therapy sessions.
I started deleted his shows on the DVR to make room for recorded Disney princess movies and episodes of Doc McStuffins.
And eventually I stopped wearing my wedding rings because I needed to stop being reminded of what I lost.
Now our marriage feels like it is in the past.
Sometimes I forget what it was like to answer to someone else.
It feels like another lifetime that I had someone to email in the middle of the day to figure out what they wanted to do for dinner. I used to love to cook but now dinner usually consists of some heated up chicken nuggets or if I am feeling fancy, I actually cook spaghetti.
When I see my daughters classmates and all their new baby brothers and sisters, I think about the fact that if Bryon had never gotten sick, we’d probably have a new baby brother and sister for my daughter.
Maybe in some parallel universe that is still happening. Maybe in some parallel universe we are a family of four. Maybe in some parallel universe we buy a bigger house with a real fireplace. Maybe in some parallel universe Bryon’s career is really taking off. Maybe in some parallel universe we have gone on more Caribbean Cruises.
But in this universe, I tell my daughter that a baby sister isn’t happening. Obviously for reasons she doesn’t understand.
The bigger house also isn’t happening either. Nor the Caribbean Cruises. And I no longer have the husband with a successful legal career.
As time marches forward, I have to let go of the life Bryon and I had. At times I do okay but at other times it is a slow and excruciating process that can only be done one day at a time. It can only be done on a timeline that only I can decipher.
I am in a weird place where I am starting to feel distanced from my married life and dead husband yet I cherish the memories and am trying to remember everything I can so I can pass them onto our daughter.
I am emerging to widowhood trying to find my place. I look at my surroundings and see the shell of my old life.
When I see all the perfect little intact families at my daughters daycare, I see my old life.
Now I am a single mom who feels compelled to tell the other parents that I am widow because I don’t want to be judged for being a single mother. I find myself wanting to say “My daughters father isn’t a deadbeat. He’s just dead. That’s why he isn’t at this party. Though he probably is here and we just can’t see him or hear his wise-ass comments.”
But now I am searching.
I don’t know where I belong. I don’t know what is next.
This is new territory for me. Because the old, non-traumatized, pre-widowed Kerry did not know how to live in the present. She only knew how to dwell on the past and worry about the future.
There is no point in dwelling on the past because it is past and there is nothing we can do to change it.
And there is no point in worrying about the future because there is so much of it we can’t control. We can’t control the economy or national politics. We can’t control the housing market. We can’t control other people or their actions. So we might as well not worry about it.
We only need to worry about the present. Now.
That is hard to do when you are working through grief. How are you supposed to focus on the present when you are dealing with sadness, anger and guilt?
That is what I have been struggling with. Since Bryon died, I knew I wanted to live again. I want to love again.
But wanting to live again and actually living again are two different things.
And I don’t even want to think about actually loving again. Not because I don’t want that. I do.
But I haven’t been on a first date in ten years. Yeah…
(And to my next future husband who googled my name and finds this- I am really not crazy. Well maybe a little but really, I am just grieving. Actually I am kinda smart and kinda funny. People tell me that I am a good cook and I will stay by your side should you wind up in the hospital. Sickness and in health…I nailed it.)
This brings me to destiny.
I believe we all have a destiny.
Bryon lived a short life where he made a different and touched so many lives. His time on earth ending with a wake (viewing? I grew up saying wake and I am going with that.) where the traffic was backed up so bad that the police had to come and direct traffic.
My daughter has a destiny that is unfolding. She wants to be a doctor. I told her that’s awesome as long as she makes sure patients get better care than her father did.
As you saw yesterday, she is also an author.
Whether she becomes a doctor, an author or changes her mind completely, I just hope she becomes a productive member of society and that she does her best at whatever she does.
And while I spend a lot of energy fussing about my daughter, trying to be a good mother and fill the void left by Bryon, I know I will never completely fill that void. But I have to believe that the circumstances of her childhood are going to impact her in a profound way that she becomes a resilient and compassionate adult. And she will do great things with that.
And all this late night rambling has me wondering what my destiny is. If Bryon wasn’t meant to be here very long and yet he was still in my life, maybe there is a reason for all this craziness? Maybe it was supposed to happen this way and after I am done wading through this mess of grief, I am supposed to take my newfound resiliency and compassion and do something with it?
That is the real question that I am trying to figure out.