Weekly Gratitude #11: My Four Grandparents

Every week I like to take a moment and reflect on one thing that I am grateful for.

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This week I would like to show gratitude for my grandparents.

I cherish my memories from my Boston-Irish childhood and my grandparents all played an active roll in my memories.

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This week was the anniversary of my paternal grandfather’s death and the anniversary of the maternal grandmother’s death will occur this week and these anniversaries have put me in a reflective mood.

I was lucky enough to know all four of my grandparents.

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Each of them was a pivotal link between me and our families past.  All four of my grandparents were children of immigrants (3 from Ireland and 1 from Canada) and told me stories about my great-grandparents.  I only have a few vague recollections of the only great-grandparent who lived long to meet me.

My grandparents instilled in me a sense of where I come from.  From my grandparents, I learned to appreciate corned beef and cabbage and that food just tastes better when you fry it.  I learned that punctuality was important and that you don’t leave the door open.  I wasn’t born in a barn, after all.  I learned the importance of working hard and the meaning of money.  I also learned to be honest and was instilled with some good ‘ole Catholic guilt.

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I m grateful that I had a chance to know all four grandparents.

I am grateful that three of my grandparents lived long enough to see me as an adult.

I am grateful one of my grandparents lived long enough to see me get married and meet my daughter.

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Were you fortunate enough to know your grandparents?  Leave a comment.  I would love to hear about your grandparents.

Grandma Sullivan‘s Obituary Here

Papa Crowley’s Obituary Here

Nana Crowley’s Obituary Here

 

Why I don’t play the “what if” game (4-minute read)

My husband, Bryon passed away in 2016.

His illness had come as a shock.  His body went into shock and he almost died at the beginning but he survived.

He did have an uphill battle ahead of him.  He spent 5 months in the ICU fighting for his life.

I knew death was a potential outcome but I really thought he was going to make it through.  But it didn’t work out that way.

After Bryon died, my mind tried to make sense of what had just happened.

I was trying to figure out what my “new normal” was.

As I was trying to figure out my new life, I kept comparing it to my old life.  My old life was the only point of reference I knew.

And every time I would have to make any sort of decision, I would imagine what Bryon would think of the situation.  After all, we spent almost every day together for the past 8 years and he wasn’t only my spouse.  He was my best friend.  We talked about everything.

Bryon was on my mind a lot.

 

While one is never free of grief, the emotions usually ease up over time.  Some say time heals all wounds.  I don’t discount that theory but I think that the easing of emotions over time can be attributed to the fact that you begin to get used to them being gone.

But in those early days, I was wondering what the *bleep* had just happened to my life.

I found myself wondering what if Bryon were still alive.  What would he say?  What would he do?  What would our life be like?

I would watch our TV shows and wonder what he’d think of the plotline.  Or how hard he’d laugh at one of the jokes.

As the Election of 2016 unfolded, I wondered what he would have thought of it all.

In the beginning, it was easy to bridge the gap from “new life” to “old life”.  I was in our house with our daughter (who was still a toddler) and our cat and I was among all our belongings.  Our friends were around.  I was essentially living our life…without him.

It was very easy to slip back into the past, even if it was only in my mind.

But over time, things began to change.

My daughter got older.  Even though my role as a mother changed when I went from co-parent to solo parent, my role as a mother changed as I observed my toddler turning into a pre-schooler.

I started to give away and donate items of his that I didn’t need or want.  Though this was a lengthy process as Bryon saved everything and there was a lot of sentiment attached to his possessions.

I got a new job where I could work from home.  If he was still alive, I couldn’t work from home.  He sometimes worked from home and he joked that we couldn’t both work from home.

Many friends drifted away.  I also learned that many of “our friends” were really just his friends and those friendships crumbled.

Over time, my home stopped feeling like home.  I began to feel as alien in New York then as I did when I moved there in 2009.

I realized “our life” no longer existed and that I was fooling myself thinking I could reconstruct a life out of the remnants of “our old life”.

I changed.  I grew.  I am not the same person I was.

My life has been a revolving door of change.

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Change has been the only constant.

I had to grieve the life I once knew.

But now my life path has meandered.  It is a lot harder to think “If Bryon was here…” because if Bryon were alive, I wouldn’t be where I was.

I know Bryon is always with me in that esoteric kind of way but I am very removed from the life we had.

I can’t wonder “what if” anymore.

The only thing wondering “what if” will accomplish is denying me happiness in my current life.

I can’t move forward if I am constantly looking back.

It doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate our memories.

It doesn’t mean that I can’t cry when I miss him or that I can’t laugh when I think of a funny memory.

It doesn’t mean that I have to stop loving him.

I know that wherever Bryon is, he would want me to be happy.

After everything I have been through, the least I can do is let myself be happy.

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Weekly Gratitude #10: Three Years

Today is my blog’s birthday.

I started this blog as a way to process and cope with all the emotions I was feelings 5 months post-loss.  I was starting to “wake up” from the grief fog and I felt the need to share my emotions as I have noticed a dearth of information to help young widows.  I wanted my information out there so if another widow stumbled across it, they would know that they were not alone.

I also felt the need to share my story because I wanted others to understand the emotions that a widowed person felt, at least from my perspective.  After all, that is the only perspective I can honestly offer.

So much has changed since that time.

At that time I was somewhere between existing and surviving.

Now I am a survivor and on some days, I might even consider myself to be thriving.

Some locations in my story have changed.

Some characters in my story are the same, but some characters are different. I don’t doubt that all the characters in my life are there (or have been there) for a reason.

When I started this blog, my daughter was a toddler.  Now she is a kindergartener.

As I reread some of my earlier blog posts, I feel that strange dichotomy that widows feel.  The dichotomy where my old life and my old self feel current and they exist alongside my new life and new self.

My last two sentences of my first blog post really hit me hard.

“A part of me died with him that morning.  This is the story of the part of me that is still living.”

At that point in time, my soul was completely fractured.  I felt like an empty shell of who I was and I had no clue how I was going to move forward.

Now it is three years later.  I have survived.  I have grown.

Yes, a part of me may have died the same morning Bryon did but the part of me that is still living has forged ahead.

She has grown back into a whole, albeit different, person.

I want to thank all of you who have been a part of this ride.  As I said the other day, nothing ever lasts forever.  But I appreciate all of you who continue to travel this journey with me.

The Beginning

Today my blog turns three. This is the blog post that started it all.

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You could say that my story began on August 30, 1978 at 7:55 am at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston because that is when I entered this world.  It was the beginning of my childhood in the Boston area with my Irish-Catholic family.  My childhood was pretty ordinary, filled with bike rides, Barbies and games of tag and hide and go seek.  I had a strong sense of where I came from.  I was fortunate enough to know all four of my grandparents.  I also grew up around many aunts, uncles and cousins.  It was in my childhood that I developed my love for dogs, history, the Boston Red Sox, the New England Patriots, hoodsies and fried clams.  I also developed a Boston accent that still manages to slip out when I am emotional or have been drinking.

You could say that my story really began early morning on…

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Stay In Your Own Lane

Alternate Title: Why I hate advice.

Do you ever feel like you live in a fish bowl?

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As a widow, I have felt like I live in a fishbowl.

I accept responsibility for part of that.  After all, I do put some of my most intimate thoughts on the internet because…therapy.

And I also felt called to create a space where other widows  (and other people who may be suffering from an emotional loss) may not feel so alone.  And I have made some cool friends from this blog so that’s a win.

Somewhere along the way, people started thinking it was okay to tell me how to live my life.

I got unsolicited advice on so many topics.

I got unsolicited advice on how to raise my child, how to manage my time, how to manage my money, when I should date again, what my physical and emotional boundaries should be and even on how to grieve and how to widow.

I do not need to be told how to grieve or how to widow.

I even had other widows tell me how to widow.  Yeah…my experience isn’t the same as yours, mmmmkay?

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Why do so many people feel the need to tell other people how to live their lives?

Why are so many people concerned with what everyone else is doing?

Why can’t people just stay in their own lanes?

Seriously.

If you are giving unsolicited advice- you must be an expert.

You must know everything about everything.

Maybe you have mastered Life.  Maybe your little plastic car is filled with kids and you have money and always spin a 10.

Your life must be perfect because you have nothing to improve so you are looking externally for something to occupy your mind.  Your life must be so perfect that there is no room for improvement.

Because you wouldn’t think of giving love advice if you can’t hold onto a relationship.

Nor would you give money advice if your credit score is in the toilet.

You wouldn’t give career advice if you are underpaid and hate your job, right?

I didn’t think so.

Before you give unsolicited advice, clean up your own life.

Stay in your own lane.

It’s none of your business how other people choose to live their lives.

Stay in your own lane.

What might work for you may not work for other people.  Because they are not you.

It is so easy to look at someone’s life and to have an opinion.

Keep that opinion to yourself.

It isn’t your life.

Most people just need time to figure their own shit out.

Sure, you can offer to help in a positive manner.

But keep your G-D opinion to yourself.

Give people the space to let them sort out their problems on their own timeline.

If they need your help, they will likely ask for it.

Stay in your own lane.

This also works in the reverse.

If you are living your life, sorting out your own shit and minding your own business and someone tries to offer you unsolicited advice, you don’t need to accept it.

Don’t let it distract you or upset you.

Don’t let doubts take hold.

Stay in your own lane.

Stay in your lane unless you make the decision to change lanes and do it when you feel safe to do so.  Not because someone is making you.

Nothing Ever Lasts Forever

Nothing ever lasts forever.

I don’t who needed that message, but here it is.

Nothing ever lasts forever.

But what does that even mean?

Nothing ever lasts forever.

We live in a physical world where time is linear and is always moving forward.

But in addition to the linear timeline, we have so many other factors that are affected by time.  Things like energy, emotions, love, hate,  relationships, money, planetary alignments, memories and outside events we can’t control.  Just to be clear- this is not an exhaustive list.

Things are always changing and nothing ever lasts forever.

The good things don’t last forever.  Relationships can fall apart.  Couples can grow apart or someone can die. Friendships can end.  A job you like may end abruptly.

But neither do the bad things.  Bad things will eventually turn around.  Maybe not as quickly as you may like, but they will turn around eventually.

So if the things are good right now – cherish them because they probably won’t always be good.

And if things are rough right now- try to hang in there.  Things are bound to turn up soon.

Karaoke Side Door Cafe Albany 2012
Karaoke 2012

 

Weekly Gratitude #9: Focus on what can go right.

It has been a week.

We had sickness in the house.  Nothing major, just a low grade fever and a cold that seems to be going around but it still warranted a day off from school.

I also had my work computer malfunction.  It would not connect to my WiFi.  At first I blamed Spectrum but it turns out it was a Windows 10 issue.

Sorry, Spectrum!

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My company had to overnight a new computer to me.   in less than 24 hours.

I am grateful for my company’s IT department who spend hours on the phone with me trying to figure out the problem.

And to Fed Ex.  I am impressed that Fed-Ex got it about 2/3 across the country to my corner of the country

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I was able to get my computer up and running and finish my work week strong.

But while the computer was in transit, I spent many hours worrying that something was going to happen in transit.  I was stressing about not getting enough work done for our client.

And it was all for nothing.

Everything worked out okay.

I spent so much time worrying about what could go wrong when I should have been focused on what could go right.  I thought I had left that habit in my old life, but I still relapse sometime.

I don’t get too esoteric on this blog, but I will venture there today.

The spiritual gurus say that thoughts are powerful and that like attracts like.  If that is true, then why are so many of us negatives with our thoughts?

Why are we so many of us resistant to letting things work out the way they are supposed to? Or even better than they were supposed to?

Some of us have been conditioned to always expect the worst.  To keep our expectations low.  And while failures and mishaps can and will happen, I challenge everyone to ponder what would happen if we started to expect good things to happen.

At the very least, maybe you won’t feel fear and dread.  Those are such heavy emotions.

But maybe some good things will happen.

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