I am a widowed mother of a 4 year old daughter. New England girl transplanted in Upstate New York. Coffee snob and a Mexican food enthusiastic. History nerd. I like to run, read, travel, knit and cook. I blog about grief, life, love and resilience.
Life is about transitions and this blog post represents a big transition for me.
I started this blog in 2017 as an outlet for my grief after my husband passed away. I spent hours pouring my emotions out. Those words are still here for anyone who may need them.
Over time, the writing slowed as I had learned to cope with my grief. I felt like there was not much more I could say. I did not want to manufacture emotions just so I could write about them.
I have worked hard to move forward with my life.
It wasn’t easy. I had to sort out a lot of emotions. I had to make tough decisions including packing up my house and moving back home to Maine in 2019 (though not in the order.) I have never regretted that decision.
For so long, I felt like I was just surviving and going through the motions.
I threw myself into my life back in Maine. It’s pretty easy when you have a child who is social. Keeping up with her is a job in itself. I also volunteered for our school’s PTCO.
I decided to step up and run for School Board because I love our school and I want to make sure we keep it that way. This school year, my daughter has been able to go to school, in person, 4.5 days a week!
Many schools don’t let parents inside when dropping them off. Our school, pre-covid, lets parents insude the school and you will be greeted by name.
This is an amazing community and I want my daughter to grow up in this amazing community.
To my friends that followed my grief journey, you are still welcome to stay. And my previous writing will not be going anywhere. I might even still write about grief if I feel the urge.
To my Surry neighbors, I hope to use my blog as a platform to share ideas. Originally, I thought about doing a second website but I decided to keep everything together for simplicity on my end.
The elections in Surry are Friday, April 23, 2021. Polls are open 8 am to 8 pm.
This morning I had received some sad news that my friend Drew had passed away.
Back in 2005, I attended my first ever YRNF event. It was a convention in Las Vegas and a sweet guy from Tennessee sat down at our table. That was the start of my friendship with Drew. For five years, he was friendly and always a kind friend.
He was the nicest guy ever and I never once heard anyone say a bad thing about him.
For the non-political types this may not seem like a big deal but it is in the political setting. In the political setting, someone usually hates you for no reason at all. Speaking from my own experience, I can say something polite and diplomatic and I will still be called a bitch.
ButI never once heard anyone say anything bad about Drew.
Even Bryon, who could be cynical at times, loved Drew and thought he was nicest guy ever.
He was special.
The news hit all my old friends from this era of my life and we were messaging each other. It’s funny how death gives us that gift. It made us all take a moment to reach out to each other and comfort each other.
My cousin and her husband are going to be relocating to Drew’s city and I told them I’d visit when all this craziness is over (i.e. Janet Mills takes Maine out of “time-out”). In addition to being excited about seeing family, I figured that while in town, that I would catch up with Drew.
And then James Taylor starts playing in my head “I always thought that I’d see you again.”
It’s hard to make sense as to why people die young, especially people who are so special. I’m still struggling with the whole “God is good” and “God has a plan” thing. I still maintain if that was true, then God is a shitty-ass planner. But in some ways, it makes sense. I do feel like we all have things we need to learn in our lives. The special people, like Drew and Bryon have less to learn and accomplish it early while some of us seem to make the same mistakes over and over again, myself included. At the rate I am going, I will live to be 120.
Eh, some things will never make sense. I will never understand what God is thinking.
Drew, you will be missed. Thank you for always being a friendly face in a sometimes hostile environment (i.e political meetings). Heaven is an even better place now.
Last week was my wedding anniversary. It should have be our 8th wedding anniversary.
I was okay.
I still wanted a steak dinner.
And Kimmy Gibbler was game.
But I did not having anything fancy to wear so we got a fancy steak dinner from Black and Blue Steak and Crab to go (hey it’s 20/20 so it works) and we ate it at the cemetery.
Widow Tip: If you order steak to bring to the cemetery, the steak will continue to cook in the car. My Medium steak was Medium Well to Well Done by the time I ate it. I still ate it even though Well Done steak of an abominaton but next time I will order it Medium Rare.
Please forgive me.
If this seems completely normal to you it means two things 1) you may be a widow and 2) you have an awesome best friend.
I would have gotten steak anyway but it felt better having Kimmy Gibbler to eat with me.
If she hadn’t come, the steak dinner would have felt like that scene from The Sixth Sense when Bruce Willis arrives late to his anniversary dinner and his wife is upset and he hasn’t figured out yet that he’s dead.
A widow can feel that scene.
Though I am 99.999999% sure Bryon knows he’s dead but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was trying to solve all the election fraud problems of 2020. He loved his job.
So yeah…my husband is dead. We know that already.
Every year, our anniversary ends what I call the yearly five-week emotional bender which starts on his deathaversary and ends on our wedding anniversary. In that 5 weeks period, we have both of our birthdays, our daughters birthday, our engagaversary and the start of the new school year where I am reminded that our daughter is another year older and he isn’t here with her.
When I was younger, I always loved September.
I am a Double Virgo and September was always the start of the school year which always felt like the real start of a New Year. I always felt a lot of energy this time of year and now it is overshadowed by my yearly “emotional bender”.
This time of the year always seemed so hopeful and full of beginnings now feels like a drag.
Because I realized that I have given up hoping for anything.
I am too scared to put hope in my future because a better future probably won’t come and even it if did, it can all be taken away like my life from early 2016.
I am not depressed. My life isn’t horrible. I have an awesome daughter and she keeps me busy. I just think it is easier to live in survival /existing mode than it is to actually “live” again.
If I don’t “live” again, then I can’t get hurt. I won’t be disappointed and no one has to be bothered with my sadness.
Another trip around the sun since you’ve left this Earth.
It’s been…a year.
A crazy year.
I don’t think 2016 Bryon could even comprehend this year.
You’d be like the 1996 Ice Man.
I am past the disbelief of your absence. I am in more of a “it is what it is” mindset.
But I can’t help but feel that there are some parallels to when you left and now.
When you left, we were in the midst of a crazy presidential election, the likes we had never seen before and now, we are in the midst of a crazy presidential election, the likes we had never seen before.
I can’t turn on the TV or scroll Twitter (yes…I tweet now. Imagine that?) without hearing about potential election fraud and mass mail in voting. I try not to go down the “What if” rabbit hole but I often wonder what you would think.
I don’t think I can convey how much I’d love to have a conversation with you about this. But even if I were granted that conversation, the conversation would never be long enough.
Since I am not really talking to you and this is really only an entry in my blog that few people read, people are probably wondering why I am talking about politics on your deathaversary blog post.
But it is what is flowing and I can’t stop the flow.
I mean, we met because of politics.
Politics is intertwined with our story.
We met for the first time in 2006 but it was the time we met again in 2008 that mattered.
We had kept our budding romance a secret because we didn’t want it to be the topic of gossip within the political organization we belonged to.
We decided to meet in Boston over Labor Day Weekend because it was between Maine and New York. We were going to meet up on Friday, which was the day between our birthdays. (Yours was Thursday, Mine was Saturday).
I had called you on Thursday night to say goodnight. You had been out celebrating and you told me that I was old like John McCain and you were young and hot like Sarah Palin.
Yet, I still went to Boston the next day.
I had fun on my birthday, recounting that story to you because…surprise…you did not remember.
You made it up to me but taking to see the Sox play at Fenway.
Though let’s be honest…you wanted to go to Fenway as much as I did.
But despite the fact that I am hearing so much about (potential) election fraud, I can’t help but think about how it was your dream to work on a presidential campaign as an attorney. I know without a doubt that if you were still alive, this would have been the year that dream was realized.
But, again, I try not to go down that rabbit hole.
I need to focus on what is in front of me and I can’t dwell on all of your dreams that were never realized.
I don’t mean that to be a bitch. But you are gone and I need to live my life for me.
I also don’t want to accidentally project your dreams onto your daughter because she might internalize them. She needs to live her life and have her own dreams.
I do get sad when I think about your unrealized dreams.
Though a good friend of mine recently remarked that you and I did more in our short time together than some couples do over a lifetime.
I think we did the best with what time we had.
As Whitney Houston said “Didn’t we almost have it all?”
The ride with you was worth the fall, my friend and a moment in the soul does last forever and I’ll never love that way again.
Nothing can take away what we had over those eight years.
After you died, I was bombarded with projections of what people thought our relationship was. I felt like I had to live up to those projections.
But now I don’t feel the need to do that. Our relationship was ours. The good and bad.
The exciting stuff like vacations.
Even the things that only we thought was exciting like watching the Ontario Provincial Elections on Canadian C-Span or gush over the BBC Infographics during the British Elections.
I don’t think I will ever meet anyone who would want to watch Canadian elections with me. Or, more importantly, I don’t I will find anyone that will know how to access the Canadian C-Span feed and have it play on the TV.
A good friend of mine teases me about the fact that I tend to measure periods of time by presidential administrations. But my life seems to follow a pattern. The Clinton years were my school years (high school and college). The Bush (43) years were my early adult and political years. And the Obama years were my Bryon years. And while I make zero political predictions in this blog because this is a grief blog, so far my Trump years have been my widow years.
I do feel about to turn a corner.
I remember when I was sad.
Like, sad all the time.
Like, so sad I cried for hours at a time.
I remember playing my “sad songs” list on spotify and just crying. Nothing like sobbing on the bathroom floor while playing “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday.”
And I need to put it here because you like Boyz II Men.
I remember when my life felt like it was over and I was just going through the motions. I felt like I was dead inside and the sadness would never end.
And while I am sad while writing this, I know that the sadness this sadness is temporary. I no longer feel dead in side.
It took me a long time to get here but I am happy again.
And while I never thought I would have the mental capacity to even think about politics again, it’s back. That’s a good sign, right? Hello old friend.
I have accepted that some wounds never heal and your death will be one of those wounds for me.
There was a saying that my late husband used to say- just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should do it.
I tried explaining that to my daughter when she was two when she told me that she can eat play doh. She didn’t agree with that statement.
Over the course of the past couple of weeks, I have been noticed a disturbing trend on media.
I have noticed that certain media outlets (I am looking at you@newscentermaine and @WCVB ) have been publishing people’s recovery stories (which is great) but they are showing photos of the people intubated as the featured image.
Now, one of those stories was a grown man and I would assume that he gave consent to use his photo. But…then I come back to…just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should.
The second story featured a child, too young to consent. I usually don’t judge other parents, but I side-eye that. Just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should.
My late-husband was hooked up to a ventilator for 5 months.
That is not a writing mistake.
Not 5 days. Not 5 weeks.
So before anyone gets all Karen on me, accusing me of being a Karen, I am going to kindly point out that I am sure there is only a very small portion of the population that can fathom what it is like to have a loved one on a ventilator for 5 months.
If you have had a loved one on a ventilator for 5 months and you think I am whining, then feel free to call me out.
I have no pictures of Bryon in that situation. He was a proud man and I know he would have never wanted a picture of himself in that situation, broadcasted on social media.
The only picture I took in the hospital room was this. One of Bryon’s best friends and his girlfriend sent this for his room.
I do wonder about people who do that with their loved ones. What is the purpose of doing that? The only thing I can come up with is for attention? I hope I am wrong because that makes me sad. Maybe education but you can educate without showing your loved one hooked up to a ventilator. Maybe they just want to torture themselves in the years to come? (Seriously, if you took a picture of a loved one hooked up to machines, I’d love to know why. Because I don’t understand.)
I also didn’t take a picture Bryon like that because I was tormented enough with seeing him like that in real time. The image will forever be etched in my memory. So much so that when he was actively dying, I was scared that that was how I was going to remember him.
In the past four years, I have never once thought “I really wish I got a picture of him attached to the ventilator….”
What would I even do with a picture like that? Put it in my blog for shock value and attention?
I will always feel that putting a picture of someone hooked up to a ventilator on a platform that everyone sees to be in poor taste.
Again…just because you can do something doesn’t always mean you should.
It is very insensitive to those who have had to witness a loved one in that situation.
I know that the media’s primary job is sensationlize anything that can to instill fear but to post pictures of people in their most vulnerable state for clicks on Facebook just shows a lack of decency.
I did take a moment to tweet both @newscentermaine and @WCVB letting them know it was in poor taste and insensitive to those who may have PTSD from seeing a loved one in that situation.
I got no response. Not even a canned “Thanks for bringing it to our attention.”
As a history buff, I have always had a fascination with cemeteries. Each stone memorializes a person or persons who had lived.
The words I type can not express my emphasis on the word “lived”. I mean that in every essence of the word. These people, who lived in another dimension in time, had emotions like us and may or may not have lived their life to the fullest.
I have always loved cemeteries.
Apparently so does my daughter. I mean, her father does live in one now.
She jumps up and down with excitement when it’s time to go visit a cemetery. I am not alarmed, she is a smart child and she has had to face things that many adults have never had to face.
But in her young life, she has also helped her grandfather place flags on Veterans graves every memorial day.
This was my daughter last year placing flags on graves with her grandfather.
And last year we got to attend the parade.
This year was different because of a certain virus.
My daughter did place flags with her grandfather. If I heard my father correctly, they visited 9 cemeteries.
There were some family cemeteries. This is Higgins Cemetery where we placed a flag on a grave of a Civil War Veteran.
We visited an old forgotten family cemetery in the woods. The owner of the land was going to clear the land and found the graves. The owner did some research and found that one of the graves belonged to a Civil War Veteran. The owner contacted the VFW and the grave was rededicated.
And we visited a grave of a Civil War Veteran that was in the woods behind a subdivision.
Today there was no parade but my father and his fellow comrades still held a few small memorials (while recording LIVE by drone on Facebook).
Because they will never forget.
My daughter did get to say the Pledge of Allegiance at two of the Memorials. She was so excited to participate. She can tell you why we are gathering which I think is impressive for a 5 year old. Though she had trouble staying focused during the reading of General John A. Logan’s Memorial Day Order. Hopefully that will come with age.
How was your Memorial Day? Were you able to participate?
I did something was out of character for me. I blocked someone on Facebook.
Yes, I have blocked people before. But usually those are people who are in my personal life who don’t deserve to be there anymore. And in those cases, I struggled with that decision and felt guilty about it. Why I stressed over removing toxic people in my life probably doesn’t make sense. Let’s just say that it shows how low my self esteem was.
But I never block anyone. I rarely defriend people.
Bryon always said that Facebook was the lowest form of friendship. I tend to agree. It doesn’t mean I don’t love my Facebook friends. I have gotten to meet some amazing people because of Facebook. But you can be someone’s Facebook friend with very little effort to keep a relationship going.
My Facebook friends list is a diverse group of people. It is filled with family and friends. Some friends I have had since childhood, others are recent friends. I have friends I met in elementary school, high school and college. I have friends of real life friends on my friends list. There are parents of my daughters friends and her teachers and coaches. There are old political friends, old and current coworkers and people I know from the widow tribe.
Or maybe you are more of an 1980’s person…
My friends list would sure make a crazy party.
Except it would break all social distancing laws.
With a diverse group of friends comes many different opinions. And that is cool.
We need to have conversations to grow as people and when we grow as people, we help society grow.
I enjoy the conversation and variety of viewpoints…as long as it is civil.
Seriously…you can respect someone’s intelligence even if you don’t agree with them.
Not everything is black and white. Most people get that but some don’t.
Most of us understand that not everyone is going to agree with you 100% of the time.
Most of us know that there are two sides to every story and debate.
So today I shared something that reflected my viewpoint.
And someone who commented. It was clear she did not agree with me at all.
But she was pretentious about it. It was clear she didn’t see the other side and didn’t want to.
She was the proverbial “Karen”.
But I also had a bit of an epiphany.
I had zero connection with this person. She was the parents of a former classmate of my daughter. From daycare. In another state.
She never interacts with my page except to argue.
I don’t need a lot of attention to maintain a “Facebook friendship” and I don’t expect it. But when all interactions with me are negative, do I really want this person on my friendslist?
This person was clearly not interested in my life and to be honest…I am not interested in her life.
Every actions has the potential to be a positive interaction or a negative interaction.
It reminds of me of that old game, The Sims. Characters that had positive interactions would get green plus signs and negative interactions got red negative signs.
No relationship is every going to 100% of positive interactions. We all have less than desirable traits and we all have times when we reveal these less than desirable traits. Even the mostly saintly of us get tired and cranky.
We aren’t always the best version of ourselves but those who love us understand that. Because our positive interactions outweigh our negative interactions.
But if you aren’t interacting with your nearest and dearest, those people aren’t going to overlook when you aren’t being personable.
Maybe this person wasn’t very self aware. I could have given her a pass. But I don’t owe her a pass. I don’t owe her anything. The same is true to me if I am rude on someone else’s social media page. Though I tend not to argue on other people’s pages. I feel that they are free to have their opinion and if I can’t constructively participate, then I don’t. But other’s don’t see it that way when I post.
So I deleted and blocked this person. But this time, instead of feeling guilty, I felt free. Good riddance. She can find other platforms to preach her pretentiousness.
It’s the Facebook equivalent to the INFJ doorslam…because…why not?
A few things fell into place with me.
The first is that I don’t have to have the last word. Not every comment deserves a reply. And the absence of a reply doesn’t mean that the person has “won” that discussion.
It means I chose peace over being brought into an argument.
This has been a lifelong struggle. I have a Leo Moon and my Mercury is in Leo. Some people think I am hot-headed but Leo rules the heart and emotions so I feel it’s more accurate to say I am passionate.
And if you are a commenter on newstories…why? Are strangers really going to respect your energy.? I have decided that if I am going to subject myself to reader comments, I only like the comments I agree with it and ignore the ones I don’t. I don’t engage. I am trying to only put positive energy out there.
The second thing that fell into place for me was that not everyone is worth your energy.
It doesn’t do you or your energy any good to be in the lower energy emotions like fear, guilt and anger.
Why would anyone want to interact with someone who is keeping thing in lower level energies? These people are toxic!
Heck, if someone is trying to shame you on social media…run away. That person is trying to put you in the lowest level of consciousness. (I’m looking at you, Karen).
When you are in a lower level energy, you are not being the best version of yourself. And energy is contagious so it not only lowers your energy, but the energy of those around you. And it ripples out from there.
We should be striving to be beacons of light and not black holes of energy. Anyone who has been around an energy vampire knows what I mean.
Here is some Black Hole Sun because I was a 90’s teenager. RIP Chris Cornell even though you didn’t marry my high school best friend. Her love for you was unrequited.
So the next time you are on Facebook and someone is bringing negative energy, ask yourself if the energy expended is worth it. Are they a great person who you disagree with or are they a constant drain of energy? Don’t be afraid to protect your energy.
As we all know, there this virus going around. And that virus has the potential to kill you.
And it seems like every day the news changing it’s story about the virus. And as each day passes, the headlines become scarier. And the messages are mixed. Can anyone keep any of it straight anymore?
We fear for our health and we fear for our livelihoods.
And now it looks like 2020 is going to be the worst hurricane season ever.
And just when things couldn’t get any worse, we now have “Murder Hornets”.
No wonder why we are scared. Hurricanes are scary. Any kind of flying insect with a stinger is scary, even those without the word “murder” in their name.
But have we stopped and asked us why we are so scared.
My daughter is scared of bugs. It doesn’t matter what kind of bug. She’s even afraid of ants.
I am not going to lie. I don’t love bugs. They make me uncomfortable. But I deal with them.
My daughter is also afraid of various Disney villains and she is afraid of the dark.
I fear oompa loompas. They make me extremely uncomfortable and totally give me the heebie jeebies. Bryon enjoyed scaring me with that one. One time when I was in the bathroom, he took my phone and changed my wallpaper to a picture of an oompa loompa. So poor, unsuspecting me picked up my phone and saw that. I screamed. I then put a lock on my screen.
There is a lot of things in this world to be afraid of. And quarantine and the news and all the certainty is exacerbating our fears.
To be clear- I am not telling you to not to be concerned about the virus. Your level of concern is up to you to assess and decide what your level of fear is. Especially since I can’t write a post that is perfectly tailored to be perfectly applicable to everyone. If you live in a place that is a COVID-19 hotspot, then you are going to be more fearful of catching it than someone who is not in a COVID-19 hotspot.
As the writer of this blog post, I have to trust you, the reader, to make your own decision about your feelings. And that is how it should be. As the reader, you need to take from this blog post what resonates with you and leave what doesn’t resonate. Partially resonating is cool too.
One thing I do not talk about on this blog much is the fact that I am more into New Age thinking. I don’t talk about it because I fear what people may think of me. It’s not what Catholics do. But I have issues with Catholicism and all organized religion at the moment. But I will be clear, while I may roll my eyes at some of the hypocrisy I see, I am not an Atheist. But this is all for another post at another time.
So try to follow me. I am more New Agey now. I do believe we are all energy. The cool thing is that since we are all energy, we never truly die, which I know because I feel Bryon’s energy at time. I keep my beliefs to myself because I am fearful of what people will think of them. Which is stupid.
Most of us have probably felt or been recipients to positive energy and negative energy.
The emotions we feel have energy.
The energy we have affects ourselves and those around us. Our energy can also be affected by those around us. Raising your energy is your responsibility but it will help out those around you as well.
At the very least, people won’t be saying you are a bitch when you leave the room.
I kid. I am sure if you are great and those people were blaming you and resorting to name calling. I got your back.
If you notice on the bottom, there are contracted energy. Emotions like Shame, Guilt, Apathy, Grief and Fear are all contracted energy. We are not living to our fullest potential when we are in those emotions.
Let’s quickly go up the scale.
Shame. The lowest energy.
I did a lot of soul searching after Bryon died. I stumbled on this Ted Talk with Brene Brown and it changed my life.
I have since read everything that Brene Brown has written. I have watched her special on Netflix. I hope I can see her talk in person.
But after I watched that initial Ted Talk, I felt free to feel vulnerable. The biggest piece I got was that you can’t be vulnerable without courage.
I have felt shame in life. I have never felt good enough. I was never smart enough, pretty enough, or thin enough. Shame caused me to build walls and Brene has helped me tear some down. I am still working on others though.
Grief…more than half this blog is about grief. I don’t think I need to prove it’s real.
Then we get to fear.
While one can cause a person to feel shame or guilt, I feel like fear is easily manipulated by other people. People can incite fear in you.
Heck, some of your fears may not actually be your fears. You may have learned those fears.
Another question to ask is if someone wants you to be fearful, especially if they gain from you being fearful. Maybe you have a friend who tears you down to lower your self confidence and that makes you fearful to take chances in your life. Your friend may want to keep you down because they are afraid you will make other friends or that you may outshine them. I don’t know. Really, if your friend does that, you probably need a new friend.
It’s okay to feel fear from time to time but is fear taking over your life?
So if you feel like you are playing into the feeling of fear, it might be a good idea (just a suggestion) to try to understand why you are afraid and see if it’s something that can be addressed and rectified. Especially, because fear is keeping you from being the best version of you. We all deserve to at our best.
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So I am going to leave you with this nugget that is on my mind.
I see people complaining about those who want to stay at home. Some of those people are worried about their health. They may have co-morbid conditions.
If you disagree with those people’s stance, then you may be in a position of privilege where you are in good health. Please take a moment to be grateful that you have the privilege of having good health.
I see people complaining about those who protest and want to go back to work. Some of those people are worried about their livelihoods.
If you disagree with those people stance, then you may be in a position of privilege where you don’t need to worry about your finances or your job. People take a moment to be grateful that you have the privilege of not worrying about your financial situation.
I am not telling your what to think. I just ask that you try to see where the other side of coming. Be kind.