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.
Lately I have been feeling a need to write so I decided to check back in on my old, neglected blog.
While I love having conversations with people, I feel that the written word is the best way for me to get my thoughts and feelings out.
I started this blog 5 months into my grief journey. (Serious question…why do we refer to it as a journey? A journey should be a venture to a place that is enjoyable and grief is not enjoyable. Far from it. It’s miserable…like, zero stars, would not recommend miserable.)
I started writing for many reasons but there were two major reasons. The first was that I needed to get the feelings out. I am Boston Irish and we are not known for expressing emotions. (Please don’t take that as shame of my heritage. I am fiercely proud of being Irish, which, according to Ancestry.com fluctuates between 73% and 77%.) If you were to scroll back through my earlier posts, I was writing 1200-1500 words per post and writing 5 posts a week.
That’s a lot of words.
What can I say? I had a lot of feelings. *insert shrug emoji*
I made changes to my life. The biggest change being a move back home to Maine. It was a very positive change and I have zero regrets about moving home. I am very happy to be here. It’s a magical place and my daughter gets to spend her childhood here.
It was around this time (early 2019) that I stopped writing. While it was good to get my feelings out, it put them out there for people to have opinions and for people to judge my situation. Getting my feelings out was a good idea but I should have had boundaries, even if they were just emotional and spiritual boundaries. Sure, people can judge me, but just because I put my feelings out does not mean that I have to internalize other’s reactions to my feelings.
I live in rural Maine where many of our towns have an annual Town Meeting. Like the ones on Gilmore Girls, but more….real.
At the town meeting, any voter in that town can show up and vote. There is a moderator and the town goes through the budget, line by line, and votes on each budget item. Voters can ask questions about expenditures. There is usually at least one argument or heated discussion.
Only people of that town can speak. If anyone who does not live in that attends the meeting, the townspeople need to vote to allow that person to speak. An example is if the town is voting on how much money to give an an agency, a person from the agency may come to answer any questions the voters may have.
I am currently managing a State Senate Campaign (in a volunteer capacity) and I have had the opportunity to attend a few town meetings so far.
It makes me appreciate why I love living in Maine so much.
For someone that likes to express myself with the written word, my words are failing me today.
Normally I have no problem doing a yearly write up in this blog and I had written a 1000 words in my draft last night but it was written in my old style and I am not that person anymore.
Even after 5 years, I feel his absence. Generally not in my day-to-day life as our daughter keeps me busy. I miss telling him about my day and getting advice and his opinion.
I used to be able to bring him into the present by just thinking “I wonder what Bryon would have to say about this?” But now my life is so different that I can’t just easily plop him into the present. If he were alive, we’d still be living to New York and my life would be very different.
Most of the people in my Maine life have never met Bryon so when I think of the fact that even though Bryon was a grown man and a successful attorney, he would laugh like a middle schooler every time someone said the word “nipple”. (To be fair, I act that way whenever anyone talks about Uranus.) I have three good (g-rated) stories that involve Bryon and the word “nipple” and wonder if there is any point to tell anyone those stories because people didn’t know him.
I ponder about what Bryon would think of current events but how do you explain to someone from 2016 what 2020-2021 would be like? Granted Bryon was very smart and he’d adapt and there would definitely be a steep learning curve along with the “Bryon McKim WTF” expression on his face. (The same face can be seen on our daughter.) I’d be curious what he’d think because he hated being told what to do.
Last March when I was running around, doing stuff while on my school board campaign, I remember I glanced at my Facebook memories and saw it had been 5 years since the sh*t hit the fan while he was in the ICU. The day he was wheeled off to a surgery that I was told he may not survive. My life changed that day. I lost all sense of security that day. When I saw that Facebook Memory I was taken aback that I didn’t realize it was that day. The anniversary of that day was usually very emotional for me. But also, as I read that memory, I also realized that life marches forward but the wound will always be there and I will always miss him.
I thought these days of grief were behind me but I have been struggling with this all week. 5 years. Bryon’s best friends son was born a few months after Bryon died and is starting kindergarten (NY has a 12/1 kindergarten cut off). Our daughter wasn’t even two years old yet and she is starting second grade. These milestones have a way of slapping you in the face.
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?