Quarantine Brain

When I became pregnant with my daughter, I became flighty.  I blamed it on “Pregnancy Brain”.

When I was engaged and planning my wedding, I became forgetful.  I blamed it on “Wedding Brain”.

When I was going through Widow Fog (which is 100% real), I blamed it on “Widow Brain”.

And now I realize that I am afflicted again…with Quarantine Brain.

It makes sense.  I am working 40 hours a week from home (which I am grateful) and I am homeschooling my kindergarten daughter.

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To be truthful, I am envious of those who are having a restful quarantine because between work and home school…I am exhausted.

Add in all the news.  Lots of news.  Press conferences.  I have hit my limit.

And all the opinions.  Everyone is an expert.

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My brain is on overload.  I haven’t had time to read much or write and I have thought about writing many times.  But the thoughts are so jumbled right now.

I have done some cooking and some trips to the shore.  We are allowed to go to the beaches here, we just need to remain socially distant.

Quarantine got the best of my daughter.  She gave herself bangs.  (insert facepalm emoji)

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So I wanted to do a quick check in?  How are you feeling during this quarantine?  What are you thinking about?  Have you cooked?  Have you given yourself bangs?  How are you dealing?

Those Scranton Memories

While everyone is entertaining themselves by watching The Tiger King, I felt called to watch The Office on Netflix.

I admit, I was also inspired by my friend Liz as she is awesome and she is an office fan.

And I have zero interest in Tiger King.  Or whatever it is called.  I don’t care how many people on my Facebook Newsfeed watch it.

Speaking of newsfeeds -not going to lie- people have been annoying me.

Quarantine has been getting to me.

A month ago, most people couldn’t care less about the coronavirus and now they are epidemiological experts and they are mad at government for not taking it serious enough and not doing “stay at home” measures sooner.

As if they would have listened if those measures had been enacted sooner.

I have made good use of my “snooze for 30 days function” because I realize that I am probably just irritable.

We are all irritable.  Don’t let it ruin your otherwise good friendships unless you barely tolerated that person anyway.

Then go ahead and delete and block.

And if someone deletes and /or blocks you, be happy they did.  They did you a favor.

Keep space for those who want to be in your life.

So anyway, I wanted to watch something light-hearted on Netflix.  In the recent months I have watched Cheers and Parks and Rec.  I can’t watch Friends or How I Met Your Mother because they are not on Netflix anymore.

Witty conversations with my friend Liz inspired me to watch The Office.

As I began watching (I am currently on Season 5) it dawned on me that I hadn’t watch it since Bryon died.

It made sense why I hadn’t watched it.  I tend to avoid the shows we watched together.

When I went to begin watching the series, I realized that it was in Season 8.  I rarely watched Netflix when Bryon was alive unless I watched it with him and even then, we usually watched certain Netflix series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

It was a spooky feeling to see where Bryon last watched the office over four years ago.

(Fun fact: Our Netflix account is older than our marriage.  My brother pointed that out to me over Thanksgiving when I logged into Netflix with an older email that consisted of my maiden name.)

I’ve been enjoying watching The Office again.   It is bringing back a lot of memories. It was Bryon who had gotten me into the show.

It all reminded me of a road trip we took to Scranton in 2012.

Not to be confused with the time we drove to Scranton in 2015 when he decided to buy a nativity scene for our lawn for our Fun and Old Fashioned McKim Family Christmas.

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Scranton, 2015

Our first trip to Scranton was in June of 2012.  According to Facebook, it was 98 days before we got married.

We were dealing with the stress of wedding planning.

Somehow we got talking about Waffle House.  Bryon was a waffle house enthusiast and I had never been.  Through the power of the internet, he learned that the closest waffle house was ten minutes north of Scranton.

We decided to take a break from the stress of wedding planning and take an adventure.

So down I-88 we went, past Binghamton and into Pennsylvania.

(Fun Fact- Bryon despised I-88 and told me how much he hated I-88 every time we were on it)

I do not have any photographic evidence from that trip to Waffle House but Bryon said it was the cleanest Waffle House he had even been to.  We returned that same Waffle House in 2015.  The only other comparison I have is the Waffle House we went to in Louisiana, which I don’t remember being dirty but it wasn’t as clean as the Scranton Waffle House.

Going to Waffle House was the beginning of our journey.

We went to the Steamtown Historic Site.

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Scranton, 2012

Then we went to the Steamtown Marketplace.

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Scranton, 2012

Bryon had figured out where the building in the open credits of The Office was located.

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Scranton, 2012

We had lunch at Cooper’s Seafood.

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Scranton, 2012

Then we went to the Bowling Alley to go to Poor Richard’s Pub.

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Scranton, 2012

After that we went to a casino in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

And Bryon took me to spot where New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey meet.

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I hadn’t thought about that day in years.

And as my head is being filled with memories of those hard days in the ICU, it is good to also reflect on the happier memories.

I always enjoyed my adventures with Bryon.  I promised him as he was dying that I would continue to take my daughter on adventures.

I love adventures.

But the adventures I had with Bryon will always be the adventures we shared.

Those memories can never be taken away from me.

Defining moments

I can remember many dates.

Some are easy for me to remember because they relate to events that happened in my life.

I can remember the date I moved to Maine as a teenager.

I can remember the date of my first date with Bryon.

I can remember the date I got married.

I can remember the date my daughter was born.

I can remember the date when Bryon died.

But there are many events in my life where I can’t remember the date.

One of those events happened four years ago today.

I had been anticipating this anniversary, but I needed help from Facebook memories to know exactly what day it was.  Because all I can tell you is that this happened on a Tuesday, two days after Easter.

Truth be told, I don’t look at Facebook Memories very often.  There is a lot of pain in my past.  Even the happy memories bring me pain. Eventually you reach a point where you decide you have had enough of pain and you just have to start staying in the present and move forward.

Kind of like that scene in Love Actually when Mark pretends to be carol singers and holds the cards up to Kiera Knightly, professing his love to her because you have to be honest at Christmas and then she kisses him and he walks off saying “Enough”.

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It kind of like that.

But sometimes you can’t escape thinking about those memories because they are defining moments in our lives.

On this day four years ago, Bryon was in septic shock and his body was beginning to shut down.

He was rushed off to a surgery that the doctors said he may not survive.

He had been in the ICU for 5 days at that point and I had been quiet on social media about his illness.  He was a proud man and I wanted to respect his privacy.  I have questioned that decision.

But in that moment, I only had hope and faith.  So I posted a prayer request on Facebook.

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My life changed that day.

It was the day when I realized that in a matter of moments, everything you had can be taken away from you.

Even if Bryon had survived, I know I never would have been the same.

I think it’s safe to make the assumption that Bryon would not have been the same.  We just don’t know to what extent.

Miraculously, Bryon survived the surgery.  I was hopeful that we were beginning the long road to recovery.

But that moment was really the beginning of the end.  It was the beginning of Bryon’s final chapter. A chapter where he would be hooked up to machines in an ICU.  A chapter where he couldn’t speak and would be too weak to even press the buttons on his TV remote.

Eventually Bryon was moved to another ICU at another hospital in New York City.  I bet he never would have imagined that he’d exit this world in New York City.  Though he was never one to ponder death, aside from showing his concern as to how I would manage if he were to die.  He was always the one to think about long term logistics.  I was the one who made sure milk was in the fridge and that there were enough clean clothes to get us through the following day.

Spoiler alert: I survived and I managed and I am okay.

He was not comfortable with death.  Part of that was the culture of his family of origin.  But sometimes I wonder if he knew on some deep soul level that he wasn’t going to be on Earth for a long time and he didn’t want to think about it.

I was the morbid one in our relationship.  I had no problem talking about death.  Pluto is in my first house.  The darkest planet in the most personal house.

I also come from a Boston Irish family. All of the grandparents came from large Catholic families and I attended many wakes and funerals growing up.  I joke that I grew up at the local funeral home.  Death was never shielded from me.

Four years ago today Bryon started his final chapter, a very painful chapter.  Though we will never know how painful it was to him.

I just know he fought to live.  He fought harder than most people.  I would have given up a lot sooner than he did.  He wanted to live.

He was hooked up to a ventilator and he couldn’t speak.  We never got to discuss what was going on, the what-ifs.  We never got to talk about the possibility of his eventual exit from this world.

If he had any words of wisdom he wanted to share with me and my daughter for our following chapters, he didn’t get to share them.

It’s a piece of closure that I never got and I really needed.  I still need that that closure.  I still struggle to move forward because I never got that closure.

While Bryon entered his final chapter, I also began a chapter that interwined with his chapter.

Our chapters had a lot of the same elements.  The same two main characters, the same minor characters, the same setting, the same medical staff and parade of visitors.  Both chapters had a lot of beeping from machines in the background.

I have no idea how the passage of time felt for Bryon.  I am sure when he was lucid, it went painfully slow.  But there were many days he was out of it due to many episodes of sepsis.

For me time went really slow.  Day by day, sometimes hour by hour.  Just sitting in my own thoughts, unable to focus on much.  I read a few fluffy novels and I did organize all my pinterest boards. I organized all those recipes that I never got to cook for Bryon.

I have tried to explain to people what those 5 months were like.

It’s impossible.

I made the mistake of assuming that friends who visited a lot understand.  Most didn’t. Very few people from that period actually understood the true impact of Bryon’s final chapter.  Those people who do understand will always be held close to my heart.

I should have realized early one that my chapter is just that.  My chapter.  Pain meant to be shouldered by myself.

When you think about it, most people were just there for many key, pivotal moments.  But they weren’t there for the day by day.  That was me.

I try not to think about that chapter.  Yes, I was there for him through sickness and in health, but I’d rather remember him as healthy Bryon.

No one really asks about those days and can we blame them.  If they did ask me, they’d probably quickly regret it.  It’s probably for the best because I usually cry and that’s awkward.

And here we are now.

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And we are in the middle of a pandemic.

I feel like I am living in some sort of parallel surrealistic universe to the life I lived in 2016.

There is a medical crisis.

A Presidential Election Season is going on, albeit in the background.

There is a lot of talk about ventilators.

We are desperately seeking a cure or at least a solution.

Hand sanitizer and hand-washing are very important.  In 2016, I didn’t want to spread ICU germs to my toddler and I did not want to spread daycare germs to my critically ill husband in the ICU so everything was sanitized.  In 2020, I am careful to wipe down everything I bring into the house from Wal-Mart with a Clorox wipe.

In 2016, it was a treat to grab a coffee at the on-site Dunkin or Starbucks.  In 2020, it is a treat to grab Dunkin from the drive-thru, (paid via app, no cash or card touched by hands and my cup is immediately wiped with a Clorox wipe.  I keep a canister in my car.)

In some ways, 2020 feels just like 2016.  I am living day by day.

But this time I am not alone.

We are all living day by day, sometimes hour by hour.  The whole world.

This event is going to change us all.  Whether we want to admit or not.  We will never be the same.

2020 is a bizarre chapter with the plot twist you never saw coming.

I want to tell everyone that everyone is going to be okay.  But that is a lie.

So many people are going to become critically ill.  But their families won’t be with them because they will likely be quarantined.  That is painful for me to think about.

As I type this, 33,966 people have exited this world and this pandemic is still in the early stages.  The number will be higher by the time you read this.

I can’t help but think of the magnitude of Bryon’s death and then multiply that magnitude by 33,966.

33,966 families and social circles are grieving.

If you are reading this and have lost someone to COVID-19, please accept my heartfelt condolences.

And even if no one close to you dies, it is still okay to grieve.  The world you knew is gone.  It is okay to be scared.  A disease that we don’t have a cure yet is a scary thing.

But my message isn’t all doom and gloom.

For those of us that survive, I can tell you that we will be okay.  Everything has changed and everything seems so different.  You will adapt.

We are all so much stronger than we think we are.

Don’t be afraid of the growth you are going to experience.  We are humans,  we are meant to grown and evolve.

Bryon’s death forced me to grow and evolve.  I am still growing and evolving.  And now we get an opportunity to grow and evolve as a community.

In some ways, it like a gift.  A painful gift, but still a gift.

This is our defining moment.

Coronavirus, Vaccines, PTSD and Sepsis…Oh My!

Almost four years ago, my husband had a simple weight loss surgery and it lead to complications. Those complications led to sepsis which lead to septic shock. The septic shock was so bad that it lead to multi-organ system failure.

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To say my world crashed down around me would be an understatement. I felt like the ground was being taken out from under my feet.
After several weeks in a medically induced coma and a month on dialysis, his kidneys started functioning again.
Then he caught C. Difficile.
(Though you don’t really catch C Diff. C-Diff is a harmful bacteria that resides in us all the time but is kept in check by the good bacteria within our bodies. However, antibiotics can kill off the good bacteria and C Diff takes advantage of the situation and grows and then turns into an infection)
He was treated with Flagyl and Vancomycin so it shouldn’t be too surprising that he developed VRE (Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci).
And he was pretty much a constant state of pneumonia.
He couldn’t eat. All his nutrition came from an IV. It was called Total Parenteral Nutrition, or TPN. However, his body was having trouble absorbing the TPN. He always had a thick head of hair and most of it fell out.
He couldn’t talk because he had a tracheotomy. He was the one person who always would reassure me that everything would be okay and he couldn’t. Though it would have been a lie because everything clearly wasn’t okay.
He was always a man of great strength and I watch him become so weak he could barely lift his thumb.
And then came staph. And he went into septic shock again. His kidneys failed again. He had to go back on dialysis.
At this point I completely lost my faith in God because, as a Cradle Catholic, I was taught God was a loving God and there is no way a loving God could have done that to Bryon and to my daughter. Please don’t take this as a plea that I need to be saved. I’m okay and doing just fine.
In a period of 5 months I watched him cling to his life. I watched his body become resistant to antibiotics. I watched him move up the antibiotic chain until he got to the end of the line.
Yes…there actually are specific antibiotics called “End of the line antibiotics.”
For 5 months I lived off adrenaline. I don’t think I can express how helpless and desperate I felt.
Sadly this story didn’t end the way I wanted it to.
I can tell you that there is some residual PTSD. Trust me…when my daughter gets a cut, Mom puts neosporin on it right away. Also any fever over 100.4 puts me in a panic and will always include a trip to peds urgent care.
Currently the United States is on the eve of a severe new disease that we don’t know much about.
Also, on Tuesday Maine has an important vaccine vote.

I won’t get into that though my Facebook friends definitely know how I feel about the vote.
From what we know (if the numbers are correct- I’m looking at you CCP/China), 5% of the people who get the Novel Coronavirus COVID 19 will become critically ill…like, ICU ill. Of those 5%, half of them will likely die.
Now is not the time to take our healthcare system for granted. It is definitely not perfect. It will get overwhelmed. The healthcare system isn’t limitless.
Our healthcare providers are going to be busy.
Be wise with your healthcare choices. And you are your best advocate. Do whatever you can to prevent getting sick- eat right, sleep, was your hands, don’t touch your face or pick your nose. Stay home if you are sick.
As my late husband would say “Don’t be a Dick”.
Keep yourself and others from getting sick. (Yes I made the rhyme on purpose).
Sepsis, in short, is an inflammatory response where your body goes into overdrive when it’s fighting off an infection and starts to attack itself.
The reality is any infection or virus can potentially cause sepsis. A tooth infection…the flu…measles…an infected cut…step throat…pneumonia…the new Coronavirus…and many more can all potentially lead to sepsis.

I have seen people get hysterical about the Coronavirus. I have seen people mocking those who appear to be hysterical. I worry that there very few people are where they are supposed to be…vigilant and concerned.

I also worry about the people who spread lies about vaccines and that no one holds them accountable. There are many parents who are researching and trying to do what is best and anti-vaxxers prey on these people.

Make your own decisions but make sure you research the places you get your information.

You can ignore Science. You can run from Science. But Science will catch up with you eventually.
The worst case scenario can happen to you. It happened to my husband and my family. Don’t dismiss “worst case scenario” stories as scare tactics. My story actually happened and it was a nightmare. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
I don’t usually share that part of my story. Personally, it is painful and I wish I could forget it. But I can’t.

And now that story is apart of me.
But with these two important issues going on…the only thing I ask you is to educate yourself on sepsis and the symptoms of sepsis and seek medical care if you or a loved one exhibits these symptoms.
At the very least, please look at the FAQ section from the Sepsis Alliance website but also look around the website. There is a lot of valuable information.

Sepsis Alliance FAQ

Days 58 & 59: Putting Boundaries Around Other People’s Anxieties

This is from my blog friend Suzanne’s blog. Totally worth the read. A good reminder to stay in your lane.

https://atwistonlife.com/2020/02/29/days-58-59-putting-boundaries-around-other-peoples-anxieties/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=days-58-59-putting-boundaries-around-other-peoples-anxieties

A Very Widowed Valentine’s Day #4

Warning: This post contains a lot of dark humor.  If that is going to bother you, then you should just stop reading.  If you ignore this advice and this post pisses you off, that’s okay.

I just don’t want to hear about it.

That previous statement, my friends, is called honesty.

Now any of you reading this that new Bryon and were lucky enough to be friends with him on social media, then you would know every Valentine’s Day he posted this meme on Facebook.

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He was a romantic one.

But on Valentine’s Day, I usually take the time to reflect on that one thing that makes Valentine’s Day, well, Valentine’s Day.

My first Widowed Valentine’s Day, I spent the afternoon at my two-year-old daughters class party.

My second Widowed Valentine’s Day, I reflected on the fact that Bryon sent me a sign through the form of a Vagisil ad and the fact that I have baggage.

My third Widowed Valentine’s Day, I was on strike and you did not get a blog post.  I needed my space at that time.  It wasn’t you.  It was me.

So here I am – Widowed Valentine’s Day #4.

The bummer is that I don’t get to tag along to my daughter’s school party because she’s in kindergarten now.

We made Valentine’s with glow sticks.

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(Trust me, it seemed like a good idea two weeks ago).

I know of at least one other classmates that has tattoo Valentines.   Sounds like I am missing one wild party.

So it’s Widowed Valentine’s Day #4 and I have been reflecting.  Well, reflecting on Valentine’s Day and also obsessively watching the news of the Coronavirus and thinking about the worst possible outcome.  Because I am fun like that.

So where am I?

Well, I am still single. Much to my daughter’s dismay.  She is trying to marry me off.  Girl wants a Dad.

Note: I would have to date a guy for a very long time before he ever meets her.  I once had a friend who was a single mom and she dated around (and by “date around” I really mean “slept around”) and would parade these men around her daughter.  I remember her daughter asking one of these men if they were going to be her new dad.  That scene has always stayed with me.

If you have been a longtime reader of my blog, you would know I have dabbled in the dating apps, here and there.

I have never had much luck.

This fall I was talking to one guy.  Charlotte and I referred to him as “Patriots Guy.”

So I pretty much narrowed it down to almost any man in New England.

Then I started to feel red flags.

Since I tend to attract narcissists, I ended that one quickly.  It was so bizarre.  It was like he was trying to pin me into a relationship before even going on a date.  Sorry, Dude.  I know my worth and I am  worth a steak dinner.

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Or Mexican.  Tacos are good.

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I felt those spidey feelings.  It wasn’t even a relationship and I needed space.  It dawned on me that I would have to someday tell this guy my story (there are people who don’t read this blog.  Shocking, I know!) and I didn’t want to tell him my story.  Not because I didn’t want to share my story.  I just didn’t want to share my story with him.

I don’t know any of this dating etiquette bullshit.  I wanted to ghost Patriots Guy but Charlotte said I had to “break up” even thought were weren’t even dating.

Eff me.

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So I messaged him.  I told him that I just wasn’t interested in continuing our communication.  He then wrote back and said that was crazy and he felt so comfortable, yada, yada, yada.   I didn’t respond.  Since I knew he received the message, I blocked communication.

Done.

I took a break for a bit.

Then I tried again.  Around Christmas.

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Now I like Seinfeld.  There are even a few references in this blog post.

Seinfeld was the show that 1990’s Kerry and 2000s Kerry could compare everything in life too.

Eventually, How I Met Your Mother Filled that position.

Every situation in life can be linked to an episode of How I Met Your Mother including….

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The Dead Spouse!

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This time I stuck with it for a little longer.  I tried to persevere.  But men around here must not be attracted to me.

This man dazzled me with his conversation skills.

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Now to be clear- from the moment I saw the first message of “Hi”, I made the decision that I was only going to return the level of energy I was receiving.

So now I am on break again.

Am I discouraged?  A little.

I miss having a person, but I don’t want a man for the sake of having a man.

This dating app silliness has me reflecting on what I lost.

Not just the things I liked about him, like the fact that he was intelligent, funny, stylish, masculine.

I miss our bond.

I don’t get jealous when I see married couples, but sometimes my heart aches a bit.  I miss my husband, but sometimes I feel that it has been so long that I don’t wouldn’t know how to be part of a couple anymore.

Most married couples just seem so carefree and non traumatized to me.

Even if I managed to partner up again, I have lived through a very traumatic experience.  I am going to worry if that man would die.

My brain kind of wants to make a morbid coronavirus joke here because I am a twisted person, but I also know that so much is unknown about the coronavirus and it could potentially cause a pandemic so I am not going to make coronavirus joke here.  That would be in poor taste.

For the record, spellcheck does not recognize coronavirus.  Just in case you were wondering.

I have ADHD.  Can you tell?

It’s also 2 am and way past my bedtime.

So I am going to get to my point.

My marriage ended through Bryon’s illness and death.  It broke my heart.

But I can also say that I know what it is like to feel the love of something who fighting to stay alive so they can be with you.

It gives me a whole new appreciate for what we had and even though I miss Bryon, I am grateful for the love he gave me, up until his last minute on Earth and beyond.

Maybe someday I will meet my Hometown Hallmark Hunk with whom I will discover what it feels like to love again.

Until then, the official status of my mood is “eh”.

Weekly Gratitude #12: Late Winter Evenings

Winter is long.  Especially here in Eastern Maine.

Eastern Maine is the first part of the continuous United States to see the sunrise and sunset.

In December the sun sets shortly after my daughter gets off the school bus.

Now it is the end of January.  It is still cold and there is still snow on the ground.

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By this time of the year, our bodies have acclimated.  30F may be cold for some people.  Okay, it is probably cold for most people.  But it is sweatshirt weather in Maine.

But nature is giving up signals that we are on the downhill to Spring.  You hear the birds in the morning.

And the sun stays out just a little bit longer each day serving as nature’s reminder that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

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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.