And that means it is time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!
These are the things I am grateful for this week-
Our 70F degree day
A 70F degree day is a rarity in the Northeast in February. But I enjoyed it. It was nice to walk outside without your winter coat and not be cold.
Being a Maine Girl
Because the day after that 70F degree February day, the temperature dropped down to 31F and we got a few inches of snow. But I am from Maine. I drive a Suburu Forrester and I wear LL Bean coat and LL Bean boots. I can handle it.
But I also take comfort in knowing the winter days are numbered. Spring will be here soon.
The snow did not ruin my cats plans. He did what he does every day. Living his best life possible.
I cherish the meals shared with my closest friends. Friends who are so close that we refer to each other as family. I also learned about a new wine and it was approved by Carter, the wine connoisseur.
Chinese Food for lunch.
It’s a favorite of mine. Usually I would get sweet and sour chicken but lately I have been into pork lo mein. This might become my Friday treat.
I am in trouble. But this moment is precious and it will stay with me forever.
It was funny because when I was putting her to bed that night, I was alarmed that her neck was pink. Then I remembered that she put A LOT of blush on her neck.
That means it’s time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude.
These are the five things I am grateful for this week.
Brunch with friends
I like brunch. But I like doing it the Mom way meaning we get there right when brunch starts, usually around 10. It’s a good time. The kids are ready to eat and it’s before the hipsters show up.
I also like that I get to brunch my way now. I prefer brunch is establishments that are not diners. Bryon loved diners and I am not a fan. I feel like diner food is not any better than the food I cook. I like to go to brunch and have something fancy that I could cook but generally don’t have the patience to.
Plus, I don’t like diners because many of them are small and I am claustrophobic. Now I know many other establishments are small. But I can deal with my claustrophobia for fancy brunch. Like, I can tolerate being in a small space but not for generic food that I could make at home.
Bryon was always more of the breakfast fan than me so he would win. That and because the issue wasn’t important enough to me. I am glad I went along with it because diner breakfast always made him happy.
I guess of the “perks” of widowhood is I get to do whatever I want. It’s bittersweet, really.
I had the adult ice coffee with aquafaba and creme brulee French Toast. I had no clue what aquafaba was but the waitress explained it to me. It’s apparently a vegan alternatives to egg whites and apparently putting egg whites into iced coffee is a thing now. The egg whites create the froth. I tried it but I made it clear to the waitress that I was not a vegan. For some reason, I felt that that was important and that the waitress wanted to know.
I always considered myself an iced coffee snob and I had no clue. *shrug*
Advocating for MS
For the second year I got the honor of advocating for people living with Multiple Sclerosis at the New York State Capital. I am not going to elaborate on that because I will be writing a post about that. I have several friends with MS and I am thankful that I get an opportunity to advocate for them.
But I have heard that the deceased communicate through songs on the radio. There are certain songs I hear all the time since Bryon died. There was even a period of time I heard Hall & Oates at least once a day and I don’t spend much time in my car. My deceased husband also seems to really like Michael Jackson, particularly “Billie Jean”, The Police- “I’ll Be Watching You”, Earth Wind and Fire; “September” (I think that is because we got engaged, married and became parents in the month of September), and Berlin’s “Take My Breathe Away” because Top Gun was his favorite movie.
I haven’t heard much in the car for the past couple of months. I just figured that Bryon was done sending those signs. He was going to find a new way to communicate with me. But the past three days have been a Bryon McKim jam session every time I have been in car. It’s nice to know that he hasn’t forgotten about me and will still try to spend time with me in the only way he can now.
Having the courage to cut off my grief hair
I had been wanting a change for awhile. I hemmed and hawed over it for months. I liked my hair long but it was so damaged. The ends felt like straw. I also wanted something different and I have never been a blonde so I went for it. I am a new person so my outside should reflect my inside.
This was a big step for me. I have never been a risk taker but I told myself that it is just hair. It grows back. It can be changed back. But it was also hard because I was attached to that hair. I have hid behind that hair for almost two years. But I decided it was time to get rid of it and shine.
Now I just need to lose some weight and maybe get a tattoo and my physical transformation will be complete.
I have noticed lately that Facebook has been asking me a lot of questions. They say they wanted to help people get to know me. I find that humorous because I totally overshare on Facebook.
Most of the questions are benign.
In case anyone was wondering-
1) Too many to quote but anything from Love Actually, 10 Things I Hate About You and Mean Girls will do the job.
2) Hoodies and mugs from places I travel, especially Starbucks You Are Here mugs
And then Facebook thinks I should tell people about my first kiss.
Excuse me, Facebook? That’s kind of personal, eh?
My first kiss was not exciting but this question felt like it crosses so many boundaries.
After I was done being put off by the nosiness of Facebook, I decided to share my first kiss on my WordPress blog. Because WordPress didn’t press me for the information. (See what I did there? The pun was intended).
But yeah, my first kiss.
I was a late bloomer. I was a shy teenager, at least when it came to boys. I had very little confidence. I did not have a boyfriend in high school or most of college. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and give my younger self a pep talk to increase her confidence. But she will eventually get some confidence, though it will take years.
Anyway, it was a Saturday night during my sophomore year in college, meaning it was 1998 or 1999. I was wearing overalls that I bought at Wal-Mart and my hair was in a ponytail as I let a friend do a box perm (also bought at Wal-Mart) on my hair in the dorm bathroom and all it did was create a frizzy mess. So my hair was in a ponytail that whole year.
I wish I had a picture.
You may be reading this and cringing. Or laughing. Trust me, I am cringing and laughing as I write this. I wish I could back in time and along with the pep talk, I wish I could give my younger self a lesson in style. Because 20 year old Kerry has her assets at their best, she just didn’t know how to accentuate that. And that there are more options of places to shop at than Wal-Mart.
Where was I?
Saturday night, sophomore year, 1998-1999ish, overalls and bad perm. I was chatting with a guy named Dave in my friends dorm room. I don’t remember his last name (or maybe I never knew it) but it began with an “S”. He was a friend of a friend and he didn’t attend college.
We were alone. Maybe it was 1999 and everyone else was just partying like it was 1999. It was one of the few nights that someone did not pull the fire alarm which usually happened at least four times a week in my dorm. I spent many Maine winter nights outside freezing while waiting for the fire department to let us back in. Eventually we learned to just go to Dunkin Donuts when this happened.
The caffeine never bothered me anyway.
This Dave guy and I were talking.
I remembered we had identical cars. We both drove green 1998 Saturns.
(I miss Mean Green. Drove that car for 10 years and 240,000 miles. Even took it out to Indiana at around 219,000 miles when it was leaking some sort of fluid. Probably not the best idea but the car got me back to Maine before she was retired.)
Where was I? I keep getting distracted.
Saturday night, sophomore year, 1998-1999ish, overalls and bad perm, etc.
So this Dave guy that drives an identical Saturn as me and doesn’t go to my school kissed me.
It was not exciting. Actually it was very anti-climatic.
I saw where this was going. I did not wait a long time to just be some hookup on campus.
A voice inside me told me that I at least deserved dinner. Heck, I probably would have settled for one of those stir-fry sandwiches made by Scary Gary from the Crack Shack. (Okay, it was called the Snack Shack and there was a guy named Gary and everyone, and I mean everyone, called him Scary Gary. I may have called him that to his face when I was drunk one night. I am sure I wasn’t the first. Or the last.)
I wish I had a picture. I wish smartphones and Facebook existed back then.
But maybe 20 year old Kerry was more of a bad-ass than I give her credit for. She was not desperate for male attention. After all these years of thinking she had low self esteem, maybe she knew her worth all along.
I told this Dave guy that we needed to get to know each other better. Dave verbalized his understanding.
He had nowhere to sleep that night. I made him sleep on the floor on the flip and f*ck. (Which is now in my old bedroom at my parents house).
He snored. Loudly.
Dave and I never went on a date. I continued to wear those overalls and I never got another perm. I didn’t kiss another guy until my senior year in college. And that guy did think I deserved dinner. And I liked Pizza Hut Pan Pizza. And then we saw 101 Dalmations.
Okay, I still do like Pizza Hut Pan Pizza…occasionally. But now I would not be impressed if I was taken there on a first date.
Eventually that relationship ran it’s course. It was evident that this guy did not ever want to get married.
Looking back, I can see a lot of red flags and problems but my younger self had to learn for herself.
A little over two and a half years into that relationship, 24 year old Kerry listened to a voice that told her that she deserved to be happy.
So she broke it off.
Oh and if you are wondering, their first kiss was not exciting either. No fireworks in that relationship.
I began to get involved in politics and met many new friends. One friend was like an older brother to me. One time we were driving to a political event and this friend was trying to give me dating pointers. One thing he said to me was that if a guy took me to a chain restaurant on the first date, then there shouldn’t be a second date.
At first my friend’s advice seemed harsh but then it made sense to 27ish-year old Kerry. I mean, her college boyfriend took her to Pizza Hut and there was zero passion in this relationship.
It took several years and several frogs but I did eventually meet a special man. A man who thought I was worth steak dinner. And fancy Italian dinner. And quality dinner of many different cuisines.
The relationship with that man had so much passion. No anti-climatic kisses.
For eight years, that man loved me. We were married for four of those years.
For eight years, that man worked so hard to give me, and later our daughter, the world.
It took awhile to find him and I had to kiss some frogs but I am thankful for the love he showed me. For thinking I was worth it. For setting the bar high on any man that might come after him.
I don’t know what the future holds but at least, thanks to Bryon, I can go into it knowing what love is and not to settle for anything less than what I deserve.
Unlike Andy, I did not know the deceased well. He was the father of one of my best friends. I saw him at their wedding and at the kids birthday parties. He made some delicious chicken wings. It was clear that they were important to him and that he loved them very much.
I feel for my friend. I might know grief but I do not know what it is like to lose a parent. Three of the girls in our tribe have lost a parent. My Chicago best friend and my Maine best friend have lost their mothers at a young age as did my Maine’s best friend’s husband (The Scientist).
And of course, my daughter is also a member of this club.
I have lost three of my grandparents (and my grandmother isn’t doing well currently) and when I lost them, I felt that the memories of them slip further into the past. I feel like there is an active past and a distant past.
The active past consists of people who are alive and memories with those people and the events were probably more recent. Memories like your friend’s wedding last year or that time you went to Chipotle with a friend and your daughter smeared guacamole all over her face. (That might actually be everytime).
To me, the distant past are the memories that are centered around a deceased person, like the times when my Papa Crowley brought us to Horn Pond (pronounced Hond Pond) to feed the ducks or the conversations I had with my Grandma Sullivan.
Of course, some memories fall in the middle of the spectrum. Bryon and my wedding should be in the active past because it was only five years ago and so many of the people who were there are around. But Bryon was a pivotal player in those memories and he is gone. Therefore my wedding feels like it is more in the distant past than the active past.
Again, my parents are still here but I imagine that the transition of the parent going from the active past to the distant past is more pronounced and painful than that of a grandparent. It must make one’s childhood feel further away.
I also feel that the process of losing a parent ages you in a way. Not physically, but the pain gives you more wisdom.
I could be totally off of the mark. And if I am, please tell me. I want to increase my understanding.
Anyway, I digress.
I spent the afternoon at the funeral home. It is important to support the people you care about. I know it meant the world to me that people came to pay their respects when Bryon passed. The grieving need to know that they are loved and are supported.
I may not have known the deceased well but I am thankful that he lived.
He loved his daughter and grandsons. They are his legacy and my daughter and I greatly benefit from his legacy. His daughter and grandsons enrich my life and my daughter’s life.
It’s a great reminder that we are connected. The people in our lives and the events in our lives connect us all. So take time to appreciate everyone in your life, even if you don’t know them well. They are in your life for a reason, even if their role wasn’t a big role.
It’s Friday and that means it’s time for some good vibrations gratitude!
This is what I am thankful for this week.
Gymnastics. Every week my daughters attends gymnastics class and it is the only night she goes right down to bed. Every other night she is hyper and jumping on the bed. (I was the same way and I know this is payback). Facebook reminded me today that my daughter started gymnastics one year ago. It is amazing to see all that she has learned.
2. Movie dates. One of my best friends and I decided we wanted to do something last weekend. I decided to check the movie listings and I saw that Padington 2 was playing. I made a comment that we hadn’t seen the first Padington and my friend asked me if it really mattered. Then I felt silly.
The kids did great in the movie. It was the first non-animated movie they had seen in the theater. The movie was enjoyable. And boy, Hugh Grant has gotten old.
3. Birthday parties. My daughter was invited to a classmates birthday party. It’s amazing to see her grow into her own personality and make friends.
4. My online widow friends. Some of my coolest friends live in my phone. In fact, one of those friends wrote a blog post about it. I love my “in real life” friends but sometimes I need to let off steam with people who understand those things that only widows understand.
5. Happy Memories. Facebook shared this memory with me. I have to smile when I think about what a great man Bryon was and how lucky I am to have memories like these.
I fell of the gratitude wagon so I decided to bring Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday back for 2018!
1) Taco Tuesday with one of my besties. We got a chance to catch up after the holidays. She is such a positive person and I always feel better about myself after spending time with her.
The ground beef recipe for the taco fillings came from The Homesick Texan Cookbook. I discovered her blog while I was reorganizing my Pinterest boards during those long months when I was sitting at Bryon’s bedside. I highly recommend her blog and her cookbooks.
2) I am thankful to be back at the gym after my bout with bronchitis last month and I am thankful for the support of the trainers and from my friends that attend the same class.
3) I am thankful for the warm weather we have been having this week. The temp reached 49 today and it is expected to get to 57 tomorrow. This feels so good after we had below zero temperatures last week.
4) I am also thankful that my daughter and I got to enjoy these bunny tracks before they melted away.
5) I am thankful that I get the privilege to see my daughter grow and learn each day. Little by little, she is growing into the person that she will be become and I am excited to see who she becomes.
This Christmas Season, I started ahead of the game but ended up getting bronchitis and it took me two weeks to feel better. I used to get bronchitis every year or every other year through my teens and 20’s. The last time I had bronchitis was in 2010 so I was long overdue. It was a good run. I didn’t remember bronchitis being so hard to get over but back then, I wasn’t chasing a little human.
Despite being sick, my daughter and I saw the Nutcracker. Not the Russian Nutcracker (those who saw Bad Moms 2 will understand.) My daughter loved it. Well…except for the mice. She is still talking about when she saw the ballerinas.
Santa came to the daycare party.
We took the train to Christmas Town (formerly the Polar Express). The boy with us is the son of Bryon’s best friend. His mother and I had been talking about taking the kids on the Polar Express since we were pregnant and we felt that they were old enough to enjoy it this year.
A friend of ours graciously invited us to see Disney on Ice presents Frozen. She had tickets in the first row. I am not going to lie. Even as an adult, it was amazing.
We decorated cookies. Last year the kids were two and not into it at all. This year we just used kits and it worked out well. Maybe next year we will bake and decorate.
We spent Christmas Eve Eve with my daughters Godmother and her family.
On Christmas Eve we had our second annual Feliz Navidad Lunch.
We spent Christmas Eve with some close friends and Elsa. My friend gave me Red Sox wine. She so gets me.
Someone stopped by.
We woke up to a White Christmas outside and a Barbie House in our living room. Thanks Santa!
We had dinner with good friends.
Boxing Day was low-key. My daughter wanted to go to school so I brought her even though I had the day off. I hit some after Christmas sales and a friend came over.
One the 27th, we had an amazing dinner at my daughter’s Godmother’s house.
My parents came the 28th. I put my Dad to work and he assembled various items. There visit ended up being cut short because I decided to go to Maine to attend the funeral of a friend. They didn’t mind because they still got to spend time with my daughter…just in Maine, not NY.
I spent New Years with good friends playing Cards Against Humanity. My friend has an amazing brunch on New Years Day. I really look forward to the event. I love nothing more than to start the new year with my closest friends.
Their you have it. Each of these events deserved their own post but I was too exhausted to write them. I wanted to have one post at least documenting all the goodness that went on. I went into the Christmas season feeling sad and while that is a totally normal feeling for a grieving person at this time of the year, I didn’t want to be sad.
When I was writing my recent post about the last Christmas with Bryon, I had had an epiphany. My daughter won’t remember that last Christmas (or Bryon for that matter- which breaks my heart) but she will probably remember this Christmas albeit vaguely.
It is up to me to give her amazing Christmas memories. Bryon is gone and even though my heart aches, life is about the living and my daughter is living. My friends and family are living.
It is up to me to try to push through my sadness and create happy memories for my daughter as well as my family and friends. Because someday they will look back at their last Christmas me.
When someone experiences a profound loss, you realize just how temporary life is. We need to embrace the now because someday we will only exist in a loved one’s memory.
I am glad I was able to enjoy the holidays this year. Well except for a brief meltdown on Christmas Eve morning where I said some choice words to God and decided not to go to Mass. But other than that, I had an amazing Christmas filled with gatherings, good food and laughter.
I have come a long way. When I think of Christmas 2016, I am grateful for those in life but there was a deep sadness that hung in the air. But I will look back on Christmas 2017 as a warm and happy season. I am grateful for the healing that has taken place to get me here.