Weekly Gratitude #2: Snovember

 

One of my biggest regrets I have from my “before” life was that that I did not take the time to notice all the beauty around me.

I was an “as soon as” person, always concerned about what was coming next that I was not focused on the present.

I made a lot of changes in my life this year.  I have worked on my life from the inside out.

One of the biggest changes I have made was also one of the simplest changes.

I take time to look around me and notice all the little changes.

This also helps when you have a small child.  My daughter has taught me to see the delight in all the little changes that happen in nature.  Her enthusiasm is contagious.  Her school even has a naturalist come every week and they go out into the forest and learn about plants.

Though I could do without her acorn and rock collections she brings home.

I have always appreciated the fact that I live in the Northeast where we always have four very distinct seasons.  But now I notice the subtleties of when the seasons start to blur together.

I feel like Fall is a very popular season.  Everyone loves the Fall.  My local friends always post pictures on social media of their Fall activities.  And my friends who live in warm weather climates comment on my Fall foliage pictures saying how beautiful the leaves are. 

It’s a time of pumpkin spice, apple picking, flannel, and boots.

But now it is November.

The temperature is cold and we have even had some snow.

BTW, I am trying to make the hashtag #snovember happen.  Please, can we make it happen?

But it is not Winter yet.

Many people are putting up their Christmas trees and have moved on from Autumn.

I am not hating on people who start their Christmas enthusiasm.  Whatever makes you happy.  But I prefer to wait because the part of me that is still attached to my Catholic identity feels that Christmas really lasts until Epiphany (Jan 6).

But I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t admit that I have listened to some Christmas music.

I just choose to keep my November Christmas enthusiasm to a minimum.

The days are getting shorter and there is snow on the ground.  I am wearing my winter coat, hat, and gloves.

Winter will be here soon enough and winter overstays it’s welcome around these parts.  Every year.

I am going to hold out and continue to put pumpkin spice creamer into my coffee and I will continue to enjoy the late November beauty.

What are you grateful for this week?  Please comment below.

Embracing the Inner Light

 

I have only had one serious relationship before I was with Bryon. I have referred to him as the Anti-Bryon because he is pretty much the opposite of Bryon.

Like, a complete 180. I had often said that Bryon was the over correction of this relationship.

Whether Bryon was an over correction or not, he was the right guy for me. The Anti-Bryon was intimidated by my strong personality, Bryon wasn’t fazed. He had an equally strong, if not stronger personality.

Anti-Bryon does have an actual name but I do feel the need to protect his privacy though I highly doubt that he reads this blog.

The last time I spoke to him was during an AOL Instant Messenger Conversation while I was campaigning for George W Bush in 2004. The conversation was just like our relationship- one sided. I ended that  conversation thinking that if he and I were going to be friends, he could put in some effort.

And we haven’t spoken since.

The Anti-Bryon and I started dating at the end of Fall semester our senior year of college. Our relationship was not exciting and never progressed. Not even physically.

After two and a half years, I wanted that “je ne sais quoi” that was missing.

And I wanted a boyfriend who wanted to have sex with me. Or at least kissed open mouthed.

This might be TMI but this is my blog. If you don’t like it- don’t read it.

One night, two and a half years into our relationship, I had had enough. We were getting ready for bed and

I confronted the Anti-Bryon. Anti-Bryon wasn’t particularly religious but he said that the thought of having sex with me made him sick to his stomach.

We went to bed.  To go to sleep.  Just to be clear.

I regret not kicking him out but my self esteem was lacking during my early 20s.

The next day, he did his thing and I had a rare day off so I drove two hours to Boston to do some shopping and to see my Grandma.

As I drove down to Boston in my 1998 Saturn that did not have a tape deck or a CD player, I flipped through the radio stations and I kept hearing “All or Nothing” by O-Town.

It may have just been a coincidence since the song was popular at that time.

I went to the shops in Downtown Crossing despite the fact there were plenty of malls in suburbia. I wanted the distraction of being “in the city”.

And in each store, O-Town was playing.

At that stage of my life, I never thought much about the esoteric but it was clear that the Universe was trying to tell me something.

Usually when I ask for a sign, I get some sort of riddle in return. Or ignored completely. But this was one of the few times in my life that Universe, or God or whoever the *bleep* is in charge (Charles, maybe?) has sent me a clear sign that’s it’s oooooover, ooooooover.

We weren’t in love. We were just friends. And this is how it ends.

After I visited my Grandma that afternoon, I drove back to Maine and broke up with the Anti-Bryon. He wasn’t heartbroken.

And neither was I, though I felt that he led me on.  He had the best of me but he didn’t want the rest of me. He got a good deal but he had no intention of having a future with me. But I never took the initiative to question his intentions or lack thereof.

So why am I thinking about the Anti-Bryon?

I have zero attachment to him. I hope he is well and happy.  I hope he is living his best life possible.

I seldom think about those years and when I do, all I remember is boredom. I don’t remember the Anti-Bryon as being particularly funny. The only funny thing I remember was this one time we went to the Portland Museum of Art (free admission with a student ID from the University of Southern Maine) and he came up behind and whispered “I see naked people…”

Like that kid on Sixth Sense. You know…the one who saw dead people.

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That is the only funny thing I remember about the Anti-Bryon. But maybe he was funny but I spent 8 years with Bryon who was one of the funniest people I have ever met.

I am thinking about this because O-Town has been stuck in my head.

Except this time the phrase I am pondering is “I’ve had the rest of you now I want the best of you.”

I don’t think anyone has ever had the “best of me”.

I was a very hyper kid. I began to learn at a very young age that I had to dial it back a notch or two or twelve to appease people.

I was shamed for being too loud, too hyper, too dramatic, too talkative.

So I tried my best to scale it down to fit in and to please people.

I kept my light from shining as bright as it could, so I could fit in with others.

Because I was too much for people.

As a parent of a child with a bright light, it pains me to see her get scolded for being her.

It’s why I took her out of her dance class when she kept being in trouble for being too talkative and “overbearing”.

I wasn’t going to pay $65 a month to have my daughters light dimmed, especially when I am sure in the upcoming years, people will try to dim her light and they will probably do it for free. She has plenty of other activities she attends and if she wants to continue to dance, I’ll find another school that’s a better fit.

When I was dating the Anti-Bryon, I tried to fit whatever mold I thought would appease him. Looking back, he never tried to fit my mold. I loved to travel and the one time he went to Boston (the actual city, not just visiting my family in the suburbs) he was pissed at me because he didn’t want to ride on the T (that’s the subway for the non-Bostonians).

Instead of saying that this relationship was a two way street and sometimes he needed to do the things I wanted, I tried harder to please him.

But during all these acts to try to please the Anti-Bryon, I lost my authentic self.

Or I should say, my authentic self became more lost and obscured.

My authentic self had been lost since I was a child.

My authentic self continued to stay lost until I realized all my co-workers, most of whom were a little older than me, were still going out and having fun. Friday nights with the Anti-Bryon consisted of watching America’s Funniest Home Videos or AFV as it had been shortened. AFV circa 2002/2003 didn’t have Bob Saget as a host so watching it felt completely pointless. You can only watch a cat leap in the air or a guy get hit in the nuts so many times before it just isn’t funny anymore.

My coworkers taught me that being an adult was not synonymous with being boring. I remember my coworker MaryBeth (I don’t know what happened to her) told me that she thought there was a more fun version of me inside and maybe if I wasn’t dating the Anti-Bryon that that side of myself could express itself.

MaryBeth saw my authentic self.

She saw something in me that I didn’t see.

I took those words to heart. The day in Boston with O-Town happened shortly thereafter.

This all happened in summer 2003.

So I decided to move home (further up the Maine coast) and I got into politics.

Politics taught me social skills and I felt a little less socially awkward though politics in itself can be socially awkward at times. I met a lot of great people (including my husband) who are still in my life but I also had to weed through a lot of narcissistic toolbags.

I learned what I needed to learn during my political years. I made some friends that I am still friends with today. I got to travel around the country and I have had some cool experiences. It was through politics where the etiquette of fine dining and other formalities became second nature.

But I found it hard to be authentic. I couldn’t take the scheming and games. So I retired. Or at the very least, I went on an indefinite sabbatical.

Bryon came into my life and when I got my political fix by tagging along to his events.

Bryon was good for my authentic self. We spent most of our free time together, engaged in intelligent and witty conversations. We traveled. We ate good food whether it was fine dining or from takeout windows.

He encouraged me not to sell myself short and to grow career-wise.  He even made me read Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In.

I definitely grew during our years together.

But I still feel like he never got the best of me.

He got the best version available at that time but it still wasn’t the best of me.

Bryon and I both had strong personalities and I would go along with whatever he wanted sometimes because it was easier.

During those years, it never dawned on me that there was a better version of myself lurking underneath.

I don’t know if it fair to myself to feel guilty for not expressing a side of personality that I didn’t know was there.

Plus we live in a society that does not foster authenticity. We care more about how we appear on social media.

I just remember sitting by his side in the ICU, mustering up strength I didn’t know I had, promising him I would be a better wife.

 Coming from a Boston Irish-Catholic family, guilt is one of the few emotions that I learned to express.

I wanted Bryon be proud of me but I never got that confirmation.

After Bryon’s death, I started to question everything. Why did Bryon have to die? What is God so cruel?

I questioned everything I believed or have ever believed. I questioned the meaning of life.

I believe this is what all the New Age Guru’s call “the Dark Night of the Soul”.

 I thought a lot about my life and Bryon’s life. He was his authentic self. He didn’t care if people got pissed off. He lived his truth.

He still exercised tact and decorum.

There were a few times when we were watching the Republican Presidential Primary debates and a certain candidate would say something inappropriate and Bryon would day “I can’t believe he said that.  You can’t say that!”

It took Bryon’s death for me to learn how to live.

It was a time of my life where I didn’t want to live. A part of me died that Sunday morning when Bryon died.

I made the decision to keep living.

And I hope no one read that in the literal sense. I never wanted to die. I just felt dead inside.

Even with these new revelations, I continued to try to please people.  People who took advantage of me. People who didn’t respect my privacy.  People who used me my life’s tragedy for their gain. People who took my love and friendship for granted.

I made sure to show up to every daycare function and do whatever a Pinterest mom needed to do because I didn’t want to be the single mom who dropped the ball. Just don’t look inside my car. I don’t have it together nearly as much as I seem like I do.

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The irony is, no one has openly judged me. Maybe behind my back but I don’t have the  information to tell you one way or the other.

Here I am, at the age of 41 and I am finally learning that I can’t dim my light for others. My light shining brightly doesn’t affect the brightness of other lights.

 We all have to live our truth.

At age 41, I finally realized that I am not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay.

And I don’t have to drink tea I don’t like either.

And neither do you.

 Don’t let anyone blow out your light.

 And going forward, people can take me or leave. But I am done trying to please people.

You can take me or leave me.

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Year Three: I feel rage-ey (complete with cuss words) #sorrynotsorry

Here we are.

Another 365 days later.

The Earth has made another trip around the Sun since you left.

The shock is gone but I still feel the void.

“They” said it would get easier and that time heals all wounds.

Perhaps they are right. But I think it’s more like you get used to feeling the void.

And chances are “They”- whoever they are- are full of shit anyway.

People are full of opinions and are usually happy to give unsolicited advice.

And 99.98% of the time that unsolicited advice is shitty advice.

I’m doing okay.

Our daughter is doing well. Parenting her by myself was daunting at first but I think I got it figured out. Well, most of the time.

She’s a great kid. She is about to start kindergarten and she keeps busy with dance and swimming. She also played T-Ball last Spring and she will be doing soccer this Fall.

You would be so proud.

It makes me sad that she only has an interpretation of you based on stories about you and photographs. I wonder how much she knows about you. She saw the pictures of you making kissy faces at the baby turtles in Grand Cayman and laughed about it at another time. So she does think about you.

I talk about you often and I let her know that you love her very much.

The cat is still here. He is still cute even though he coughed up a hairball as I type this. But I still love him.

The first year without you was about survival.

The second year was about existing.

This third year has been about living again.

I have made some big life changes.

Moving forward without you is a struggle. For two years I tried to hold onto the life we had together.

But the more time passes, the harder it became.

Shit had to go.

I had to let go of unhealthy relationships. Toxic really.

I have had a lot of shit flung at me. Shit that never would have been flung at me if you were alive.

Because you would have never tolerated it.

Not on this planet. Not on any planet.

As life moves forward, it’s as if you remain frozen in time. I have come to accept that some people can compartmentalize you separately from how they treat me and your daughter. Or how they treated you when you were alive.

Our marriage had its struggles (all marriages do) but I never questioned your loyalty. You never gave me a reason too.

You always had my back.

I miss having you as an ally. At least, in human form.

But I have learned from it. I need people in my life who are loyal and deep and I finally think I have set healthier boundaries.

My only regret is not walking away sooner.

And people can say whatever they want to, or need to, to make themselves feel better. Even if a lot of it is probably shit.

Those people can fuck off.

I say that with love, of course.

Things are almost never what they seem.

I know it wasn’t practical to move forward with “our” dreams. Our dreams are empty without you. I have realized that it’s time to move forward with my dreams.

As time marches forward, I struggle with guilt.

Why do I get to live out my dreams when you can’t?

It’s so unfair.

And then I get scared because what if my dreams make me happy. Then I cycle back to feeling guilty at the idea that I could be happy in a life without you.

And it’s ridiculous because I know, with every fiber of my being, that you want me to be happy.

I am torn between knowing life is short and feeling guilty for living a full life.

You were such a big part of my life but the harsh reality is in my present life, you are no longer an active part of the equation.

That seems harsh but it makes me sad.

Very, very sad.

But we both know that no matter what my life brings in the future, we will always have those 8 years together. The good times and the bad. The Caribbean cruises and the nights at home, binge watching Breaking Bad, The West Wing, and Friday Night Lights.

Nothing can take that away from us.

I will carry them forever.

Tired

This wasn’t the blog post I was intending to write.

The one I was intending to write had a lot more anger.

So to the people who like to gossip about me…sorry. You will have to get your entertainment somewhere else.

You also may want to re-evaluate your own life.

But what do I know. 🤷‍♀️

Also, I just want to say that Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street” is one of the best songs ever written. I discovered it driving one random day on Mount Desert Island, ME during my political days.

Though it shouldn’t be confused with the bar that used to be in Troy, NY.

Here is a picture of Bryon and I at that bar.

I digress.

If you don’t know me by now, my mind goes on tangents.

I used to be embarrassed by it. People told me that I think too much.

As I have gotten older, I have embeaced my overactive mind.

Maybe everyone else should think some more.

Anyway, if you follow my blog, you probably know that I don’t write as much as I had previously.

It’s because I am tired.

You’re probably thinking “Duh, Kerry…we are all tired. You aren’t special.”

While it’s true that I am not special, over the past three and a half years, I probably have had a lot more major life changes than the average person.

I am not mocking those tired from work and parenthood.

It’s rough.

But when you add life changes and grief on top, you become exhausted.

And secondary losses. Because when your person dies, you aren’t just missing your person. You lose so much more; your identity, your sense of security, your faith, your health, sometimes you lose your financial security. Your mileage may vary. Secondary loss is different for everyone.

It’s one thing to be tired from being busy but rebuilding your life brings it to a new level.

Sleeping in on a random Saturday will not make up for the exhaustion I feel.

(Before people freak out, obviously I am speaking in general terms. Everyone has different stressers and everyone reacts differently. And maybe you are working to exhaustion. If you are working to exhaustion, please take a relaxing break. The rest of you…just bear with me.)

I have been too tired to be creative to write.

I am too tired to read.

I started to work out again and I have been too tired to attend my fitness classes.

I manage to scrape together enough energy to work and spend time with my daughter. But I am running on fumes.

Now some of you pseudo/armchair psychologists with Web MD medical degrees might say I am depressed but I know I am not.

I was diagnosed with dysmythia as a young adult. Dysmythia is a chronic, low grade form of depression. I seem to have outgrown it in my twenties.

I am not depressed. I feel great joy and gratitude in my life even if it is alongside anger from losing Bryon.

I’ve just had a lot thrown at me over the past 3.5 years.

I’m just tired.

I just want to stay by myself at some air bnb by the ocean, somewhere warm and just lay down in a reclining lawn chair and listen to the ocean.

Like, for days on end.

If I were to venture out, it would be to get dressed up and go have a fancy meal by myself. With steak and (preferably) Chateauneuf De Pape though a Cote Du Rhone would be acceptable. And something chocolate for dessert.

And I am not trying to be pretentious. I just like a good steak and red wine.

Anyone that knows me well enough knows that I travel with packed itineraries. I usually come back from vacation needing a vacation.

But here I am…tired.

Maybe I need to do my own version of Eat, Pray, Love except I don’t want to be as pretentious as Elizabeth Gilbert. She just totally rubbed me the wrong way though I didn’t mind her when I read Big Magic. Though I read Eat, Pray, Love when it came out, long before my life got turned upside down. Maybe I should give her another chance.

When I have energy to read.

Maybe I need to start knitting something again. Something that will take me a long time so I focus on the rhythm and not the finished product.

What do you do to get your energy back? I am open to suggestions.

It’s okay to not be okay

I have always enjoyed hanging my clothes out to dry.

I don’t know why.

It takes longer to hang them up than it takes to put them into the dryer.

The towels aren’t fluffy when they line dry.

You only save pennies on the electric bill.

And you have to worry if one of the forecasted thunderstorms is actually going to come to fruition. (I’m looking at you, Accuweather).

But this week I took the time to hang my clothes out.

It felt like a metaphor of my life.

All the trauma surrounding Bryon’s illness and death happened around three years ago.

Some days it feels like a lifetime ago.

The memories feel like it was yesterday, though I try not to remember because it’s painful.

But there us danger in “trying not to remember”.

I find that along with the painful memories, the happy memories go along with it.

Even happy memories are too painful to think about.

Because it hurts to think about everything I lost.

Because when you lose your spouse…you don’t just lose your spouse.

When Bryon died, I lost more than my husband.

I lost my identity.

I lost my sense of security.

I lost my faith.

I lost any sense of normalcy.

I don’t even know what “normal” feels like or what “normal” is supposed to feel like.

As I have been going through the grieving and rebuilding processes, I have had to deal with people who took advantage of me (or tried to) at my most vulnerable.

Yes, there are people who tried to benefit from my life’s biggest tragedy.

I have been trying navigating the world of being a single mother.

I live my life trying to put the past behind me.

I am trying to embrace the next chapter.

It’s so much easier in theory versus the application.

Yeah…it’s been three years. I should be over it. He’s dead.

But I have spent three years having to re-learn life.

I am not just talking about re-learning all the tasks that Bryon had performed though that is a large part of the re-learning curve.

I have had to learn how to be a parent by myself. Now it’s second nature as I have been a single parent longer than a married parent.

I have had to tear down every belief I have ever had, question everything I have ever believed and reformulate my belief system.

I have had to deal with living in a society that is clueless on how to treat the traumatized and grieving. It’s like being a square peg in a world of round holes.

I have spent three years trying to adapt to this learning curve.

And I am tired.

The best analogy I can think of is from this week. My best friend was visiting from Michigan and the cell phone reception was not great at her camp. My phone kept trying to get a 4G signal. My phone was unsuccessful at obtaining the 4G signal and the battery was depleted.

I feel like my cell phone battery. I have been working so hard to “be strong” but I feel depleted.

I realized that in my grieving, I was focusing a large part of my energy on appearing okay.

I am such a people pleaser. 🙄

This week I felt so tired that my bones ached.

I had developed heat rash on my arm but I was worried I had hives. I got hives once in high school because I waited until the night before to do a ten page paper.

Right now my life is on the cusp of a new chapter which is exciting but exhausting. For every item I check off my to-do list, I feel like 2 pr 3 more appear.

And then I look back at the trauma and Bryon’s death and everything that has happened in my life since then.

No wonder why I am exhausted.

People are so quick to make their judgments.

So quick to tell me how I am supposed to interpret my life.

What the f*ck do they know?

They haven’t walked on my shoes. 99% of people haven’t even come close to walking in my shoes.

And right now I am stuck in a dichotomy of trying to move forward and looking back and finally admitting to myself that I went through something traumatic.

Until I finally acknowledge just how traumatic Bryon’s illness and death were, then I can’t move forward.

I have felt stuck.

My emotions feel like the equivalent of that proverbial cup of water that all the paint brushes have been dipped into.

I needed a break

I have tried to take it slow this week.

To rest.

To do the simple things.

Spend time with my daughter and cuddle with my cat.

And hanging out the clothes.

Why Father’s Day can be painful.

For along time after Bryon died, I felt like I had to be both a Mother and Father to my daughter.

And if there is anything I can tell you from personal experience-

Being a parent is hard. Even if you have an active co-parent.

Being both a mother and a father is harder.

Being both a mother and father while grieving is super hard.

“Super hard” might be a lame adjective. I am sure my seventh grade English teacher would be pissed if she read that.

But on this morning, two days before the third Father’s Day without my daughter’s Father, I am grumpy.

“Super Hard” is the best descriptor I can think of in this comparison.

Other adjectives can include-

Exhausting- Being two parents is exhausting.

Lonely- Bryon isn’t here to share my daughters moments with.

Unfair- That feeling I try to ignore when I see other kids with their Dad’s and I know my daughter doesn’t have that.

Empty- That feeling I have when I had to write “deceased” next to her Father’s name on her kindergarten registration forms.

Annoyance: Every time I have to explain that her father is dead. My life used to be so f*cking normal and now it’s not. Now I am a square peg in a world full of round holes. And I didn’t ask for any of this.

Resentment- For the fact that I have to brush off other’s insensitivity. Why is that my job? Why can’t people just take a few seconds and think and be a little more considerate?

Maybe “pissy” might be a better descriptor.

Most days I don’t dwell on it, but I can’t ignore any of this on Father’s Day weekend.

For some reason Father’s Day bothers me much more than Mother’s Day.

Bryon was the one who bought me gifts but he made it clear that they were from my daughter, not him. Bryon liked to add they were not from him because I wasn’t his mother. Though I know he said it because it annoyed me.

It seems kind of ironic.

By Bryon’s logic, Father’s Day shouldn’t bother me.

After all, he wasn’t MY father. My father is alive. And my Dad is awesome too.

My daughter doesn’t seem fazed. But maybe she will when she gets older and reflects. Or maybe not. I can’t dictate how her father’s death may or may not affect her.

Father’s day stirs up so many emotions for me.

It reminds me of Bryon’s absence.

It reminds me of all the dreams we didn’t accomplish as a family.

It reminds me that my daughter was supposed to have a sibling.

It reminds me that Bryon will never get to see his daughter grow up. He won’t see her get on the school bus when she goes to kindergarten or see her walk across the stage at her high school and college graduations. He won’t get to walk her down the aisle when she get’s married.

It reminds me that my daughter was cheated out of her years with her Father. She was cheated out of the one of the most important relationships a girl ever has.

Since Bryon died, I felt I had to be both parents for my daughter.

To be her mother and to fill the void left by her father.

But I came to the realization that I can’t be both her mother and father.

I am just her mother.

I can try to be an awesome, kick ass mother.

But I am not, nor will I ever be her Father.

It is one of my parenting goals for my daughter to grow up and think that despite her Father dying, she had a good childhood. I hope that is what she thinks though I can’t control what she thinks about her childhood.

I can only try to be the best Mother I can and help my daughter realize her authentic self.

I can spend time with her.

I can read to her and encourage her to read books.

I can do fun activities with her.

I can travel with her.

I can play with her.

I can teach her things.

I can cook with her.

I can provide her with the best opportunities available.

I can take her to sports practices and go to her games.

I can take her shoe shopping. She loves shoe shopping.

One day I will have to teach her about all the things that come with being a woman.

But the one thing I can’t do is be her father.

Bryon gave her life and he loved her very much.

There will always be a hole there.

Weird Weekend

This weekend has been a weird weekend.

I had originally written this as a Facebook status but I decided to expanded that post and post it in my blog here.

Friday was National Widows Day. I have a love-hate relationship with that day.  This day always triggers me.

I hate that we live in a society that doesn’t understand grief so much that widows need to bring awareness to our lives. I love the widows that are brave enough to work towards changing the narrative of grief.

I know this day is about awareness but it always reminds me that I had no choice.  I did not choose to become a widow.

I have never tried to run from my “status” as a widow.  It’s what I have to check on legal documents and widowed forms.  I can’t ignore the fact that this is my life.

While I wrote this blog as a way to process my grief, I also felt it was important to share my story for any widow who needed to read it.  Being a widow is a lonely place to be and if I could make even one person feel a little less alone, then sharing my story was worth it.

There are a lot of things I hate about widowhood.

I hate all the projections and expectations from other people that come with it.

I hate the unsolicited advice.

I hate that some people think I should be over it now.

I hate that some people still treat me like I am a delicate flower.  I think I have proven that I am one tough cookie.

I hate that I have to overthink everything I say.  I hate that I have to think “Wait, I shared too many memories of Bryon.  People are going think I am wallowing because I am not.”

I hate that I am an over-thinker.  I wish I can be one of those people who can easily put the past behind me.  Or maybe it’s not easier.  Maybe other people just have better coping skills.

And I don’t really hate being an over-thinker.  This is just the downside.

Friday would have been my grandmother’s 105th birthday. She was a big part of my young life. I have been told I am a lot like her so that’s probably why I related to her.  She died in 2004 and the age of 90.  We were lucky to have her as long as we did.  But I realized she died before Bryon came into my life.  He never got to meet her but he definitely heard about her.  I always thought about how Bryon’s death was the “before and after” moment of my life but the reality is that my life is full of before and afters.  And my future will have many more before and afters.

Bryon death is just the biggest before and after.

And once you have your biggest before and after- your life may feel like one long episode of This Is Us.   I can’t speak for all widows, but my mind time is no longer linear and slips in the past often but the past is a completely different world.  My memories feel a bit more vivid.  I don’t know if they actually are but when memories come to me, I feel the need to relish them. When Bryon was alive, memories came and went and I didn’t ponder them because he was right next to me.  But when a memory of him comes to me, I have to pause on that memory because that’s all of him I have left.

Friday was also the day I went to a funeral.  I wasn’t very close to this person but I knew him from politics and I have known his wife because we worked together.  We were friendly and had kept in touch through the years. She saw me and even in her grief, showed such concern for me which shows how kind of a person she is. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was okay.  I was there out of respect and to show support.  And to say a final farewell.

And I am Boston-Irish.  I have been bred to be able to handle funerals.  It’s like, my cultural super-power.

I noticed something similar when my other grandmother died a year and a half after Bryon died.  Everyone was very concerned and it wasn’t that I wasn’t sad that my grandmother died. It’s that I already survived one of my worst nightmares.  The truth is that it was more traumatic to bury my 30 year old husband in my 30s than it was to lose my 95 year old grandmother.  We were lucky to have her as long as we did. As long as my daughter outlives me, I am okay. I am not delicate flower.  I’m actually one tough broad.

Though when it’s my cat’s time, I will probably be a mess. He’s ten and Bryon and I adopted him before we were engaged. Through all the changes in my life, my cat has been there.

Saturday was Derby Day which was Bryon’s favorite day.  It was never really my thing but I celebrated for Bryon.  The world goes on as if Bryon never existed.  It’s to be expected really.  Why should I expect people to miss him as much as me? They didn’t live with him and they didn’t have a child with him

It’s a reminder to me of how easily people are forgotten. It has taught me that my daughter is my 1st priority because when I die, she will remember me.  If people have forgotten Bryon then there is no hope for me.  😂😂😂

Saturday I also celebrated two birthdays. The first was the party of a 4 year old.  It was really my daughter’s social engagement. I was just the parent tagging along because she is too young to attend birthday parties without me.  The second birthday celebebration was dinner celebrating one of my besties birthday. A reminder that there are happy times still to be had. And a reminder that birthdays are a privilege and should be celebrated.

So lots of thoughts going through my head.  A friend sent me an abbreviated version of this video. I am glad she did.  I found the full version of the video. It resonated with me.  Especially the parts of feeling like moving forward is like living in some sort of alternate universe.

I am so happy this video came to me today.  I am familiar with some of Nora McInerny’s work but I had not seen this Ted Talk.

Lately I have been struggling with the adjustment to my future.  I have accepted that Bryon has died and I have processed it as much as I can make sense of it.

But I am struggling to make sense of the future.  The life I thought I was going to live was taken away from me.

I am struggling with the concept that I needed to let go of the “before” in order to be able to live in the “after”.

And when you become widowed, you are not given any sort of manual on widowhood.  I have read a lot on grief and loss but not much on the adaptation to moving forward.

It also doesn’t help that I overthink everything but it’s who I am.

But watching this video was a huge relief to me because maybe I don’t need to let go of the “before” in order to live in the “after”.

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