The first year

It was one year ago today that I watched the life leave Bryon’s body.

It was one year ago today that I left the hospital for the last time.  

Without Bryon.

It was the first day of the rest of my life.  

A life without Bryon.

365 days have passed since Bryon has left this world.  365 days without his legendary personality, his stories, his intelligent insight and his jokes.

365 nights that I have gone to bed knowing that Bryon won’t be there when I wake up.  365 nights that I lay in bed alone, not having him to argue about the TV being left on or who is the bigger bed hog. I lie in bed knowing I will never be held by Bryon again.

For those 365 days and nights, I have been surviving.  

This has been a year of survival.  It wasn’t about any long term plan.  It was about making it one day at a time.  Some days I didn’t want to get out of bed, but that wasn’t an option as the mother of a two year old.  I had to get up each day to take care of my daughter.  One day at a time.  I can’t worry about tomorrow when I have to get through today.

This has been a year of shock.  How did this happen? In 2016?  How is this my life? Why did this have to happen?  What was I supposed to do with my life now?  How am I supposed to carry on when my rock was gone? How am I going to raise my daughter alone?  How am I supposed to live an empty life?  Even a year later, I am still kind of stunned that all this happened.

This has been year of numbness.  My year as a widow began with binge watching Gilmore Girls.  I was living my life by just going through the motions.  I kept myself busy so I didn’t have to think about how horrible and empty my life is.  I may have run a half marathon, redecorated my living room and travelled to New Hampshire, Boston, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Chicago and Maine. But I still have felt dead inside.

This has been a year of forced living.  I have done a lot this past year.  I have done it while feeling dead inside.  Every person that has gone through profound loss has to make a choice.  You have to decide whether you are going to let it destroy you or if you are going to continue to live.  I chose not to let it destroy me, but that still didn’t make living any easier.  If you choose not to let it destroy you, that path to keep living takes a lot of effort and energy.  It’s not an easy path.

This has been a year of transformation and growth.  When the foundation of your life has been completely destroyed, you begin to question every single thing that you believe or thought you have believed.  I have questioned every institution I believed in.  The Catholic Church and Christianity in general. I am still not feeling warm and fuzzy about the big guy upstairs.  The American political system- well, I don’t want to get into that.  I no longer trust the American healthcare system is looking out for my family.  It’s about money and not about people’s lives.  All I can do is try to do the best for myself, my daughter and my family.

I have learned so much about myself this year.  I have been figuring out who the true me is and I am trying to remain loyal to her.  I have gotten back in touch with the younger version of myself while simultaneously pushing myself to grow in new areas, all while trying to process the lessons of the present.   I have also had to accept that sometimes our life plans change and you don’t always get a choice in the change.  But you must adapt to these changes.

This has been a year of friendship and love.  I have gotten so much love from my daughter, my family and friends.  So many people have held me up (and continue to do so).  I have learned that family is not always blood.  I learned that I need people.  I am so lucky to have these people in my life and no words can possibly convey my true feelings.

This has been a year of truth and clarity.  I have had to deal with the harsh realities of life. I have also realized that some friendships are so thin that you can see right through them.   I also had friends and family who I didn’t hear from and their silence was deafening.   At least now I am clear on who my honest and true friends are.

Some of my friendships that I thought were true were not.  Many people tried to use my tragedy for their personal gain. I had people who I thought were friends try to manipulate me.  One of the biggest tidbits I can give is don’t mess with a widow or widower.  They have already been to hell and back.  They might be vulnerable, but vulnerable does not equal weak.  Underneath all that sadness and vulnerability is one of the strongest people you will ever know.  

This year I have removed toxic people from my life and I have not regretted it once.  Life is too short to deal with that.  

I have spent the year re-evaluating every aspect of my life.  There is truth to that cliche that dying is a part of life.  We are only here for a short time and life is meant to be lived.  You only have one life and it is up to you to make the most of it.  Bryon made his short life count and I don’t want to squander my time here.

I have to face the fact that I have a future and Bryon won’t be in that future.  He will only exist in the future as a memory.  I thought I had my life figured out but now I am travelling on an unknown path.  Now that I know how easily life can change, I want to make my future years matter.  I want to be the best person I can be and live the best life possible.

I miss Bryon so much.  There are no words in the English language to describe how much I miss him.  The one thing that keeps from being bitter is the fact that I know our love was real and I would never trade in those years.  No matter how brief they were.  I hold those years very close to my heart.

When I first became a widow, I joined a lot of online widow communities.  I remember reading from people that the second year is worse than the first year.  My grief was new and raw and I remember thinking that there was no way the second year could possibly be worse than the first year.  But now as I am about to embark on Year Two of widowhood, I get it.  During the first year, you are in a fog, which helps you survive.  But when you approach the second year, that fog lifts and you are left with the cold, harsh reality of life with no fog to dull the pain.  

I have heard that the first year of widowhood is about survival.  The second year of widowhood is about learning to really live again.  Living again is a scary prospect.  It is easy to get stuck in grief.  In some ways, grief is comforting.   As long as you are grieving, you are keeping your loved one close.  In order to move forward, one has to, to a certain degree, let go.  Obviously you never completely let go, but it’s still very scary.  

 I have survived the first year of widowhood.  And now it is time for me to try to live again.  But I know, without a doubt that it is what Bryon wants.

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I wasn’t done loving you

I could think of a million reasons why you couldn’t die.

Our daughter wasn’t old enough to ride a bike.  She needed  you to teach her.  You needed to see her go to Kindergarten and graduate from high school.  You needed to scare any boy she brought home.  You needed to walk her down the aisle when she got married.

You still had more to accomplish in your career.  You wanted to write a book.  I still hear about how much people miss your knowledge and expertise.

We had a cruise booked.  It was going to stop in Aruba.  We had so many other cruises we wanted to go on.  Except you didn’t want to go on an Alaskan cruise, but I knew you would eventually give into me.

All the other places we were supposed to go to.  You wanted to go to Texas and attend a high school football game because you loved Friday Night Lights.  You wanted to go to San Diego and see all the Top Gun sights.  And you wanted to go to Branson, Missouri.  I still don’t understand why you wanted to go to Branson, Missouri so badly.  Even if it’s the Nashville of the Ozarks.  I didn’t want to go, but eventually I would have given in.

We were supposed to have another baby. Our daughter was supposed to be a big sister.

You needed to leave to meet your best friend’s new son and all the other babies that have been born since you have passed.  It still hurts my heart to think that they have all been born into a “post-Bryon” world.

Some of the reasons that I didn’t want you to die were self serving.  You always took care of everything.  I didn’t know how I was going to do it without you.  I was pretty helpless before all this happened.  I wanted things to go back to normal.

I had to be strong during this trauma. I found out I was much stronger than I ever knew. I wanted you to know how well I handled everything.  I thought you would be proud of me.

But the major reason I didn’t want you to die was because I wasn’t done loving you.

We only got three anniversaries. We celebrated our first and third. Our second anniversary was nine days after our daughter was born and we forgot to celebrate it that year. I remember we were lying in bed and you said “Hey, it’s our anniversary today.” We never could have known that we would only have three anniversaries.  Maybe we would have found a way to celebrate that anniversary if we knew we were only going to have a few.

I thought about all the stupid fights we had.  I thought about all the times I got annoyed with you over stupid things.  I thought about all the times I didn’t appreciate all that you did for me.   You couldn’t die because I needed time to prove that I could be a better wife.

We were always so busy, caught up in our day to day lives.  I didn’t take the time to show I loved you.  We can’t get that time back.

I wasn’t ready to let you go. I wasn’t ready for you to die. I wanted a chance to do it better. I wasn’t done loving you.

You held on for five months in the ICU.  You survived septic shock many times.  Your organs shut down and you kept fighting.  No one can say that you didn’t fight.  You fought until the bitter end.

I knew you were fighting.  After sitting by your side for five months, I know you fought harder than anyone else in your situation would have.  Most people would have given up. You didn’t want to be done.  You wanted to accomplish more in your career.  You wanted to have more time with your friends.  You wanted to raise your daughter.

And maybe you weren’t done loving me either.

Be grateful

Today’s writing prompt came from Teresa’s Creations.  Two word prompt: “Be grateful

Be grateful.

That is what they say tell her.

She must not be grateful for what she has.

How would they even know?

Of course she is grateful.

For her daughter.

For her friends and family.

For her means.

For her health.

How dare they imply she isn’t grateful for that.

Can’t she just miss her husband?

She loves her friends, but they can’t fill the void he leaves.

She loves her daughter.  

Her daughter is young.  

It’s not fair to expect her to take the place of her father.  

People tell her to be grateful.

Do people even know what they are saying?

Do they not understand what she has been through?

Be grateful for what?

The pain?  

The agony?

The loneliness?

The loss of her dreams?

The lost plans?

The loss of security?

The loss of faith?

People think they are helping, but they don’t know.

Why can’t she just feel what she feels?

Why can’t she just be sad?

 

Life today

I have been wanting to dabble a little bit more into the creative side of writing.

My post today came from Teresa’s Creations.  Two word prompt: “Life Today

Life today

Hollow.

Still.

Life goes on around her, but it doesn’t matter.

The world moves forward.

Life moves forward.

Business as usual.

But her life stands still.

A lingering sadness.

Maybe a permanent sadness.

Loneliness.

Tears.

Exhaustion.

She has been through so much.

Her soul mate is gone.

She yearns for the happy days of her past.

The empty years lay ahead.

How long can she live off of memories?

When will she feel alive again?

 

Somedays I really hate my life

Some days I really hate my life.

I know I am supposed to be grateful and all that stuff.  And I am.  

Sometimes I feel like I am faking it because it takes effort to be grateful.

No matter how grateful I am, it doesn’t erase what happened.  

It doesn’t fill the void of Bryon’s absence.

Some days I really hate my life.

I hate that I am inching closer to 40 and I am a single mother.  This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

I hate seeing children with their fathers and knowing that my daughter doesn’t get hers.

I hate that I had to wait until I was 30 to find my soul mate and he still got ripped away from me while still in my 30’s.    

I hate the loneliness that comes with grief.  The truth is that I am not alone.  I have amazing friends that I am grateful for but they all have their significant others to comfort them in their grief over Bryon.  I don’t have Bryon to comfort me.  Because he is dead.

I hate the lost dreams.  The plans we had that will never happen.  I hate that I have to figure out what to do with the rest of my life without him.

Some days I really hate my life and today is one of those days.

Exhaustion

I have come to a realization over the past couple of days…I am exhausted.

I am physically tired. I can feel it in my bones.

I am mentally tired.  

I am emotionally tired.

I am spiritually tired.

I always feel like I am behind the eight ball.

I have so much to do and no energy to do it. At times my life feels like an overwhelming mess.  Too much to do. My house is a mess. For the past year and a half, I felt that the mess in my house is just representative of my life.  But is the mess, both the literal and the figurative, ever going to get cleaned up?

I don’t know how to feel rested. I can’t remember the last time I felt rested. Was it before Bryon got sick or was it before my daughter was born? I cant remember.

I went from running on fear and adrenaline to being numb and in a fog. Now that the fog is lifting and life is starting to feel “normal”, I feel empty, hollow and drained.

This empty, hollow and drained feeling is discouraging because I feel like I have worked so hard to be positive.  I feel like I have worked hard to put myself first and it feels like I wated useless energy.

I could just stay home but then I am left alone with my thoughts which get depressing if left to their own devices.  I need the company of my friends right now.  But I am an introvert which means that I naturally need alone time which puts me in a contradictory situation.

When am I going to feel like I have sh*t together again?

Kind of grateful

I was happily married and thought I was with the man I would grow old with.

But life had other plans.

Life doesn’t care.

Life can be cruel.

Life doesn’t care who you are, where you have been or where you are going.

Life can rip your heart out.

Life can chew you up and spit you out.

Life can destroy the very foundation of everything you had and leave you to pick up the debris.

One of my worst nightmares came true.

Life made me a young widow.

What I would give to get my old life back.

My old life was innocent and selfish.  Innocent because I had the luxury of worrying about things that didn’t matter.  I didn’t know what true trauma was.  Selfish because I didn’t know how good I had it, nor did I take the time to appreciate what I had.

Bryon’s illness and death has changed me.  The whole experience has been hell, but I would do it all over again, even if it meant the same result.

I am grateful for the time I did have with Bryon.  I got to experience true love.

To have someone look at you like you are the only one in the room.

Where you can communicate with each other through your eyes from across a room.

To be so in sync with someone that you can finish their sentences.

Someone who would always hug you or hold your hand.

Someone who always rushes home after whatever work thing he/she had just to see you.

The list goes on.  Bryon wasn’t just my husband.  He was the love of my life and my best friend.  My partner in crime and my other half.  I always called him my “one and only” and my soul mate.  It makes my heart hurt to think that he probably won’t be my “one and only.”

But I know I am lucky.  Some people go through their whole lives without ever experiencing love.  But I did, because of Bryon.

I am grateful for all that Bryon gave me.  The love, the memories, the vacations, the laughter, the conversations.  For the fact that he worked so hard to provide for me and our daughter.  For the beautiful wedding and an amazing daughter.  For his faith in me.

He opened up a whole world for me.  I learned so much from him.

I am thankful that because of him, I feel whole as a person even by myself.  And because of him, I know that when the time comes for me to write the second chapter of my life’s great love story, I will not settle.

I was lucky to be your leading lady, Bryon McKim.