Six dreams about my dead husband

I have had six dreams about Bryon since he passed away.  At least, six dreams that I have remembered.

The first dream was the night of my daughters second birthday party.  He looked normal and not sick.  He was wearing his navy sweater vest and a tie and his hair was combed back, off of his face.  (It always annoyed me when his hair got long, but I never nagged him because that would only strengthen his resolve to keep it long.  But I would tell him that he was no Tom Brady.)  We just stood there, several feet apart from each other, looking at each other.  I said “Hi Handsome” and he said “Hello Beautiful.”

The second dream was within the first couple of months.  He was sick, in the hospital and I was sitting next to him, waiting for him to die.  Then he burst out laughing.

The third dream was also within in those first couple of months.  I was in a dangerous situation.  Luckily, Bryon shows up in a car.  I had been waiting for him and while I was relieved he had showed up, I told him about all the bad things that almost just happened to me.

The fourth dream happened about 9 months after he passed.  I was at a Republican convention that was covering the Northeast.  I was sitting at a table on a patio with a group of  friends, but I only recognized two people.  One of them was my daughters Godmother.  I guess they were having presentations from different states and I hear that Maine’s presentation was about to begin in the auditorium and I begin to make my way over.  I wanted to see Senator Collins.  On my way, I get distracted by a stairwell.  Bryon is standing on a landing half way down the stairs.  He has lost a lot of weight and he is wearing a beige suit with an orange tie.  It was an interesting color combination.  We stop and just look at each other and smile.  We don’t talk.  We don’t get close to each other.

When I woke up, I remembered about the time we met.  It was during the Northeast Caucus of the Fall 2006 Young Republican National Federation Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.   The room was filled with a large New York delegation and I was the lone Maine representative.  I was trying to give my report on Maine and there was a New Yorker who kept interrupting me.  That was my first impression of Bryon.  Bryon always maintained that no one in the room cared about what was going on in Maine.  So after that dream, I just thought something along the lines of “of course he would interrupt me on the way to a Maine presentation.”

The fifth dream was three nights ago.   We were with a group of friends, but we were living separate lives and we were okay with that.  It was bizarre.  There was a lot more to it, but my daughter had woken me up and I didn’t get to think about the dream before I forgot most of it.

The sixth dream happened yesterday.  My daughter and I didn’t go anywhere.  It was one of those days where just existing had been too exhausting.  They still happen.  My daughter goes to take a nap. I knew I should be cleaning since her birthday is this week.  But instead, I sit on the couch and watch Pioneer Woman.  Three different chocolate desserts and cheesy corn chowder.  I fell asleep.  What can I say?  I caught onto the “sleep when the baby sleeps” about three years too late.

This sixth dream was really weird.  I am aware that Bryon is dead.  And then Bryon is there and he is alive and he tells me we need to do drop campaign literature in the next town over. Now if Bryon were to return from the dead, I really hope he doesn’t want our first date post resurrection to be dropping campaign literature but in the dream, I am okay with it.

So in the dream, we are on our way to meet up with the campaign and it dawns on me-  how can I be with Bryon right now?  He’s dead.  I was then confused, not knowing if Bryon was dead or not.  But I didn’t get to sort it out in the dream because my daughter woke me up.

 

 

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Remembering the final farewell

One year ago today, we said our final farewell to Bryon.

I wore a black dress and my daughter wore a white dress with black polka dots.

I remember meeting at the funeral home with immediate family and the pallbearers.  A few friends drove up from New York City and came by since they were not able to make it to the calling hours.  I remember that I forgot to put on my pearls that Bryon had bought me in St. Thomas on our honeymoon cruise.  Several friends offered me their pairs of pearls, but I declined.  I figured I wasn’t meant to wear them.

I remember everyone saying their final good-byes at the funeral home before heading to the church.  Top Gun had been paused during the reading of the Prayer of St. Francis but the promo music magically came on as everyone went up to the coffin for the last time.

I remember the funeral.  The music.  The five priests that were there.  The eulogy given by his best friend.  It was funny and mildly inappropriate which is what Bryon would have wanted.  The only thing I don’t remember was seeing who was there.  I just remember that the church was full.  

I remember the wristbands that were given out.  Bryon said (hypothetically) that if he died that he wanted an open bar and he wanted wristbands given out at church because he didn’t want freeloaders showing up to his reception.  He only wanted true mourners there.

I remember that I didn’t cry.  It’s the only funeral I have never cried at.  I could go to a funeral of a complete stranger and cry. I remember feeling guilty.  I remember mentioning this to my daughter’s godmother.  I asked her if I was a horrible person but she said that I had been crying for five months.  

I remember thinking about how odd it was to be the widow.  I remember watching my grandmother’s as widows.  To be getting in and out of the limo with their children.  I was getting in and out of the limo with my daughter.  But my grandmother’s children were all grown.  My daughter was not yet two.  I remember changing her diaper in the limo after Mass while waiting for the procession to move to the cemetery.  I remember that my daughter fell asleep on the way to the cemetery and my father stayed in the limo with her during the time at the cemetery.  

I remember that we had our reception at one of our favorite bars, McGeary’s.  I remember seeing my friends and family there, all dressed up.  Lunch was served and I remember my daughter trying to eat the butter by itself.  I remember talking to my cousins and aunts and uncles who came in from Maine, Massachusetts and Florida.  I drank Bailey’s on ice. I remember Bryon was toasted and we sang along to his favorite songs.  I remember people coming up to me saying that even though it sounds weird, it was the best funeral that they have ever been to.  

And now it has been one year since that day.  Feels like a lifetime ago and like it was yesterday.

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.

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  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.