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.

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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.

Clear eyes and a full heart

Yesterday I got new glasses.

When I put on these glasses, I realized that they represented a lot more to me than I expected.

I first got glasses in high school. I was told I needed them for reading. Sometime between high school and college, I lost them and I never worried about it.

Since I like to measure time by presidential administrations, this was during the end of the Clinton administration.

My eyesight never seemed to be a real issue and I didn’t worry about it.

Sometime after my daughter was born (during the late Obama administration), I noticed my vision wasn’t what it used to be. Bryon showed concern and encouraged me to make an appointment with his eye doctor.

I made the appointment with Bryon’s eye doctor. His eye doctor was very nice. I liked him. And I got the glasses that I needed.

I even went to see him when I was sent home for work for conjunctivitis. My work did not require me to see an outside optometrist but Bryon thought it would be a good idea. Turns out I didn’t have conjunctivitis. I just had dry, red eyes that can happen to nursing mothers due to hormonal changes. He gave me some drops.

After Bryon died, I got the notice in the mail that I was due to an eye exam. But I couldn’t make the appointment.

Bryon had been a patient of this eye doctor since he was seven.

I didn’t know if his eye doctor even knew that Bryon died. Bryon’s death had been in the newspapers but I had no clue if he knew and I didn’t want to be the one to have to tell him.

I could handle talking to people that knew Bryon and knew he died and I could talk about Bryon’s death to people who didn’t know him at all. But I couldn’t be the person to tell someone who had known Bryon since he was a kid that he had died.

Besides, it would be hard to do an eye exam if I was messy crying.

So I avoided the eye doctor.

I threw that notice into a pile of papers that I called “shit I will deal with later”.

Things were fine.

And then I lost my glasses and I did not have a spare.

I tried not to worry about them.

I adapted. At least I thought I did.

But I knew the truth.

I knew I couldn’t put it off.

I am 40 and my eyes are not what they used to be.

For a long time after Bryon’s death, I bounced between the state of existing and the state of surviving.

But it’s time for me to start taking care of myself.

So I went to a different eye doctor.

And now I have my glasses.

My daughter approved of them because they are pink.

And now things are clearer.

Maybe a little too clear.

I recently watched an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where the family convinced Marie Barone that she needed glasses. Then she got glasses and she could see so well that she pointed out every physical flaw everyone had.

Well I looked in the mirror and I noticed every tiny flaw on my face.

I think I need a chemical peel. Or, like, 12 chemical peels.

At least a facial.

But now that I am seeing 20/20 again, I realized that this is symbolic of my life. As a transition to the next chapter of my life, things are just so much more clearer now.

Of course, some of that might be the fact that I have spent the last 3 years in deep thought and reflection.

Either way, I am seeing things for what they are.

The “blurriness” of my life has cleared up as I processed what had happened in my life, as I learned to cope with the events, as I realized how I let others projections and attitudes affect me and as I learn how to how I respond to all of these factors.

Now it’s time to look toward the future with a clear vision.

It feels fitting to end this blog post with a quote from one of Bryon’s favorite fictional characters, Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights- “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose”.

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.

Unexpressed thoughts

Sometimes I feel like I live in a different world than everyone else.

This feeling became even more pronounced when Bryon died. You look at the world differently after your soul has been shattered.

Trauma changes you and stays with you.

I was blind to how good my life was. It’s easy to get annoyed when people complain but they are blind. There is no point to get annoyed because their blindness is a good thing. It means they haven’t experienced trauma.

I try to make sense of what is going on in this crazy world.

People research on Google not to find,the truth but to find information to back up their viewpoint. It doesn’t matter how poor the source is.

People dehumanize those who they disagree with. People aren’t automatically unintelligent or mentally ill because they disagree with you.

I’ve had to ban myself from reading comments on news stories. Because people are crazy. I become angry and use this emoji a lot: 🤦‍♀️

And this GIF:

But people have the right to see the world how they want, even if you think that view is wrong.

And you have the right to think their view is wrong, too.

But why do we care?

We have our opinions, we may choose to share them and then we get pissed when people don’t agree…

How many people who share their opinions on Facebook actually go out and make a difference?

However, when someone shares an opinion you don’t have, you can disagree.

But just because someone’s opinion invokes a strong reaction from you doesn’t make that person’s opinion less valid and wrong because It doesn’t reasonate with yours.

And just because someone disagrees with your opinion doesn t make your opinion less valid.

Why am I writing this?

Because my newsfeed is full of opinions and news stories. And I am not quitting Facebook because I like seeing pictures of everyone’s kids and pets. I want to see people’s vacations and new homes. I want to see funny memes. I even want to see pictures of what people had for dinner.

But I have been having a thought about an issue. It’s actually what I think of as a “looking at both sides opinion” but I don’t share because I feel that all it will do is piss everyone off. It will most likely have the opposite effect than what I would intend.

It’s all madness.

The funny thing, I have spent 40 years trying to fit in and reasonate with this “different world” but I think I finally realize is that I don’t have too.

Not every opinion or idea needs to be expressed.

One time Bryon and I had a layover and there were these two newly acquainted strangers who were talking.

And talking.

And talking.

These people wouldn’t shut up.

At that time, I was pregnant with my daughter and Bryon and I were both tired and crabby.

Bryon got exasperated and says (to me) “Oh. Em. Gee. Has this guy ever heard of the concept of an unexpressed thought?”

So I decided it’s okay to not share all my thoughts.

I don’t want to be like annoying airport guy.

I mean, we all have upwards of 60,000 thoughts a day and it would be impossible to share that many.

That’s a challenge I won’t be accepting.

But of the thoughts that have provoked a strong reaction, I don’t need to share.

What’s the point? To provoke an equal and opposite reaction? To seek some sort of validation.

Nope. I decided it’s okay to be okay with the feeling that I live in a different world from everyone else.

Everyone lives in their own world.

There is no way you can reasonated with everyone.

So you keep doing you and I will keep going me.

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”.

Just-Viral-Life-Quotes-of-the-Day-20