And then you were four.

When you were born, you turned my world upside down. But my life was suddenly complete.

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When you turned one, my world was content. Life was only going to get better.

When you were turned two, our world was turned upside down but this time it was tragic. You were my reason for getting out of bed in the morning.

When you were three, you were the absolute center of my world. You became my little co-pilot.

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And now that you are four, I think about the rest of the world and how it will be a better place because you are in it. The world is yours and I can’t wait to watch you grow into the person you are going to be.

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Happy third birthday in Heaven

Today’s post will be a quick post.  I just wanted to share a few photos on how we celebrated Bryon’s birthday.

His birthday is exactly one week after his deathaversary but I try not to dwell too much on his deathaversary.  I prefer to celebrate the fact that he had lived.

My daughter and some friends released balloons at the cemetery.

“Table Top” in the grass.  Nice to see gymnastics class pay off.

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Balloon-Release!

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UP…

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…UP…

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…And AWAY!!!!

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I am sure he enjoyed them. Especially when I got in the car and one of his favorite songs came on.  He saves this one for birthdays and happy occasions.

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After the cemetery, we had dinner at one of Bryon’s favorite restaurants, Swifty’s.

I enjoyed my first Sam oktoberfest.

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I don’t care if it’s still August.  It’s been a hot summer and the humidity has been wicked.  I am so over it.

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I love these people.  They have stayed with me through thick and thin.  Of course, a few were unable to attend and we missed them.

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I feel like I should write something more profound but between the fact that last week was Bryon’s deathaversary and this week is his birthday and my birthday tomorrow, my head kind of feels like it is going to explode.  I have been emotional and cried a lot but I am okay.

The good news is that I am leaving on a birthday girls trip tomorrow but I have a lot of things to do between now and then.

So this post is going to have to be enough.

Thanks for reading along.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #17

It’s Friday!

You know what that means…

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday

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I am still recovering from my trip to Chicago and Wisconsin and Easter weekend.

This week has been a whirlwind but I am thankful for it because it has been full of engagements with friends.  I am so thankful for my friends.

Here are the 5 things I am thankful for

  1. Easter Traditions, new and old

    On Saturday, my daughter and I went to our friends house for the second annual Easter egg hunt.

    Always a challenge to get them to look at the camera

    Fun with SnapChat

    After the Easter egg hunt, my daughter and I traveled to my cousins house in Massachusetts where we spent Easter with her branch of the family.

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    Again, hard to get them to all look at the camera at the same time.

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    I was also thankful that this was a Happy Easter because last year was not a Happy Easter for me.  I am thankful that I am past the raw stages of grief.  The good days outnumber the bad.  In fact, I don’t really have bad days anymore, just moments that hit me hard.  And I will always have those moments and I am okay with that.

    Last Easter I was very upset but this Easter I was happy and I am thankful that I can find joy again.  I am thankful that I am healing.

  2. A night out with my cousin

    While I was visiting my cousin, we had the opportunity to go out.

    We went to a local speakeasy called Less Than Greater Than which is located in the back an ice cream shop called New City Microcreamery.  We had to wait for seats in the speakeasy so we did have ice cream while we waited and it was the best ice cream I have ever eaten.  Legit.


    As much as we love our little ones, it was nice to be able to talk to her without getting interrupted.29597321_10156655418322841_2229641748837008323_n
  3. Living in America

    I love living in America because we can all take part in each other’s cultures.

    Monday was Dyngus Day and while I am not Polish, my daughter is Polish.  I heard that there was a Dyngus Day celebration at The Hill at Muza, a Polish restaurant in the nearby city of Troy and decided to take my daughter.  I want her to know her heritage, including her non-Irish heritage.  And I heard that Dyngus Day was like Polish St. Patrick’s Day so I was sold.

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    It was a great party.  Good food, good music.  A very nice lady gave my daughter a pussy willow to tap her crushes.  Then she gave one to me and I was like “Haha…thanks…*awkward laugh*…”

    My daughter tapped every man that walked by.  They would turn around and then see her smiling at them.  I don’t know if she was flirting or if she was trying to set her poor mother up.  I mean, she signed me up for tinder after all.

  4. The birthday girl

    I have no pictures from this week with my friend who celebrated her birthday.  (She doesn’t have a blog name yet).  But here is a pic from when we went to the casino after Christmas.

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    She is one of my absolute favorite people.  Her interactions with my daughter are always cracking me up.  I have so much fun with her but our friendship is much deeper than fun.

    We also spend so much time talking about things like the meaning of life.  We read the same books and have deep discussions about them.

    I am a bridesmaid in her upcoming wedding.  Well her and Our Favorite Community Helper’s wedding.

    I mean, it is 40% his wedding.

    Before you freak out, I am kidding.

    It is a How I Met Your Mother reference from Season 1 Episode 11.  When Ted is insistent that he RSVP’ed with a plus one to Claudia and Stuart’s wedding and Claudia says that he did not RSVP with a plus one.

    Lily [about asking to bring a date]: You can always ask Stuart.
    Ted: Can I do that?
    Lily: Sure, you guys have been friends for a long time, and it’s 40% his wedding too.

    Today I was helping my friend at her wedding dress fitting.  I have good fine motor skills but I was having trouble with the buttons because I was shaking.  I was getting so emotional seeing her in her wedding dress.  There is a 70% chance I will cry at the wedding but it will be tears of joy.

  5. Time with Robin Brillantes

    I got to spend time with another friend, who is a Spanish teacher.  It was her school break this week so I got to spend a lot of time together.

    We went to the mall.  We were looking for dresses because we have a few social events this spring.  We sat on those massage chairs and I took a very unflattering SnapChat pic.  I wrote “Let’s go to the mall…today!” and sent it to our friends.

    Two How I Met Your Mother references in one blog post…I am on a roll.

    Because it is hard to talk about my friends without references to How I Met Your Mother.

    Our Favorite Community Helper snaps back and said I had to refer to our Spanish    teacher friend as Robin Sparkles in my blog but it had to be in Spanish.  My friend said the closest Spanish work to “sparkles” was “brillantes” so she is officially Robin Brillantes.

    Robin Brillantes also came out to my daughters dance class, had dinner at Chipotle with us and then three of us got mani/pedi’s. Well, except Robin- she just got a pedicure.

    It was my daughters first mani/pedi.  She chose bright orange.  I felt it was important to let her express herself.

    We also saw a guy who looked just like Mike Ehrmantraut on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.  Though #fauxmikeehrmantraut was much chattier and friendlier.

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Though now I want some Los Pollos Hermanos even though it doesn’t exist.  I used to say that to Bryon when we watched Breaking Bad.

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That is what I am thankful for this week.  What are you thankful for this week?

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Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #15

  1. Brunch and Pottery PlaceOur weekend started with Saturday Brunch with friends.  My daughter and I dressed as the Irish-American Princesses that we are.

    It was Kimmy Gibbler‘s son’s birthday this week so we gave him his present.

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    After brunch we went to a local pottery place and painted.  My daughters pig is looking a little bruised there.

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  2. A night outLater Saturday evening, we went went for another friend’s birthday.   We did some hibachi.  I didn’t get any fire photos because I was too busy snapchatting them. The little one stayed home with a sitter while Mommy had some fun.

    After hibachi, we went to a local place for some karaoke.

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    I still maintain this position.

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  3. Day with cousinsSunday morning, my daughter and I traveled to the North Hadley Sugar Shack in North Hadley, Massachusetts to spend the day with my cousin and her two kids.  My cousin and I try to meet in Springfield, MA because that is the approximate halfway point between us.

    We got to sample some wicked good syrup.

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    There were other samples too.

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    And there was breakfast.  This was a double order of bacon because kids meals at most places usually only include 1 piece of bacon which my daughter eats and then she will move on to mine.  So I tend to order double.  Though this morning, she didn’t touch any of mine.  More for me, I guess.

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    My cousin and I decided to head over the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.  We had a good time but if you are travelling from Eastern, MA or Upstate NY, I wouldn’t plan a whole day trip out of it.  I also would recommend it for school age kids.  There wasn’t a lot for preschoolers to do.  Not enough to occupy them for a whole day.  It wasn’t like our trip to the Dr. Seuss Museum.

    My daughter and I took this selfie.  Be kind.  I was out late and up early and it was definitely a dry shampoo and minimal makeup kind of morning.

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  4. Reunited in ChicagoI am writing this post ahead of time and by the time it goes live, I will be reunited with my bestie in Chicago!326491_10150501472522841_315275259_o
  5. A special birthdayToday is the birthday of my “sister from another mister” and my daughters Godmother.  I know that her birthday is bittersweet because it is also the day that everything changed forever.I actually met her before I met Bryon.  We first met at the Fall 2005 Young Republican National Federation Board Meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas.  She taught a workshop that I attended on talking to a camera.I never could have known that she would end up being such an important person in my life.She was there with many others on the happiest day of my life and she was the only person with me on the saddest night of my life.The truth is that she deserves her own post but I feel like I can’t accurately write a post about her without sharing information that I am not ready to share yet.  And without the whole story, I am not doing the story of our friendship justice.

    I want to write more but WordPress seems to be deleting what I am writing as I am writing it.  And I am too tired to figure it out.

    Happy Birthday!  We love you!

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Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #6

Okay, I know I skipped last week.  I was too grumpy and that is all I can say about that.

1.  Veterans Day–  This could have been it’s own post but I was grumpy and depressed and didn’t write it.  Grief is horrible like that.  But I didn’t want to neglect saying that I am thankful for all those who have fought for our country and for the freedoms we have.  I appreciate the veterans in my family.  My father is a Vietnam veteran and both of my grandfather’s were WWII veterans.  Many of my friends are veterans as well.

My father and my grandfathers.

2.  Birthdays– Two weeks ago my daughter and I had two very important birthday parties.  The first was the first birthday of the son of Bryon’s best friend.  The second birthday party was for my daughter’s godfather, who was also Bryon’s law partner.

Days like this are bittersweet.  Bryon was always much better at  me at prioritizing social engagements than I was.  He had no problem saying no whereas I would over commit and spread myself thin.  He use to tell me that I was trying to “put 10 pounds of sh*t into a 5 pound bag.”  But as I traveled between these two birthday parties, I knew Bryon wouldn’t have missed either of them.  I couldn’t help but feel his absence.

I feel grateful that so many people still include my daughter and I in their lives.

3. I am grateful for my cousin.  Yesterday was her birthday.  I am thankful we only live two hours apart and that our kids can grow up together.  She is amazing.

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Her profession even shows how amazing she is.  She is a hospice nurse.  While Bryon didn’t make it to hospice and died in the hospital, I can attest that end of life care is very important.  Not only to the dying patient but their loved ones.

4.  My friends.  Seriously, nothing would get done around myself without them.  I have a core group that will drop everything to help me.  And I am lucky because I am an overwhelmed widowed mother who works full-time.

5.  My childhood friend.  One of my best friends from childhood sent me a message yesterday.  I haven’t responded because I was busy with work and wanted to write a well-thought out message and I failed.  She and I had been friends since we were little and we were particularly close in middle school.  It was a time when we all had spiral perms and wore Hard Rock Cafe T-shirts and the Baby-Sitters Club were everything.  I will say that her spiral perms were always better than mine because her mother was a hairdresser and my perms came from a box.

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I don’t think any pictures exist of us.  I wish they did so I could post it here.

I moved away after 8th grade in 1993 and while we wrote the occasional letter, we pretty much fell out of touch.  We later found each other on Facebook.  We got married around the same time and we both had daughters one month apart.

So to my old friend, if you are reading this-  I am grateful you are still in my life and I owe you a response to your message.  I really need to see you when I am in the Boston area next.

Felix natalis amici mei

Felix natalis amici mei.  

That is Happy Birthday my friend in Latin.  At least that is what Google Translate tells me.  My friend is a Latin teacher and I am sure she can tell if it is the correct Latin grammar or not.

Today is her birthday.  But we celebrated her birthday the other night.

My friend is very special to me.  She was in my wedding.  This is her favorite picture from our wedding day.  (She is the one pinching Bryon’s cheek.)  

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My friend was the one that got me to run a half marathon.  And even though she was dealing with some pretty rough stuff in her own life during those months while Bryon was in the hospital, she still came by almost every day.  She brought me fluffy literature to pass the time and she brought pizza to sustain me.  She was with me during Bryon’s two worst days and she made it down to NYC before he died.  I don’t know what I would have done without her friendship.

We met at an Italian Restaurant called Il Faro. I am conflicted writing about it because it was so good and we didn’t want the whole world to know our secret.  But the food was so good that it was only fair to mention it.  It is only a matter of time before it gets discovered and will be crowded.  I am not Italian, but several of the people at our table have Italian heritage and they were impressed.

We had drinks at the bar and chatted.  A lot of baseball talk. The group consisted of four couples and me.  I was the ninth wheel.  It’s times like these that I miss Bryon. Granted, he wouldn’t have been by my side all night as he would have taken this as an opportunity to catch up with his friends.  He would have been making fun of his best friends beer selection. But these are my closest friends- my Albany family- and we still talk about Bryon as if he is still alive, which makes me feel better about being the third, or fifth or seventh or ninth wheel.  

I believe everyone was impressed with their meals.  I had the eggplant parmesan with a side of meatballs and linguine and it was amazing. I had enough eggplant leftover that it was dinner the next night for me and my daughter and the meatballs and linguine were lunch the next day.  And even in leftover form, it did not disappoint.  

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We got a group picture

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And then we got a picture of the girls.

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Then the guys got jealous and had to have their picture taken.

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In the bathroom.  Something to think about.

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My friend and I got into my car and right when I turned the key in the ignition, Hall & Oates started to play.  It was my friend’s favorite Hall & Oates song.  

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We took it as a sign that Bryon wouldn’t let us celebrate her birthday without him.  We cried.

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Half of us went back to my friend’s house where her boyfriend had a cake.  It was an orange creamsicle cake.  I don’t particularly care for orange creamsicle ,but I thought it was good.

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Then we did presents!  Which I didn’t get any pictures of my friend opening up.

I never thought birthdays were a big deal.  They are mostly for kids.  As adults, once you celebrate your 21st, you only celebrate those birthdays that end in zero.  But after losing Bryon at such a young age, I know realize that birthdays are meant to be celebrated.  We are lucky to have them.  And I am lucky to have friends to celebrate these special days with and I look forward to celebrating more.

Amicus meus est natalis beati. te amo.  (Don’t fail me Google translate!)

Happy Birthday Grandma

I remember one summer day in the mid 1980s when I was in my grandmother’s backyard.  I was about 7 (and therefore my grandmother was about 73) and I was excited because my birthday was coming up.  I asked my grandmother what was her most favorite thing about birthdays and she responds “when it’s over.”  I couldn’t understand why someone would want their birthday to be over.

Catherine Ann Donahue Sullivan was born May 3, 1914 in Woburn, MA. She was the 6th child and 2nd daughter of two Irish Immigrants, Peter Donahue and Mary Duran. She attended Woburn Public Schools (she told me that Catholic School cost 50 cents per child, per week and my great-grandparents were too poor to send 9 children to parochial school). She went to nursing school during the Depression (total cost of nursing education in 1930’s including cap=$75. Total cost of Kerry’s Psychology book, spring semester 2001=$130. The look on my grandmother’s face when I told her that=priceless).  She married my grandfather in 1946 and went on to have 5 sons.

Even though I grew up two towns away from my grandmother, I didn’t start to become close to her until my grandfather died when I was in 6th grade. After that, every Saturday was spent at her house while my father and uncles took care of tasks around the house and I would play with my younger cousins. Though I was shy in general, I was very outspoken around my family and my grandmother used to like to egg me on. It was funny. I, um, developed a lot sooner than most girls and I hated it. I was kind of a tomboy and, let’s just say, “they” got in the way. I would complain about them to my grandmother and she would just tell me that, “Someday you’re doing to be thankful…” The jury is still out on that, Grandma.  Though Bryon definitely seemed to appreciate them.

My grandmother had 5 sons and one grandson before I was born. I ended up being the first of four granddaughters. My grandmother always told me she wished she had had a daughter but I made her thankful she didn’t.

My grandmother would always give me $20 whenever I visited. It was for ice cream. Of course ice cream at the local ice cream place, Breakers, only cost about $3. She would always make sure to tell me that “When I was a kid, we were too poor to buy ice cream. And there was no one around to give us ice cream money.”  When I was in college, Grandma was always giving me $20 for gas money (that was back when you could fill your gas tank for $20.)

My grandmother taught me that you can still be a lady and use profanity. My other grandmother taught me that a lady never uses profanity. Luckily, it all seems to balance out.

My grandmother taught me that it is okay to tell guys who give you unwanted attention to “piss off.” One time, when she was in her 80’s, she slipped on the ice and fell. Another old guy stopped and tried to help her and she told him to “piss off.” I asked her why. She told me it was because he had two girlfriends.

My grandmother also taught me that I can not go wrong dating Irish-Catholic guys. She did warn me to stay away from French men. In the 1930’s, when she was in her mid-20’s, she dated a French guy. He had the nerve to ask her to move to New Jersey but didn’t want to get married. She told him to piss off. Then, at the age of 29, she met my full-blooded Irish-American grandfather and married him when she was 31.

My grandmother spent her years as a nurse and her later years in politics.  My cousin takes after her as a nurse and is a hospice nurse which I think is one of the most noble jobs there is.  I seemed to inherit the political gene although I am on an indefinite sabbatical from politics. Like my grandmother, my mouth sometimes gets me into trouble.  She passed before she could see me run for Maine State House or see me run the Maine Federation of Young Republicans.  Though it drove her Boston Irish Democrat sensibilities nuts that I was a Republican.

It always made me sad that she didn’t live long enough to meet Bryon.  They would have understood each other and appreciate each other’s sense of humor.  I think Grandma would have approved even though Bryon was only one-eighth Irish.

I remember one time during Mass back home our priest was commenting that the generations of a family are like a chain and each one of us is a link in that chain linking the generations.  I remember when my grandmother died and my father mentioned that he was the only one that remembered his grandmother (my great-grandmother) as my living uncles were either too young to remember her or weren’t born yet.  My father is the only living member of our family that is linked to my great-grandmother and he provides that link to us and especially my daughter.  One person who links five generations.  As long as my father is here, that link exists but someday that link won’t exist.  Luckily, my father has stated that he plans on sticking around until he is 120 so that link should be around for awhile.

Bryon went into the ICU when my daughter was 18 months old and passed away a month before her second birthday.  My daughter won’t remember him and it is as if there are no links in that chain.  It’s like that direct chain has been cut clean but in a way, Bryon’s friends and I will serve the link between my daughter and Bryon.

So Bryon, Grandma, and also Grandpa, Papa, Uncle Peter and Uncle Brian, as long as I am alive, you will live on.  I will make sure my daughter knows you.  And if I am privileged enough to live long enough to meet my grandchildren and maybe even my great-grandchildren, they will know you too.  You will live on for generations.

And Grandma, I am still going to wish you a Happy Birthday in Heaven.  Even if you wish your birthday were over.

Grandma’s Obituary