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.

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Waiting

“For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin — real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.

This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.

So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one. Happiness is a journey, not a destination.”

~ Alfred D’Souza

I have always been a person who has always been waiting.

When I was a child, I was waiting for high school because from what I observed by watching Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills 90210, high school was real life.  Because after sporting events and lame school dances, it was all downhill.

When I was in high school, I was waiting until I could go off to college because college was real life.  I would be out of my small Maine town and I would study abroad in Europe.  I could immerse myself in the subjects I cared about such as History and French.

When I was in college, I was waiting for graduation because that was when my career was going to happen and possibly I will would meet my future husband.  I was going to earn some real money.  And life was going to begin.

When I was finally out of college, I was waiting for my career to take off and to meet that husband I dreamed about meeting.  But none of those things came with a college degree so I kept waiting.

Once I was in a relationship with Bryon, I was waiting to get engaged because then I would be planning our wedding and my life would begin.

When Bryon and I were engaged, I was waiting to be married and when I was a wife, then life would begin.  We could put the stress of wedding planning behind us and we can focus on our happily ever after.

Once I was Bryon’s wife, I was waiting to buy a house and become a mother.  We would become a family and raise our baby in our little house.

Once I became a mother, I was waiting to have our second child so we could be the perfect family with two kids.  Bryon had been working hard on a career as was I and we would buy a bigger house.  Then life would begin.  We would raise our two perfect children, maybe three and take them to whatever sports or lessons they had.  We would get a family dog.  We would go on family vacations.  Bryon had plans to become 1950’s dad and make our daughters dates uncomfortable.  Then the kids would go of to college to wait for their lives to begin and Bryon and I would grow old together.

Only life as I envisioned it would never begin.  I never once thought “once I become a young widow, then my life would begin.”  But my life is happening and for once, I am not waiting for anything.  I know I have a long life ahead of me but for the first time in my life, I am not eagerly anticipating the next phase of my life.  I don’t even know what I should be waiting for.  I don’t even know what my next phase of my life is.  I know I will see my daughter grow up but Bryon won’t be there.  I hope to be in a position to help people but I am not sure how I will get from here to there.

During my grief process, I have felt like there is a lot of waiting.  I am waiting for the pain to subside.  I am waiting for things to get settled.  I am waiting until I can think about everything that happened and not feel like I am being punched in the stomach.  I am waiting until I can talk about what happened without having my voice shake and tears welling up in my eyes.

I don’t know what to wait for.  My life has so many paths it could take.  I am not looking forward to the prospect of someday dating again.  But if I did, my life would follow a certain path, a path I am not ready to consider at the moment.  For the time being, I am actually looking forward to my time alone to figure out exactly who I am.  But since I don’t know who I am right now, I don’t know how to envision a future alone.  There are many facets of my personality I wish to explore and depending on which ones I develop could affect my path.

I spent 37 years waiting for my life to begin.  But I have been living my life this whole time and not living in the moment.  I spent my years with Bryon looking towards the future and that future never materialized.  I spent so much time waiting and not enjoying the life I was living and that life is gone.  I can’t go back and focus on those moments in the present.  I only have memories.  Memories, a future I am not waiting for and the present.  It’s a shame it took my husband’s death to teach me how to live in the present.

Growing up without a Dad

The following post was not written by me.  My friend and high school classmate LeeAnne lost her father when she was 16 months old.  She recently shared some of her thoughts about growing up without her father on Facebook and graciously agreed to let me post them here.  I always appreciate her input because it gives me an idea of some of the things my daughter might experience.

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What It’s Like Growing Up Without a Dad? I’m not talking about the deadbeats in the world. They piss me off (sorry for the language). I’m talking about growing up without a Dad because he is forever gone. He’s forever gone because he is in Heaven (yes, I believe in Heaven. I have to because if I didn’t, none of it would make sense and I would live my life a very angry person). It sucks. Plain and simple SUCKS. I was 16 months and 23 days old when that tractor pinned my Dad. I was 16 months and 25 days old when he gained his angel wings and left me here on this Earth without him. If he was a deadbeat, it would be better. At least I may have some chance of finding him and seeing him and even being really mad at him for leaving me. But he wasn’t. He loved me. He wanted me. He planned on being there forever and ever for me. He didn’t choose to leave me. Deadbeats piss me off because while they have created a child and then just decided they don’t want to play the role of a parent, my Dad was robbed of something I’ve heard he was very proud to be. I can tell by the pictures I see of us that this is true. You can tell he loved me and wanted me to be happy and safe. When you lose someone at such a young age without memories of your own, you cherish photos. I mean cherish them. My Mom eventually had a boyfriend and they had my sister together which gave me a sibling and for that I’m grateful. However, my Mom’s boyfriend was far from the ideal stepfather figure. He didn’t like me. I didn’t like him. I haven’t spoken to him willingly since I moved out of the house on my 18th birthday. In ways, it sucked having a sibling because every day I got to see her and her dad together. Something I never had and always wanted. Father’s Day sucks. It’s just a 24 hour constant reminder of what you don’t have. As I got older, I’ve learned to try to embrace the day and consider it another day to spoil my Mom. She is my Dad in a way too. January 30th sucks because that was the day my Dad was born. September 8th sucks because that’s the day he left me. Father Daughter dances suck. I mean, as a Mom, I love watching my girls get that time with their dad but, the little girl in me is jealous as hell. Wedding Days suck because the moment your Dad walks you down the aisle and the infamous Father Daughter dance becomes your Mom walking you down the aisle and trying to keep you from melting down like a big baby because you just want your Dad. The dance becomes your Mom holding you and you guys talking about how much he is there but he’s not there at the same time (and trying to make sure our beads on our dresses didn’t get stuck together because that would be humilitaing). Your fatherly advice comes from your grandfathers but you are of course too young and “know everything and anything” to acutally listen and appreciate those words after they are gone. Taking your kids to “meet” their grandfather by taking them to stare at a stone with words and plant some pretty flowers, sucks. They ask questions and you have no answers. I wasn’t the only one he was taken from. He was taken from my kids as well. He would’ve been an amazing grandfather. I don’t have my own memories to hold on to and to comfort me on my bad days. I have other people’s memories and that sucks too. I love hearing about him and I love knowing about him but I’m so damn jealous of every single person who ever met him and knew him. I’m not the friend who you can turn to if your parent passes away because while I had the same thing happen, I don’t remember it. I can tell you how to live without a Dad though and that sucks that I can tell you that. I apologize for the long rant. My birthday is getting closer and it’s another reminder that the older I get, just means the longer I’ve missed out on him. Anytime I hear of a father passing away and has a young child left behind, my heart automatically opens up to that child. I know what they are going to go through for the rest of their lives. I just pray that they at least get a wonderful father figure that can help ease the pain and who can at least be there as someone to turn to. It may have been different for me if I had that. It’s ok though because for 16 months and 25 days, I had The. Best. Dad. On. Earth.