Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #11

It’s Friday!

And that means it is time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!

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These are the things I am grateful for this week-

  1.  Our 70F degree day

    A 70F degree day is a rarity in the Northeast in February.  But I enjoyed it.  It was nice to walk outside without your winter coat and not be cold.

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  2. Being a Maine Girl

    Because the day after that 70F degree February day, the temperature dropped down to 31F and we got a few inches of snow.  But I am from Maine.  I drive a Suburu Forrester and I wear LL Bean coat and LL Bean boots.  I can handle it.

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    But I also take comfort in knowing the winter days are numbered.  Spring will be here soon.

    The snow did not ruin my cats plans.  He did what he does every day.  Living his best life possible.

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  3. Family dinners.

    I cherish the meals shared with my closest friends.  Friends who are so close that we refer to each other as family.  I also learned about a new wine and it was approved by Carter, the wine connoisseur.

  4. Chinese Food for lunch.

    It’s a favorite of mine.  Usually I would get sweet and sour chicken but lately I have been into pork lo mein.  This might become my Friday treat.

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  5. This moment.

    I am in trouble. But this moment is precious and it will stay with me forever.

    It was funny because when I was putting her to bed that night, I was alarmed that her neck was pink.  Then I remembered that she put A LOT of blush on her neck.

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    What are you grateful for this week?

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Boston with my cousins

If there is an upside to my grandmother’s funeral, it is that I got to spend time with my brother and my cousins.

Facebook reminded me (through “On This Day”) that my cousins and I also did this back in 2007 when our grandfather passed. We all crammed into my brothers car and he drove us around the city. Always a fun time.

 

And we learned that even in our 20’s, we were still mesmerized by the magic of a slinky descending down the stairs.

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Our grandmother died eleven years after our grandfather passed, almost to the day.

The night after the wake, my cousins, my cousin’s best friend who lives outside of Boston, her boyfriend (also local) and I went out for some Boston Chinese at the Peppercorn House in Woburn. (Woburn is ten miles outside of Boston and it is where my family is from). It was amazing and I highly recommend it. The food did not disappoint. My parents went a few nights later and they enjoyed it as well.

And now I have two honorary cousins!

(And my parents graciously watched my daughter at night on this trip so I was able to have a break and spend time with my cousins. Thanks Mom and Dad!)

We toasted.

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We ate. I got over my fear of edamame.

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We read our fortunes and I made everyone say “…in bed” after their fortune.

Because I am that person. And I am not sorry.

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After Chinese food, we went to an Irish bar called Waxy O’Connors. It was loud and there lots of people wearing Patriots shirts. I was right at home.

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I am going to leave this next photo without an explanation.

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The following day, after the funeral and the luncheon were over, my cousins and I were trying to decide where to go that evening.

I suggested that we just go to into the city. We did have the challenge of doing something predominately indoors since it was February and my cousins live in Florida. And we were joking that my cousins husband was delicate because he is a Florida native.

We ultimately decided to go to the Pru and see Eataly and have a few drinks at the Top of the Hub. That way we could walk around and still be inside.

My cousins, my brother and I took two ubers from Woburn to Alewife Station which is the beginning of the Red Line. ($35 on the way in, $25 return if you were curious.)

We got our Dunkins. I bet you can guess which drink this Northern Girl got and which drinks her Florida cousins got.

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We had to change trains at Park Street and my cousin got this picture without us noticing. She is sneaky like that. #ruleofthirds

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We walked around the shops at the Pru. The strap on my purse broke and I looked for one but decided I didn’t want to spend the money. My cousins were able to fix the strap.

We walked around Eataly. It was busy and crowded so we didn’t eat there. I would like to go back at a less busy time.

But I did take this picture of cheese.

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All the restaurants had waits. We decided that we didn’t want to spent an hour of one night in Boston waiting to eat at the Cheesecake Factory but luckily we found a little pizza stand and had pizza for dinner.

We then made our way to the Top of the Hub.

We had actually been here once before in 2012. We were all in town for my grandmother’s 90th birthday.

 

But I had never been there at nighttime. And I remember when I was 18 years old deciding that it was going to be a life goal of mine to go to the Top of the Hub at night.

Life goal accomplished. It just took my 21 years to do it.

 

We decided to head to another bar from our trip in 2012. Another cousin, who couldn’t come out with us, introduced us to The 21st Amendment which is near the Common.

The temperature was in the single digits and my cousins live in Florida and my cousin’s husband is the Florida Native so we knew we didn’t want to be walking outside much. Luckily my brother is a human GPS and he was able to ascertain which subway stop was the closest.

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The trains stop running in Boston at 1 am so we left around midnight.

My brother acting goofy in the Common.

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I am fairly well traveled and Boston is my favorite city.

I can’t wait to be there again.

Maybe as soon as April…

And I hope my cousin doesn’t mind that took some of her pictures off of her Facebook. I love you Cuz!!

Edit: My cousin granted permission to use photos. Love you Cuz! Thank you. #crowleysondunkin

And we forgot to take a Subway Selfie so I am going to put this one from 2012. Also taken from your Facebook…

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My grandmother’s funeral

February 2, 2018 was my grandmother’s funeral.

If you have been reading my blog and have playing at home, you may realize that I have attended 3 funerals within a 30 day period.

I have heard that 2018 is a year of rebirth and in order to have rebirth, there must be death.

But this, along with the fact that almost daily, it seems like someone on my Facebook newsfeed will lose someone they love, it all does seem excessive.

I managed to go 15 months after Bryon’s death with no funerals.   This span of time did not seem unusual.  My friends still seem to be in the feel-good era of engagements, weddings, new houses and babies.  Funerals are much less common.

First my friend Andy died and I traveled to Maine to say good-bye and to show support to his wife, who is a dear friend of mine.

Then one of my best friends fathers passed away unexpectedly and I attended his funeral to show support to my friend.

Around the time of my best friends fathers death,  I got the news that my grandmother who had been recently ill, made a turn for the worse.  I decided I wanted to see her but I was going to wait until my parents were able to make the trip from Maine to Boston (really the town of Woburn, which is what I call “Boston-ish”).  I wanted to say good-bye but I wasn’t sure if I could handle being around a dying person after seeing Bryon die. I am sure I would  have been fine but I wanted my parents to be there just in case.  Plus, I would have my daughter and it would be easier to have my parents around (though I am sure my aunts and uncles would have helped watch her).

I never got to say good-bye to my grandmother.

She died the day before I was to make the trip.

I felt guilt but I know that it meant I wasn’t meant to be there, for whatever reason.

My grandmother’s death isn’t completely unsurprising.  She was 95. We were lucky to have her for as long as we did.  But the illness that led to her demise was brief.

Like any death, the world stops for everyone close to the deceased.  My family, who lives in the Northeast and in Florida, made our arrangements to get to Boston.

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My Nana’s wake was at the funeral home where all the Irish in South Woburn go to.  (Though ironically my grandmother was not Irish.  She was a French-Canadian who married into an Irish family).  I have often made jokes that I grew up at this funeral home.  This is the place where I have said good-bye to all four of my grand-parents, two uncles, a whole bunch of great-aunts and great-uncles as well as relatives of those married into our family.

We did everything that a good Boston Irish-Catholic (or partially Boston Irish-Catholic family) does.  

We comforted one another.  

We shared stories.  

We took comfort in those who stopped by to pay their respects.

We lamented that it was a shame we only see each other at funerals.  (We need to change that!) 

My cousins 8-year-old daughter entertained (and wore out) my three-year-old daughter.  They were the reminder that while it’s sad to say good-bye to those who leave us, we also get to embrace the newer younger family members.

We saw many distant family members who remarked that it felt like yesterday that I was my daughter’s age.  

My cousins and I spent time together and went out for Boston Chinese food and drinks (which will be it’s own post).

My grandmother’s death was different than my other three grandparents death because she is the last.  The last grandparent and really my last connection to the town of Woburn.  All of my relatives have spread out.  I spent so much time in this town.  In some ways, this town felt more like my hometown than my actual hometown of Billerica, MA.  

It is truly the end of an era.

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My daughter seemed to take her great-grandmother’s death well.  She understood that Nana was in Heaven with Daddy.  That didn’t surprise me as her father died when she was so young. I recently read Ariana Huffington’s book “On Becoming Fearless” which had a chapter about fearing death. She brings up Rory Kennedy, whose father Bobby Kennedy was assassinated while she was in utero.  She said that Rory Kennedy has stated that she has always known death due to the absence of her father.  Since Bryon died one month before our daughter’s second birthday, she knows what death is.  She knows that she doesn’t get to see her father in his earthly form and that means that she completely understands that she will never see Nana in her earthly form again.

On the way to the wake, it dawned on me that Bryon had had a closed casket but my Nana would have an open casket.  I told my daughter that she might see Nana and it will look like Nana is sleeping but Nana is really in Heaven with her Daddy and my daughter seemed to accept my explanation.

I know I am probably in the minority in my family.  I was actually happy for my grandmother.  I think of all of the people I have said good-bye to during my 39 years and I can’t imagine how many people she had to say good-bye to in her 95 years.  She gets to be reunited and I am sure it was one heck of a reunion party.

I am also hesitant to write this next paragraph because I don’t want my feelings to be misconstrued.   I want to be clear that I hope I live long enough to see my daughter grow up and meet my grandchildren and maybe even my great-grandchildren. I hope I live a long life, marry again, travel the world, that I get to help a lot of people and make a difference.

But when my time comes, I know Bryon will be there, kind of like Leo and Kate. But instead of the Titanic, it will be the latest cruise ship. And knowing that I will be reunited with Bryon (as well as everyone I have ever loved) takes away the fear of death.  And it will be one heck of a reunion party.

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I felt happy for my Nana because she is reunited with my grandfather, her son, her parents, her siblings as well as a lot of relatives and friends.  She got her Kate and Leo moment.

I felt emotionally alienated experiencing this loss.  Because I did not reach the expected level of sadness as everyone else in my family.

Losing my grandmother was sad but burying my husband in my 30s was much, much harder for me.  

I began to wonder if I have become cold and unfeeling or if I just have a different perspective?

My life changed forever 23 months ago.  The first five months of those 23, I lived in fear, desperation and in complete survival mode.  After that, I experienced grief beginning with raw grief.  Raw grief is an exhausting roller coaster.  At my grandmother’s funeral, I began to wonder if I have grieved all of the grief out of me.

Because it feels like I have nothing left.

I am all out of grief.  Like, take Air Supply’s “All out of Love” and replace “Love” with “Grief” and then completely change the lyrics of the song so they make sense and it is just like that.

I feel like my experience can be compared to cold medicine. Grieving is like the feeling you have when you are on cold medicine.  You are unwell (at least emotionally but grief also can take a physical toll on you) and you are in a fog.  Then you start to feel better. The worst is over but that fog is replaced with that post-cold medicine feeling where you are still tired, your head feels kind of hollow and you feel what you imagine to be strung out.  

While I felt like a horrible person for feeling this way, I came to a very important realization.  And maybe it was meant for me to realize this at my grandmother’s funeral, as each other the three funerals has taught me a lesson.

My grandmother’s funeral taught me that I am a survivor.  The worst of my grief is over and I am stronger.

And provided that my daughter- and any other children I may have- outlive me, then I have already lived through the worst days of my life. Sure, bad things are still going to happen.  But I survived Bryon’s death and that means I can survive anything.

Because life is only temporary.

My grandmother’s obituary.

And while I don’t know what my grandmother’s thoughts were on The Righteous Brothers, I know Bryon liked them.  And this weekend I heard this song for the first time since Bryon died and it just seemed to fit how I have been feeling lately.  So I am going to end on it.

 

 

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #2

1. The first thing I am thankful for this week is that I got to celebrate my friends birthday party.  I don’t usually use names in this blog so I will refer to her as the Slap Bet Commissioner.  She had a lovely birthday party at a bar called Wellington’s in Downtown Albany.  I got a baby-sitter, got a chance to catch up with friends and I even enjoyed a vodka club with a splash of cranberry because I am watching my macros.  I am thankful that the Slap Bet Commissioner included me in her special day.

 

2. The second thing I am thankful for was being invited to my friend’s Oktoberfest party. It was a fun afternoon with good food and good company.  And I even learned that there is a book genre called the Existential Detective novel or something like that.  I also learned about LARPing which is Live Action Role Playing.  Do any of you LARP?

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3. I already blogged about it but the third thing I am thankful for was our trip to the Springfield Museums because I got to see my cousin, her kids and my uncle.  My cousin’s son is 5 months older than my daughter so they get along really well.  It makes me happy that our kids are going to grow up together.  It gives me the warm and fuzzies.

4.  The fourth thing I am thankful for is my gym. I joined an awesome gym recently.  I don’t know the actually technical fitness terms to describe the workouts but there are a lot of weights.  And the workouts change every day so you never get bored.  I can feel my arms and legs getting stronger.  Everyday is a challenge but it is worth it.

5.  The fifth thing I am thankful for this week is that I am able to watch my daughter at dance class each week.  I am in awe of my daughter because she learns things so quickly and I love watching her grow and learn.

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And who can resist this girl?

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What are you thankful for this week?

Warm October rain: Sunday Funday at the Dr. Seuss Museum

Last Sunday my daughter and I drove to Springfield, Massachusetts for a very special outing.  My cousin drove out from the Boston area to spend the day with us, along with her two kids (including her 3 month old daughter) and my Uncle.  It was our first time meeting her daughter, who my daughter calls “Baby Cousin”.

First we hit the Dr. Seuss Museum.  At first I thought that admission was a bit expsensive but the admission is good for all five museums and they are located all together.  You can easily hit several museums in one day.  After the Dr. Seuss Museum, we had lunch at the cafe on the premises and then we explored the Science Museum, which was kid friendly.

After the Science Museum, we tried to go to the Fine Art Museum but the kids had too much energy and after they kept trying to touch peices of art that had signs asking “do not touch”, we abandoned the mission.  I love art museums so maybe when they are older.

I am thankful to be building a closer relationship with my cousin.  Even though my family is spread out between Maine, Massachusetts and Florida, I appreciate that members on both sides of my family make an effort to be a part of my daughters life.  It is good to know that my cousin and I can meet in the middle and get the kids together.  I love knowing that my daughter will have cousins to play with.  I appreciate all the time my family makes for her.

A third birthday fiesta

We celebrated my daughters third birthday this past weekend.  It was a small celebration with the Albany family, but we are still a pretty crazy bunch.  Celebrations like this are very bittersweet without Bryon, but we still had a good time.  I was tired, but very thankful for those in my daughters life.

 

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!)