Farewell 2018: Leaving behind fear

 

One of the biggest obstacles about moving forward is the fear.

Fear?  What fear?

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Fear of letting go.

Fear of things not going the way I expect.

fear of life feeling empty.

Fear that I will never be understood.

Fear of re-acclimating.

Fear that I will forget.

I have discussed in this blog about how I am currently in what I think of as “Phase III” of my grief journey.

To give a refresher-

Phase I: The first 3-6 months of widowhood.  My whole world was shattered and I am trying to figure out what the f*ck just happened to my life.  Getting out of bed and showering are a struggle.

Phase II: The period between 3-6 months and about two years.  It was the phase where I had to accept that Bryon was gone and I needed to get used to him being gone.

And now I am in Phase III.

Phase III is the phase where I need to move forward with my life.

It’s not just enough to visualize it or talk about it.

I need to do it.

I know I need to do this but there is always something holding me back.

I am excited.

But there are these fears that hold me back.

The fear that if I move forward, then I will have to let go of Bryon.  Of course, I will never completely let go but taking those first few steps are the hardest.

The fear to be hopeful because you don’t want to be disappointed.

The fear that my new life will be unfulfilling?

I need to leave these fears in 2018.

If I bring them with me, they will prevent me from achieving my dreams.

So fear much be put on the imaginary Viking Funeral Ship, set on fire and set off.

What fears are you leaving behind in 2018?

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Without Daddy

I knew this moment was going to come.

Over the weekend I got invited to a special Facebook group that consists of all my classmates from the Class of 1997 from Ellsworth High School. And guess what? It is time for our 20th reunion.

When did I get so old? Where did the time go? High school feels like it just yesterday and it also feels like a whole lifetime ago. Maybe that’s because my wardrobe has cycled back to my 1990’s style which consisted of running clothes, Red Sox T-shirts (which are timeless, really) and flannel. Both the 1997 and 2017 versions of Kerry have it going on!

I don’t know what I would tell my high school self if given the chance. That will be a blog post for another time, specifically after I visit my parents in Maine this summer and find my old photo albums because I came of age before the digital age. (I am like a relic from another era.) I feel like a blog post of that nature should have photos of teenage Kerry from the 1990s.

I remember that my high school self had big plans and I think 38-year-old Kerry would greatly disappoint 18-year-old Kerry. 18-year-old Kerry was an ambitious idealist and she wanted to be married with many children, successful (no clue how) and she would have a passport full of stamps because she would have traveled the world. 18-year-old Kerry would have never predicted the heartache she would go through, but I would be happy to tell her that she would know what true love felt like and even though she may never have the brood of children she had wanted, the one child she will have will be so awesome that she won’t need to have any other children.

When I was pregnant, we were watching the episode of Blossom when she gets her period for the first time and Bryon started to freak out. (We did not find out if we were having a girl or a boy, but we were convinced our baby was a girl.) Bryon started freaking out and said that if I died, he didn’t know how he was going to explain periods to our daughter. I assured him that it would be okay and that the baby’s Godmother would most likely step up and help.

It never dawned on me that Bryon would not be here during our daughter’s teen years.

Someday my daughter will be 14 years old and will embark on her high school journey. I always thought that Bryon and I would be parenting as a unit. I would deal with all that girly stuff, take her clothes shopping (where Bryon would enjoy pretending to be outraged that we were spending money) and teach her how to wear makeup (or take her to the counter because I am clueless). Bryon would help her with her math homework and be her biggest fan in whatever sport or activity she chose to do. I used to tease him that he was going to be a cheer dad. Bryon came from a family of all boys and they all played hockey. Bryon was very competitive and passionate for whatever team he was cheering for and I told him that I could see him becoming a cheer dad and screaming “YOU CALL THAT A PYRAMID!!!!” He would have embraced it and played it up around his guy friends.

I have no clue on how I am to guide my daughter. I was not a cool teenager and my daughter is already much cooler at 2 and a half than I was at 16. She is not awkward around her peers and I am still socially awkward at times. I did not discover Bath and Body Works until I was in college and my daughter is already obsessed with the various body lotions and body sprays at age 2. She loves to shop for shoes and clothes already. I have no idea what I am in store for when she becomes a teenager. And I am convinced she already knows how to flirt at age 2 and I still have no clue how to do that at age 38.

But it isn’t just about helping her with fashion and relationships. Someday my daughter will be 18 years old. She will have dreams. She will go to college. She will need guidance on obtaining those dreams.

Every night she wants me to read this book to her.

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It’s an adorable book with a positive message. But there is one page that when I read it to her, I can feel Bryon say “I am not be paying for her to go to college to live in a *expletive* tree. And that part about being a poet, she and I would have a discussion on the average salary of a poet and the cost of living in Upstate New York…”

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But Bryon was successful in so many areas of his life. He was smart, driven and ambitious. He isn’t going to be here to guide our daughter. He isn’t to be here to give her advice. He isn’t going to be here to help her with her math homework or cheer her on in sports. I am the one that’s left to guide her and I don’t have the mental tools that Bryon had. Bryon was an extrovert that understood people and relationships and I am an introvert and relating to people doesn’t come easy to me.

It doesn’t matter what age my daughter is. Without her father, she misses out on so much.

Margaritas, guacamole, money and a thunderstorm

Why am I writing about margaritas, guacamole, money and a thunderstorm? Because that is my present.  At least, it was 5 hours ago.  One of my best friends and I went to a favorite Mexican restaurant Ama Cocina tonight.  My daughter came too.  She was, as another friend would say, living her best life possible.  She was double-dipping those chips, grabbing items out of my taco (she prefers the deconstructed taco) and she was running around the table.  I did not approve of her acting like that in a restaurant and I had exhausted all the toys in my bag of tricks so I half jokingly told her I would give her a dollar if she sat still in her seat.  It worked.  I gave her the dollar which she happily took and said “It’s MY money.”  This must be how capitalists are born.

I have never been a person that has been good at being present.  I usually like to stress about the future or dwell on the past and constantly wonder what if.  I missed out on enjoying a lot of life’s precious moments because of this.  But no matter how bad things were, when I looked into the future, it was brighter.  Maybe that represented some sort of escapist hope.

When Bryon got sick, I had no choice but to live in the present.  I didn’t want to think about the future because when I did, I knew that there was a chance he wouldn’t be there or he would have lasting health problems if he was.  I remember stressing out one day because I was concerned that if he recovered, he might never regain his strength and what if he couldn’t storm into a court room?  He would be miserable.  He was such a strong person, mentally and physically.

During Bryon’s five months in the ICU, I didn’t spend much time looking ahead.  There were too many times that he went into shock and too many times where he came close to dying.  Obviously my end goal was for him to get out of the ICU, whether it was a step down unit (we were close a couple of times) or directly to rehab and then home.  But so much could go wrong and he was so sick that for the first time in my life, I had to live day by day.

I remember feeling so overwhelmed at this new reality.  Overnight I had gone from being part of a two person team who took care of a small child to be one person solely responsible for myself, a critically ill husband and a small child.  Bryon took care of so much.  He made sure the bills got paid and had spreadsheets that organized everything.  I knew he scheduled many payments in advance through our bank account but a few weeks into his illness, I finally had to face reality that I needed to figure out which bills had been paid.  Everything was now my responsibility.  I had to call the bank because I didn’t remember my password.  I couldn’t even remember the last time I logged into our bank account.  Then I had to figure out all the passwords.  I know I reset a bunch of them in the process.  I remember telling Bryon that I probably made a mess of the bills but they were paid and if I forgot one, then I am sure that they would find us.

I was overwhelmed.  I had no idea how long Bryon was going to be in the hospital.  Then there was talk that they would send him to Springfield, MA for rehab which is an hour and a half away and I panicked because I needed to be present to view all of his medical care and there would be no way I could do that and keep my daughter’s life as normal as possible here in Albany.  There would be no way I could afford all that gas.  But all that panicking was for nothing because Bryon never made it to rehab.

There were so many times during those months where I didn’t know how I was going to do it.  I couldn’t work so I wasn’t getting paid.   I had no idea how long my present was going to last.  And I had no idea what our future was going to look like.  I started thinking about what modifications that were going to be needed in our house and our lifestyle.  I started looking into specialists in Boston and New York for his conditions.  Not just specialists to get him well, but specialists who could manage any long term effects.  I started wondering if we should move closer to New York to be closer to better healthcare.  Boston would not be an option because Bryon was not admitted in the Massachusetts Bar.  The fact that this lifelong Red Sox fan was willing to move so close to the heart of the Evil Empire shows how dedicated I was to Bryon’s care.  But I spent a long time planning for a future that would never happen.

I somehow survived those months.  My family, friends and even some complete strangers made sure I survived.

Now I am in the future that I couldn’t think about.  My best friend in high school had a favorite quote that said “today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.”  She had no idea who said it,  she saw it on a calendar somewhere.  A quick google search 20 years later tells me that Dale Carnegie once said that.  Frankly I don’t like thinking about the future because no matter what I envision, Bryon is not there.  Yes, I have my daughter but all I see are moments where Bryon should be there.  I have no long term plan and no long term goals.  I have an idea what I want to do with my life but no clear goals as to how to achieve it.   So when I am sad about the present, I can’t escape into the future.  I try to escape to the past but lately, the days in the hospital have been on the forefront my mind.

So now I live in the present even if it can be painful at times.  I drink a lot of iced coffee and read a lot of books to my daughter.  I spend times with my girls and my Albany family and I see my biological family as often as I can.  I write.  I cook.  I run.  I read.  I travel.  And I will continue to do so until the future I dread so much becomes my present.