Good Vibrations Gratitude #41 (and a question for my readers)

It’s Friday! You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.

I am inviting you join me on Good Vibration Gratitude Fridays!

Exciting, right?

You are probably wondering how you get in on the action.

It’s easy! If you are grateful for something, please either comment below or share a pic of what you are grateful for on Instagram with the hashtag #goodvibrationsgratitude

Also feel free to follow me on Instragram at @kerrymckim

Here is what I am grateful for this week.

1. The leaf pile.
Every kid deserves to jump in a leaf pile.

2. My neighbors

I have great neighbors. They are nice people who are always willing to lend a hand. Make sure you get to know your neighbors!

3. Winter Boots

The northeast got a November snowstorm last night into today. My daughter didn’t have winter boots yet. I went to Target and was able to get the last pair in her size. Well, the size above but she will grow into them before the end of winter. I was relieved to get them.

4. No cavities!

5. My daughter

Who can resist this?

And onto a question…

If I am Facebook friends with you, this may seem redundant because I asked if I should retire this blog.

I was surprised by the amount of support I have.

Thank you to everyone who showed support

I started this blog to share my grief journey. I am not the kind of person who shares my feelings with the world and this was out of my comfort zone. But I needed to get the emotions out and I felt that I could help people by sharing my journey.

But lately I have been wondering if I have been helping people. Several friends have said that all that matters is if my writing is helping me. It is but I can write and not share it with the world.

And the truth is, lately I have gotten grief for my grief. When I began this blog, I wrote my feelings. It didn’t matter how raw they were. And I was supported.

But now, the rest of the world has moved on. And that’s fine. But as everyone moves on, there is an expectation that I am “over it.”

I am still trying to make sense of Bryon’s death. I probably never will.

In addition to making sense of Bryon’s death, I am trying to make sense of the aftermath. It’s like a secondary processing of the past couple of years.

I am trying to make sense of grief in our culture.

I am trying to make sense of how I have been treated by some people.

I am trying to make sense of why some people remember Bryon and other people seem to have forgotten him.

I am trying to anticipate my future as a widowed parent. Trying to be Mom and Dad.

I’m trying to make sense of being an independent woman again.

I’m also trying to make sense of the possibility of opening myself up to love. (Gulp.)

I also feel a need to help people heal. Hence why I put all my feelings on the internet.

Lately I feel like I can’t be authentic here. I feel the need to tell the truth but the reality is that most people can’t handle the truth.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

So I find myself watering down my posts. And I am not sure that is helpful to anyone.

Last time I was back home in Maine, I had dinner with a friend. She mentioned that I seemed to need to apologize and explain any happiness I feel. She said I should just be free to be happy.

I have been holding back.

I began this blog partly as a way to express and release my emotions and lately I found that I have to hold in my emotions. And all this does is increase resentment that stays inside me.

I have began questioning whether I should take my angst out in a more creative outlet. Like poetry or novel writing.

I’d love to know what my readers think.

Stick with it? Go back to writing my raw emotions? Retire the blog? Write about something different?

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Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #40

It’s Friday! You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.

This week I am starting something new.

I am inviting you join me on Good Vibration Gratitude Fridays!

Exciting, right?

You are probably wondering how you get in on the action.

It’s easy! If you are grateful for something, please either comment below or share a pic of what you are grateful for on Instagram with the hashtag #goodvibrationsgratitude

Also feel free to follow me on Instragram at @kerrymckim

Here is what I am grateful for this week.

  1. Hallmark Christmas Movies

    Though I don’t advise actually playing this game.  You will be lucky if you make it 20 minutes.

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  2. Children’s Grief Awareness

    I did not know that there was a month dedicated to this but I am grateful that there is.  At first I thought that my daughter’s predicament was rare but then I thought about it.  First there was my daughter.

    And several friends who told me that they lost a parent at her age.

    And I have widow friends with children.

    And my mother lost her brother when she was a child so that would mean she and her siblings were affected (even though her youngest sibling wasn’t born yet, I do feel that siblings can feel a sense of loss even if the sibling died before they were born.)

    And my best friend lost her mother when she was a child.

    And the sad thing, I can go on with more examples of families within a first degree who have experienced loss.  This is much more common than we think.

    So if you are/were a child that is grieving or are close to a child that is grieving, they are not alone.

    Please be supportive to grieving children and their caregivers and families.

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  3. Attending a political rally

    Last weekend I took my daughter to her first political rally.  She enjoyed the experience though she told me that some people were too loud and hurt her ears.

  4. Voting

    While the New York elections did not go the way I wanted, I do appreciate that we have a right to vote.

    I have always brought my daughter to vote with me.  It is important for her to grow up seeing the process.  I voted around 5:30 pm and it looked like they were running low on stickers but we got one.  And I made sure to post this pic on social media because I heard votes only count if you post a picture with your sticker on social media.

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  5. My parents visit this week.

    My parents came out this week to help me pack up stuff and my Dad fixed a few things around the house.  Most importantly, the elevator on Barbie’s Dream House.

    I didn’t get any pictures except my instragram picture from the 99.  We always go to the 99 because we are #newenglandAF

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    What are you grateful for this week?

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Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #35

It’s Friday! You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.

Here are 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1.  My day trip in Maine

    It was so nice to be home and feel that cool, ocean air.

 

2. Playing with my daughter

After our day trip, we did some playing in the yard at my parents house and at the playground at our local school.  My daughter said that the slide was the tallest slide in the world.  Imagine that?

 

3. Ice Cream and Gelato

My parents and I went to an ice cream and gelato shop in our town called PugNuts.  I had to get three flavors because I wanted to try them all.  My favorites were the coffee flavor and the seasonal pumpkin flavor.  My daughter chose cotton candy because it was blue.


I had to laugh because my mother said that all the pugs reminded her of Puppy Dog Pals on the Disney Channel.

 

4. Being able to watch my daughter improve in gymnastics class.

I am so proud of her.

5. My daughters Pre-K Class and teachers.

My daughter is in a great program and I don’t doubt that she will be ready for kindergarten next year.

They seriously need to bring back the laser option.

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What are you grateful for this week?

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A Fall Saturday in Maine

This past weekend was probably an unremarkable weekend for most.  I know here in the Northeast, many people went apple picking or visited a pumpkin patch.

I love fall activities but I know I was not going to enjoy last weekend because last Saturday would have been Bryon and my 6th wedding anniversary.

The truth is, as more anniversaries pass, the more alienated I feel.  Not just from other, happily married, living people (i.e. NORMS, a term created by fellow widow Michelle Miller) but also from myself.  As time goes back, I feel detached even from myself.  Because I am no longer a happily married, living person.

So what does a formerly happily married, living person do on their wedding anniversary, particularly when the other half of their former happy union is a dead person?

Well last year, our anniversary fell on a Friday.  So I took Kimmy Gibbler out for a steak lunch at Black and Blue Steak and Crab.  The food was amazing.

This year our anniversary was on a Saturday.  Taking Kimmy Gibbler out for steak wouldn’t have worked because our kids would be home from school.

I am kidding, of course.

The truth was, I didn’t want to be in town that day.  I didn’t feel like sitting around my house or staying in the town where every place has some memory of Bryon.

So I drove home to Maine for the weekend.

That day my father, my daughter and I went on a day trip.

Our first stop was the scenic lookout at  Caterpillar Hill in Sedgwick, Maine.


I don’t know what my hair was doing in that picture.  We were near the ocean so it was windy.

Then we crossed over the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge.

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We passed the Little Deer Isle, Maine post office.  This was the post office that my father worked at when he first became postmaster.   This also was the promotion that brought my family to Maine from the Boston area.

We drove down to Pumpkin Island Light.

It felt so good to feel the fresh air of the ocean.  The ocean has always been my happy place.  There is something about it that re-centers my soul and reminds me just how insignificant we really are.

We drove around Deer Isle but I didn’t get any pictures.

On the way home, we stopped at The Fish Net in Blue Hill to get fried clams for lunch and a chicken fingers lunch for my daughter.  I went to the takeout window while my father stayed in the car with my daughter, who was napping.

Being home and being around the ocean always makes me reflective.

Lately I have been taking a step back socially to focus on my daughter, to reflect on my life, to take care of myself and to prepare for the next chapter in my life.  I admit, it makes me a little uneasy to look towards the future and not know what to expect.  I have always been a person who liked to have a two year, five year and ten year plan.

Currently, I don’t even have a two month plan.

At times, I feel lost.

A little over two and a half years ago, I still had a husband.  We had just returned from a Caribbean cruise and we had our whole lives ahead of us.

And then that was taken away.

I may have gotten over the basic shock and I have accepted that this happened.  But now I am working on letting go and redefining myself and my dreams.

Please trust me when I say that it’s a lot harder than it sounds.

I was thinking about this as I stood at that clam shack on the Maine Coast when I looked up and saw this:

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Bryon with a “yo”.

At that moment, I realized that no matter where I go or how my dreams change, Bryon will be there with me.

I mean, seriously, if he can find a way to be with me while waiting for my lunch at a clam shack on the Maine Coast, then he will find a way to be with me anywhere.

And that was the best anniversary present I could have gotten.

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The cruel quandaries of widowhood

Alternate title: Slowly erasing my husbands presence on Earth.

Like when I had his name removed from our bank account.

I thought about the irony.  I had opened that bank account when I first moved to New York.  I was a single gal but when we got married, I added Bryon to the account.  We were a “one pot” kind of couple when it came to our finances.  We argued about money a lot less that way.  That account was our everyday account.

And now I am back to having the account to myself.  With a different last name though.

There is a good chance I will hang onto this account forever.

Because I am oddly sentimental like that.

Like the fact that I have lived in the 518 area code for almost a decade and I still have my Maine 207 number.  I have had my number since 2001.  I graduated from college that year and had a large Nokia phone that I used to play snake on.  It’s how we wasted time before Facebook.

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Those were the days.

Anyway, after I left the bank the day I removed him from our bank account, I sat in my car and cried.  Because it felt like his presence on Earth was being erased little by little.  Sure, his name is still on the checks.  The man at the bank told me it was okay to use them.  But those will run out.  It may take awhile because I pay most things electronically but it will eventually happen.

It is a cruel quandary of widowhood.

After a certain amount of time- time frame custom tailored for each widow- a widow realizes that she can’t keep living in the past.

She must move forward.

She knows she must do it.

But even thought she knows that she full-filled her wedding vows and that she deserves a chance to be happy again, it doesn’t make letting go of her deceased spouse any easier.

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Yes, you might be groaning but I was a freshman in college when Titanic was in the theaters.  It’s one of the few movies my broke self saw in the theater that year. (I already dated myself when I said I graduated from college in 2001 and played snake on a Nokia phone.)

And I am emotional right now, so we are just okay to go with it, okay?

Obviously I will never completely let go of Bryon.  I couldn’t even if I tried.  He is in my heart.  But there comes a time that you realize you can’t hold on to every item he owned.  Especially since he was a pack-rat.

Sure some items I will save for sentimental and utilitarian purposes and some will go live with friends for sentimental and utilitarian purposes.

But some items need to go because they serve no use.

Like Bryon’s clothes.

Shortly after Bryon died, I did clear out his side of the closet.  Our Master closet is small and I needed the precious real estate.  I bagged up about seven trash bags of clothes and put them in the garage where they sat for about a year before I brought them to Goodwill.

Apparently I put a bunch of his clothes in an upstairs closet and forgot about them.

So I got to relive the whole experience.

I saw the shirt he was wearing when he proposed to me.

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I cried.

Because as I held the shirt, for a brief couple of seconds, I felt like he was right there.

For a brief couple of seconds, I felt like I was still married.

And then…it was gone.

Back to reality.

And then for a brief couple of seconds, it was like the initial denial of his death came over me.

How did this happen?  How is this my life?  Why did he have to die?

I did put his button down shirts into a box to be saved to make a quilt for my daughter someday.

I do have Bryon’s hoodie sweatshirts.  Yes, they are rather large on me but I live in a cold climate.

And some days I wear them because I know it’s the closest thing I am going to get to getting a hug from him.

And I still managed to fill nine trash bags.

Granted, some of it was old suits and gala dresses of mine from my political days.

I decided that was ten years ago and if I were to be that size again, I deserve new suits and dresses.

I mean, we are constantly evolving, right?  New self, new dress.

(Though I hardly go to any events these days that require suits or gala dresses.)

I also bagged up some maternity clothes.

Widowed and 40…yeah…I am pretty sure that ship has sailed.

I saw his white suit jacket that he wore at the Young Republican National Convention Gala at the Indy Speedway in 2009.  I remember him telling me that he liked it because he was dressed up but still looked different and made a statement.

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Young Republican National Convention Gala at the Indy Speedway in 2009.

I looked at his suit jackets and thought about the times I wore them as a coat when I got cold.

Now I better remember to bring a shawl in case I get cold.

There are couple of pieces I couldn’t part with.

The first was his seer sucker.  He loved that.

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New York State Young Republicans Day at the Races- Saratoga, NY, 2010

The second item I couldn’t part with was his Albany Law School Rugby windbreaker.

The funny thing was, he rarely wore a winter coat.  He either wore his ALS Rugby windbreaker or his green fleece.  (He wore the green fleece to the hospital the last time so I donated it in the first round because I immediately associated it with the hospital).

For a man who rarely wore a winter coat, he sure had a lot of them.  Even a few I didn’t recognize.

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Continental Divide, 2010

The third item I couldn’t part with was his navy 1950’s Dad cardigan.

He almost didn’t buy it.  We were at DestinationXL and he saw it and liked it.  I told him to get it but he was concerned that people would mistake him for being a hipster.  I told him there was no way he could be mistaken for a hipster.  Then he expressed hesitation because he didn’t know what to wear with it.  So I ask the salesman on the floor and he and I have a 5 minute detailed discussion about options while Bryon looked a little dazed.

He loved the sweater.  I wish I had a better picture but the only one I could find was from Thanksgiving.

And he is wearing a dirty apron. (Though the things is permanently stained.  It’s hanging up.  I need to toss it.)

And a turkey hat (which my daughter now loves and calls “Hey-Hey Chicken”).

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Thanksgiving, 2015

And the fourth item I couldn’t part with was his Red Sox shirt.

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Tri-City Valley Cats Game, 2012

As I put the clothes on the bed in the spare room, this little guy laid on them.  I believe that animals are intelligent creatures and I think he sensed that they were his clothes.  I don’t think there would be any scent but I have no idea about a cat’s sense of smell.

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And then the final step to erasing my husbands presence on Earth…or my house at least was dropping the bags off.

I dropped them off at some drop boxes at a local church in my town.  I prefer to drop them at a local church as opposed to Goodwill because the CEO at Goodwill makes a sh*it ton of money.  I also prefer to drop off where there are bins because I am an introvert and prefer not to talk to people.

Especially when I might cry.

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I have heard that clutter is stagnant energy.  I have also heard that clutter is a form of depression.  I just know that as difficult as this task was, it had to be done.  I don’t think Bryon would want me to stay stuck in the past.

I just wish it didn’t hurt so much.

Birthday Eve ramblings

I begin this post 45 minutes before my 40th birthday. I am also typing on my phone as I lay in the guest bedroom of my brothers house in New Hampshire with my little cuddle bug lightly snoring next to me. This is not how I usually write so I am not sure how this will affect my writing process.

This evening on my birthday eve, I had an amazing dinner with my parents, my daughter, and my brother at Hawaiian Isle in Plaistow, NH.

Scorpion Bowl
The quintessential Boston Chinese Pupu Platter
Pineapple and fortune cookies
…in bed.

After dinner, my brother treated us for ice cream at Moo’s in Salem, NH.

Tomorrow I head off on an adventure with some of my besties and my daughter will spend the weekend with her grandparents.

As I write this, I have two major thoughts.

The first is that I am so happy to be done with my thirties. It had been the happiest and the most tragic decade of my life.

I started my 30s one month into my relationship with Bryon. We fell in love. I moved to New York. We adopted a cat. We got engaged and married and had a baby.

3.5 residences.

5 jobs through 3 employers

5 cruises.

5 countries. 8 if you count overseas territories….

20 States.

3 Canadian provinces.

4 cars (Mean Green, the Silver Bullet, the Bronze Bomber…and the Subaru).

I could go on but while this decade had a lot of happiness, but it still ended tragically.

Life was good and then Bryon died and I spent the last two years in deep, profound grief.

I am so ready for a new decade. I am ready for the next chapter of my story.

The second thought is that I can no longerf dread getting older. Afterf seeing Bryon die so young, I truly know each year is a gift.

Bryon will never be middle aged. If you are middle aged, you are lucky.

Bryon always joked that he was an old man in a young man’s body. He looked forward to being an old masn and he never will be.

One time when my daughter was an infant, the three of us went to have dinner at a local diner. We were seated near two grumpy old men. Bryon was amused by them and said that was going to be him and his best friend when they got old.

But know only one of them will become an old man. *knock on wood* because I am superstitious AF.

So I go into my 40th year embracing my age. My wisdom. My scars. My blessings.

But just not my gray hairs.

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.