Lessons learned: 17 months into widowhood

New Years Eve 2016, Bryon and I stayed in.  We figured it would have been too hard to get a baby-sitter that night.  Bryon made Beef Wellington.  I never got my kiss that night because I looked over at him at 11:53pm and he was snoring in his chair.

Life was good.  We had our routine.  Our jobs were going well and things were going well at home.  Our daughter was 16 months old and Bryon loved playing with her.

Bryon was preparing for weight loss surgery.  I decided that I was going to get healthy alongside Bryon and I started Couch to 5k and I was going to run a half marathon in the fall.

12657440_10154274483622841_9017884093105764695_o

In Feb 2016, we went on our last cruise with a few days in Florida beforehand.  We went to the Tampa Zoo and we spent the day at Epcot with my cousin and her husband and we had dinner with Bryon’s Godmother and her family.  On our cruise we visited Bryon’s two favorite ports, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.  We had a few fancy dinners on our last cruise and those were probably our last date nights.

In March Bryon had his weight loss surgery and it went well.  Bryon’s recovery started off well.  He was looking forward to being cleared to re-institute solid food and being cleared to exercise.  He wanted to start Couch to 5k and wanted to run a 5k.  We were looking forward to the rest of our lives.

Then in an instant everything changed.

Bryon was critically ill in the ICU where he clung to his life for 5 months.

For 5 months I was exhausted and ran on adrenaline and caffeine, desperately pleading to God to heal Bryon.  At the beginning of August, I had him transferred to New York City and for two weeks, things were starting to look up.

Until his body started to shut down.

On August 20, 2016 I was told that Bryon’s heart was going to stop beating.

He died the next morning.

For the following month, I was in total shock.  That shock turned into fog.  That heavy fog stayed for six months and then began to lift.  I started noticing things about how I felt and how I was treated.

The fog has slowly been lifting.

I was a happily married wife and mother of a one year old and now I am a 39-year-old widowed mother of a three year old.   Sometimes it feels like I was living my old life yesterday and other times it feels like a lifetime ago.

I feel that the fog is gone.  I feel like my present is a combination of that moment on every episode of Saved by the Bell where the chaos is ensuing and Mr. Belding comes in and says “Hey, hey, hey!  What is going on  here?” and that episode of How I Met Your Mother when the glass kept shattering.

I have spent the last 22 months thinking.  Thinking about so many things.

Things I have thought about over the last 22 months.  (Disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive list)

My Marriage with Bryon.
How does his death affect our daughter?  She won’t remember him.
The meaning of life.
My life from beginning to present.
Tacos.
What happens after we die?
My relationship with God.
How do I want to spend my remaining years?
The fact that I need to watch all those episodes of This Is Us on my DVR.
The Fuller House storyline and the fact that John Stamos is still hot after all these years.
What do I want out of life?
Can I ever love again?
What have I learned from all of this?
How can I make this horrible event positive?
My relationships.

I have decided to share with you some of the lessons I have learned so far.  These lessons aren’t in any particular order. This is from my current perspective and may change after I spend more time thinking.

1)  Grief takes time and can’t be rushed.

2) Only YOU know what’s best for YOU.  Most people don’t have a clue what you need.

3) It is up to you to decide when you or if you are ready to live again.

4) You can’t change how people treat you.  You can only change how you respond and set boundaries.

5) People will project their feelings onto you.  Don’t take it personally.  If someone is tearing you down, it is likely that they are the ones who are insecure and they tear you down to make themselves feel better.

6) Be open to others but beware of their intentions.  People are not always who they project themselves to be.

7) Love yourself.  You deserve it.

8) Surround yourself with loving, supportive people.  Life is too short to be around toxic people.

9) There is always beauty in this world.  You just need to make sure your blinders aren’t on.

10) People generally mean well.  They don’t mean to say painful things.  They are just products of a society that doesn’t know how to handle death and grief.

Advertisements

For my daughter: What I learned about love from the a-holes I dated before your father

For my daughter:

A few weeks ago I wrote about what I learned about love from your father.  I actually learned a lot more about love than just that so I will most likely write more about those lessons.  But I also decided that I wanted to share some life lessons from before I met your father.   This is a compilations of the life lessons I learned from the boys I dated before I started dating your father.  I do think these experiences were valuable.  These experiences led me to your father.  Without these mistakes, I wouldn’t have been ready to let your father into my heart.  

Who knows, if I start dating again, I might write about “the things I learned about love from the a-holes I dated after your father died” but let’s hope that I have learned to weed out the a-holes.

It might not seem possible but yes, your mother dated a few guys before she met your father.  Not a lot.  Remember, your mother has a hard time letting her guard down.  But these lessons sum up my experiences and what I had learned from them.  

Some people may be reading this and thinking, well what if she grows up and doesn’t like boys.  That might happen.  And I will love you no matter what.    But I won’t be any help.  If you should grow up and prefer the company women, we will find someone that is better qualified to give you advice.  Because I can’t.  I don’t even really have men figured out.  I had your father figured out but he was not an ordinary man.

  1. Don’t be on someone’s hook.  There is a whole episode of How I Met Your Mother about it. It’s when you aren’t in a relationship but you almost find yourself in some sort of pseudo relationship.  I found myself in more of these than I can count.  I would form a close relationship with a guy but I could never let on how I truly feel because I was too proud for that.  I was sure that if I told these guys how I felt that I would be rejected and no one wants to be rejected.  So I settled on friendship.  These guys would come to me for emotional support and I gave it out.  But almost inevitably, they would find another girl to give their affection too.  I would be left baffled.  It wasn’t fair.  I had put in all these hours of emotional support and I was overlooked.  Who knows? Maybe some of these guys were into me but we convinced that I only saw them as a friend.  It’s fine to be friends with guys.  But if you find yourself giving way than you are receiving, distance yourself.  If he wants you, he will come to you.  You are too amazing to waste your time on unreturned love.
  2. You are worth a nice dinner.  This was also something I learned from your father.  I put it here because the a-holes I dated before your father support this claim, just on the negative side.  Be wary if you are brought to a chain restaurant on a first date.  Well, your first real date.  As I write this in 2017, coffee dates are apparently the thing.  Most people meet online and meet up for coffee where they size each other up.  They decide if the other is worth the cost of an expensive meal and, in my case, I would be deciding if this guy is worth the cost of a babysitter to watch you.  Sounds depressing, right?  At the very least, not romantic yet honest.  By the time you read this, I have no idea what the modern dating rituals will be.  Some really cool fad that doesn’t exist yet could be all the rage.  But remember this for your first sit down, dinner date.
  3. It’s In His Kiss.  It is a song by Betty Everett that was popular when your Grammy and Pappy where young.  The concept was elaborated on in the movie 2005 romantic comedy Hitch. Will Smith plays a dating doctor and he is coaching Kevin James (who I have a bit of a crush on, though I forgot to put him in my list of celebrity crushes) and he tell Kevin James’s character that woman judge the whole relationship by the first kiss.  Based on my experience, I think that is valid.  Your father was a good kisser.  The a-holes that I dated before your father…not so much.  Does that mean if a guy isn’t a good kisser that there isn’t a chance?  I wouldn’t say yes but you need to ask yourself if you think you can teach the guy to be a good kisser and do you want to do that.  Also, while some kissing is skill, most of it is passion and chemistry and you can’t teach that.
  4. If you say you love him and he just says that was “random”, he’s not for you.  Your mother may have not worn her heart on her sleeve but when she loved, she loved hard.  Combine this with the fact that she is hyper-verbal at times.  When your mother is in love, she likes to express it verbally and she will whenever she feels it whether it’s over a romantic dinner or doing something mundane like sitting in front of the TV and watching 20/20.  Your father never once got annoyed with me saying “I love you.”  He said it a lot too.  And randomly.
  5. Never give up your dreams for a guy.  A long, long time ago (1999, which is 18 years ago as I write this but by the time you are ready to date, it will likely be over 30 years ago)  I studied for a semester in England.  It was one of the best experiences in my life.  I had found out about a program where I could return to England for six month after my college graduation on a student visa. I could sleep on the floor of my friends flat and pour pints for six months but who cared?  I would be in England.  And then I started dating a man that would become my ex-boyfriend and I didn’t apply.  I was too caught up with this guy and his mediocrity that I didn’t do an experience where I would shine. They say it’s never the things you do that you regret, it’s the things you didn’t do.  This is one of my biggest regrets. No guy is worth extinguishing your dreams.  The right guy will wait for you.   
  6. If something doesn’t feel right, just stay away.  If you feel like you are being told lies, this isn’t a good sign.  Stay away from the guy who has baby mama’s calling him for child support despite his claims that he’s sterile and only has one testicle.  This would also apply to anyone with a criminal record or belongs to any groups that could be described as hate groups.  If the stories don’t add up and your gut is telling you something, stay away.  You are smart and you need to trust yourself.
  7. If you feel like you are settling, you probably are.  It’s not always passion and fireworks but if you feel like you can’t be yourself and that you are missing out on life then run.  I knew it was time to quit when I was dating a guy who like stay in on Friday night and watch America’s Funniest Home Videos. Granted it was before YouTube (which probably will be antiquated by the time you start dating) but it was after the Bob Saget  years.  Life is too short to be with someone who kills your spirit.

All these a-holes were good for something. They made me into the person I needed to be to let your father into my heart. So even if you wind dating your fair share of a-holes, they will shape you into the person you need to be for that special someone.