Top 10 songs from my grief mix

 

Yesterday was the 18 month mark since Bryon passed.

Honestly, the day kind of snuck up on me.

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On an unrelated note: I have been juggling Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.  I am sure it will all implode soon.

I read my post from the six month mark.

I know I have come a long way in my healing journey.

I was still sad.

But the sadness didn’t debilitate me like it did a year ago.

I was still able to function and go about my daily business.

I went to the gym.

I abstracted cancer cases.

I took my daughter to a bounce house place because dance class was canceled.  She burned some energy.

But I still felt sad.

I was being hit with a grief wave.

But I am far enough into my grief journey to know the best way for me to cope.

My view on grief waves can be shown on this very hi-tech, wicked awesome graph I made.  Sadly, I spent more time on it than I care to admit.

 

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Everything is moving forward, as shown in the green.

The black line represents time which moves forward at an even, steady pace.

The blue shows the grief waves which are more turbulent in the beginning but decrease in intensity as time moves forward.  (Though beware, you can get a rogue grief wave at any time.  I just did not demonstrate that because, frankly, there wasn’t enough room.)

The red line represents healing.  It is all over the place.

For me, I have learned that it is better to just go with the grief wave than fight it.

Ride it out.

Don’t try to resist it.

Do what you need to do and it will pass.

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So I went with it.

I still cried.

I still thought about what should have been.

I thought about the things I missed about him.

And while I wasn’t sad enough to watch Sleepless in Seattle or eat ice cream, I may have belted out to the songs of my grief mix.

Lots of widows have their own grief mix.  And if they don’t- they should.

So I am going share my top ten favorites from my grief mix.  Not all songs are about death.  Some are about breakups but my only major requirement for a song to be in my grief mix is that it is sad and there are at least a few lines or verses that resonate with me.

I wasn’t going to put them in any particular order but I could hear Bryon tell me that I can’t have a half-assed song countdown and that I need to count down like Casey Kasem.

Without much further ado, here are my top ten songs from my grief mix.

10.  Didn’t We Almost Have It All by Whitney Houston

9.  All Out of Love by Air Supply

8.  Could’ve Been by Tiffany

7.  Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks

6. Don’t Cry Out Loud by Melissa Manchester

5.  All By Myself by Eric Carmen

4. Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton

3.  Yester-me, Yester-you, Yesterday by Stevie Wonder

2. It’s So Hard To Say Good-Bye to Yesterday by Boyz II Men

1.  Take My Breath Away by Berlin

What songs do you listen to when you are feeling sad?

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One of the things I miss the most…

There are so many things I miss about Bryon.

I miss his hugs.

I miss his humor.

I miss his smile.

I miss watching him play with our daughter.

I miss that I didn’t have to worry about the car, the bills or anything really.

But one of the the things I miss the most was his intellect.

I am sure anyone who has a Facebook knows that our country is very divided on an issue.

And anyone who knows Bryon knows that he was extremely intelligent.

He was probably the smartest person they knew.

And possibly the smartest person they will ever know.

Bryon was so smart that he stayed off of Facebook whenever the U.S. Supreme Court made a major decision.

He would always rant to me, “I went to law school.  I know more than most.  And I am NOT a Constitutional Scholar.  But you go on Facebook and everything thinks that they are a f*cking constitutional scholar.  Where did they get there law degree from?  Legal Zoom?”

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The same was true for major trials.  There was a very public trial (I am not saying which one) which was televised and Bryon watched a lot of it.  I mean, we all watched a lot of it but Bryon was watching it with objective intellectual curiosity.  The verdict was rendered and people shared their opinions on Facebook.

Many of his outspoken friends felt that the verdict was wrong.  There was this one “friend” and I am going to use that term loosely because no one really likes her and I don’t feel bad about it because she is arrogant.  Come on, we all have that “friend”.  You know, they always have an opinion about everything and they think that they are the smartest person in the room.  Well this “friend” was writing on Facebook about how the verdict was wrong.

It was one of the few times I ever seen Bryon get defensive about his profession.  I remember him saying “If she actually watched the trial, she would have known that the prosecution did a sh*tty job.  I am so tired of people thinking that they know more about the law than lawyers.  I don’t go into *her place of work* and tell *the worker in her position* how to do their job so maybe she shouldn’t tell people in my profession how to do their job.”

It was very similar about debates on Facebook.

Bryon would get annoyed anytime there were major debates on Facebook.

He would normally say things like  “Correlation does not mean causation” and he would remind me that statistics are very easily manipulated.

He would say that it was very unlikely that anyone was going to change their minds by reading Facebook debates.  He usually refrained from debating on Facebook.  He regularly would have to talk me out of  Facebook debates.

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But as much as Facebook debates would annoy Bryon, he would always have real conversations with me.

I always wanted to know his opinion.  Because his opinion was always solid and I could always trust it.

Bryon would look at an issue as a lawyer, a economist, as a Republican, as a Catholic, as a father, as a New Yorker, as a Millennial, as a Bills fan, etc.

I knew his opinion was not based on emotion.  He was able to see issues from all sides, even those he did not agree with.   He would often say “He/She/They are not wrong, but…”

It wasn’t uncommon for him to argue the side he doesn’t agree with.  I admit, that would drive me nuts at times.  I know there were many times I got frustrated and would say “Stop! I know you don’t believe that.”

He was one of the smartest people I have ever known, if not the smartest.  But Bryon was unique because while he was aware of his intelligence, he would take the time to explain things without making people feel stupid.  He was secure enough with his intelligence and did not feel the need to tear people down to prove it.

One of the biggest gifts Bryon ever gave me was that he taught me to be a more critical thinker and that most issues are not black and white.

I used to make self-deprecating comments to him about how dumb I was and he would tell me that wasn’t true because he couldn’t be married to me if I wasn’t smart.  He was very matter of fact about it.

I mean, sometimes he would start to lose his patience and he would smile and say “You’re the dumbest smart person I know.”  I know I am not the only recipient of that comment and I am sure there are many people who are going to smile at the memory of him saying that to them.

I have many intelligent friends to have discussions with about today’s issues, but I am really missing my conversations with Bryon.

Those conversations would be full of knowledge, insights and humor and there was a sort shared interest in those conversations.

Bryon would start out the discussion by objectively discussing an issue from several angles.  I would say my opinions and ask him questions.  Then we would discuss what it meant to us and our values.  We didn’t agree 100% of the time, but overall, we shared the same values.

And if I didn’t know how I felt on an issue, I would talk to Bryon.  I could count on him help me figure it out.

And right now, that is one of the things I miss the most about him.

 

My big mouth

I have been told that I have a big mouth. And that this mouth is going to get me in trouble.

I have been told that I inherited it from my grandmother’s. She was a civic activist in her town and her mouth got her into trouble. Though I think her mouth did the city a lot of good. The people who didn’t like probably were up to no good and didn’t like being called out.

Note: This is not the grandmother that just passed away. This was my other Grandmother.

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I almost got into an internet pissing match today.

Because I opened my mouth.

So today was Valentine’s Day. I did okay. Thanks partly to a shit-ton of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

But I am also active in the online young widow community.

Yes, there is enough young widows and widowers that we have online communities.

A member of one of these communities was upset about a MEME.

The MEME would appear benign to any NORM.

(A NORM is the term used in the widow world to denote a person who is otherwise normal and has not suffered the trauma of watching their person die. Most people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s are NORMS. I believe the first time I heard that term was in my friend Michelle’s blog.)

So this MEME showed an old couple and said something to the effect that real love was that of Grandma and Grandpa.

This one might have been it-

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Now, stuff like that makes me roll my eyes and say “Must be nice”. Yes, I get that this sweet. And I have nothing against elderly couples. However, some of the widows in the widow community were very upset by this. It’s understandable. We were all married and we all thought we were going to grow old with that person and then they die.

So of course I have to comment saying that posts like that make young widows feel worse than they already do.

Then I forget that I made the comment.

The page (I have the screenshot but for some strange reason, I feel the need to protect the guilty) responds later and while they apologized for my loss (thank you very much) they suggested that I not be on Facebook today.

Riiiiiight.

I should be banished from social media and communication from my family, friends and the outside world because it is too much of a burden on people to take a moment and think about someone other than themselves who may be hurting.

Oh and they accused me of only thinking of myself.

We know that what they say when you point fingers…(that when you point a finger, you have three pointing back at you).

Like, the whole widowed community should be banned from Facebook because the pain of the reality that they live every single day makes people inconvenienced or uncomfortable.

I’m sorry.

Actually no, I am not sorry.

#sorrynotsorry

I was going to let my anger dictate what I wrote next but then I decided that I shouldn’t be mad at the person running the page or the sheeple who liked her comment.

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First off, I remember all those times I got mad about people and Bryon would tell me that a fight wasn’t worth it.

Either that or he would say that you can’t argue with stupid.

I decided both Bryon-isms applied to this scenario.

I reminded myself that most people don’t understand the magnitude of this kind of loss. Personally I am surrounded by an army of allies who witnessed what I went through and are sensitive to what a widow goes through. To say my allies don’t understand my loss would be disingenuous.

While some of my friends and acquaintances may have said somethings that were well-intentioned but thoughtless (which I thought this MEME was) no one, and I mean no one, has completely dismissed my feelings. Well one person did but the person made the comment behind my back to one of my best friends and I ended that friendship.

I can’t expect a person to be sympathetic to young widows and widowers if they have no experienced that loss or if they have not witnessed a close friend or family member experience that loss.

They are ignorant.

They do not know.

So instead of engaging in a rude conversation, I said that I hope they never experience this kind of loss but if they do, I sincerely hope people are kinder to them.

Apparently that was the wrong answer. This person then writes back asking how it was rude and then tries to make comparisons that that don’t compare to the scenario.

I was tempted to write back and illustrate the holes in the logic. This person was clearly feeling defensive.

Then I decided that it’s truly wasn’t worth my time and that I couldn’t argue with stupidity and ignorance.

It’s amazing how prideful people can be. A simple “I am sorry. I didn’t realize how this could be offensive to __________” would have worked and it would have saved that person from a lot of typing.

But some people really can’t admit that they may have been wrong.

And I do not feel bad for one second that I stood up for the widowed cause.

At the end of the experience, I had three takeaways.

  1. I am a very different person because in the past, I would have been sucked into an argument with these random internet people. The fact that I did not get sucked in proves that a change has happened with my personality. And I like this change.
  2. Those of us who advocate for “grief awareness” have ALOT of work to do.
  3. The behavior by the guilty party is not limited to ignorance about widowhood. This works in many different areas. You don’t know what a person is going through unless you have walked in their shoes. We all could benefit from being a little understanding and empathetic.

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Widowed Valentine’s Day #2

I feel “weird” this Valentine’s Day.

It’s nothing that some Reese’s Peanut Cups can’t fix.

Because…well, Reese’s Peanut Cups.

D’uh.

I assembled 20 candy bags for my 3 year old’s class. That’s right. Gone are the days of cheap paper Valentine’s. We are living in a Pinterest World and I am a Pinterest Mom. And all us Suburban Moms must keep up with each other.

Then add in the fact that I am a widowed mother and that means I feel the need to work harder to ensure my child has a happy childhood since her father is dead.

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Now I get to sit back and be bombarded by the emotions that accompany the fact that I don’t have anyone special to love today.

Of course, this is where well-intentioned people remind me that I have a daughter. As if by missing her father, I somehow love her less. Of course I love her. She is my sunshine. But it’s not the same and we all know it. Plus, it’s also not fair for my daughter to have to take up the slack of her deceased father. It’s her job to be a kid.

So today is the second Valentine’s Day without Bryon. And honestly, he and I never did much on Valentine’s Day. He thought the holiday was stupid and I pretended to agree.

Because I knew he loved me 365 days a year.

In fact Bryon usually posted this meme on his Facebook every Valentine’s Day.

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I was expecting to have a grief wave and I was ready to go along with it (because I have learned that it is better to swim with the current than go against it.) I was prepared to do all my grief activities. I was going to watch Sleepless in Seattle, P.S. I Love You, Top Gun and the last 15 minutes of the How I Met Your Mother Finale. I was prepared to blast my sad songs Spotify playlist (yes I have one and it is oddly therapeutic at times). I was prepared for waterworks.

But…eh.

I just didn’t feel like it.

Don’t get me wrong.

I still get sad.

But I don’t usually get THAT sad. I was THAT sad for 15 months. Being THAT sad is emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting.

Maybe I am getting used to Bryon being gone.

Or maybe I am just learning to cope.

But I decided that this Valentine’s Day, Bryon doesn’t want me to be sad.

He has sent me a sign.

Let me tell a story. Sophia Petrillo-style.

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Picture it- A Suburban Target, 2014ish

Bryon and I would walk into Target.

Bryon: Hey, didn’t you need some Vagisil?

Me: *laughs* no

Bryon (loudly): Weren’t you just telling me that you needed Vagisil?

Me (embarassed): No, I don’t.

Bryon: Don’t be embarrassed because you need Vagisil.

Me: I don’t need Vagisil. Stop it!

Bryon (even louder): I think the Vagisil is over there, Honey.

People would look at us. I would get so embarrassed but I also would start laughing. When I was pregnant I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants because anyone who has carried a child knows what that does to your bladder.

I was also pissed because there was no male equivalent for me to get revenge.

Well all day yesterday, this is the ad that would show up on my spotify. Thanks Bryon. Of all the ways you could send a sign from Heaven, thank for doing it through Vagisil.

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I don’t put this past Bryon sending me a sign that he doesn’t want me to be sad.

But it’s hard not to get sad. Or really discouraged trying to figure out my future while surrounded by people who have a life similar to what I used to have (i.e. marriage).

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But I often wonder what is in the cards for me for the future.

Will I ever love again?

Will I ever marry again?

I hope I get love again. I know that I still have a lot of love in my heart.

I am not done yet.

But while I want it, I am not sure it is going to happen. I have limiting beliefs about this subject. I will share the two biggest limiting beliefs.

The first is that I feel that I am viewed as damaged. I know I have come out of this experience a stronger person. I know I am a better person now. I have also come out of this situation with a very different perspective of life. While I am not completely immune to having feelings like annoyance and anger now, I don’t get worked up about small things anymore. When Bryon was teetering between life and death, I wasn’t angry about the fact that he left his disposable contact lens wrappers all over the nightstand or that he hogged the remote or the fact that he would embarrass me in Target by publicly declaring that I needed Vagisil when I didn’t.

At the time when Bryon was sick, I was running on adrenaline and functioning in complete survival mode. I would cling onto any shred of hope I could find. After he passed, I was in numbing, raw grief and for the first year of widowhood, I could barely remember what those months sitting next to Bryon in ICU felt like emotionally. Sure I could rattle off doctors names, medicines and procedures but I couldn’t bring myself to even think about the emotions- the fear, the anxiety, the frustration, the anger, the sadness, the desperation. I honestly believe it was my brains way of protecting me emotionally.

But now I look back with a clearer mind at what I lived through and think “Holy F*ck!” because I survived something that no one should ever live through. I wish I could give 2016 Kerry a hug.

If get married again, there is a 50% chance I would have to relive it, hopefully on a less intense scale. I mean, because we can’t all marry Ryan Gosling and die peacefully in bed at the same time as our spouse in our old age. Though we can all dream…

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The reality is that I turn 40 this year. And at my age, everyone has some sort baggage. There was a whole episode of How I Met Your Mother on this concept where Ted is dating a girl that he thinks has no baggage and he discovers his ex’s husband wrote a hit movie called The Wedding Bride where the character that is based on Ted is not flattering. (And for the record- I am so not a Stella fan.)

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It’s just that widowhood baggage is less common in this age group. And people are afraid of what they don’t know or don’t understand. Most single people are divorced or never married. Divorced people have baggage too but since it is common, people are not afraid of it.

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The second limiting thought is that in the town I live in, I will always be considered Bryon’s widow and no one will go near me. I am honored to be Bryon’s widow. I also know I will get judged should I start dating again because Bryon was a well liked guy and so many people miss him. I appreciate the fact that Bryon leaves a hole in so many people’s life. It’s just frustrating that after two years of my life being in complete turmoil, I might be ready to start living my life again and I am hesitant to do that because it may upset those closest to me.

I am not too worried about it at the moment. Even if I wanted to date, I don’t know how people meet. Organically that is. I just can’t bring myself to do the “swipe right, swipe left” thing. I know many people have had success with that but I am just not feeling it.

And lastly I will be spending some time loving myself today. While I do hope to love again, I am actually enjoying getting the know the person I am now. She is strong, interesting, smart and kind of funny. I need to tend to my needs first because I can’t give myself to another person until I have taken care of myself.

So while everyone is enjoying being loved (romantically) today, I will be spending time with my little Valentine.

I will continue to feel “weird”.

And I will be eating a lot of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Because…Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

D’uh.

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For the record, Reese’s did not sponsor this post. All the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were purchased by me and my opinions of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are my own.

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.

 

 

Second funeral of 2018

Last week I wrote about attending the first funeral since Bryon had died.

Today I attended my second.

Unlike Andy, I did not know the deceased well. He was the father of one of my best friends. I saw him at their wedding and at the kids birthday parties. He made some delicious chicken wings. It was clear that they were important to him and that he loved them very much.

I feel for my friend. I might know grief but I do not know what it is like to lose a parent. Three of the girls in our tribe have lost a parent. My Chicago best friend and my Maine best friend have lost their mothers at a young age as did my Maine’s best friend’s husband (The Scientist).

And of course, my daughter is also a member of this club.

I have lost three of my grandparents (and my grandmother isn’t doing well currently) and when I lost them, I felt that the memories of them slip further into the past. I feel like there is an active past and a distant past.

The active past consists of people who are alive and memories with those people and the events were probably more recent. Memories like your friend’s wedding last year or that time you went to Chipotle with a friend and your daughter smeared guacamole all over her face. (That might actually be everytime).

To me, the distant past are the memories that are centered around a deceased person, like the times when my Papa Crowley brought us to Horn Pond (pronounced Hond Pond) to feed the ducks or the conversations I had with my Grandma Sullivan.

Of course, some memories fall in the middle of the spectrum. Bryon and my wedding should be in the active past because it was only five years ago and so many of the people who were there are around. But Bryon was a pivotal player in those memories and he is gone. Therefore my wedding feels like it is more in the distant past than the active past.

Again, my parents are still here but I imagine that the transition of the parent going from the active past to the distant past is more pronounced and painful than that of a grandparent. It must make one’s childhood feel further away.

I also feel that the process of losing a parent ages you in a way. Not physically, but the pain gives you more wisdom.

I could be totally off of the mark. And if I am, please tell me. I want to increase my understanding.

Anyway, I digress.

I spent the afternoon at the funeral home. It is important to support the people you care about. I know it meant the world to me that people came to pay their respects when Bryon passed. The grieving need to know that they are loved and are supported.

I may not have known the deceased well but I am thankful that he lived.

He loved his daughter and grandsons. They are his legacy and my daughter and I greatly benefit from his legacy. His daughter and grandsons enrich my life and my daughter’s life.

It’s a great reminder that we are connected. The people in our lives and the events in our lives connect us all. So take time to appreciate everyone in your life, even if you don’t know them well. They are in your life for a reason, even if their role wasn’t a big role.

A January trip to Maine

I don’t know exactly when I met my friend Andy.  I actually met him because I was friends with his wife.  I met his wife (I am going to call her The Scallop Divers Wife because I try not to use living people’s names in my blog) in 2004 when I joined the woman’s council at St. Joe’s Catholic Church in Ellsworth, Maine.  I only know it was 2004 because I had another friend that I became friends volunteering for a certain political candidate and she noticed that we both went to 11 am Mass.  My political friend and I decided to join the woman council and we both became friends with The Scallop Divers Wife.  I probably met Andy at a church function or maybe I met him at his house.

I used to enjoys visits to Andy’s house.  I could count on funny stories and lively political discussion.  Periodically I would house and dog sit when they went away.

I moved away from Maine in 2009 because Bryon and I had been dating a year and things were serious.  I always wanted Bryon and Andy to meet.  I know they would have gotten along. Also, Bryon had dreams of being on Deadliest Catch and I told him I could get him on a fishing boat on the Maine Coast.

But sadly, the visit never materialized.

Then Andy got sick.  Cancer.  He was given a six months to live.

Like Bryon, Andy fought.  He turned a 6 months life sentence into three years.

Shortly after Bryon passed, Andy’s niece passed in a car accident and he and his family traveled to Vermont for the funeral.  It was about three hours away but I made the trip to see them the day before the funeral.  I knew I had to make this trip because I didn’t know how much longer Andy would be here and I didn’t want to have any regrets.  I knew that this might be the last chance I got to see Andy.  After Bryon died, all the regrets I heard were from people who said they wished they knew him better.  No one said they regretted visiting him.

During that visit, Andy and I didn’t know what to say to each other but it wasn’t awkward.  I remember him being kind to my daughter who was two at the time.  He was too weak to socialize and I spent the afternoon catching up with The Scallop Divers Wife.  She gave me a lesson on cooking lobster and they sent me back to New York with some Maine lobster.

Andy and I had a few conversations on Facebook Messenger.  He said it was hard to read my blog because he knew his wife was going to be going through the same thing.  I admit that it was hard to discuss death with a dying man.  I wondered if Bryon had similar thoughts.  I will never know because Bryon couldn’t speak.

Around Thanksgiving I got the news that Andy’s cancer had spread to his brain.  We had a Facebook Messenger conversation.  He told me he wasn’t ready to die, his sons were so young.  I really didn’t know what to say.  It ended up being our last conversation.

In the beginning of December, I found out that there was nothing more that could be done and Andy would be going to Hospice.  Luckily he was able to go home.  My heart ached for The Scallop Divers Wife.  I remembered the pure agony of waiting for your husband to die.  I only had 24 hours of that agony from the “there’s nothing more we can do” conversation (though for me the words were “your husbands heart is going to stop beating today”)  and my friend’s agony was open ended.

When I found out Andy was going to Hospice, I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to make it to his funeral.  I work in oncology data and I know many patients don’t last long in Hospice.  I was out of personal time at work for the year.  I was beside myself thinking that I wouldn’t be able to go to Maine and be there for the funeral.  I remember who showed up to pay their respects when Bryon died and I wouldn’t get to be one of those supporters for my friend.    I decided that if I was meant to be there, it would all work out.

But I was also nervous that this was up in the air because this would be the first funeral I would attend since Bryon’s.  That is a huge first for any widow.  I have a tendency to obsess about things that potentially give me anxiety.  But there was no doubt that I would work through it to be there for my friend but I was having a hard time channeling this nervous energy.

Andy’s family got one more Christmas with him and he passed on December 28, 2017.

I confirmed with my manager at work at my personal time for 2018 become effective at the New Year and then I made arrangements to go to Maine for the funeral.  Ironically my parents were in Albany so their trip was cut short but they were fine with it because I was bringing my daughter to Maine and they got to spend time with her there.

And my daughter likes playing play-doh with her Grammy.

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Play-doh at Grammy and Pappy’s House

I went to the wake (I guess outside New England they call it a viewing?) to pay my respects and visit with The Scallop Divers Wife.  I didn’t stay long because I didn’t recognize anyone else and I knew The Scallop Divers Wife was busy greeting people.  It’s a long night.

I ended up grabbing dinner with another good friend.

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Finn’s Irish Pub- Ellsworth, ME

I forgot to take a pic of us together, but here is a pic from us last summer at my best friends wedding.  This was also in Maine but it was much, much warmer.

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Williams Pond, ME, July 2017

The following morning I made the 45 minute drive to Bar Harbor for Andy’s funeral.

On the drive I was thinking about how I have been widowed long enough that I am not the newest young widow in my circle of friends.  Time has a way of slapping you in the face like that.

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Trenton, Maine

Andy was a well-liked guy and the church was full.

I tend to think I am invincible when it comes to funerals.  I attribute it to my Boston Irish upbringing.

I will mention something important.  It was during Andy’s funeral that I realized that despite being angry at God that I want a Catholic funeral when I die.  It’s how my grandparents went out.  It’s how my uncles went out.  It’s how Bryon went out.  And while God might be a hateful jerk who took my husband from me, I am not going to let him take something from me that is part of my heritage.  Andy and I had had several conversations where he challenged my current views on God. I tended to get angry at the other 99.9% of the people who did that, Andy got a pass.  It’s hard to stay mad at him and I also wasn’t going to argue with a dying man about God.  But as the realization about my own mortality hit me, I just said to myself, “Well played, Andy.  Well played.”

I was fine until the moment the funeral started.  Seeing The Scallop Divers Wife have to walk down after the coffin.  I had walked in 5 funerals before Bryon (three grandparents and two uncles) and nothing can prepare you for that moment for when it’s your spouse.  My heart ached for The Scallop Divers Wife and three sons.  I felt shaky during the processional and I asked Bryon to be with me (something I don’t tend to do.  I figure he comes and goes when he feels like it) and suddenly I had my Boston Irish composure back.  I don’t doubt for a second that he was there with me.

Though The Scallop Divers Wife wins the award for being the strongest.  She got up and gave a beautiful eulogy.  I wouldn’t have been able to do it.

I had asked The Scallop Divers Wife if she was okay if I wrote this post.  She said she was curious about reading it from my point of view.  I hope I don’t disappoint her because I don’t remember the details.  I was a jumble of emotions that day and my account is likely to come across as self-absorbed.  No widow(er) means to be self absorbs.  We just have lots of emotions to sort out.  And once we get those emotions sorted out, we hit another widow milestone and it brings up a whole new batch of feelings.

The Scallop Divers Wife is my friend and I hope she will be through the rest of our lives We will always be bonded by the fact that we are young widows.  I am far enough into my widowhood journey (17 months and 5 days) to know that the funeral is like a wedding.  Both are important days but while a wedding is just one day of a marriage, the funeral is just one day in the life without a loved one.

And just like our wedding day, we will remember our husbands funeral for the rest of our lives.

Andy’s Obituary

Andy’s appearance on the Steven Colbert Show