Soulmates

The other morning, I was driving to my gym and I was listening to some talk show and the talk show hosts were discussing the concept of soulmates.  Particularly, they were discussing if every person had just one soulmate or several soulmates.  One of the hosts leaned toward the attitude that we only have one soulmate while the other thought that if everyone only had one soul mate that it would be statistically impossible to meet them.

People were calling in with their opinions.  One lady said she was married to her soulmate and she had spent the last 31 years married to him.

This pissed me off.  Because if we only have one soulmate that means that mine was dead or I haven’t met him yet and Bryon was not my soulmate.

Frankly, I don’t like either option.

Why should all the married, non-widowed people get determine this?  What makes them so special?  Aren’t they special enough because they didn’t have to go through what I did?

But I shouldn’t let these people determine what love is for me.  While I truly respect- and envy- these people who have been married for decades, they don’t know what it is like to watch the one that you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with die.

They also don’t know what it is like to experience soulmate love that transcends death.  Because love doesn’t die.

I was also pissed because I used to believe in this notion that we only had one soulmate.  Until the world as I knew it ended and the foundation of everything I believed was shattered.

And no offense to that caller, or to anyone who ascribes to that theory but it is naive.

I was naive.

Bryon was my Husband.  He was also my best friend, the love of my life, my other half, my partner in crime, my co-pilot and my one and only.

He is my soulmate.

My Grandma Sullivan lived until she was 90 and my Nana Crowley is still alive at age 95.  Both of my grandfathers lived until their 80’s.  Grandma Sullivan had an aunt in Ireland who lived to be 98.  Nana Crowley had an aunt who lived to be 111.  (She was New England’s oldest resident when she passed)

I have the potential to be on this planet for a long time.  I also could be hit by a bus tomorrow but I don’t want that to happen.  My daughter would have to miss her gymnastics class and I am supposed to be going to a concert.

But seriously, I would love to meet my great-grandchildren.

But if we only get one soulmate then I would be lonely for the next 50 or more years.  The thought of that makes me sad.

Also if I were to get married again and my new husband was my soulmate, then what does that make Bryon?  That makes me sad too.

And I still too sad to even think about having a second soulmate right now but I know what when I am ready, I still have a lot of love left to give.

When I was younger, I was not good at dating.  I was told I was intimidating.  I had low self-esteem and could not imaging why I could be perceived as intimidating but now I know that it is because I am smart and I was closed off to people and standoffish.  If any guy was interested, they were going to fail because I was not going to give my heart to anyone.

I convinced myself that I didn’t need anyone.  Truthfully, I was lonely.

But Bryon saw something.  And he was not intimidated.  Or he never let on if he was.  He saw through my tough facade and broke down my walls.

Bryon is my soulmate.

I will never understand why our time had to be so short.  But I know with every fiber of my being that we were meant to be together.  I am who I am now because of Bryon.  He challenged me.  He changed my way of thinking.

He taught me how to live.

He taught me so much that I will carry those lessons until I die.  I hope those lessons live on in our daughter.

And when the day comes that I do leave this Earth,  Bryon will be right there waiting for me.

And I know when it is time to meet my next soulmate, he will be an amazing man.  He won’t be like Bryon.  Bryon was one of a kind.

My second soulmate will be his own person.

But I am not the same person I once was so it wouldn’t make sense to look for someone like Bryon.

I am more open to people and I hope I am less stand-offish.  But dating a widow or widower is intimidating.  Especially when the widows deceased spouse is such a legendary person.

And my second soulmate will have to accept that I would always have love for another man.  My second soulmate will have to understand that a widows heart expands.

My second soulmate will be amazing because Bryon would not let me settle for anything less.  He would find a way to communicate to me if he thought I was making a poor choice.  He would probably have “Last Christmas” by Wham! playing on every radio station, on repeat, because he knows that that is my personal vision of Hell.

Maybe I am the lucky one because I will the potential to experience “one and only” soulmate love twice?

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Am I dating?

I get asked this question a lot.  

Personally, I am perplexed as to why people think it is okay to ask me this question.  I know I have been very open about my grief journey.  I know that I write flippant messages on my Facebook particularly when there are bugs in my house or that there is snow to be shoveled.  But there is something about being bluntly asked about dating that feels a little too personal.

I don’t mind these questions from my closest friends because they are my confidants.  Maybe people see how I relate to my closest friends and they assume that since I open about so many things that I am open about my romantic life or lack thereof.  

But lately these questions seem to be coming more and more from people that don’t really need to know.  

It has only been a little over a year.

I understand that being a widow at my age is unusual.  I get that people are curious.   

Why can’t people just understand that I am still healing?  

Why can’t people just understand that I want to focus on myself and my daughter?  

Obviously, relationships can be a very good thing with the right partner.  You learn new things, you explore new interests and places, broaden your horizons.  The right person can make you become a better person and enrich your life.  I still believe that love exists even for the hurting and I sincerely look forward to when I am ready for that.  I don’t doubt that it will happen. It will when I am ready for it.  Maybe it will be like a Hallmark movie since widows have the most interesting love lives on that channel.

But a relationship involves two people and there they also require a lot of compromise.  I know that from being married.  I am not ready for that kind of compromise.  Especially when any relationship and any compromises that affect it will also affect my daughter.  And I want to do what I want to do before I enter a relationship again.  I don’t want to answer to anybody yet.

And while I am sitting here talking about relationships, that is assuming that dating would lead to a relationship.  Usually one has to date a lot before finding a relationship. I have never been good at dating.  I have zero intention of going online or going on dates with random men for the sake of just dating.  No desire for awkward coffee dates.  No desire to look at profiles.  

I get offers to help set up online profiles.  I have zero interest in online dating.  I personally don’t see any romance in that process.    

Plus there is a difference between being open to a relationship should it happen and actually being out there looking for a relationship.  I am not looking for a relationship.  

I had eight years of an amazing love story with an even more amazing man.  I still miss Bryon too much to date.  I will date someday, but to start dating again is not something any widow or widower takes lightly.  It is a major decision to decide you are ready to let someone into your heart again.  I am also I am aware that tomorrow I might meet the perfect man.  A man who is understanding of my widow status and the place Bryon has in my heart and that Bryon will always be a part of my life.  A perfect man would understand that a widow’s heart can grow to love another man.  I am fully resigned that I could meet this guy at any time and I would give that a chance.  

But until that time happens, please understand that I can be content just where I am.  If I want to talk about whether I am dating or not, I will bring it up.

For my daughter: your birth story

You were supposed to be born on or before September 14, 2014.  But you had other plans.

On Thursday, September 18, 2014 I woke up around 4 am and I was convinced I was in labor.  You father was too and he started to pack his bag.  He said we were having a baby that day.

I called the OB/Gyn.  They told me to come in which we did.

They hooked me up to the machine to measure contractions.

Your father tells me about how someone asked him how many centimeters dilated I was.  Your father said that he thought it was weird, that that person was asking about my vagina- his wife’s vagina.  I said that that person wasn’t asking in that way and it didn’t matter because I had heard that when you are delivering a baby, you don’t care.  Your father then said “Like that time on Saved by the Bell when Zack had to deliver Mr. Belding’s baby in an elevator.”  I said “Now that would have been awkward.”

We sat there for a half an hour and the contractions had stopped.  We weren’t having a baby that day.  But we scheduled an induction for Monday, September 22, 2014.

I was in a bad mood and I didn’t go back into work.  I was tired of people asking me where the baby was.

The next day, Friday, September 19, 2014 and it started out just like the day before except your father didn’t get excited pack a bag.  The morning passed but my contractions were still 10 minutes apart.  I took a nap.  I kept having to stand up.  I had back labor and it hurt.  I told your father that you were going to be an only child.

Your father had refused to take any childbirth classes.  He remembered seeing an episode of Murphy Brown where she took a childbirth class and the other parents were tools.  He didn’t want to be in a class with tools.  For an extremely intelligent man, he sure had times where he had trouble separating fictional TV scenarios and real life.

I was in the middle of a contraction and your father said “Maybe we should have taken that childbirth class…”

I look at him.  He told me that when I looked at him, he couldn’t tell if I was going to laugh or if I wanted to murder him.

Evening came and contractions were still 8-10 minutes apart.  I told your father that I heard walking helped with labor so we went to the mall.  So it was a busy Friday night at the mall and your father and I just slowly walked the perimeter of the mall.  We stopped every 8-10 minutes.

During the overnight, my contractions finally got closer together.  We went to the hospital around 3 am.  I had been in labor for about 24 hours at this point.

I got my epidural and like was good for several hours.  They thought I would be pushing around 3 pm.

Well 3 pm became 4 pm.  And then 5 pm.  And 6 pm.

You could say I was not a happy camper.

I just wanted you out of me.

It was decided that after 42 hours of labor, I was going to have a C-section.

They doctors were getting ready.  Your father put on scrubs.  The anethesiologist asked if anyone had a questions.  Your father said he did.  The anethesiologist is polite and said “okay…” and your father gestures toward the scrubs and asks “Does this make me look fat?”  The anethesiologist burst out laughing.

Your father also used that joke on the nurses and they thought he was hysterical.  Your father was proud.

So I will spare you the details of the c-section.  I do remember that once you were born, they asked your father to announce if you were a boy or girl as we didn’t find out.  He just stood there looking at you.  I couldn’t take the suspense and I said “Well, did we have a Maddy or a William?”  Your father just smiled in awe and said you were a girl.

The second you were out of me, I was given morphine.  I remember that I was suddenly transported from the operating room to a yellow foam fun house and I thought it was awesome.  Your father was there with me in the fun house wearing his scrubs.  And then as quickly as I was transported there, the fun house just melted away and I was back in the operating room.  But your father didn’t move.

I kept talking about the yellow foam fun house.  My obstetrician said that she was starting to get jealous because this yellow foam fun house sounded cool.  I kept alternating between being excited about the foam fun house and being excited about your birth.

Since I was too drugged up, your father held you first.  They placed you in his arms and the first thing he said was “Oh my God.  You are so cute.”

I stayed in the hospital for several days.  The highlights:

1)  You saw Top Gun with your father when you were a day old.

2) Your father watched the Bills with you on his laptop.

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3) At one point you were crying and he was holding you.  He started to sing to you but it wasn’t helping.  I was half asleep and said “She likes “Let’s Hear It For The Boy'”  (You did in utero).  Your father then sang the whole song, word for word.  I feel like I should be surprised that he knew the words but I am not.  And it worked.  You stopped crying.

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We celebrated your first birthday a day early on Saturday, September 19, 2015.  We didn’t want your party to be overshadowed by the Bills playing.  We had a Minnie Mouse theme and a taco bar.

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When we celebrated your first birthday, we had no idea that it was going to be your last birthday with your father.

As we celebrate your second birthday without him, it still feels unreal.  The only birthday he was at is the one you definitely won’t remember.

It is just so unfair.

At least once a day, I think about how you are going to grow up without him, without remembering him, without every knowing him in his earthly form.

And every time you do something new or funny, I am reminded that he won’t get to see you grow up.  He used to tell me that he couldn’t wait until he could talk because you would probably say the funniest things.

Every time you reach a new milestone, he won’t see that.

Every time you say something funny, he isn’t here to laugh.

He got robbed of that.

You got robbed.

Life can be so cruel.  And I know soon you are going to start asking questions.  I dread that but I won’t hide anything from you.

But I want you to know that your father loved you so much.  You were the center of his world when he was here.  And I know wherever he is, he loves you very much.  His death doesn’t change that.

And many of the people around you loved him too and they love you too.  And we all can’t wait to celebrate your third birthday.