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?

Advertisements

Happy second birthday in Heaven

Today was Bryon’s second birthday in Heaven.  You might have read my blog yesterday when I wrote about how it was one year since the funeral and you must be confused as to why I am writing about his birthday.  It’s true.  His funeral was a day before his birthday.  I had to experience a painful first the very next day after the funeral.  And the firsts just kept coming.  My birthday is in two days, my daughters is next month and our wedding anniversary is at the end of September. This corner of the year will probably always be the roughest five weeks of the year for me.

It seems so unreal that we are celebrating Bryon’s second birthday in Heaven.  At times, I am still stunned that this all happened. But I decided that last week that the anniversary of his death will be the sad day.  His birthday will be a happy day. So I decided to have a party for our friends to get together and share stories. Instead of dwelling on Bryon’s death, it was time to celebrate that he had lived.

Last year, the day after his funeral, a few of us had dinner at hibachi because that is what we had done for his last living birthday.  I was thinking of doing that again but I wanted to include more people and it would be hard to have a lot of people at a hibachi table.

I decided that I wanted to release balloons at the cemetery and then have funfetti cheesecake at my house.  I wanted to buy a whole cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory.  Bryon would have loved that.  He loved funfetti cake and cheesecake.  It would be perfect.  But my friend called the local Cheesecake Factory, they said they couldn’t sell whole funfetti cheesecakes.  But that’s okay.  I found a recipe online that worked well.

A few of my friends met at the cemetery.  One of our friends brought a pennant from Siena College to decorate the grave.  The same friend read the prayer of St. Francis which worked well because I did not prepare anything to be said.  St. Francis was Bryon’s favorite Saint so he would approve.

My daughter and I brought a bundle of balloons to release.  I was very impressed with my daughter.  She is not yet three but she understood that the balloons were going to be released and sent to Heaven for Bryon.  I was worried that she wasn’t going to understand the concept and that she would get upset but she let the balloons go and seemed happy that they were going to Heaven.  

After the cemetery, we went back to my house for pizza, funfetti cheesecake and stories.  There also may have been some Moxie tasting.  Kimmy Gibber did not like it.

This might be the start of a new tradition.  Maybe it won’t.  But for the time being, it is comforting to know that I have a group of friends who are like family who want to  remember Bryon’s life.  And I hold my Albany family close to my heart.

I wasn’t done loving you

I could think of a million reasons why you couldn’t die.

Our daughter wasn’t old enough to ride a bike.  She needed  you to teach her.  You needed to see her go to Kindergarten and graduate from high school.  You needed to scare any boy she brought home.  You needed to walk her down the aisle when she got married.

You still had more to accomplish in your career.  You wanted to write a book.  I still hear about how much people miss your knowledge and expertise.

We had a cruise booked.  It was going to stop in Aruba.  We had so many other cruises we wanted to go on.  Except you didn’t want to go on an Alaskan cruise, but I knew you would eventually give into me.

All the other places we were supposed to go to.  You wanted to go to Texas and attend a high school football game because you loved Friday Night Lights.  You wanted to go to San Diego and see all the Top Gun sights.  And you wanted to go to Branson, Missouri.  I still don’t understand why you wanted to go to Branson, Missouri so badly.  Even if it’s the Nashville of the Ozarks.  I didn’t want to go, but eventually I would have given in.

We were supposed to have another baby. Our daughter was supposed to be a big sister.

You needed to  meet your best friend’s new son and all the other babies that have been born since you have passed.  It still hurts my heart to think that they have all been born into a “post-Bryon” world.

Some of the reasons that I didn’t want you to die were self serving.  You always took care of everything.  I didn’t know how I was going to do it without you.  I was pretty helpless before all this happened.  I wanted things to go back to normal.

I had to be strong during this trauma. I found out I was much stronger than I ever knew. I wanted you to know how well I handled everything.  I thought you would be proud of me.

But the major reason I didn’t want you to die was because I wasn’t done loving you.

We only got three anniversaries. We celebrated our first and third. Our second anniversary was nine days after our daughter was born and we forgot to celebrate it that year. I remember we were lying in bed and you said “Hey, it’s our anniversary today.” We never could have known that we would only have three anniversaries.  Maybe we would have found a way to celebrate that anniversary if we knew we were only going to have a few.

I thought about all the stupid fights we had.  I thought about all the times I got annoyed with you over stupid things.  I thought about all the times I didn’t appreciate all that you did for me.   You couldn’t die because I needed time to prove that I could be a better wife.

We were always so busy, caught up in our day to day lives.  I didn’t take the time to show I loved you.  We can’t get that time back.

I wasn’t ready to let you go. I wasn’t ready for you to die. I wanted a chance to do it better. I wasn’t done loving you.

You held on for five months in the ICU.  You survived septic shock many times.  Your organs shut down and you kept fighting.  No one can say that you didn’t fight.  You fought until the bitter end.

I knew you were fighting.  After sitting by your side for five months, I know you fought harder than anyone else in your situation would have.  Most people would have given up. You didn’t want to be done.  You wanted to accomplish more in your career.  You wanted to have more time with your friends.  You wanted to raise your daughter.

And maybe you weren’t done loving me either.

A Widow’s Rage Defense of Patton Oswalt’s Engagement — Erica Roman Blog

I have never shared another blog on my blog but this is a must read.  While I myself am not ready to give my heart to someone else, I hope I will someday.  NO ONE has the right to judge a widow or widower when they choose to love again.  Erica nails it.

Yesterday I was very excited to see that the comedian Patton Oswalt had announced his engagement to Meredith Salenger. Now, anyone who know’s me knows that I don’t follow the lives of celebrities at all. I’ve made an exception for him. Our spouses both unexpectedly died within 3 days of each other and both of […]

via A Widow’s Rage Defense of Patton Oswalt’s Engagement — Erica Roman Blog

The last first holiday

One thing I have been told about grief is that the firsts are the hardest.  I learned that quickly.  I had the proverbial bandaid ripped off as your 31st birthday was the day after the funeral  and my birthday came two days after that.  The following month included our daughter’s second birthday and our 4th wedding anniversary.  

Then the holidays followed.  

Halloween came and went.  Our daughter dressed up as a cheerleader.  We were invited to go trick or treating with friends followed by some chili.  We had a good time.

Thanksgiving came and went.  We spent it with my family in New Hampshire.  Four generations came together.  I made most of dinner and baked three pies which you would think was a waste of time but I enjoy the process of baking.  I squeezed in time in Maine and Boston.  

Christmas came and went.  It was spent with our Albany Family.  Feliz Navidad Brunch and an Italian Feast that can’t be beat.

New Years came and went.  I got to say good-bye to 2016 (literally the worst year of my life) and I welcomed 2017.  We stayed up to see Mariah Carey make a fool of herself.  Be glad you weren’t there to see that.  The festivities continued the next day at the New Beginnings Brunch.

Valentine’s Day came and went.  We celebrated at the Toddler 3 class party.  Friends sent packages and our favorite golden retriever, Carter, told his parents to buy us roses which Carter’s father did.

Easter came and went.  There were several Easter egg hunts, a ham dinner and dyeing of Easter eggs.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day came and went.  Holidays that I couldn’t distract myself with company.

And now it’s the Fourth of July.  

The last first holiday without you.  

Sure, there is Bastile Day but we didn’t celebrate that.  I am sure you could come up with some other random holidays that we didn’t celebrate just to frustrate me and keep me from making my point.  

The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays.  If you were still alive, we’d spent the 3rd with your best friends family on the lake and on the 4th, we’d go to a baseball game.  Because what is more American than baseball and fireworks?  And I would get annoyed with you because you used to work at Disney and you knew how fireworks were choreographed.  You knew every firework move before they happened.

Since your death, some traditions have changed.  

I haven’t gone to any baseball games since you were gone.  Part of the reason is that you had a friendship with the lady at the beer stand.  She loved you and I don’t know if she knows if you have died.  And I don’t want to have to tell her.  I know she will be crushed if she doesn’t already know.  I avoid people who may not have known.  I just can’t do it.  I don’t want to cry in public.

But some traditions will stay the same.

Our daughter and I will be with your best friends family at the lake.  My heart hurts to think that you aren’t going to be there.  We had a lot of memories at those parties.  The fireworks, the boat rides and the amazing food. You always brought Sam Summer ale.  And who can forget when I was 30 weeks pregnant and I pressed the wrong button on the bidet and for about 10 seconds I thought my water had broke.  

There is no way around it, you will be missed.  But I know that I am not the only person who will be missing you at the party.  Your best friends family is an extension of our family.  Last year when you were in the ICU and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find a babysitter, they gladly took our daughter for the day so I could sit with you.  We were hopeful that you were going to recover and be there with us today.  

But as we all know, you won’t be there.  Because you are dead.

The fact your best friend’s family still include us the same as they did when you were alive means more to me than I can ever express in spoken or written word.  They are part of our family whether their son marries our daughter or not.  (We are still taking pictures for the rehearsal dinner slide show just in case).  Whether they get married or not, I think it is safe to say that they will grow up together.

We will try not to dwell on your absence too much.  I know you wouldn’t want that.  

And also, you will be there in spirit.  At least that is what people tell me.  Like, all the time.  I think they mean well.  I think they think that by saying it that makes me feel better but it doesn’t.  Even if it’s true, we all know you are dead and that it’s not the same.    

Part of me is relieved that all the first holidays will be done.  But then I realize that there will still be a whole bunch of firsts.  

Later this month I will go to my first wedding without you.  

Weddings.  I won’t have you to dance with me.  We won’t be coordinating outfits.  And I can’t just absentmindedly choose the chicken dish knowing that I can have a taste of your beef dish.  You won’t be there getting enraged if someone chooses First Corinthians for their reading.  I won’t hear you rant about how Paul wasn’t talking about romantic love, that he was talking about the love of The Church.  

You won’t be there for all our daughter’s firsts.  Her first day of kindergarten.  Her first recital. Her first sports competition.  Her first time riding a bike without training wheels.  Her first date.  (You might be dead, but I am sure your blood pressure just went up).  You will miss all her big days.  Her graduations.  Her prom.  Her wedding.  You won’t be there to meet her children.

And then I think of all the firsts that I never thought I would ever have to repeat.  Especially at this stage of my life.  I don’t want to think about these firsts.  Not yet.  I miss you too much.  But eventually I am going to have to think about it.  I am not going to lie, I am kind of angry that I am in this position.  I was happy with you.  Sure, we had our problems, but I was happy.  We were a good team.  But you taught me how to love and you made me a better person so I know my story isn’t over yet.  I also think it’s ironic.  Loving you made me a better person and you don’t even get to experience it.  Someone else might but not you.  Seems like a twisted joke.  This whole ordeal (crisis? nightmare? my life?) seems like a twisted joke.

So tomorrow (technically later today as I write this) we will miss you more than anyone can imagine.  We will be comforted by each other’s company.  And we know that you will be there, whether it’s “in spirit” as everyone tells me, or if it’s because you are a part of us now or a combination of the two.  

For my daughter: what your father taught me about love

For my daughter:

They say that a girl learns how she is supposed to be treated by observing how her father treats her mother.  Unfortunately, you will not see this firsthand.  You will learn about other kind of love from all the people in your life that love you.  But you will not see how your father and I loved each other.  So this is my attempt to write down, the best I can, what I learned from your father’s and my love.

  1. True love does exist.   You might have to wait for it, but it exists.  I had given up on the idea of falling in love.  Part of that was my own fault.  We come from an Irish family and showing affection and love is not our strength.  We are not usually warm and fuzzy.  I never let my guard down.  I still don’t know why your father thought I was special and worked for my affections but I am happy he did. 
  2. It’s okay to have standards but still keep your heart open.  I had a list of ten items.  The top three were Republican, Catholic and a Red Sox fan.  Almost everyone thought I was nuts and told me I was being unreasonable. (The irony is now the only one of those three I can say I am with any certainty is a Red Sox fan.  These days I feel “meh” about religion and politics.)  The fourth item was being Irish which your father was ⅛ Irish so that might be stretching it.  I can’t remember much of the rest of the list except I wanted a man that could provide intelligent conversation (check),  a man who like to travel (check) and a man who had depth to his personality (check).  I wanted a man who could to the symphony and wine tasting one night and go to a baseball game, drink beer and eat hot dogs the next.  I was told that one was unreasonable but it described your father perfectly.   I also wanted an older man.  I almost didn’t give your father a chance because I was stuck on the age issue.   You have to be honest in what you are looking for but you also have to know when to be open. 
  3. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.  Your father and I were not a likely pair.  I was 7 years (actually 6 years and 363 days) older than him.  We also lived 7 hours apart.  I was not looking for a younger man or for a long distance relationship.  Your father wasn’t initially looking for a long distance relationship either.  Your father would text me and say he liked older woman and I pretty much would text back with “well, good for you.” Your father pursued and I resisted but in the end, it happened and there was nothing to stop it.  We fell in love.  We fell hard and we fell fast. It was meant to be. 
  4. You are worthy of a nice dinner.  It’s not about the money, it’s about the effort.  A friend of mine who is like a big brother to me once said that if a guy takes you to a chain restaurant on your first date, then there shouldn’t be a second.  I told this to your father and he agreed 100%.  Granted, your father generally had a disdain for all chain restaurants (except Texas Roadhouse and Chili’s) but you are unique and he should not take you to a generic place. 
  5. Love brings out the best in you.  The right one will make you want to be the best version of yourself. They will see the best in you.  You will strive to be a better person when in love. 
  6. Love with care- choose your words wisely.  Your father and I were/are both passionate people and we had some heated disagreements.  We were both guilty of saying things that we didn’t mean.  Choose your words carefully.  Love can be strong but life is fragile.   Even though we were both guilty of it, I am haunted by those words.  Even if you forgive each other and make up, you can’t take words back. 
  7. You don’t know how much you love someone until they are at death’s door.  Your father and I lived a busy life and we didn’t always take time to enjoy our love quietly.  But there were many days that defined our love.  Days where I thought I couldn’t love your father more than I already did.  The evening we got engaged at Mahar’s.  Our wedding day.  The day you were born.  Each of these events made us realize greater depths of our love.  I remember being in labor and I was cursing everyone and everything (sorry but it was true, labor is no joke!)   I remember your father saying he loved me so much and that he never loved me more than he did at that moment.  My love reached its culminating point when he was at death’s door.  You don’t know how much you love someone until you realize that they could be gone at any moment.
  8. Love doesn’t die.  A person will die but the love that exists doesn’t die.  When your father and I made our wedding vows, we vowed to love and honor each other, all the days of our lives.  Your father may not be here anymore, but I still love him and honor him and I know wherever he is, he loves me too.

I am not marrying a Texas rancher.

Members of my Albany family often get together for dinner.  Witty banter is exchanged, like a real family.  My daughter fights with my best friend’s son as if they are siblings.  Last night dinner was at my house.  I made several dishes from The Homesick Texan’s cookbooks (yes, I have both.)  Anything I have ever made from her cookbooks is a hit.  I highly recommend them.  We started joking that my husband should be a Texas rancher.  Except I can’t move to Texas so he would have to set up a ranch in our suburban town.  

I may have posted a joke about this on social media as my sense of humor can be inappropriate at times.  Part of it is my personality.  If you follow the Meyers-Briggs philosophy, I am an INFJ.  My blog friend Jessica is an INFJ as well and she often writes about INFJ problems.  She so gets me.  One of her recent posts is about INFJ humor and our ability to tell jokes that make others uncomfortable.  The other part of my inappropriate sense of humor is dark humor, which is typical of widows.  The way I look at it is, if you have lived through dark times, then you can joke about it.

But I want to be clear,  I am not marrying a rancher from Texas.  

I am not marrying anyone.  

I am not dating anyone.  

I am not sleeping with anyone.  (Though it would not be anyone’s business if I was sleeping with anyone and no one’s place to judge.  I am just not interested.  Besides, I would probably start crying halfway through this activity and I am pretty sure that is not considered a turn-on. Though some people are into some weird stuff so you never know).

I am not marrying anyone.  I was married to a man who was the love of my life and my best friend.  I don’t know if there are even words to describe the love between us.  We were a team and we fit.  Sure, we had problems and arguments, but got through them.  We both had strong personalities and we had our groove.  We supported one another as individuals and as a part of our team.  Bryon was the first man I ever let my guard down too and he never let me down.  

My Grandma Sullivan was widowed when she was 76 and was never remarried before she died at the age of 90.  I remember her joking about two things with me.  One was that she was going to buy a pair of jeans (though she called them dungarees).  The second thing she joked about was getting a boyfriend.  I didn’t see a problem with it, but I remember my grandmother just saying that she could never find a man who would compare to my grandfather.  My grandmother was an Irish woman and she was not one to express emotions and my younger self didn’t detect any emotion in her comment but now I know that comment was full of emotion.  Now I totally understand exactly what she was saying.

Will I ever remarry? Possibly.  I was good at being a wife.  I can cook.  I am not bothered if dinner is interrupted by a work call. I don’t mind sports being on the TV.  Oh, and I will stay by your side when you are sick.  But I really hope that Bryon’s situation doesn’t happen to anyone again, especially anyone I know.  But right now I struggle to think anyone could capture my heart like Bryon did.  There was only one of him and he was perfect.  I doubt there is anyone out there that would be perfect for my broken heart or could understand what a widow goes through.

Will I ever date?  Someday, maybe, but right now I feel “meh” about it.  I have never been good at dating and I just don’t have any desire to enter the meat market.  Plus, I know that even the best relationships are work and right now I am not ready for that kind of work.  Especially when most guys would probably be mediocre.  I have spent my life trying to do well in all my roles- the good wife, the good mother, the good daughter, the good friend.  Those roles are important, but there was one area I was never concerned about and that was being good to myself.  I need to sort out who I really am as opposed to who I have been expected to be.

So I am not marrying anyone and I am not dating anyone and I don’t plan on doing either anytime soon.  Oh, and I am not sleeping with anyone and I don’t plan on doing that anytime soon either.  Until I am ready for any of those things, I have so many things to do.  I have a story I need to write.  I need to figure out where I stand with God and I need to decide if there is any point to being religious. I have a nightstand with three ridiculously tall piles of books I need to read.  I have races to train for.  I have places to travel to and weddings to attend.  I have a stack of cookbooks full of recipes that I need to try.  I have crime TV shows to watch even if they scare me and then I can’t sleep.  I have a garden to tend to.  I have a house to redecorate.  And all of this gets worked around my daughter’s schedule and spending time with my friends.  And once I know what my daughters dreams are, then some of our adventures will revolve around that.  Right now I know she likes gymnastics and aquariums.

After I accomplish all of this, then we will see about the whole love bit.