It was so nice to be home and feel that cool, ocean air.
2. Playing with my daughter
After our day trip, we did some playing in the yard at my parents house and at the playground at our local school. My daughter said that the slide was the tallest slide in the world. Imagine that?
3. Ice Cream and Gelato
My parents and I went to an ice cream and gelato shop in our town called PugNuts. I had to get three flavors because I wanted to try them all. My favorites were the coffee flavor and the seasonal pumpkin flavor. My daughter chose cotton candy because it was blue.
I had to laugh because my mother said that all the pugs reminded her of Puppy Dog Pals on the Disney Channel.
4. Being able to watch my daughter improve in gymnastics class.
I am so proud of her.
5. My daughters Pre-K Class and teachers.
My daughter is in a great program and I don’t doubt that she will be ready for kindergarten next year.
They seriously need to bring back the laser option.
This past weekend was probably an unremarkable weekend for most. I know here in the Northeast, many people went apple picking or visited a pumpkin patch.
I love fall activities but I know I was not going to enjoy last weekend because last Saturday would have been Bryon and my 6th wedding anniversary.
The truth is, as more anniversaries pass, the more alienated I feel. Not just from other, happily married, living people (i.e. NORMS, a term created by fellow widow Michelle Miller) but also from myself. As time goes back, I feel detached even from myself. Because I am no longer a happily married, living person.
So what does a formerly happily married, living person do on their wedding anniversary, particularly when the other half of their former happy union is a dead person?
We passed the Little Deer Isle, Maine post office. This was the post office that my father worked at when he first became postmaster. This also was the promotion that brought my family to Maine from the Boston area.
It felt so good to feel the fresh air of the ocean. The ocean has always been my happy place. There is something about it that re-centers my soul and reminds me just how insignificant we really are.
We drove around Deer Isle but I didn’t get any pictures.
On the way home, we stopped at The Fish Net in Blue Hill to get fried clams for lunch and a chicken fingers lunch for my daughter. I went to the takeout window while my father stayed in the car with my daughter, who was napping.
Being home and being around the ocean always makes me reflective.
Lately I have been taking a step back socially to focus on my daughter, to reflect on my life, to take care of myself and to prepare for the next chapter in my life. I admit, it makes me a little uneasy to look towards the future and not know what to expect. I have always been a person who liked to have a two year, five year and ten year plan.
Currently, I don’t even have a two month plan.
At times, I feel lost.
A little over two and a half years ago, I still had a husband. We had just returned from a Caribbean cruise and we had our whole lives ahead of us.
And then that was taken away.
I may have gotten over the basic shock and I have accepted that this happened. But now I am working on letting go and redefining myself and my dreams.
Please trust me when I say that it’s a lot harder than it sounds.
I was thinking about this as I stood at that clam shack on the Maine Coast when I looked up and saw this:
At that moment, I realized that no matter where I go or how my dreams change, Bryon will be there with me.
I mean, seriously, if he can find a way to be with me while waiting for my lunch at a clam shack on the Maine Coast, then he will find a way to be with me anywhere.
And that was the best anniversary present I could have gotten.
Alternate title: Slowly erasing my husbands presence on Earth.
Like when I had his name removed from our bank account.
I thought about the irony. I had opened that bank account when I first moved to New York. I was a single gal but when we got married, I added Bryon to the account. We were a “one pot” kind of couple when it came to our finances. We argued about money a lot less that way. That account was our everyday account.
And now I am back to having the account to myself. With a different last name though.
There is a good chance I will hang onto this account forever.
Because I am oddly sentimental like that.
Like the fact that I have lived in the 518 area code for almost a decade and I still have my Maine 207 number. I have had my number since 2001. I graduated from college that year and had a large Nokia phone that I used to play snake on. It’s how we wasted time before Facebook.
Those were the days.
Anyway, after I left the bank the day I removed him from our bank account, I sat in my car and cried. Because it felt like his presence on Earth was being erased little by little. Sure, his name is still on the checks. The man at the bank told me it was okay to use them. But those will run out. It may take awhile because I pay most things electronically but it will eventually happen.
It is a cruel quandary of widowhood.
After a certain amount of time- time frame custom tailored for each widow- a widow realizes that she can’t keep living in the past.
She must move forward.
She knows she must do it.
But even thought she knows that she full-filled her wedding vows and that she deserves a chance to be happy again, it doesn’t make letting go of her deceased spouse any easier.
Yes, you might be groaning but I was a freshman in college when Titanic was in the theaters. It’s one of the few movies my broke self saw in the theater that year. (I already dated myself when I said I graduated from college in 2001 and played snake on a Nokia phone.)
And I am emotional right now, so we are just okay to go with it, okay?
Obviously I will never completely let go of Bryon. I couldn’t even if I tried. He is in my heart. But there comes a time that you realize you can’t hold on to every item he owned. Especially since he was a pack-rat.
Sure some items I will save for sentimental and utilitarian purposes and some will go live with friends for sentimental and utilitarian purposes.
But some items need to go because they serve no use.
Like Bryon’s clothes.
Shortly after Bryon died, I did clear out his side of the closet. Our Master closet is small and I needed the precious real estate. I bagged up about seven trash bags of clothes and put them in the garage where they sat for about a year before I brought them to Goodwill.
Apparently I put a bunch of his clothes in an upstairs closet and forgot about them.
So I got to relive the whole experience.
I saw the shirt he was wearing when he proposed to me.
Because as I held the shirt, for a brief couple of seconds, I felt like he was right there.
For a brief couple of seconds, I felt like I was still married.
And then…it was gone.
Back to reality.
And then for a brief couple of seconds, it was like the initial denial of his death came over me.
How did this happen? How is this my life? Why did he have to die?
I did put his button down shirts into a box to be saved to make a quilt for my daughter someday.
I do have Bryon’s hoodie sweatshirts. Yes, they are rather large on me but I live in a cold climate.
And some days I wear them because I know it’s the closest thing I am going to get to getting a hug from him.
And I still managed to fill nine trash bags.
Granted, some of it was old suits and gala dresses of mine from my political days.
I decided that was ten years ago and if I were to be that size again, I deserve new suits and dresses.
I mean, we are constantly evolving, right? New self, new dress.
(Though I hardly go to any events these days that require suits or gala dresses.)
I also bagged up some maternity clothes.
Widowed and 40…yeah…I am pretty sure that ship has sailed.
I saw his white suit jacket that he wore at the Young Republican National Convention Gala at the Indy Speedway in 2009. I remember him telling me that he liked it because he was dressed up but still looked different and made a statement.
I looked at his suit jackets and thought about the times I wore them as a coat when I got cold.
Now I better remember to bring a shawl in case I get cold.
There are couple of pieces I couldn’t part with.
The first was his seer sucker. He loved that.
The second item I couldn’t part with was his Albany Law School Rugby windbreaker.
The funny thing was, he rarely wore a winter coat. He either wore his ALS Rugby windbreaker or his green fleece. (He wore the green fleece to the hospital the last time so I donated it in the first round because I immediately associated it with the hospital).
For a man who rarely wore a winter coat, he sure had a lot of them. Even a few I didn’t recognize.
The third item I couldn’t part with was his navy 1950’s Dad cardigan.
He almost didn’t buy it. We were at DestinationXL and he saw it and liked it. I told him to get it but he was concerned that people would mistake him for being a hipster. I told him there was no way he could be mistaken for a hipster. Then he expressed hesitation because he didn’t know what to wear with it. So I ask the salesman on the floor and he and I have a 5 minute detailed discussion about options while Bryon looked a little dazed.
He loved the sweater. I wish I had a better picture but the only one I could find was from Thanksgiving.
And he is wearing a dirty apron. (Though the things is permanently stained. It’s hanging up. I need to toss it.)
And a turkey hat (which my daughter now loves and calls “Hey-Hey Chicken”).
And the fourth item I couldn’t part with was his Red Sox shirt.
As I put the clothes on the bed in the spare room, this little guy laid on them. I believe that animals are intelligent creatures and I think he sensed that they were his clothes. I don’t think there would be any scent but I have no idea about a cat’s sense of smell.
And then the final step to erasing my husbands presence on Earth…or my house at least was dropping the bags off.
I dropped them off at some drop boxes at a local church in my town. I prefer to drop them at a local church as opposed to Goodwill because the CEO at Goodwill makes a sh*it ton of money. I also prefer to drop off where there are bins because I am an introvert and prefer not to talk to people.
Especially when I might cry.
I have heard that clutter is stagnant energy. I have also heard that clutter is a form of depression. I just know that as difficult as this task was, it had to be done. I don’t think Bryon would want me to stay stuck in the past.
Today is my bestie’s birthday and in honor of her birthday, I am going to share 29 reasons why I love her.
(Though there are way more than 29 reasons but I do have to get some sleep.)
1. She didn’t get offended when I called her Kimmy Gibbler. It all started because I said I wanted to curl my hair like D.J. I think I called it widow hair. I then decided since D.J. is a widow and Kimmy is her BBF, that made my friend my Kimmy Gibbler. She didn’t get offended and she proudly took on her new role with grace.
2. She likes wine, cheese and coffee.
3. And bacon. Bacon deserves it’s own line.
4. She is always up for an adventurous lunch and is always willing to try new places.
5. She likes her steak still moo-ing and that is bad-ass.
6. She can whip up a dinner like no one else. And she taught me the proper way to roast a chicken.
7. She will talk to me about poop
8. You can talk to her about anything and nothing seems to shock her.
9. She will commiserate with you about the frustrations of motherhood.
10. She reminds me that I don’t need to be the perfect Pinterest mom. Being an Amazon Prime mom suffices.
11. She didn’t judge me when I read Jodie Sweetin’s memoir.
12. She appreciates fine wine but she also isn’t above drinking wine from a box.
13. She has taught me so much about patient advocacy.
14. I am an “ideas person” and without her action orientated personality, most of my ideas would just stay ideas. She helps me stay focused.
15. She has taught me that coconut oil cures everything.
16. She taught me that it is important to drink Apple cider vinegar tea when sick, even if it tastes like crap. You will feel better.
17. She understands all my dorky and obscure historical and political references and jokes.
18. She is the only person who will fangirl politicians with me. She doesn’t mock me about my crush on Marco Rubio. Or 1990’s George Stephanopoulos.
19. She drove an hour and a half with me just to get an Amato’s sub. It was worth it. Let’s do it again.
20. She let’s you be real. No bullsh*t here.
21. She understands my weird pop culture references and makes some funny ones herself. It’s like we speak our own language.
22. She is all about being authentic. We all can benefit by being more authentic.
23. She was the first person who told me that it was okay to have feelings.
24. She once called me the “Dalai “effing” Llama”. I appreciate that she recognizes intelligence. 😁
25. She recognizes the musical genius of Bryan Adams. Next time he tours the Northeast, we are so going. Even if it’s not SPAC.
26. She is the best road trip jamming partner.
27. She is loyal. Ride or die.
28. She loves my daughter.
29. She always listens to me and takes my feelings seriously and tries to help me find a solution.
When you were born, you turned my world upside down. But my life was suddenly complete.
When you turned one, my world was content. Life was only going to get better.
When you were turned two, our world was turned upside down but this time it was tragic. You were my reason for getting out of bed in the morning.
When you were three, you were the absolute center of my world. You became my little co-pilot.
And now that you are four, I think about the rest of the world and how it will be a better place because you are in it. The world is yours and I can’t wait to watch you grow into the person you are going to be.
I begin this post 45 minutes before my 40th birthday. I am also typing on my phone as I lay in the guest bedroom of my brothers house in New Hampshire with my little cuddle bug lightly snoring next to me. This is not how I usually write so I am not sure how this will affect my writing process.
This evening on my birthday eve, I had an amazing dinner with my parents, my daughter, and my brother at Hawaiian Isle in Plaistow, NH.
After dinner, my brother treated us for ice cream at Moo’s in Salem, NH.
Tomorrow I head off on an adventure with some of my besties and my daughter will spend the weekend with her grandparents.
As I write this, I have two major thoughts.
The first is that I am so happy to be done with my thirties. It had been the happiest and the most tragic decade of my life.
I started my 30s one month into my relationship with Bryon. We fell in love. I moved to New York. We adopted a cat. We got engaged and married and had a baby.
5 jobs through 3 employers
5 countries. 8 if you count overseas territories….
3 Canadian provinces.
4 cars (Mean Green, the Silver Bullet, the Bronze Bomber…and the Subaru).
I could go on but while this decade had a lot of happiness, but it still ended tragically.
Life was good and then Bryon died and I spent the last two years in deep, profound grief.
I am so ready for a new decade. I am ready for the next chapter of my story.
The second thought is that I can no longerf dread getting older. Afterf seeing Bryon die so young, I truly know each year is a gift.
Bryon will never be middle aged. If you are middle aged, you are lucky.
Bryon always joked that he was an old man in a young man’s body. He looked forward to being an old masn and he never will be.
One time when my daughter was an infant, the three of us went to have dinner at a local diner. We were seated near two grumpy old men. Bryon was amused by them and said that was going to be him and his best friend when they got old.
But know only one of them will become an old man. *knock on wood* because I am superstitious AF.
So I go into my 40th year embracing my age. My wisdom. My scars. My blessings.