(We are also going to ignore the fact that this song was popular during my freshman year in high school. Because I don’t feel like feeling old today.)
We are talking about this inner circle. And the non-pictured husbands and boyfriends.
I can’t imagine life without them. Not just because they got my through the worse of my grief and they don’t make me feel bad when I talk about Bryon. But just because they are awesome people. This might sound cheesy but for the first time in my life, I feel like I belong.
On Saturday these two adorable kids are getting married and I am grateful that I get to be a part of their day.
8 Years of Friendship with Robin Brillantes
Facebook reminded me that Robin Brillantes and I became Facebook friends eight years ago yesterday. She remains one of my most favorite people of all time. I couldn’t figure out how to play the cheesy video that Facebook compiled so you get this picture of us from last Saturday.
Of course one of our friends says that Facebook is the lowest form of friendship. But I am not going to worry about that with Robin Brillantes. Because we know our friendship is amazing because it is built on love, laughter and tacos.
That I am still remembered on Mother’s Day.
My daughter made the picture and cards at school and my parents sent the flowers and the teddy bear. Though my daughter has already claimed the teddy bear as hers. I had a feeling that they had that in mind when they ordered it…
It’s a scenario that is very common to those in the widow world.
Our beloved spouse dies. Whether your spouse died after a long illness or if your spouse died suddenly and unexpectedly, you are in shock.
Then we have a funeral or a memorial service. Friends, family, co-workers and even acquaintances may attend. People tell stories about the deceased and assure the widow that they will never forget the deceased and that they are there for her if she needs anything.
A good portion of those people disappear forever. They mean well but to tell a widow that they are always there for her. What did that mean? Was it a lie? The funeral is not the hardest day for the widow. It’s the weeks and months that follow.
The pessimistic side of my personality feels that these people only told the widow that because it made them feel better.
The optimistic side of my personality reminds me that that time period is a big jumble in my mind and it remains blurry in my memory, a lot like a dream sequence in a 1980s sitcom. But without the cheesy transition music. So does it really matter if all those people who said they would never forget my husband have forgotten my husband?
For the first few weeks after the funeral, there may be people to check up on the widow. They may see if these needs anything around the house. They may have made her dinner and played board games. They let her cry in her dinner. They may have kept her company as she drinks wine and binge watches the Gilmore Girls.
But gradually the amount of people checking in on the widow gradually drops off until one day she begins to wonder what happened to all the people who said that they would never forget their spouse.
It happens to every widow. On some level. And it stings.
I was shocked when I came to the realized that very few people talk about Bryon now. It’s pretty much just my inner circle. Even though I still feel like I am getting my feet steadily on the ground, it is like Bryon never existed to anyone outside my core group of friends.
And what happened to all those people who said they were going to share stories of my late husband with my young daughter? She was a month shy of her second birthday when my husband passed so she won’t have any memories of her own. I was counting on those stories for her to know her father.
I do have a core group of friends who are very present in my life and my daughters life. I am one of the lucky ones. Widowhood is lonely. Some widows don’t even have a core group of friends or family to lean on.
So how is a widow supposed to handle it when they are struggling to move forward and the rest of world has already moved on? And while I have moved forward, it doesn’t mean that I want Bryon to be forgotten.
Here are the five things I remind myself to feel better when it feels like everyone has forgotten my late husband.
Remember that this is what normally happens. Many people were affected by Bryon’s death. I think of their grief as a hole and depending on their relationship with Bryon would determine the size of the hole. On one end there are some people had small hole that might trip them if they weren’t looking. But they can just look up and keep walking. On the other end (where our close friends and family are) is a hole that is the size of the hole that was next to Anne Perkins house on the pilot episode of Parks and Recreation. This hole is impossible to avoid and it caused drama in Anne Perkins life. Her boyfriend even broke his leg. It is much harder to function with this kind of hole.
But I am the widow. But I wasn’t dealing with a hole that needed to avoided or filled. I was dealing with the fact the whole foundation my life was built on was destroyed. Everyone else had their distractions and they had their homes to go back to with their spouses and significant others. It is hard to find distractions when your whole life is destroyed. My husbands death affected every area of my life.
Give yourself a pat on the back
Because you have done such an awesome job at surviving and existing that people don’t feel like you don’t need to hear stories about your deceased spouse. As far as they are concerned, you have moved on. Why shouldn’t they? We live in a society that has a twisted sense of grief. You are either completely beside yourself with grief or you are completely over it and there is little room in between.
Accept it This is your life and you can’t make people understand. Unfortunately I feel like you can’t truly understand widowhood until you have been there. No one can understand the pain and emptiness that fills up most of our life. It is what it is. And really, that is a good thing that they are blissfully unaware. The world doesn’t need more hurt.
Realize that maybe people are actually thinking about your spouse and you just don’t know it.Maybe people are remembering your spouse and you are just not aware of it. We make assumptions based on what we see and maybe people don’t want to bring up your deceased spouse because they are worried that they are going to hurt you if they do. They don’t realize that we are not delicate flowers.
Take that upset energy and turn it into gratitude.
This one is the most important step. It is best not to waste your energy dwelling on negative feelings and instead, use that energy to be grateful for all the people who remain a positive force in your life. Even if that positive person is you.
I will hold onto those friends who have been by my side through the past two years. They aren’t getting rid of me.You can also take some of that energy and focus on yourself. Give yourself some self-love. You deserve it.
If you are widow, how did you cope when it felt like a loved one was being forgotten?
We know what that means! Time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!
My last post was my 200th post. Thank you for reading and for all your support!
While it seems that we have gone straight from winter to summer, I will take it.
A rainy but memorable day.
My daughter had her first field trip at a local farm. It was a great day, despite the rain. I was going to write more, but I think the event deserves its own post. But here is a preview.
Surviving wasps and ticks
Along with the warmer weather, we have been getting visits from unwanted guests.
My daughter had her first tick bite last night. I saw it in the morning. Now I know I must check her every night. I have never had a tick bite myself so I have never worried about it. Luckily I was able to get it all out with tweezers and we went to the pediatrician just in case. So I will keep an eye on it for a rash.
We also had a few hibernating queen paper wasps in the house. That freaked me out. I am not a fan of bugs. Killing bugs was Bryon’s job but now it is mine.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I laugh each and every time I saw that on my Facebook newsfeed. Though this was in a different context. Probably in the intended context.
Anyway, the day after I discovered the wasps was my routine treatment from the exterminator. Luckily Mr. Exterminator was very nice. He didn’t mind me staring at him adoringly because at that moment, he was my knight in shining armor. He even located a wasps nest on my garage and got rid of it.
Everyone who has worked hard on the second annual Bryon C. McKim Derby Party
Saturday will be the second annual Bryon C. McKim Derby Party. I am thankful for everyone who donated their goods and their time toward this event. We raise money for my daughter’s education trust and toward the establishment of scholarships to be set up in Bryon’s memory at Siena College and Albany Law School. If you are in the Albany area, we hope to see you.
Tickets can be purchased here or you can buy them at the door.
The dress came into my life on October 28, 2011. Bryon and I had been engaged since Sept 6, 2011, and had set our wedding date for Sept 29, 2012. We had our venue and wedding planning was in full swing. I needed a dress.
I can’t say that I was looking forward to picking out a wedding dress. 5 out of 6 of my bridesmaids lived out of state so I was pretty much alone in the process. I wasn’t going to be sitting with a group telling Randy that I was saying yes to the dress. (Yes, that is a TLC reference) I have also struggled with my weight throughout my life so that also left me apprehensive about the whole wedding dress shopping process.
I had looked through some wedding magazines and I had an idea what I wanted. I wanted a princess gown with sparkle but I didn’t want anything too crazy. At that point in my life, I was working in a clerical position at a local emergency room and my schedule ran from Sunday to Thursday. Bryon and I decided that we would go to Boston because Filene’s was going one of their “Running of the Brides” events on Friday, October 28, 2011. It ended up being the last time Filene’s did the “Running of the Brides.”
These events were known to open at 4 am and be full of brides and their teams running around grabbing whatever they could find. Bryon and I decided that we would aim for a ten a.m. shopping time after things settled down and we left Albany for Boston around 6 am. Bryon was not going to go shopping with me. We were old-fashioned about many things and seeing my wedding dress was one of them. Luckily, one of my bridesmaids who lived in Maine made the trip down to Boston to help me shop. Bryon decided that he was going to take a tour of Fenway Park while we were dress shopping. I told my friend my vision and my size range. I looked at a few racks and found exactly what I was looking for but it was a size too small. Yes, I planned to exercise and lose weight and all that but I didn’t feel comfortable relying on my plans. I knew it was safer to err on a larger sized dress and have it altered own. Luckily this dress was a mass-produced Alfred Angelo dress and I quickly located the same dress in my size. I quickly located my friend who has a few dresses she found for me to try on. Then I stripped down in a busy store and put on the dress. Normally that might seem bizarre, but that morning, everyone was doing it.
I knew the moment I put on that dress that this was it. This was my dress. It was love at first sight. It was a princess gown but not too poofy and just the right amount of sparkle. There was what looked like a few black grease stains on the bottom but I figured they would come out with dry cleaning. (Spoiler alert- they did!) I didn’t even try on the dresses my friend picked out. We both knew there was no point. I called Bryon to tell him the news. He couldn’t believe that I picked out a dress so quickly as his tour of Fenway Park hadn’t started yet. I told him how much the dress cost ($500) so he could input the data into his Google spreadsheet. He loved Google spreadsheets. While Bryon took his Fenway tour, my friend and I took the subway out to where Bryon and I had parked our car and I locked my dress in the car. We went back into the city and we met Bryon for lunch at Boston Beer Works right outside of Fenway Park.
Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography
Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography
Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography
I don’t remember much more from that afternoon. I had my dress and I was happy. Bryon was happy that I was happy. We walked around the city. We went to Cheers (it will always be the Bull ‘n Finch to me) and Bryon got annoyed by some tourists that were blocking the door. We had dinner at an Italian Restaurant in the North End that Bryon had seen featured in Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. Bryon had a bit of a man-crush on Gordon Ramsay and gushed after a trip to the men’s room saying he went in the same urinal that Gordon Ramsay must have used.
Our wedding came and went. It was my day. It was everything I dreamed it would be and I felt like a real princess. Now it is five and a half years later. My husband is dead and I have no use for this dress. I am never going to wear the dress again. I mean, even if I get married again, I am not going to wear it again. For one, it’s the dress I wore to marry my first husband who is now dead. Secondly, even if it wouldn’t be weird to wear the dress again, my tastes have changed. It was the perfect dress for me in 2011-2012 but now it wouldn’t suit my style in 2018.
The dress has sat in the back of the closet in my spare bedroom. I never had it cleaned after the wedding and the bottom of the dress is dirty from being dragged on the floor all night. When Bryon was alive, he encouraged me to get the dress cleaned and then sell the dress but I just couldn’t bring myself to part with the dress I wore on one of the happiest days of my life. Now, this dress, which is a symbol of my happiness is also a symbol of my sadness. And I began to wonder what I should do with this dress. The first thing people usually suggest to me is that I should save the dress for my daughter. While I think it is touching when someone wears their mothers’ wedding dress, I felt like I would be burdening my daughter. I didn’t want her to feel like she had to wear my dress. Styles change. Yes, she could change the style but the dress was strapless, to begin with. Also, the dress was made out of polyester, not some fancy fabric. Lastly, I hope my daughter doesn’t struggle with her weight like I do and the dress size may not be easy to work with.
I feel that my daughter deserves her own “say yes to the dress moment”. A moment that, God willing, I will be there to witness.
The second reason I don’t want my daughter to wear my wedding dress is a bit selfish. I have attended two weddings since Bryon passed and my daughter and I will be in a party wedding very soon. And at each moment I am always taken aback at the father-daughter moments. Because Bryon won’t be there to walk her down the aisle. He won’t dance with her. (Which he once mentioned he wanted to dance to Sitting at the Dock of the Bay because it was in his favorite movie, Top Gun. I told him it would be our daughter’s decision, not his.) He won’t be beaming with pride. He won’t be making jokes, pretending to be annoyed at how much the wedding cost. Now I don’t know who is going to walk my daughter down the aisle. Maybe she will have a stepfather. I am optimistic that I will fall in love again. And he will be a wonderful man because I wouldn’t settle for anything less.
Or maybe my daughter will have her grandfather walk her down the aisle. Or maybe her Godfather will walk her down the aisle. Or maybe one of the many uncles she has, the men who were Bryon’s closest friends. She has lots of great men in her life to choose from. But the only thing that is certain is that Bryon won’t be walking her down the aisle and that moment is going to take me aback. Even if that moment is brief, that moment will be there. I will feel my breath being taken away. I will feel like I am being punched in the stomach. It will sting. There is a good chance I will tear up. Because even though so many people love my daughter, the man who gave her life and loved her so much won’t be there to walk her down the aisle.
And if she were in my wedding dress, it would be too hard for me. So this brings me to this wedding dress from one of the happiest days in my life that was a symbol of all my sadness. I am in the process of clearing Bryon’s belongings out of the house. Letting go of each item is a process, no matter how small. First I have to decide if an item holds a practical use for me If not, does someone I know have a practical use for the item? Is the item broken? Those questions are usually easy to answer. It’s the sentimental items that are tough. Sometimes I break down and cry. Sometimes I get angry because he is dead and all I have is…stuff. Sometimes I feel empty. Sometimes I feel nothing at all. My wedding dress was definitely a sentimental item. I felt like my wedding dress wasn’t done yet. My dress had done what it was meant to do. It had served its purpose. It made me feel beautiful on one of the happiest days of my life. I felt like my dress wasn’t mean to just sit in my closet and remain a symbol of my sadness. One day I felt like it was time to let go of my dress. I remembered hearing about charities that take donated wedding gowns and making gowns for babies who have passed away. Just like I knew right away that my wedding dress was the one, I knew immediately that this was what I was meant to do with my wedding dress. The families of those babies are in a deep and profound grief and while I don’t know the pain of losing a child, I do know deep and profound grief. I felt like I needed to whatever I could to help. I couldn’t think of a more dignified second life for a dress that made me so happy. That dress didn’t deserve to sit in a closet, avoided. That dress would go on for a deeper purpose. It brings me a sense of healing to donate that dress will, in some form, bring comfort to a grieving family. My wedding dress made me look beautiful at my wedding and lives on in my memories and these angel gowns may be the last (and maybe the only) chance for these grieving parents have to see their child dressed in something beautiful. I went to google and saw that most of the charities that made angel gowns weren’t taking wedding dress donations. I looked through my google results and saw that there were many other worthy organizations that accept weddings dresses for various uses. But I felt drawn to this particular purpose.
After searching, I found the Facebook page of a charity made angel gowns and it was local. I sent the charity a message over Facebook messenger to inquire if they were currently accepting and they responded within the hour. They were accepting wedding dresses and I could drop it off at a Ford dealership on the other side of town.
I also learned that they were looking for shipping sponsors to purchase VISA gift cards as these gowns sometimes have to be overnighted free of charge to the recipients. Gift cards to Wal-Mart and Jo-Ann’s were also appreciated as these seamstresses were volunteers and can always use donations for materials to decorate these gowns. I did decide to be a shipping sponsor and a donated a VISA gift card along with my dress.
It was also requested that the crinoline be removed. Crinoline is that netting-like material that makes up petticoat. My dress had a lot of it. I took the dress out of the closet. Then I took it out of the garment bag. I looked at the dress one last time. I contemplated trying it on the dress on but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that. As requested by the charity, I removed the crinoline. Then I removed the sparkly band that sat just under the bust of the dress. I decided that I would set it aside for my daughter. She can incorporate it into her wedding, should she choose to do so. Then I cried. I bawled.
I hadn’t bawled like that in many months. Sure my eyes tear up a little but I couldn’t remember the last time I bawled like this.
I put the dress back in the garment back and brought the dress downstairs where it hung on a hook on the exterior door of my kitchen. The dress sat there for 4 days because I did not have the time to bring the dress where my daughter would not have been present. I was afraid that I was going to be an emotional mess and I did not want her to see that. Though part of me dragged my feet because this would be final. One morning after I dropped my daughter off at daycare, I decided it was time. I put the dress into my car and drove to Latham Ford. Dropping off the dress was an easy process. The salesman held the door open for me and told me to go over the receptionist. The receptionist took the dress and thanked me. And then I left. At that moment I felt nothing and everything all at once. My dress was gone. I couldn’t ask for it back.
I didn’t cry. I know I made the right choice for me.
* * * All wedding day photos are courtesy of my wedding photographer, Heidi Benjamin. Thank you for being so gracious.
You know what means- time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude!
Here are the 5 things I am grateful for this week:
I don’t really remember life without my cousin H-bomb. My earliest memory of her was in my Nana’s kitchen. I had to have been around my daughter’s age (3 and a half. Can’t forget that half.) My Nana was feeding H-bomb, who was sitting in a high chair. I want to say that the Price is Right was playing on a black and white TV but I could be wrong. If it wasn’t on, it should have been.
H-bomb has pretty much seen me through all stages of life- hyper kid, awkward middle schooler, high schooler, college kid, singleton, politico, wife, mother, widow and…whatever weird stage I am in now. And she has been my best friend through it all.
Going to the House of Seven Gables
As I said in my last post about my trip to Boston, I finally got to go to the House of Seven Gables. I had wanted to go about 20 years ago but no one wanted to go with me. I was excited that H-bomb and the gang were going.We kept joking that all my dreams from 20 year ago were finally coming true. I don’t know if the spirit of my younger self comes alive more when I am around H-bomb or if I am more in touch with it due to all my self-reflection over the past year and a half.
I am also thankful I am getting this period of time to examine and reflect on my life and choose to live my life more deliberately.
My future son-in-law’s birthday
Okay, I don’t know if this boy will be my son-in-law someday. It started as a joke. This little boy is the son of Bryon’s best friend. He is 5 months older than my daughter and it has always been the joke that they will get married someday.The other day we (my daughter, my future son-in-law, his mom-and one of my besties, her younger son and I) were walking out of daycare. My daughter and my future son-in-law are ahead of us and there is a random lady there.
Future son-in-law (to random lady): I am going to marry her. His mom/my bestie, me, and everyone within earshot: Awwwwww! Random lady: Can I come? My daughter: No.
We need to work on being more gracious and tactful.
This past weekend was my future son-in-law’s 4th birthday and we went to his school party at the trampoline place.
On Tuesday night (the night before his actual birthday) we all saw Disney Jr Dance Party at the historic Palace Theater. Ironically I only got pics with my daughter and the birthday boys little brother. Ooops.
Whether the kids end up marrying each other or not, it is an amazing experience to watch them grow up together and see their friendship grow.
Spending time with my friend Gentel/Corks and Forks Event
Last weekend I got to see my friend Gentel (she blogs here). Gentel and her boyfriend were in Albany for the weekend and invited me to attend the Corks and Forks fundraiser to raise awareness for Huntington’s Disease. I didn’t know much about Huntington’s Disease. You can read more about the disease here.It was a great event. And it was great to spend time with Gentel and her boyfriend.
I hope to see them sometime soon.
Everyone in my life
I know this is a broad one but I am thankful for everyone in my life.For everyone who is there for me and my daughter.
For everyone who messages me and checks up on me if they think I am sad.
For everyone who has offered to help me.
For everyone who listens to me. And for everyone that shares their stories with me.
For everyone who encourages me.
For everyone who sends me funny texts and SnapChats.
For everyone who helps me create happy memories.
I think about close friends, new friends, old friends, school friends, work friends, political friends, widow friends, internet friends, Maine friends, New York friends and former friends.
I truly believe that everyone has been in my life for a reason. I am thankful for all the love, light and laughter in my life. I am also choosing to be thankful for all those who have caused pain. Because that pain has helped shape my character and taught me the importance of treating people better.
I am thankful for all those who have played a role in my life.
My cousin: H-Bomb and her husband Tito
H-Bomb’s friend from Florida
H-Bombs friend in Massachusetts and her boyfriend, The Boat Captain
and Yours Truly.
***I just want to note that I try to avoid using real names for people so I use nicknames. Sometimes I will write and not have a nickname yet. It does not mean that these people are not important. Everyone is valued and loved. It just means I haven’t thought is a wicked cool nickname yet***
My brother, Danimal the Party Animal also made an appearance. He’s not really a party animal. We just used to work at the grocery store back in Maine when I was in high school and he was in college and the produce guys named him that.
H-Bomb is a planner but I suggested we re-create this commercial. My daughter can do everything that little boy does in the video. Heck, she can probably do it better. Because she is awesome.
I had a simple plan.
First, find a Bed and Breakfast that would let us shoot some picturesque shots.
My daughter will run away from the water because the North Atlantic is effing freezing this time of year.
Find an old man with a lobster boat. I will bring my daughter’s life jacket. It’s pink not orange but I think we can work with it.
Find a town having a 4th of July concert in the town common. On a Thursday. In April. My daughter can dance.
Picnic baskets and marshmallows and a bonfire on the beach. Who cares about town permits?
Ultimately we decided against recreating the Spirit of Massachusetts video. But we did decide that should we make one, it would include history, the Red Sox, a whole lot of Dunkin Donuts and Tito said that we needed to film one of us standing at an intersection in Boston looking completely dumbfounded.
Because Boston is not known for easy intersections.
I had arrived in Peabody in the afternoon. We just hung out and caught up.
I spent the first 15 years of my life in the Boston area and had never been to Kowloon. I had always seen it whenever I drove on Route 1. I know my Uncle (H-Bomb’s Dad) always checks in there on Facebook when he visits from Florida. But I had never been. Kowloon is north of the city and I grew up all the way out in Billerica. Google maps tells me that they are about a half an hour away from each other and back then, that was the equivalent of being out of state.
I was not disappointed. It reminded me of the old school Boston Chinese restaurants I went to as a kid. But better.
We toasted to friends, cousins and honorary cousins. We all loved how my daughter joined with her fruit punch.
We ordered several dishes to share including the quintessential Boston pu-pu platter
We seem to have a knack for ordering almost just the right amount of food. We all ate till we were stuffed and we didn’t have much left over.
We all drank our Mai Tai’s and read out fortunes. Complete with saying “in bed” after the fortune. Because I am dork like that and I won’t apologize for it.
The server kept bringing cookies so we kept reading them.
We got our group selfie (groupie?) and then we went back to the house that belonged to H-Bombs Massachusetts friend and the Boat Captain.
I read my daughter stories and put her down to bed. And then us adults played games. It was a blast.
Friday morning brought donuts from Kanes. H-Bombs Massachusetts friend bought so many flavors that we cut them up so we could try more than one. The Maple Bacon one was amazing.
We spent most of the day in Salem.
The kids played. Well, Tito, the Boat Captian and my daughter played.
H-Bombs Massachusetts friend asked me if I knew what a bunghole was and I was like “Yeah…Beavis and Butthead…duh…”
But apparently it actually has a more dignified meaning…
I’ll be damned.
We also got a chance to see the House of Seven Gables which has been a dream of mine for about 20 years. Last trip to Boston my 20 year dream of eating at the Top of the Pru came true. All of 20-year-old Kerry’s dreams are coming true.
We showed up right as a tour was starting.
You can think what you want about the time and date. None of that was going on. I just love patterns and thought that was cool.
We enjoyed the tour and the history lesson. My daughter is only 3 but she was a trooper and very well behaved. Between my trip to Philly the weekend before and being in Salem, I feel blessed for living so close to so much history.
I can’t wait to return to Boston. I also can’t wait to see my cousin again which will be on my birthday trip. I am planning something special for the big 4-0.