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.

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Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #2

1. The first thing I am thankful for this week is that I got to celebrate my friends birthday party.  I don’t usually use names in this blog so I will refer to her as the Slap Bet Commissioner.  She had a lovely birthday party at a bar called Wellington’s in Downtown Albany.  I got a baby-sitter, got a chance to catch up with friends and I even enjoyed a vodka club with a splash of cranberry because I am watching my macros.  I am thankful that the Slap Bet Commissioner included me in her special day.

 

2. The second thing I am thankful for was being invited to my friend’s Oktoberfest party. It was a fun afternoon with good food and good company.  And I even learned that there is a book genre called the Existential Detective novel or something like that.  I also learned about LARPing which is Live Action Role Playing.  Do any of you LARP?

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3. I already blogged about it but the third thing I am thankful for was our trip to the Springfield Museums because I got to see my cousin, her kids and my uncle.  My cousin’s son is 5 months older than my daughter so they get along really well.  It makes me happy that our kids are going to grow up together.  It gives me the warm and fuzzies.

4.  The fourth thing I am thankful for is my gym. I joined an awesome gym recently.  I don’t know the actually technical fitness terms to describe the workouts but there are a lot of weights.  And the workouts change every day so you never get bored.  I can feel my arms and legs getting stronger.  Everyday is a challenge but it is worth it.

5.  The fifth thing I am thankful for this week is that I am able to watch my daughter at dance class each week.  I am in awe of my daughter because she learns things so quickly and I love watching her grow and learn.

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And who can resist this girl?

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What are you thankful for this week?

Warm October rain: Sunday Funday at the Dr. Seuss Museum

Last Sunday my daughter and I drove to Springfield, Massachusetts for a very special outing.  My cousin drove out from the Boston area to spend the day with us, along with her two kids (including her 3 month old daughter) and my Uncle.  It was our first time meeting her daughter, who my daughter calls “Baby Cousin”.

First we hit the Dr. Seuss Museum.  At first I thought that admission was a bit expsensive but the admission is good for all five museums and they are located all together.  You can easily hit several museums in one day.  After the Dr. Seuss Museum, we had lunch at the cafe on the premises and then we explored the Science Museum, which was kid friendly.

After the Science Museum, we tried to go to the Fine Art Museum but the kids had too much energy and after they kept trying to touch peices of art that had signs asking “do not touch”, we abandoned the mission.  I love art museums so maybe when they are older.

I am thankful to be building a closer relationship with my cousin.  Even though my family is spread out between Maine, Massachusetts and Florida, I appreciate that members on both sides of my family make an effort to be a part of my daughters life.  It is good to know that my cousin and I can meet in the middle and get the kids together.  I love knowing that my daughter will have cousins to play with.  I appreciate all the time my family makes for her.

Double standards

I have a lot of pet peeves.

I don’t like it when people block intersections.

I don’t like people who stand too close.  I value my personal space and am big on people respecting each other’s “hula hoops”.

People who don’t cover their mouths when they cough.

People who rush into an elevator without waiting for people to exit the elevator.  I may have picked up that pet peeve from Bryon.

People who refuse to apologize when they are clearly in the wrong.  There are bonus pet peeve points if that person says something to the affect of “I am sorry that there was a misunderstanding” instead of saying they were sorry for what they did or “I am sorry you feel that way” because you may as well say “I am sorry you are mad”.

But the thing is probably my biggest pet peeve is the double standard.  You know, people who have one set of rules for themselves and another set for others.

I was thinking about a situation that illustrated this concept.  It consists of something that can be quite controversial- the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees Rivalry.

I am from New England.  I was born in Boston, lived in the suburbs until I started high school (though outside the 128 loop) and I lived in Maine from the ages of 15 to 30.  So I am unapologetically a Boston sports fan.  Because I am from there.  Duh.

Now I live in New York.  I am still a Boston sports fan because I am from there.  But the majority of my friends here root for the New York Yankees.  Some of the people I love the most root for the team I like the least.   Because they are from here.  Duh.

My Facebook newsfeed is pretty interesting when the teams play each other.  It’s actually pretty awesome.

Usually we joke back in forth, all in good jest.  It’s great.  Because the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry makes baseball fun.  We love to hate each others teams and I am sure there are no other teams we would rather hate than whatever team is opposite of you in this rivalry.  And I am sorry to all the other sports fans who don’t have the privilege to experience this rivalry.

But I have met people that could not handle the jest.  I would barely say anything and then get an earful about how horrible Red Sox fans are and how polite and courteous Yankees fans are.  While I have witnessed firsthand a Yankees fan getting heckled in Fenway (ironically we were playing the Baltimore Orioles that night) I was told that this would never happen at Yankee Stadium.

I am sorry at what I am about to say.  Actually I am not sorry.  I don’t care what team you root for or for what sport, every team has asshole fans.  I don’t believe for one second that I could go to Yankee Stadium wearing a Red Sox shirt and not get heckled.  I would expect it.  And as long as no one gets hurt, who really cares?

But the thing that was particularly frustrating was that if I even mentioned my team, I would get barraged with comments about how horrible my team and it’s fan are.  But I would get shut down when I tried to defend myself.  Personally it got very tiring being around this person. So I just dealt with it because I had nothing to prove and didn’t need to waste my energy.

Bryon was a Red Sox fan but while he had his teams that he loved, he was still able to look at all sports objectively.  Bryon was the first one to tell me if I was being oversensitive.  I was a homesick New England girl after all.  But in this situation, he pointed out that while this person was busy calling me a rude fan that that person was really displaying the behavior of a rude fan.  He also thought this person was insecure and would try to bully me on other occasions but that is another story for another time.

Why did I go through a long drawn out story that I am pretty sure is going to get me defriended on Facebook by a few people this morning?  Or at the very least, the recipient of a few rude comments? Because it this story is a good illustration of the double standard.  One rule applied to me, the Red Sox fan and another rule applied to this person, a Yankees fan.  At the time, it was incredibly frustrating and annoying but now I think it’s just silly.

After losing Bryon, there are more important things to worry about.  On Facebook I had several friends at the Yankees game the other night.  And I liked seeing those photos because I love seeing people out enjoying life and that is a beautiful thing.  Because life is too short.  Be passionate about your team.  Just don’t be too much of a dick about it.  (To my readers who never knew Bryon personally, “Don’t be a dick” was his catchphrase).

This story also reminds me of a Saturday Night Live skit from 1992 where Stuart Smalley says that when you point a finger, you have three pointing back at you and a thumb pointing up at God or something.  It inspired me to find a video of it which you can find here.

But double standards can be real problems in relationships.

Like the friend who takes another for granted.   It’s a problem when Bob never makes time for Bill but then expects Bill to drop everything when Bob wants Bill to tag along.

It’s also a problem in families where one child and one set of grandchildren is favored over the other.  I could write more about this but then I would be sitting here for hours.  That might be for another time.  Or maybe I will keep it in my personal journal.

And while I do ascribed to the theory that fair is not always equal, there should not be a clear discrepancy of treatment between two individuals.  And if you find yourself in that predicament with the shorter straw, just remember that there are no laws stating who you have to keep in your life.

And while playoff tensions may be high, don’t give up on your friend who may root for another team, whichever team that is.  Just grab a beer and enjoy the game.  Because that is what Bryon would do.

Turning a new page

I feel like I have just come off some sort of grief bender.

I thought I was in a good spot when I was coming up to Bryon’s deathaversary.  (My widow blog friend Lisa says it perfectly when she refused to call it an angelversary.  She said that even if you sugar coat a turd, it’s still a turd.)

But August 21st came and I was pulled into the strongest period of grief I had felt.  Sure, a year had passed but the fog had lifted. So the deathaversary made me relive those memories of Bryon’s death without having to fog to soften the pain.

The grief cycle was further exacerbated by the fact that his birthday was a week later, my birthday two days after that and our daughter’s birthday a month later.  

There also was our engagaversary and the excitement of my daughter starting her preschool year and a new year of gymnastics and dance. 
I tried hard to stay positive during these events because they are happy occasions. But it’s exhausting.  Grief is exhausting, period.  Especially raw grief.  It takes a lot of effort just to focus on life in front of you and not think about what happened.

For five weeks I have been in this deep form of grief. I haven’t written much in this blog because I didn’t know how to articulate this grief.  

September 29 would have been our fifth wedding anniversary.  It would have been our first milestone anniversary.  

I figured it was my anniversary and I still deserved steak.  So I took Kimmy Gibbler out for lunch.

Crab and Lobster Fondue
7 oz filet mignon. Side of Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes. Not pictured: Orzo Mac and Cheese and Haricot Verts
Molten Chocolate Lava Cake with Vanilla Bean ice cream

The meal still looked pretty good in leftover toddler dinner form.

Now I want to spend the rest of year two focusing on myself and healing.  Not just healing from Bryon’s death but healing all of me. I have always suffered from low self esteem and have always hated myself. Bryon used to tell me that it hurt him to listen to me talk about myself the way I did.  But it was more important for me to keep hating myself than it was to stop talking about how much I hate myself in front of Bryon.

So it is going to stop.  I need to do this for me. For Bryon’s memory. For my daughter. I am her primary influence and I don’t want her to pick this up.

I do think I am off to a good start.   I have been surrounding myself with positive people who make me (and each other) feel good.  There is no law stating that if you have a negative person in your life that you need to keep those people in your life. If someone tears you apart- set them lose.  If you spend more time fuming about something a friend did than having positive experiences, then they may not be a friend after all.  Focus on your real friends. There is no room for toxicity in your life.

I am spending the rest of year two focusing on healing, gratitude and positivity.

I am also embarking on some physical goals.  I recently joined an amazing new gym.  Running was stressing me out so I am on sabbatical but will restart after I lose some weight and become stronger.  I also signed up for Macro (macronutrient) coaching.  I decided that in order to love myself, I need to take care of myself.  

So if you see annoying fitness posts here and on my Instagram and Facebook, I am sorry.  Actually I am not sorry. I need to be holding myself accountable.
I also need to do the things that I need to do to be happy. I need to learn new things, try new recipes, be creative, spend time with my friends and family and travel to at least one new place a year.

I need to do this.

Five years

5 years ago I woke up from a sleepless night.  I think I slept from 4:00 until 5:30.  I was too excited to sleep.  This day was going to be the first day of our happily ever after.

This was one of the happiest days of my life.  The other being when our daughter was born.  However, I think it is worth noting that I looked a lot better and felt a lot better on the day we got married as opposed to the day we became parents.

The weather was cool and a little dreary.  Father Mullen, the priest who had married us, had referred to it as a “soft Irish morning.”

I spent the morning in our bridal suite getting ready with my bridesmaids. My hairstylist said I was the calmest bride that she ever had.  The nerves didn’t hit me until it was time to board the trolley to the church.  It wasn’t nerves about getting married, just nerves that everything was going to go perfectly.

You spent the morning watching soccer at the Biergarten with some of the groomsman. You drank “das boot” even though I told you not to.

You always did what you wanted to do.

We had our whole lives together.

We bought our starter house.  Our daughter was born.  We bought a family car.  We made progress in our careers (you more than me).  We went on 5 cruises.

But our happily ever after only lasted 1422 days.  

151 of those days I was upholding my vow “to be true to you in sickness and in health.”

And now it is our fifth wedding anniversary and you are dead.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen.  We were supposed to grow old together.  We were supposed to have at least two kids.  We were going to buy a bigger house and take many more cruises. We were supposed to go to San Diego.  And Scotland.  And London.   And Branson, Missouri.  (I still don’t understand that one.  But I will make it there someday).

You were supposed to walk our daughter down the aisle.  You were supposed to hold your grandchildren.

You wanted to be an adjunct college professor and write a book on election law.

You weren’t ready to die.  You were taken too soon.

And I am here, still reeling from everything that happened.  The other morning, I drove to the cemetery and I wept.  My whole body was shaking and I was gasping for air.  I have never cried so hard where it affected me physically.  I just kept saying “Why?  Why?  Why?”   

404 days later and I am still asking why you have to die?

Maybe I will never know.

For the past 404 days I have thought about the 151 days you spent in the hospital, 149 of them in the ICU.

Every one of those 404 days, I have thought about what happened, how the events unfolded.

For 404 days, I have beat myself up which is ridiculous because I had no control over the situation.  That was up to God and the medical staff, both of which failed you.

For 404 days, I have felt empty.  An emptiness that felt like a deafening silence that echoed through my body.  The emptiness is both physical and emotional.  Your side of the bed is empty and you are not there to hear my stories.  

You were aware the whole time you were in hospital and I have no idea what was going through your mind.  The other morning I was driving and listening to some morning talk show.  The hosts were discussing the song “Seasons in the Sun” and of course I lost it when I heard “It’s so hard to die, when all the birds are singing in the sky”. Because you weren’t able to talk, I have no idea what was going through your mind before you died.  Or even if you knew you were dying.

One of the hardest parts about your death was that we didn’t get to talk about it.  You went from having back pain to being intubated in a matter of hours.  For the following 149 days, you could not speak.  You were my best friend and we talked about everything but we couldn’t talk about how sick you were or that you may be dying.  

We didn’t get any closure.  

Wherever you are right now and in whatever form you are, I am sure you understand what happened.  But for me, on Earth and in human form, I struggle to make sense of it.

You left me with amazing friends.  They are now my family, but unfortunately it took your illness and death for us to realize what we meant to each other.

I am so much stronger than I ever thought I could be.  When you were sick, I looked forward to when you were better.  I was hoping that you would be proud of me.  But you died before you got to see that.

At your funeral, your best friend gave your eulogy.  He said we were the lucky ones because we got to know you.  In some ways, I must have been the luckiest one of all.  You chose me to be by my side.  

You made such a big difference in my life.  You taught me so much.  You taught me my worth.  You believed in me and gave me confidence.  You told me I was beautiful.  One of my biggest regrets is not believing you.  I couldn’t just let you think I was beautiful.  I made it hard for you to love me.  I didn’t appreciate you. These things will always haunt me.

Our daughter was robbed because she was only 18 months when you went into the ICU and you left us a month before she turned 2.  But I am grateful that you left so many friends who love her. It makes my heart hurt to know what you won’t be taking her to any Father-Daughter dances, but you left many friends who would step up and take her.  I hesitate to use this analogy because I know how you feel about Hillary Clinton, but our daughter truly has a village.  That is one of your legacies to her.

I was talking to a friend of ours the other day.  I said that I wished you were here to weigh in on a problem one of us was having.  Because you would know how to handle it.  You knew how to handle everything.  I still need your advice.  Our friend said that while you were not here, at least you gave us a lot of advice when you were here that we can use.

But it is not the same.

Grieving your death has been exhausting.  Even though 404 days have passed, I still miss you so much that I literally feel physical pain.  I miss you so much that it literally takes my breath away.  I still go through the motions of life and I still feel dead inside.  

I still have moments where I curl up in the fetal position and I cry my eyes out.

I am in a weird place because sometimes I wonder when it won’t hurt so much.  But then I get scared.  I know that in order to get to the point where it doesn’t hurt so bad means that I have to let go to a certain extent.  The thought of letting go brings on those feelings of pain.  

Sheryl Sandberg says there is a one line Jewish prayer that states “Let me not die while I am still living.”  

I am trying.  Some days I do okay.  Other days I feel like I can barely stay afloat.  Some days I feel like I am drowning.

But I know deep down that I need to live again.  When I think about all that you had given me in our short time together, I owe it to you to try to make my remaining days on Earth matter.  

I just wish it didn’t hurt so much.

A third birthday fiesta

We celebrated my daughters third birthday this past weekend.  It was a small celebration with the Albany family, but we are still a pretty crazy bunch.  Celebrations like this are very bittersweet without Bryon, but we still had a good time.  I was tired, but very thankful for those in my daughters life.