Late night ramblings of a widow #4

Yes, another late night rambling. People seems to like these posts. Probably because I wrote them when I am some sort of state of feeling emotionally f*cked up.

People seem to like it.

Or they are curious.

A small portion are my friends who will likely text me tomorrow to see how I am doing. I love my friends.

When I decided to share my story. I am sharing all of it.

Even if those moments are awkward and involve a little bit of wine.

Widowhood is not glamorous. (Thank you Fergie for helping me get the spelling right.)

So it’s Saturday night and I am sitting at home, drinking wine, eating cookie dough and watching Discovery ID.

But the Chateauneuf-du-pape didn’t taste right, Homicide Hunter is not on tonight (love me some Joe Kenda) and the cookie dough didn’t taste good. Definitely not worth the salmonella risk.

F*ck it.

I actually say that a lot these days.

F*ck it.

I was always a rule follower. A good Catholic girl and then all happens.

Seriously? This is how God thanks the faithful?

So just f*ck it.

And then I go in Bumble and Tinder.

I don’t know why.

I don’t really have any desire to date.

I was happy being Bryon’s wife. I was good at it.

But I am just as good at being single.

It’s the sh*t in between that I am not good at.

And I have no desire for hookups. Partially because there is still the moral remnants of the good Catholic girl I used to be.

But more importantly, I am not going to parade strange men around my daughter during her formative years.

It’s bad enough her father’s dead. I am not going to confuse her any further.

But when I am doing all that swiping right and swiping left, it feels empty compared that what I used to have.

Should I fall in love again, I want it to be a little more romantic than swiping right and left.

Also, Tinder and Bumble do this thing where they show mutual Facebook friends.

I got freaked out by how many people were in Bryon’s circles. I could tell by the mutual friends if people would know Bryon from politics, college or the Masons.

I wrote about people always viewing me as Bryon’s widow.

It also turns out I have just as much of a hangup.

Bryon and I lived a respectable and traditional life with certain values and rules.

But I no longer ascribe to a lot of those rules and I think that would freak people out.

I have come into my own since I became a widow. I have never been so secure in who I am than I am right now.

I don’t even like who I was before.

But somedays, I would give it all up if it meant I could have Bryon and my old life back.

And this hangup doesn’t stop at people who know Bryon. Bryon and I were together 8 years. We have so many memories in this town.

There are so many places I avoid because the memories are too painful.

How long can I do that?

I’m just going to delete that Tinder and Bumble sh*t in the morning.

Because…f*ck Bumble and Tinder.

I don’t even give people a chance to be freaked out that I am Bryon’s widow because I have already decided that everyone is freaked out.

But can anyone blame me?

A widow spends so much time making others feel better about her loss.

It’s kind of f*cked up.

She’s the one who lost her spouse, her identity, her life. It’s her reality that she lives every single day and it becomes her job to make sure people aren’t uncomfortable for the short span of time that her reality makes them uncomfortable.

I dread dating because I hear from other widows that our widow status freaks men out.

F*ck that.

I have been to Hell and back I am not hiding my battle scars. One doesn’t survive what I have without being a badass.

If I ever love again, that man has to love me: battle scars and all.

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Top 10 songs from my grief mix

 

Yesterday was the 18 month mark since Bryon passed.

Honestly, the day kind of snuck up on me.

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On an unrelated note: I have been juggling Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.  I am sure it will all implode soon.

I read my post from the six month mark.

I know I have come a long way in my healing journey.

I was still sad.

But the sadness didn’t debilitate me like it did a year ago.

I was still able to function and go about my daily business.

I went to the gym.

I abstracted cancer cases.

I took my daughter to a bounce house place because dance class was canceled.  She burned some energy.

But I still felt sad.

I was being hit with a grief wave.

But I am far enough into my grief journey to know the best way for me to cope.

My view on grief waves can be shown on this very hi-tech, wicked awesome graph I made.  Sadly, I spent more time on it than I care to admit.

 

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Everything is moving forward, as shown in the green.

The black line represents time which moves forward at an even, steady pace.

The blue shows the grief waves which are more turbulent in the beginning but decrease in intensity as time moves forward.  (Though beware, you can get a rogue grief wave at any time.  I just did not demonstrate that because, frankly, there wasn’t enough room.)

The red line represents healing.  It is all over the place.

For me, I have learned that it is better to just go with the grief wave than fight it.

Ride it out.

Don’t try to resist it.

Do what you need to do and it will pass.

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So I went with it.

I still cried.

I still thought about what should have been.

I thought about the things I missed about him.

And while I wasn’t sad enough to watch Sleepless in Seattle or eat ice cream, I may have belted out to the songs of my grief mix.

Lots of widows have their own grief mix.  And if they don’t- they should.

So I am going share my top ten favorites from my grief mix.  Not all songs are about death.  Some are about breakups but my only major requirement for a song to be in my grief mix is that it is sad and there are at least a few lines or verses that resonate with me.

I wasn’t going to put them in any particular order but I could hear Bryon tell me that I can’t have a half-assed song countdown and that I need to count down like Casey Kasem.

Without much further ado, here are my top ten songs from my grief mix.

10.  Didn’t We Almost Have It All by Whitney Houston

9.  All Out of Love by Air Supply

8.  Could’ve Been by Tiffany

7.  Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks

6. Don’t Cry Out Loud by Melissa Manchester

5.  All By Myself by Eric Carmen

4. Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton

3.  Yester-me, Yester-you, Yesterday by Stevie Wonder

2. It’s So Hard To Say Good-Bye to Yesterday by Boyz II Men

1.  Take My Breath Away by Berlin

What songs do you listen to when you are feeling sad?

One of the things I miss the most…

There are so many things I miss about Bryon.

I miss his hugs.

I miss his humor.

I miss his smile.

I miss watching him play with our daughter.

I miss that I didn’t have to worry about the car, the bills or anything really.

But one of the the things I miss the most was his intellect.

I am sure anyone who has a Facebook knows that our country is very divided on an issue.

And anyone who knows Bryon knows that he was extremely intelligent.

He was probably the smartest person they knew.

And possibly the smartest person they will ever know.

Bryon was so smart that he stayed off of Facebook whenever the U.S. Supreme Court made a major decision.

He would always rant to me, “I went to law school.  I know more than most.  And I am NOT a Constitutional Scholar.  But you go on Facebook and everything thinks that they are a f*cking constitutional scholar.  Where did they get there law degree from?  Legal Zoom?”

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The same was true for major trials.  There was a very public trial (I am not saying which one) which was televised and Bryon watched a lot of it.  I mean, we all watched a lot of it but Bryon was watching it with objective intellectual curiosity.  The verdict was rendered and people shared their opinions on Facebook.

Many of his outspoken friends felt that the verdict was wrong.  There was this one “friend” and I am going to use that term loosely because no one really likes her and I don’t feel bad about it because she is arrogant.  Come on, we all have that “friend”.  You know, they always have an opinion about everything and they think that they are the smartest person in the room.  Well this “friend” was writing on Facebook about how the verdict was wrong.

It was one of the few times I ever seen Bryon get defensive about his profession.  I remember him saying “If she actually watched the trial, she would have known that the prosecution did a sh*tty job.  I am so tired of people thinking that they know more about the law than lawyers.  I don’t go into *her place of work* and tell *the worker in her position* how to do their job so maybe she shouldn’t tell people in my profession how to do their job.”

It was very similar about debates on Facebook.

Bryon would get annoyed anytime there were major debates on Facebook.

He would normally say things like  “Correlation does not mean causation” and he would remind me that statistics are very easily manipulated.

He would say that it was very unlikely that anyone was going to change their minds by reading Facebook debates.  He usually refrained from debating on Facebook.  He regularly would have to talk me out of  Facebook debates.

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But as much as Facebook debates would annoy Bryon, he would always have real conversations with me.

I always wanted to know his opinion.  Because his opinion was always solid and I could always trust it.

Bryon would look at an issue as a lawyer, a economist, as a Republican, as a Catholic, as a father, as a New Yorker, as a Millennial, as a Bills fan, etc.

I knew his opinion was not based on emotion.  He was able to see issues from all sides, even those he did not agree with.   He would often say “He/She/They are not wrong, but…”

It wasn’t uncommon for him to argue the side he doesn’t agree with.  I admit, that would drive me nuts at times.  I know there were many times I got frustrated and would say “Stop! I know you don’t believe that.”

He was one of the smartest people I have ever known, if not the smartest.  But Bryon was unique because while he was aware of his intelligence, he would take the time to explain things without making people feel stupid.  He was secure enough with his intelligence and did not feel the need to tear people down to prove it.

One of the biggest gifts Bryon ever gave me was that he taught me to be a more critical thinker and that most issues are not black and white.

I used to make self-deprecating comments to him about how dumb I was and he would tell me that wasn’t true because he couldn’t be married to me if I wasn’t smart.  He was very matter of fact about it.

I mean, sometimes he would start to lose his patience and he would smile and say “You’re the dumbest smart person I know.”  I know I am not the only recipient of that comment and I am sure there are many people who are going to smile at the memory of him saying that to them.

I have many intelligent friends to have discussions with about today’s issues, but I am really missing my conversations with Bryon.

Those conversations would be full of knowledge, insights and humor and there was a sort shared interest in those conversations.

Bryon would start out the discussion by objectively discussing an issue from several angles.  I would say my opinions and ask him questions.  Then we would discuss what it meant to us and our values.  We didn’t agree 100% of the time, but overall, we shared the same values.

And if I didn’t know how I felt on an issue, I would talk to Bryon.  I could count on him help me figure it out.

And right now, that is one of the things I miss the most about him.

 

Shadow of a dead man

Sometimes I feel invisible.

Despite pouring my heart out over 165 posts and approx 165,000 words, I feel like no one sees the real me.

They just see Bryon’s widow.

It might be hard to imagine, but I am a complete person. Bryon saw me a complete, real person.

I told a really good friend of mine (and Bryon’s when he was alive) that I had a nagging feeling that some people only read my blog because they wanted about happened with Bryon.

As if because I have chosen to share the parts of the story that I feel comfortable about sharing that that someone entitles everyone to the complete story.

I have not told the complete story. I will tell it when I am ready to tell it.
Yes, I am aware that I have chosen to share my story on a very public forum. I did that so other widows, grievers and anyone else struggling with the cruelties of life can be helped by reading about my healing process.

I put my story out there so people can feel a little less alone.

If one widow feels a little less alone, then it was worth it.

Just because I share my story does not mean that I give up the right to keep private what I wish to keep private.
I share what I feel like sharing, when I feel like sharing it.

No one is entitled to more.

When I shared these feeling with my close friend, she wisely said that she thinks that people forget that I am not just Bryon’s widow, but that I am my own complete person.

I am not just a widow.

I am a complete person.

I understand that life circumstances have made me a widow and since I have to be a widow, I am glad that I get to be Bryon’s widow. He was a great man and I got to be his wife. And I loved being his wife.

Life made me a widow and I am glad I get to be Bryon’s widow.

I have accepted that.

But I am more than just a widow.

I am a complete person.

Bryon died and I had no say in that. Even though I tried to prevent it. I will always think about those 5 months. I will always think about the “what ifs” and I will always be haunted by the dreams of what could have been.

That is a lot of live with.

I have been punished enough.

You are going to have to trust me on that.

Now I am in my 30s and I am expected to resign myself to wear a black veil and mourn for the rest of my life.

It doesn’t matter that I am a complete person and I still have decades more living to do.

I am tired of being viewed as just Bryon’s widow.

It’s bad enough actually being a widow.

I find myself in a place where I can’t move forward because everyone views me as just a widow.

Very few people understand.

Acknowledging that I am a complete person and I deserve to move forward from my husband’s death makes people uncomfortable.

My reality makes people uncomfortable.

The reality that I live with every single day makes people uncomfortable.

So I need to keep being “just a widow” to keep people happy.

Too bad it doesn’t work that way.

When Bryon was alive, he was very popular and well-liked. He was an amazing man. He was the center of my world.

And I lived in his shadow. But that was okay because I knew I was the center of his world. And that was all that matters.

But now he is dead.

And I live in the shadow of a dead man.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #10

It’s FRIDAY!!!!!

That means it’s time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude.

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These are the five things I am grateful for this week.

  1.  Brunch with friends

    I like brunch.  But I like doing it the Mom way meaning we get there right when brunch starts, usually around 10.  It’s a good time.  The kids are ready to eat and it’s before the hipsters show up.

    I also like that I get to brunch my way now.  I prefer brunch is establishments that are not diners. Bryon loved diners and I am not a fan. I feel like diner food is not any better than the food I cook.  I like to go to brunch and have something fancy that I could cook but generally don’t have the patience to.

    Plus, I don’t like diners because many of them are small and I am claustrophobic.  Now I know many other establishments are small.  But I can deal with my claustrophobia for fancy brunch.   Like, I can tolerate being in a small space but not for generic food that I could make at home.

    Bryon was always more of the breakfast fan than me so he would win.  That and because the issue wasn’t important enough to me.   I am glad I went along with it because diner breakfast always made him happy.

    I guess of the “perks” of widowhood is I get to do whatever I want.  It’s bittersweet, really.

    And Kimmy Gibbler has the same attitude about brunch so we had brunch at a local place called Savoy Taproom.


    I had the adult ice coffee with aquafaba  and creme brulee French Toast.  I had no clue what aquafaba was but the waitress explained it to me.  It’s apparently a vegan alternatives to egg whites and apparently putting egg whites into iced coffee is a thing now.  The egg whites create the froth.  I tried it but I made it clear to the waitress that I was not a vegan.  For some reason, I felt that that was important and that the waitress wanted to know.

    I always considered myself an iced coffee snob and I had no clue.  *shrug*

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  2. Advocating for MS

    For the second year I got the honor of advocating for people living with Multiple Sclerosis at the New York State Capital.  I am not going to elaborate on that because I will be writing a post about that.  I have several friends with MS and I am thankful that I get an opportunity to advocate for them.

  3. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

    Because…duh

  4. Signs from Heaven

    I know I spoke of Bryon’s Valentine’s Day sign that came in the form of Vagisil.

    But I have heard that the deceased communicate through songs on the radio.  There are certain songs I hear all the time since Bryon died.  There was even a period of time I heard Hall & Oates at least once a day and I don’t spend much time in my car.  My deceased husband also seems to really like Michael Jackson, particularly “Billie Jean”, The Police- “I’ll Be Watching You”, Earth Wind and Fire; “September” (I think that is because we got engaged, married and became parents in the month of September), and Berlin’s “Take My Breathe Away” because Top Gun was his favorite movie.

    I haven’t heard much in the car for the past couple of months.  I just figured that Bryon was done sending those signs.  He was going to find a new way to communicate with me.  But the past three days have been a Bryon McKim jam session every time I have been in car.  It’s nice to know that he hasn’t forgotten about me and will still try to spend time with me in the only way he can now.

  5. Having the courage to cut off my grief hair

    I had been wanting a change for awhile.  I hemmed and hawed over it for months.  I liked my hair long but it was so damaged.  The ends felt like straw.  I also wanted something different and I have never been a blonde so I went for it.  I am a new person so my outside should reflect my inside.

    This was a big step for me.  I have never been a risk taker but I told myself that it is just hair.  It grows back.  It can be changed back.  But it was also hard because I was attached to that hair.  I have hid behind that hair for almost two years.  But I decided it was time to get rid of it and shine.

    Now I just need to lose some weight and maybe get a tattoo and my physical transformation will be complete.


    What are you grateful for this week?

 

Widowed Valentine’s Day #2

I feel “weird” this Valentine’s Day.

It’s nothing that some Reese’s Peanut Cups can’t fix.

Because…well, Reese’s Peanut Cups.

D’uh.

I assembled 20 candy bags for my 3 year old’s class. That’s right. Gone are the days of cheap paper Valentine’s. We are living in a Pinterest World and I am a Pinterest Mom. And all us Suburban Moms must keep up with each other.

Then add in the fact that I am a widowed mother and that means I feel the need to work harder to ensure my child has a happy childhood since her father is dead.

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Now I get to sit back and be bombarded by the emotions that accompany the fact that I don’t have anyone special to love today.

Of course, this is where well-intentioned people remind me that I have a daughter. As if by missing her father, I somehow love her less. Of course I love her. She is my sunshine. But it’s not the same and we all know it. Plus, it’s also not fair for my daughter to have to take up the slack of her deceased father. It’s her job to be a kid.

So today is the second Valentine’s Day without Bryon. And honestly, he and I never did much on Valentine’s Day. He thought the holiday was stupid and I pretended to agree.

Because I knew he loved me 365 days a year.

In fact Bryon usually posted this meme on his Facebook every Valentine’s Day.

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I was expecting to have a grief wave and I was ready to go along with it (because I have learned that it is better to swim with the current than go against it.) I was prepared to do all my grief activities. I was going to watch Sleepless in Seattle, P.S. I Love You, Top Gun and the last 15 minutes of the How I Met Your Mother Finale. I was prepared to blast my sad songs Spotify playlist (yes I have one and it is oddly therapeutic at times). I was prepared for waterworks.

But…eh.

I just didn’t feel like it.

Don’t get me wrong.

I still get sad.

But I don’t usually get THAT sad. I was THAT sad for 15 months. Being THAT sad is emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting.

Maybe I am getting used to Bryon being gone.

Or maybe I am just learning to cope.

But I decided that this Valentine’s Day, Bryon doesn’t want me to be sad.

He has sent me a sign.

Let me tell a story. Sophia Petrillo-style.

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Picture it- A Suburban Target, 2014ish

Bryon and I would walk into Target.

Bryon: Hey, didn’t you need some Vagisil?

Me: *laughs* no

Bryon (loudly): Weren’t you just telling me that you needed Vagisil?

Me (embarassed): No, I don’t.

Bryon: Don’t be embarrassed because you need Vagisil.

Me: I don’t need Vagisil. Stop it!

Bryon (even louder): I think the Vagisil is over there, Honey.

People would look at us. I would get so embarrassed but I also would start laughing. When I was pregnant I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants because anyone who has carried a child knows what that does to your bladder.

I was also pissed because there was no male equivalent for me to get revenge.

Well all day yesterday, this is the ad that would show up on my spotify. Thanks Bryon. Of all the ways you could send a sign from Heaven, thank for doing it through Vagisil.

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I don’t put this past Bryon sending me a sign that he doesn’t want me to be sad.

But it’s hard not to get sad. Or really discouraged trying to figure out my future while surrounded by people who have a life similar to what I used to have (i.e. marriage).

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But I often wonder what is in the cards for me for the future.

Will I ever love again?

Will I ever marry again?

I hope I get love again. I know that I still have a lot of love in my heart.

I am not done yet.

But while I want it, I am not sure it is going to happen. I have limiting beliefs about this subject. I will share the two biggest limiting beliefs.

The first is that I feel that I am viewed as damaged. I know I have come out of this experience a stronger person. I know I am a better person now. I have also come out of this situation with a very different perspective of life. While I am not completely immune to having feelings like annoyance and anger now, I don’t get worked up about small things anymore. When Bryon was teetering between life and death, I wasn’t angry about the fact that he left his disposable contact lens wrappers all over the nightstand or that he hogged the remote or the fact that he would embarrass me in Target by publicly declaring that I needed Vagisil when I didn’t.

At the time when Bryon was sick, I was running on adrenaline and functioning in complete survival mode. I would cling onto any shred of hope I could find. After he passed, I was in numbing, raw grief and for the first year of widowhood, I could barely remember what those months sitting next to Bryon in ICU felt like emotionally. Sure I could rattle off doctors names, medicines and procedures but I couldn’t bring myself to even think about the emotions- the fear, the anxiety, the frustration, the anger, the sadness, the desperation. I honestly believe it was my brains way of protecting me emotionally.

But now I look back with a clearer mind at what I lived through and think “Holy F*ck!” because I survived something that no one should ever live through. I wish I could give 2016 Kerry a hug.

If get married again, there is a 50% chance I would have to relive it, hopefully on a less intense scale. I mean, because we can’t all marry Ryan Gosling and die peacefully in bed at the same time as our spouse in our old age. Though we can all dream…

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The reality is that I turn 40 this year. And at my age, everyone has some sort baggage. There was a whole episode of How I Met Your Mother on this concept where Ted is dating a girl that he thinks has no baggage and he discovers his ex’s husband wrote a hit movie called The Wedding Bride where the character that is based on Ted is not flattering. (And for the record- I am so not a Stella fan.)

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It’s just that widowhood baggage is less common in this age group. And people are afraid of what they don’t know or don’t understand. Most single people are divorced or never married. Divorced people have baggage too but since it is common, people are not afraid of it.

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The second limiting thought is that in the town I live in, I will always be considered Bryon’s widow and no one will go near me. I am honored to be Bryon’s widow. I also know I will get judged should I start dating again because Bryon was a well liked guy and so many people miss him. I appreciate the fact that Bryon leaves a hole in so many people’s life. It’s just frustrating that after two years of my life being in complete turmoil, I might be ready to start living my life again and I am hesitant to do that because it may upset those closest to me.

I am not too worried about it at the moment. Even if I wanted to date, I don’t know how people meet. Organically that is. I just can’t bring myself to do the “swipe right, swipe left” thing. I know many people have had success with that but I am just not feeling it.

And lastly I will be spending some time loving myself today. While I do hope to love again, I am actually enjoying getting the know the person I am now. She is strong, interesting, smart and kind of funny. I need to tend to my needs first because I can’t give myself to another person until I have taken care of myself.

So while everyone is enjoying being loved (romantically) today, I will be spending time with my little Valentine.

I will continue to feel “weird”.

And I will be eating a lot of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Because…Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

D’uh.

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For the record, Reese’s did not sponsor this post. All the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were purchased by me and my opinions of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are my own.

My grandmother’s funeral

February 2, 2018 was my grandmother’s funeral.

If you have been reading my blog and have playing at home, you may realize that I have attended 3 funerals within a 30 day period.

I have heard that 2018 is a year of rebirth and in order to have rebirth, there must be death.

But this, along with the fact that almost daily, it seems like someone on my Facebook newsfeed will lose someone they love, it all does seem excessive.

I managed to go 15 months after Bryon’s death with no funerals.   This span of time did not seem unusual.  My friends still seem to be in the feel-good era of engagements, weddings, new houses and babies.  Funerals are much less common.

First my friend Andy died and I traveled to Maine to say good-bye and to show support to his wife, who is a dear friend of mine.

Then one of my best friends fathers passed away unexpectedly and I attended his funeral to show support to my friend.

Around the time of my best friends fathers death,  I got the news that my grandmother who had been recently ill, made a turn for the worse.  I decided I wanted to see her but I was going to wait until my parents were able to make the trip from Maine to Boston (really the town of Woburn, which is what I call “Boston-ish”).  I wanted to say good-bye but I wasn’t sure if I could handle being around a dying person after seeing Bryon die. I am sure I would  have been fine but I wanted my parents to be there just in case.  Plus, I would have my daughter and it would be easier to have my parents around (though I am sure my aunts and uncles would have helped watch her).

I never got to say good-bye to my grandmother.

She died the day before I was to make the trip.

I felt guilt but I know that it meant I wasn’t meant to be there, for whatever reason.

My grandmother’s death isn’t completely unsurprising.  She was 95. We were lucky to have her for as long as we did.  But the illness that led to her demise was brief.

Like any death, the world stops for everyone close to the deceased.  My family, who lives in the Northeast and in Florida, made our arrangements to get to Boston.

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My Nana’s wake was at the funeral home where all the Irish in South Woburn go to.  (Though ironically my grandmother was not Irish.  She was a French-Canadian who married into an Irish family).  I have often made jokes that I grew up at this funeral home.  This is the place where I have said good-bye to all four of my grand-parents, two uncles, a whole bunch of great-aunts and great-uncles as well as relatives of those married into our family.

We did everything that a good Boston Irish-Catholic (or partially Boston Irish-Catholic family) does.  

We comforted one another.  

We shared stories.  

We took comfort in those who stopped by to pay their respects.

We lamented that it was a shame we only see each other at funerals.  (We need to change that!) 

My cousins 8-year-old daughter entertained (and wore out) my three-year-old daughter.  They were the reminder that while it’s sad to say good-bye to those who leave us, we also get to embrace the newer younger family members.

We saw many distant family members who remarked that it felt like yesterday that I was my daughter’s age.  

My cousins and I spent time together and went out for Boston Chinese food and drinks (which will be it’s own post).

My grandmother’s death was different than my other three grandparents death because she is the last.  The last grandparent and really my last connection to the town of Woburn.  All of my relatives have spread out.  I spent so much time in this town.  In some ways, this town felt more like my hometown than my actual hometown of Billerica, MA.  

It is truly the end of an era.

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My daughter seemed to take her great-grandmother’s death well.  She understood that Nana was in Heaven with Daddy.  That didn’t surprise me as her father died when she was so young. I recently read Ariana Huffington’s book “On Becoming Fearless” which had a chapter about fearing death. She brings up Rory Kennedy, whose father Bobby Kennedy was assassinated while she was in utero.  She said that Rory Kennedy has stated that she has always known death due to the absence of her father.  Since Bryon died one month before our daughter’s second birthday, she knows what death is.  She knows that she doesn’t get to see her father in his earthly form and that means that she completely understands that she will never see Nana in her earthly form again.

On the way to the wake, it dawned on me that Bryon had had a closed casket but my Nana would have an open casket.  I told my daughter that she might see Nana and it will look like Nana is sleeping but Nana is really in Heaven with her Daddy and my daughter seemed to accept my explanation.

I know I am probably in the minority in my family.  I was actually happy for my grandmother.  I think of all of the people I have said good-bye to during my 39 years and I can’t imagine how many people she had to say good-bye to in her 95 years.  She gets to be reunited and I am sure it was one heck of a reunion party.

I am also hesitant to write this next paragraph because I don’t want my feelings to be misconstrued.   I want to be clear that I hope I live long enough to see my daughter grow up and meet my grandchildren and maybe even my great-grandchildren. I hope I live a long life, marry again, travel the world, that I get to help a lot of people and make a difference.

But when my time comes, I know Bryon will be there, kind of like Leo and Kate. But instead of the Titanic, it will be the latest cruise ship. And knowing that I will be reunited with Bryon (as well as everyone I have ever loved) takes away the fear of death.  And it will be one heck of a reunion party.

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I felt happy for my Nana because she is reunited with my grandfather, her son, her parents, her siblings as well as a lot of relatives and friends.  She got her Kate and Leo moment.

I felt emotionally alienated experiencing this loss.  Because I did not reach the expected level of sadness as everyone else in my family.

Losing my grandmother was sad but burying my husband in my 30s was much, much harder for me.  

I began to wonder if I have become cold and unfeeling or if I just have a different perspective?

My life changed forever 23 months ago.  The first five months of those 23, I lived in fear, desperation and in complete survival mode.  After that, I experienced grief beginning with raw grief.  Raw grief is an exhausting roller coaster.  At my grandmother’s funeral, I began to wonder if I have grieved all of the grief out of me.

Because it feels like I have nothing left.

I am all out of grief.  Like, take Air Supply’s “All out of Love” and replace “Love” with “Grief” and then completely change the lyrics of the song so they make sense and it is just like that.

I feel like my experience can be compared to cold medicine. Grieving is like the feeling you have when you are on cold medicine.  You are unwell (at least emotionally but grief also can take a physical toll on you) and you are in a fog.  Then you start to feel better. The worst is over but that fog is replaced with that post-cold medicine feeling where you are still tired, your head feels kind of hollow and you feel what you imagine to be strung out.  

While I felt like a horrible person for feeling this way, I came to a very important realization.  And maybe it was meant for me to realize this at my grandmother’s funeral, as each other the three funerals has taught me a lesson.

My grandmother’s funeral taught me that I am a survivor.  The worst of my grief is over and I am stronger.

And provided that my daughter- and any other children I may have- outlive me, then I have already lived through the worst days of my life. Sure, bad things are still going to happen.  But I survived Bryon’s death and that means I can survive anything.

Because life is only temporary.

My grandmother’s obituary.

And while I don’t know what my grandmother’s thoughts were on The Righteous Brothers, I know Bryon liked them.  And this weekend I heard this song for the first time since Bryon died and it just seemed to fit how I have been feeling lately.  So I am going to end on it.