Eaten words

Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels

2016 was the year Bryon died.

2016 was also the year of a lot of celebrity deaths.

I have very little recollection of which celebrities died that year.  2016 was a bit of a blur to me.

~Kerry’s 2016 recap~

~pretend there is a dream transition sequence like they had in 1980’s sitcoms~

The first three months were pretty normal.  It was winter.  We went on a cruise.  My daughter got an ear infection, pinkeye and hand, foot and mouth disease each about a week apart.  I got pink eye and viral pharyngitis.  Bryon did not get pink eye.  I started running again and signed up for a half marathon.  And Bryon and I watched a lot of 2016 presidential debates.

Then I spent five months splitting my time sitting next to my husband in an ICU room while he clung to his life and waiting in waiting rooms while he was taken off to procedures.  I cried a lot.  I prayed and waited.  Lots of people would bring me iced coffee that I subsisted on.  My daughter got another ear infection and we discovered she was allergic to amoxicillin because she broke out in hives.  

Then Bryon died. 

The biggest before and after moment of my life.

The last four months of 2016 I cried a lot and wondered what the f*ck just happened to my life.

~dream transition sequence~

I vaguely remember a lot of celebrities died.  However I can only remember three.

While we were on our cruise, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died.

Are Supreme Court Justices considered celebrities?  They are famous but does famous = celebrity?  That is a philosophical point I will have to ponder when I should be doing something more productive.  Though I do see a lot of fanfare for Ruth Bader Ginsburg on my Facebook Newsfeed so for the purpose of this blog post, Supreme Court Justices will be considered celebrities.

Bryon loved and respected Justice Scalia.  One time Bryon was telling me about a certain Bar that you can get admitted to where you can argue cases in front of the Supreme Court.  If I remember correctly, he said, if admitted, one of the best things was that his name would be read in front of the nine Supreme Court Justices.

Bryon never saw Mean Girls but I told him that I could imagine him having a Regina George moment.  I had to explain the whole Regina George thing to him.

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Once Bryon grasped the idea of Regina George’s popularity, he agreed.  He said he could totally see himself gushing “Justice Scalia sneered at me.  IT WAS AWESOME.”

We took an Eastern Caribbean Cruise in early 2016.  One that would be very ominous.  One omen being Justice Scalia’s death, another death being Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential run.  But don’t worry…I am not bitter about it.  Not at all.

The second death I remember was the death of Prince.  Or the artist formerly known as Prince.  Did he ever go back to being Prince?

I remember that because I was following a spoof Joe Biden Facebook account and when Prince died the spoof facebook account had a condolence posted with a picture of Prince William.  Bryon was aware at the point and I remember showing the meme and he smiled.  Or laughed the best he could.

And the third death of 2016 I remember was Alan Thicke’s death.  Dr. Seaver.

It was after Bryon was dead.

I remembered the fact that despite having a Facebook newsfeed full of Patriots fan, it was Bryon who showed me this genius video from Julian Edelman.

So yeah…I don’t remember much about who died in 2016 because one of the two most important people in my life died.

But I do remember being annoyed with seeing Facebook posts where people bemoaned the deaths of the celebrities.

Maybe these people were just paying tribute and I was blowing it out of proportion in my head.

At the time, this public grief felt disingenuous.

And I spoke up.

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Yes it is sad when someone dies.

These celebrities had family and friends and their death was going to leave a much bigger whole in their lives than us average folk.

Each person has a variety of layers of relationships.  The inner core will likely be your  family and very closest friends.  The next layer would be friends and family you aren’t close to and co-workers.  The next layer after that would probably be acquaintances.  Maybe you have a layer between friends and acquaintances for those people who are in that “more than an acquaintance but less than a friend” space.

Most of us have no more relationships after acquaintances.  Anyone else would be a stranger really.

But celebrities have tons of people outside that layer called fans.

If you are a fan, the celebrity can hold a cherished spot in your heart but that celebrity probably has no clue who you are.

When a celebrity dies, chances are your daily life is not altered.

Maybe, but probably not.

I felt strongly about it at the time.  But tonight, I am have to eat my words.

Admittingly, I was watching Golden Girls and thought about how sad it was that the only living one is Betty White.  I don’t want to think about a world without Betty White, so I won’t.

But tonight, I read the news story about Alex Trebek getting emotional.  I did not see the episode.  This evening slipped away.

I found myself thinking that I need to DVR Jeopardy because we don’t know how much longer we have Alex Trebek.

I am 41 and for as long as I remember, Alex Trebek has faithfully hosted Jeopardy.

He bridges a time in my life when my grandparents were still alive and we talked on rotary phones and cable TV was a new phenomenon to the present day.  If I wanted to watch him, I would actually have to walk up to the TV, which was probably small and black and white, turn a knob to get the TV to turn on and maybe even turn the dial if the TV previously was on a different channel.  If I was lucky, I wouldn’t have to mess with the antenna (because the only TV that had cable was in the living room).

I work in oncology data.  The best way to describe what I do is that I am the person in between the patient record and government statistics.  Our data is also used in medical research.

I truly hope Alex Trebek beats the odds.  But working in oncology data, I know Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer is a grim diagnosis.

I am in awe of Alex Trebek because instead of retiring, he chose to continue hosting the show.  He chose to be continue to be there for us when he doesn’t have to be.

And from what I read in the news, he is tolerating chemo pretty well.

But life is fragile and illness can bring complications.  Complications that we may never be prepared for.

I don’t want to think about it.  So I am going to end this blog post abruptly and stew in my eaten words.  And enjoy watching Alex Trebek for as long as I am able.

Homeostasis

Have you ever had an event that kicked you on your ass?

Or at the very least, knocked you off-balance a bit? It could be a death of a loved one, a divorce or breakup or a job loss.

You may find yourself in a situation where you want to do whatever you can to get back to “normal.”


There is actually a scientific process that describes this.

Homeostasis

Ho * me * o * sta * sis /noun/ the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological process.

I had never heard of the concept of homeostasis until Spring of 2009. I had gone back to school for Health Information Technology and had to take the required Anatomy and Physiology courses. I had spent my 20s underemployed and I started working in a billing office at a local hospital. One of my bosses (and mentors) recommended I go back to school so I could advance my career.

So there I was, looking at an online bulletin board trying to come up with 3 discussion posts on Homeostasis.


After that course concluded, I did not think about homeostasis for a very long time.

Not for another 7 years and three months.

I remember seeing Bryon, critically ill and clinging to his life. Despite unfathomable injury and illness, I could see his body trying to heal.


Even in his fragile state, his body was trying it’s hardest to achieve homeostasis. Of course we know his body was not successful in that feat.


After Bryon died, I looked at the shattered remains of what had been my life and wondered what I needed to do to put those pieces together.


I desperately wanted my life to achieve a state of homeostasis.


Of course, my primary identity was that of wife and mother and without Bryon, homeostasis would not be possible.


I wondered what I needed to do to achieve homeostasis. This seems ridiculous to look back on because my life was in shambles.

At that time, I felt that homeostasis involved being a wife so I figured that after an acceptable amount of time, I would find the next love of my life.

This works for some people but raw, profound grief takes a lot out of you and takes longer than expected.

I was a mess for awhile and I believe that like attracts like so I didn’t want to attract a mess.


I was looking at my Facebook memories the other day. There was a memory from 2017 where I said that when I feel in love again that I wanted it to be at Christmas. While I would love for my life to be a Hallmark movie, it dawned on me that as time goes by, I believe in love a little less each day. But that’s another blog post for another time.

Bryon was my rock and he grounded me.

Bryon had a way of sizing up a situation and making sure things were okay.


If I were upset with people, Bryon would remind me that I was overestimating people and their intelligence and/or loyalty. Sometimes he said things people didn’t like to hear. At times I could find him harsh but he was usually correct. I miss his insight and his loyalty to me, our daughter and those closest to him.


So how could I stabilize my life when my rock was gone?


I am working towards it by making necessary life changes, removing toxic people from my life and doing inner work.


I have often reflected what Bryon would think about many situations going on from political scandals and other news as well as the shenanigans of people we knew.


It dawned on me recently that Bryon was the grounding force for many people. Many people sought his advice.


And it’s no wonder that in some circles I was in, things became off. Everyone is knocked off balance. Bryon isn’t here to ground things. To knock sense into people.


And most of us are probably going through life trying to achieve the elusive state of homeostasis.


But while we physically can achieve homeostasis (and even that is questionable because our bodies are always aging), we are not designed to achieve homeostasis in our psyche.

Our minds and hearts are meant to be expanding. We should be living our lives outside our comfort zones. We should be learning and growing.

True homeostasis is not possible.


So if you are struggling, remember that. You just need to find, as that cliche goes “your new normal.” And as long as you are trying to better yourself, then you will grow.


And you will wind up where you need to be.

Photo by Simon Migaj from Pexels

Embracing the Inner Light

 

I have only had one serious relationship before I was with Bryon. I have referred to him as the Anti-Bryon because he is pretty much the opposite of Bryon.

Like, a complete 180. I had often said that Bryon was the over correction of this relationship.

Whether Bryon was an over correction or not, he was the right guy for me. The Anti-Bryon was intimidated by my strong personality, Bryon wasn’t fazed. He had an equally strong, if not stronger personality.

Anti-Bryon does have an actual name but I do feel the need to protect his privacy though I highly doubt that he reads this blog.

The last time I spoke to him was during an AOL Instant Messenger Conversation while I was campaigning for George W Bush in 2004. The conversation was just like our relationship- one sided. I ended that  conversation thinking that if he and I were going to be friends, he could put in some effort.

And we haven’t spoken since.

The Anti-Bryon and I started dating at the end of Fall semester our senior year of college. Our relationship was not exciting and never progressed. Not even physically.

After two and a half years, I wanted that “je ne sais quoi” that was missing.

And I wanted a boyfriend who wanted to have sex with me. Or at least kissed open mouthed.

This might be TMI but this is my blog. If you don’t like it- don’t read it.

One night, two and a half years into our relationship, I had had enough. We were getting ready for bed and

I confronted the Anti-Bryon. Anti-Bryon wasn’t particularly religious but he said that the thought of having sex with me made him sick to his stomach.

We went to bed.  To go to sleep.  Just to be clear.

I regret not kicking him out but my self esteem was lacking during my early 20s.

The next day, he did his thing and I had a rare day off so I drove two hours to Boston to do some shopping and to see my Grandma.

As I drove down to Boston in my 1998 Saturn that did not have a tape deck or a CD player, I flipped through the radio stations and I kept hearing “All or Nothing” by O-Town.

It may have just been a coincidence since the song was popular at that time.

I went to the shops in Downtown Crossing despite the fact there were plenty of malls in suburbia. I wanted the distraction of being “in the city”.

And in each store, O-Town was playing.

At that stage of my life, I never thought much about the esoteric but it was clear that the Universe was trying to tell me something.

Usually when I ask for a sign, I get some sort of riddle in return. Or ignored completely. But this was one of the few times in my life that Universe, or God or whoever the *bleep* is in charge (Charles, maybe?) has sent me a clear sign that’s it’s oooooover, ooooooover.

We weren’t in love. We were just friends. And this is how it ends.

After I visited my Grandma that afternoon, I drove back to Maine and broke up with the Anti-Bryon. He wasn’t heartbroken.

And neither was I, though I felt that he led me on.  He had the best of me but he didn’t want the rest of me. He got a good deal but he had no intention of having a future with me. But I never took the initiative to question his intentions or lack thereof.

So why am I thinking about the Anti-Bryon?

I have zero attachment to him. I hope he is well and happy.  I hope he is living his best life possible.

I seldom think about those years and when I do, all I remember is boredom. I don’t remember the Anti-Bryon as being particularly funny. The only funny thing I remember was this one time we went to the Portland Museum of Art (free admission with a student ID from the University of Southern Maine) and he came up behind and whispered “I see naked people…”

Like that kid on Sixth Sense. You know…the one who saw dead people.

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That is the only funny thing I remember about the Anti-Bryon. But maybe he was funny but I spent 8 years with Bryon who was one of the funniest people I have ever met.

I am thinking about this because O-Town has been stuck in my head.

Except this time the phrase I am pondering is “I’ve had the rest of you now I want the best of you.”

I don’t think anyone has ever had the “best of me”.

I was a very hyper kid. I began to learn at a very young age that I had to dial it back a notch or two or twelve to appease people.

I was shamed for being too loud, too hyper, too dramatic, too talkative.

So I tried my best to scale it down to fit in and to please people.

I kept my light from shining as bright as it could, so I could fit in with others.

Because I was too much for people.

As a parent of a child with a bright light, it pains me to see her get scolded for being her.

It’s why I took her out of her dance class when she kept being in trouble for being too talkative and “overbearing”.

I wasn’t going to pay $65 a month to have my daughters light dimmed, especially when I am sure in the upcoming years, people will try to dim her light and they will probably do it for free. She has plenty of other activities she attends and if she wants to continue to dance, I’ll find another school that’s a better fit.

When I was dating the Anti-Bryon, I tried to fit whatever mold I thought would appease him. Looking back, he never tried to fit my mold. I loved to travel and the one time he went to Boston (the actual city, not just visiting my family in the suburbs) he was pissed at me because he didn’t want to ride on the T (that’s the subway for the non-Bostonians).

Instead of saying that this relationship was a two way street and sometimes he needed to do the things I wanted, I tried harder to please him.

But during all these acts to try to please the Anti-Bryon, I lost my authentic self.

Or I should say, my authentic self became more lost and obscured.

My authentic self had been lost since I was a child.

My authentic self continued to stay lost until I realized all my co-workers, most of whom were a little older than me, were still going out and having fun. Friday nights with the Anti-Bryon consisted of watching America’s Funniest Home Videos or AFV as it had been shortened. AFV circa 2002/2003 didn’t have Bob Saget as a host so watching it felt completely pointless. You can only watch a cat leap in the air or a guy get hit in the nuts so many times before it just isn’t funny anymore.

My coworkers taught me that being an adult was not synonymous with being boring. I remember my coworker MaryBeth (I don’t know what happened to her) told me that she thought there was a more fun version of me inside and maybe if I wasn’t dating the Anti-Bryon that that side of myself could express itself.

MaryBeth saw my authentic self.

She saw something in me that I didn’t see.

I took those words to heart. The day in Boston with O-Town happened shortly thereafter.

This all happened in summer 2003.

So I decided to move home (further up the Maine coast) and I got into politics.

Politics taught me social skills and I felt a little less socially awkward though politics in itself can be socially awkward at times. I met a lot of great people (including my husband) who are still in my life but I also had to weed through a lot of narcissistic toolbags.

I learned what I needed to learn during my political years. I made some friends that I am still friends with today. I got to travel around the country and I have had some cool experiences. It was through politics where the etiquette of fine dining and other formalities became second nature.

But I found it hard to be authentic. I couldn’t take the scheming and games. So I retired. Or at the very least, I went on an indefinite sabbatical.

Bryon came into my life and when I got my political fix by tagging along to his events.

Bryon was good for my authentic self. We spent most of our free time together, engaged in intelligent and witty conversations. We traveled. We ate good food whether it was fine dining or from takeout windows.

He encouraged me not to sell myself short and to grow career-wise.  He even made me read Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In.

I definitely grew during our years together.

But I still feel like he never got the best of me.

He got the best version available at that time but it still wasn’t the best of me.

Bryon and I both had strong personalities and I would go along with whatever he wanted sometimes because it was easier.

During those years, it never dawned on me that there was a better version of myself lurking underneath.

I don’t know if it fair to myself to feel guilty for not expressing a side of personality that I didn’t know was there.

Plus we live in a society that does not foster authenticity. We care more about how we appear on social media.

I just remember sitting by his side in the ICU, mustering up strength I didn’t know I had, promising him I would be a better wife.

 Coming from a Boston Irish-Catholic family, guilt is one of the few emotions that I learned to express.

I wanted Bryon be proud of me but I never got that confirmation.

After Bryon’s death, I started to question everything. Why did Bryon have to die? What is God so cruel?

I questioned everything I believed or have ever believed. I questioned the meaning of life.

I believe this is what all the New Age Guru’s call “the Dark Night of the Soul”.

 I thought a lot about my life and Bryon’s life. He was his authentic self. He didn’t care if people got pissed off. He lived his truth.

He still exercised tact and decorum.

There were a few times when we were watching the Republican Presidential Primary debates and a certain candidate would say something inappropriate and Bryon would day “I can’t believe he said that.  You can’t say that!”

It took Bryon’s death for me to learn how to live.

It was a time of my life where I didn’t want to live. A part of me died that Sunday morning when Bryon died.

I made the decision to keep living.

And I hope no one read that in the literal sense. I never wanted to die. I just felt dead inside.

Even with these new revelations, I continued to try to please people.  People who took advantage of me. People who didn’t respect my privacy.  People who used me my life’s tragedy for their gain. People who took my love and friendship for granted.

I made sure to show up to every daycare function and do whatever a Pinterest mom needed to do because I didn’t want to be the single mom who dropped the ball. Just don’t look inside my car. I don’t have it together nearly as much as I seem like I do.

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The irony is, no one has openly judged me. Maybe behind my back but I don’t have the  information to tell you one way or the other.

Here I am, at the age of 41 and I am finally learning that I can’t dim my light for others. My light shining brightly doesn’t affect the brightness of other lights.

 We all have to live our truth.

At age 41, I finally realized that I am not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay.

And I don’t have to drink tea I don’t like either.

And neither do you.

 Don’t let anyone blow out your light.

 And going forward, people can take me or leave. But I am done trying to please people.

You can take me or leave me.

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Year Three: I feel rage-ey (complete with cuss words) #sorrynotsorry

Here we are.

Another 365 days later.

The Earth has made another trip around the Sun since you left.

The shock is gone but I still feel the void.

“They” said it would get easier and that time heals all wounds.

Perhaps they are right. But I think it’s more like you get used to feeling the void.

And chances are “They”- whoever they are- are full of shit anyway.

People are full of opinions and are usually happy to give unsolicited advice.

And 99.98% of the time that unsolicited advice is shitty advice.

I’m doing okay.

Our daughter is doing well. Parenting her by myself was daunting at first but I think I got it figured out. Well, most of the time.

She’s a great kid. She is about to start kindergarten and she keeps busy with dance and swimming. She also played T-Ball last Spring and she will be doing soccer this Fall.

You would be so proud.

It makes me sad that she only has an interpretation of you based on stories about you and photographs. I wonder how much she knows about you. She saw the pictures of you making kissy faces at the baby turtles in Grand Cayman and laughed about it at another time. So she does think about you.

I talk about you often and I let her know that you love her very much.

The cat is still here. He is still cute even though he coughed up a hairball as I type this. But I still love him.

The first year without you was about survival.

The second year was about existing.

This third year has been about living again.

I have made some big life changes.

Moving forward without you is a struggle. For two years I tried to hold onto the life we had together.

But the more time passes, the harder it became.

Shit had to go.

I had to let go of unhealthy relationships. Toxic really.

I have had a lot of shit flung at me. Shit that never would have been flung at me if you were alive.

Because you would have never tolerated it.

Not on this planet. Not on any planet.

As life moves forward, it’s as if you remain frozen in time. I have come to accept that some people can compartmentalize you separately from how they treat me and your daughter. Or how they treated you when you were alive.

Our marriage had its struggles (all marriages do) but I never questioned your loyalty. You never gave me a reason too.

You always had my back.

I miss having you as an ally. At least, in human form.

But I have learned from it. I need people in my life who are loyal and deep and I finally think I have set healthier boundaries.

My only regret is not walking away sooner.

And people can say whatever they want to, or need to, to make themselves feel better. Even if a lot of it is probably shit.

Those people can fuck off.

I say that with love, of course.

Things are almost never what they seem.

I know it wasn’t practical to move forward with “our” dreams. Our dreams are empty without you. I have realized that it’s time to move forward with my dreams.

As time marches forward, I struggle with guilt.

Why do I get to live out my dreams when you can’t?

It’s so unfair.

And then I get scared because what if my dreams make me happy. Then I cycle back to feeling guilty at the idea that I could be happy in a life without you.

And it’s ridiculous because I know, with every fiber of my being, that you want me to be happy.

I am torn between knowing life is short and feeling guilty for living a full life.

You were such a big part of my life but the harsh reality is in my present life, you are no longer an active part of the equation.

That seems harsh but it makes me sad.

Very, very sad.

But we both know that no matter what my life brings in the future, we will always have those 8 years together. The good times and the bad. The Caribbean cruises and the nights at home, binge watching Breaking Bad, The West Wing, and Friday Night Lights.

Nothing can take that away from us.

I will carry them forever.

Tired

This wasn’t the blog post I was intending to write.

The one I was intending to write had a lot more anger.

So to the people who like to gossip about me…sorry. You will have to get your entertainment somewhere else.

You also may want to re-evaluate your own life.

But what do I know. 🤷‍♀️

Also, I just want to say that Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street” is one of the best songs ever written. I discovered it driving one random day on Mount Desert Island, ME during my political days.

Though it shouldn’t be confused with the bar that used to be in Troy, NY.

Here is a picture of Bryon and I at that bar.

I digress.

If you don’t know me by now, my mind goes on tangents.

I used to be embarrassed by it. People told me that I think too much.

As I have gotten older, I have embeaced my overactive mind.

Maybe everyone else should think some more.

Anyway, if you follow my blog, you probably know that I don’t write as much as I had previously.

It’s because I am tired.

You’re probably thinking “Duh, Kerry…we are all tired. You aren’t special.”

While it’s true that I am not special, over the past three and a half years, I probably have had a lot more major life changes than the average person.

I am not mocking those tired from work and parenthood.

It’s rough.

But when you add life changes and grief on top, you become exhausted.

And secondary losses. Because when your person dies, you aren’t just missing your person. You lose so much more; your identity, your sense of security, your faith, your health, sometimes you lose your financial security. Your mileage may vary. Secondary loss is different for everyone.

It’s one thing to be tired from being busy but rebuilding your life brings it to a new level.

Sleeping in on a random Saturday will not make up for the exhaustion I feel.

(Before people freak out, obviously I am speaking in general terms. Everyone has different stressers and everyone reacts differently. And maybe you are working to exhaustion. If you are working to exhaustion, please take a relaxing break. The rest of you…just bear with me.)

I have been too tired to be creative to write.

I am too tired to read.

I started to work out again and I have been too tired to attend my fitness classes.

I manage to scrape together enough energy to work and spend time with my daughter. But I am running on fumes.

Now some of you pseudo/armchair psychologists with Web MD medical degrees might say I am depressed but I know I am not.

I was diagnosed with dysmythia as a young adult. Dysmythia is a chronic, low grade form of depression. I seem to have outgrown it in my twenties.

I am not depressed. I feel great joy and gratitude in my life even if it is alongside anger from losing Bryon.

I’ve just had a lot thrown at me over the past 3.5 years.

I’m just tired.

I just want to stay by myself at some air bnb by the ocean, somewhere warm and just lay down in a reclining lawn chair and listen to the ocean.

Like, for days on end.

If I were to venture out, it would be to get dressed up and go have a fancy meal by myself. With steak and (preferably) Chateauneuf De Pape though a Cote Du Rhone would be acceptable. And something chocolate for dessert.

And I am not trying to be pretentious. I just like a good steak and red wine.

Anyone that knows me well enough knows that I travel with packed itineraries. I usually come back from vacation needing a vacation.

But here I am…tired.

Maybe I need to do my own version of Eat, Pray, Love except I don’t want to be as pretentious as Elizabeth Gilbert. She just totally rubbed me the wrong way though I didn’t mind her when I read Big Magic. Though I read Eat, Pray, Love when it came out, long before my life got turned upside down. Maybe I should give her another chance.

When I have energy to read.

Maybe I need to start knitting something again. Something that will take me a long time so I focus on the rhythm and not the finished product.

What do you do to get your energy back? I am open to suggestions.

Clear eyes and a full heart

Yesterday I got new glasses.

When I put on these glasses, I realized that they represented a lot more to me than I expected.

I first got glasses in high school. I was told I needed them for reading. Sometime between high school and college, I lost them and I never worried about it.

Since I like to measure time by presidential administrations, this was during the end of the Clinton administration.

My eyesight never seemed to be a real issue and I didn’t worry about it.

Sometime after my daughter was born (during the late Obama administration), I noticed my vision wasn’t what it used to be. Bryon showed concern and encouraged me to make an appointment with his eye doctor.

I made the appointment with Bryon’s eye doctor. His eye doctor was very nice. I liked him. And I got the glasses that I needed.

I even went to see him when I was sent home for work for conjunctivitis. My work did not require me to see an outside optometrist but Bryon thought it would be a good idea. Turns out I didn’t have conjunctivitis. I just had dry, red eyes that can happen to nursing mothers due to hormonal changes. He gave me some drops.

After Bryon died, I got the notice in the mail that I was due to an eye exam. But I couldn’t make the appointment.

Bryon had been a patient of this eye doctor since he was seven.

I didn’t know if his eye doctor even knew that Bryon died. Bryon’s death had been in the newspapers but I had no clue if he knew and I didn’t want to be the one to have to tell him.

I could handle talking to people that knew Bryon and knew he died and I could talk about Bryon’s death to people who didn’t know him at all. But I couldn’t be the person to tell someone who had known Bryon since he was a kid that he had died.

Besides, it would be hard to do an eye exam if I was messy crying.

So I avoided the eye doctor.

I threw that notice into a pile of papers that I called “shit I will deal with later”.

Things were fine.

And then I lost my glasses and I did not have a spare.

I tried not to worry about them.

I adapted. At least I thought I did.

But I knew the truth.

I knew I couldn’t put it off.

I am 40 and my eyes are not what they used to be.

For a long time after Bryon’s death, I bounced between the state of existing and the state of surviving.

But it’s time for me to start taking care of myself.

So I went to a different eye doctor.

And now I have my glasses.

My daughter approved of them because they are pink.

And now things are clearer.

Maybe a little too clear.

I recently watched an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where the family convinced Marie Barone that she needed glasses. Then she got glasses and she could see so well that she pointed out every physical flaw everyone had.

Well I looked in the mirror and I noticed every tiny flaw on my face.

I think I need a chemical peel. Or, like, 12 chemical peels.

At least a facial.

But now that I am seeing 20/20 again, I realized that this is symbolic of my life. As a transition to the next chapter of my life, things are just so much more clearer now.

Of course, some of that might be the fact that I have spent the last 3 years in deep thought and reflection.

Either way, I am seeing things for what they are.

The “blurriness” of my life has cleared up as I processed what had happened in my life, as I learned to cope with the events, as I realized how I let others projections and attitudes affect me and as I learn how to how I respond to all of these factors.

Now it’s time to look toward the future with a clear vision.

It feels fitting to end this blog post with a quote from one of Bryon’s favorite fictional characters, Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights- “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose”.

Why Father’s Day can be painful.

For along time after Bryon died, I felt like I had to be both a Mother and Father to my daughter.

And if there is anything I can tell you from personal experience-

Being a parent is hard. Even if you have an active co-parent.

Being both a mother and a father is harder.

Being both a mother and father while grieving is super hard.

“Super hard” might be a lame adjective. I am sure my seventh grade English teacher would be pissed if she read that.

But on this morning, two days before the third Father’s Day without my daughter’s Father, I am grumpy.

“Super Hard” is the best descriptor I can think of in this comparison.

Other adjectives can include-

Exhausting- Being two parents is exhausting.

Lonely- Bryon isn’t here to share my daughters moments with.

Unfair- That feeling I try to ignore when I see other kids with their Dad’s and I know my daughter doesn’t have that.

Empty- That feeling I have when I had to write “deceased” next to her Father’s name on her kindergarten registration forms.

Annoyance: Every time I have to explain that her father is dead. My life used to be so f*cking normal and now it’s not. Now I am a square peg in a world full of round holes. And I didn’t ask for any of this.

Resentment- For the fact that I have to brush off other’s insensitivity. Why is that my job? Why can’t people just take a few seconds and think and be a little more considerate?

Maybe “pissy” might be a better descriptor.

Most days I don’t dwell on it, but I can’t ignore any of this on Father’s Day weekend.

For some reason Father’s Day bothers me much more than Mother’s Day.

Bryon was the one who bought me gifts but he made it clear that they were from my daughter, not him. Bryon liked to add they were not from him because I wasn’t his mother. Though I know he said it because it annoyed me.

It seems kind of ironic.

By Bryon’s logic, Father’s Day shouldn’t bother me.

After all, he wasn’t MY father. My father is alive. And my Dad is awesome too.

My daughter doesn’t seem fazed. But maybe she will when she gets older and reflects. Or maybe not. I can’t dictate how her father’s death may or may not affect her.

Father’s day stirs up so many emotions for me.

It reminds me of Bryon’s absence.

It reminds me of all the dreams we didn’t accomplish as a family.

It reminds me that my daughter was supposed to have a sibling.

It reminds me that Bryon will never get to see his daughter grow up. He won’t see her get on the school bus when she goes to kindergarten or see her walk across the stage at her high school and college graduations. He won’t get to walk her down the aisle when she get’s married.

It reminds me that my daughter was cheated out of her years with her Father. She was cheated out of the one of the most important relationships a girl ever has.

Since Bryon died, I felt I had to be both parents for my daughter.

To be her mother and to fill the void left by her father.

But I came to the realization that I can’t be both her mother and father.

I am just her mother.

I can try to be an awesome, kick ass mother.

But I am not, nor will I ever be her Father.

It is one of my parenting goals for my daughter to grow up and think that despite her Father dying, she had a good childhood. I hope that is what she thinks though I can’t control what she thinks about her childhood.

I can only try to be the best Mother I can and help my daughter realize her authentic self.

I can spend time with her.

I can read to her and encourage her to read books.

I can do fun activities with her.

I can travel with her.

I can play with her.

I can teach her things.

I can cook with her.

I can provide her with the best opportunities available.

I can take her to sports practices and go to her games.

I can take her shoe shopping. She loves shoe shopping.

One day I will have to teach her about all the things that come with being a woman.

But the one thing I can’t do is be her father.

Bryon gave her life and he loved her very much.

There will always be a hole there.