I’m not one to consider myself particularly tech savvy, or one to be too focused on the image of this blog (I figure that will come later when some art house Imprint discovers me and a 22 year old in the marketing department redoes my site before my book tour), but I realized the theme I had hastily chosen was not working for me. Apparently it was called “intergalactic 2” (read: 1)why are there 2 of these themes and b) nerd city) and just not giving out the depression/self reflection/witty vibes I was after. Thus, the page has been updated with a new look, and it’s hopefully easier to navigate. This theme is called “bloggy” and I figured I couldn’t really get any more on the nose than that. Let me know what you think of the new look. WordPress has a million designs and they’re all somewhere between basic™ mommy blogger and Swedish architecture firm. Basically, I’ve got option guys!
My Life in an Alternate Universe
I often think about what I’d be doing at that moment if my life hadn’t decided to Thelma and Louise itself off a cliff, and I didn’t have to now live in a world I don’t recognize. I like to think that the Emily living in an alternate universe (AU) truly is killing it (oops) and everything’s just coming up roses for her. Bryan and I had big plans for our future, and we couldn’t wait to get started! And by big plans I mean getting excited for a domestic DINK life resembling a lot of stuff white people like. But you know that’s cool, because I was fine being basic, and I’m pretty sure AU Emily is too!
I’m pretty sure Bryan will be making tacos for dinner with his homemade pico de gallo and we’ll Netflix and chill® (for real, we’re boring and married) with our mini pig Jean Ralphio Saperstein aka “Raffi”. I look over and see something like this:
You know, the usual. We’re also busy decorating our recently purchased starter home that we bought in [insert east coast city here] because you know we be about that HGTV lyfe son! Also, our jobs are totes fulfilling and we are each other’s biggest cheerleaders, natch. Anyhoo, oh it’s the weekend in the AU! Must be time for date night. Look, here we are now just enjoying cocktails and wedded bliss at our local farm to table watering hole! No bigs, just AU Emily and Bryan living their best lives.
Man, we love getting up early on the weekends…but only because we choose to! We’re DINKs remember? No kids to dictate our sleeping schedule here! On this particular day, we’re going for a hike. Lots of #selfie opps to let people know we care about nature and shit. Also, look how cute we are!
Man, I just love us! Always finding ways to just be happy being together. I’m so lucky to have met the love of my life, and so lucky he’s ALIVE and well here beside me! I’m so #blessed. This year has flown by I tell ya. It’s time to get the Christmas card ready. Can you believe we’ve been married a whole year? Well one down, a lifetime to go! Nothing could EVER change that plan! Oh wait.
I don’t know guys. What do you think? Matching sweaters too much? You’re right, of course they aren’t!
Great! Nailed it! Now it’s time to settle in to a relaxing holiday season, just the two of us doing whatever we want…just like we planned it. Life is perfect! But man, all this relaxing is making me tired. Bryan and I def need a vacay STAT. Let’s see, someplace warm and sandy obvi. We just really need to unwind and escape the cold weather. This Seasonal Affective Disorder is really getting to me this year. “Alexa, make me an appointment with my therapist for January 5th when I’m back from St. Lucia”. Sorry, just a little multi-tasking for this modern wifey.
Sigh. St. Lucia was great. I really wish we could have stayed a full two weeks instead of just 10 days though, you know? I think I need a vacation from my vacation amiright??? I’ll go take a long hot bath, while the old ball and chain makes his famous white chicken chili. I don’t know what it is, he just NEVER lets me in kitchen! He’s a quirky one that Bryan, teehee!
So, yeah, sorry I think I just blacked out for a minute. I was too busy daydreaming about my AU self and what she’s up to. Oh, I wrote it all down? Great. But in all seriousness, can you tell I’m just a teensy bit jelly about AU Emily and her totally awesome totally normal life? In reality, I’m sitting here in a hotel room in Radford, Virginia (don’t bother looking it up) with Doritos dust on my shirt, a wicked case of late onset chin acne, and Day 1 period cramps. You know, every girl’s dream! Wishing I could FaceTime Bryan from my business trip so he could “kiss me through the phone” (remember that song?!) and make fake fart noises that he blamed on Raffi. That, my friends, was really my best life. Hopefully once this chin acne clears up, I can finally get that modeling contract I’ve been vying for. I sent an email to email@example.com so I’ve got a good feeling! In the mean time, send some Proactiv. K thanks, bye.
Today is World Purple Day! (Sounds way more fun than it is)
Given that today is Purple Day, I thought this was an apropos time to discuss the beast that put me in this situation. The cause of this blog. The reason my husband is no more. What killed Bryan. Should I continue, or are we good? Good. The answer is Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). Never heard of it? Neither had I, or any other member of his family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, the lady at the deli counter, the guy who always grunts at the gym, or your Starbucks barista for that matter. And that’s messed up. I’m sure you’re familiar with the concept of “raising awareness” for worthy causes, but the fact that something that kills 1 in 1,000 people with epilepsy, and that 50 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy, needs awareness raising, really chaps my ass.
So what is Purple Day, you ask? WELL, glad you asked! It’s “an international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide. On March 26th annually, people in countries around the world are invited to wear purple and host events in support of epilepsy awareness.” Their ultimate goal, and now mine, is to get people talking about epilepsy in an effort to dispel myths and inform those with seizures that they are not alone.
The fact that I had absolutely no idea why Bryan’s heart would just stop and he’d keel over never to be conscious again just proves there’s chaos in the universe. In the days and weeks after he passed, I’d think back to his last appointments with his neurologist as they talked about adjusting his medication, and the litany of possible side effects she* rattled off like we were at a basic brunch and she was listing all the regretful bangs of her life. One thing she never said was SUDEP. Perhaps SUDEP was her “Chad”…the bang so shameful and embarrassing that she can’t utter it ever…or at least until the HPV he gave her clears up. “Fuck you Chad [SUDEP]!” That’s how I had to rationalize it anyway. Because my only other thoughts were of sending her a letter expounding upon all the ways she is either at best totally inept at her job, or at worst criminally negligent. And then maybe sending said letter in an envelope filled with a suspicious white powder (Hint: GLUTEN!). But, I’ve come to learn that this code of silence is widespread among doctors, and especially egregious in the United States. All the best and most proactive research is coming out of the United Kingdom, so check them out, especially the SUDEP Action network.
It only makes sense that the land that gave us Harry Potter, spots(?) of tea, Posh Spice, The Office**, and has universal health care would be ahead of us on this. So, I’m turning my rage into action and doing my part to tell Bryan’s story, raise awareness and funds so that perhaps one of the 50 million people on this old earth of ours with epilepsy might be empowered to make the most informed health care decisions for his or her self. So in summation, check yo’self before yo wreck yo’self [translation: check out these informative links, let friends and family with epilepsy know about SUDEP, and perhaps consider making a donation!].
*Her name is Dr. Brenda George in Fort Collins, CO. I wouldn’t fight you if you gave her a shitty Yelp Review. J/K! (not really)
**I know, I know, that was the original, but the American Office WAS way better. U-S-A! U-S-A!
A Listicle of Things I Learned in Year One!
Wittiest Widow here, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from all the great online publications of the highest journalistic integrity (I’m looking at you Buzzfeed!), it’s that people LOVE listicles! As I enter my sophomore year of widowhood, I’ve tried to reflect on the lessons I’ve been forced to learn. I won’t say there’s any meaning to what’s happened, and if one more person says “everything happens for a reason” I will promptly ask them to jump off a bridge, but I’d like to hope I’ve made some progress. So here’s a nifty list of some tidbits I’ve learned as a widow of 395 days.
- Apparently I’m “really strong”. I wish this meant that when your hubby dies, you suddenly gain hulk-like strength and can bench press 300 pounds (is that a lot? I clearly don’t work out), but in actuality it’s the “emotional strength” you gain. Bor-ing. Apparently adrenaline-car-lifting-strength is only reserved for mama bears, or tiger mothers, or whatever other maternal animal analogy people use these days. Anyhoo, not going to lie, the first days and weeks after Bryan kicked the bucket were a total blur. I didn’t know how I’d survive, and I sure as hell had no desire to. That’s just a fact. (Disclaimer: Not being on this earthly plane is something I fantasize a lot about these days, so if that makes you uncomfortable, sorry. K thanks bye). I was told just the other day by a dear friend who stayed with me that first week, that I didn’t even have the strength to eat a grape. A single grape. I mean WTF?! First, I love grapes! And second, man that’s weak. I think it was just an overall lack of will. Everything, and I mean everything seemed pointless. Why do people shower? Why do people eat? Conversation? It’s for the birds! Going to a job, who needs it?! All this to say, life was totally unbearable. I still don’t know how I progressed, except that time is the only constant and it just kept moving forward. And, I think, because I just had to. I had people counting on me, even if I wasn’t counting on myself. I still find that grating to me in my weaker moments, but for now I’m faking this whole living thing until I make it!
- My Ride or Die (get it?) Crew is different. As you can imagine, I totally go to therapy (can’t you tell how well adjusted I am?), and “Dr. F” has taught me a lot about what they in the biz call “secondary losses”. Basically, not only do you lose the love of your life, but you can lose a lot of other awesome stuff you never even imagined! For me, it was my house, my pet, my future, my sense of self worth, and some of my inner circle, just to name a few. I had heard it before and can certainly attest to it after experiencing it first hand, but you’re filled with gratitude and surprise by the people who come out of the woodwork to be supportive; and totally hurt by those you thought you could count on who come up short. Overall, I’m lucky to have such a wide and supportive network of friends, especially my sorority sisters, high school friends, Rotaractors, and great coworkers. I can never thank them enough for the notes, messages, flowers, funny care packages, offers for happy hours or manicures, and persistent phone calls I’ve received over the last year. Whenever I’m feeling particularly alone or hopeless, I’ll get a “Happy Galentine’s Day” card in the mail from a friend who I haven’t actually seen in years. The reverse of that also happens however. Sometimes those closest to you can hurt you the most. Obtuse is a word I’ve come to use a lot. I know that people’s emotional intelligence runs the gamut, but it’s still surprising when your bff would rather go to an Orange Theory class than sit with you 3 days after the funeral when you can barely eat that aforementioned grape. Or when you talk about your sudden and great pain and someone compares it to the death of their cat (insert eye roll emoji here). My goal throughout this grieving process is to be honest and let the emotions come as they come. I’m not fine, so I shouldn’t say I am, right? Well you’d be surprised (or maybe not) just how many people would prefer I say I’m fine. I can tell my grief is uncomfortable for some, and I know it’s distanced me from some friendships–these friendships being the ones you think will step up when something like this happens but in reality the exact opposite happened. I try not to feel jealous and post a nasty comment when on the 1 year anniversary of Bryan’s death, you don’t acknowledge it and instead post pictures of your latest vacation. But I digress. We’re all just out there trying to live our lives, and I know everyone else’s lives move forward, even when mine stands still. But I can’t pretend it doesn’t sting. #Truthiness
- That shitty, heart-stopping, emotional pain doesn’t really lessen. Although I shower regularly (okay semi-regularly), and only think about dying 5 times a day as opposed to constantly, the pain hasn’t really lessened. I would say it’s different, perhaps more familiar. Obviously a year has helped me get harder, better, faster, stronger, but I’m not hard AF yet. I cry less, but things still regularly set me off. Example: I partake in a unique form of emotional cutting on a daily basis by checking out my Time Hop app. I get to look at all the awesome things I was doing 1, 2, 3 etc. years ago and compare it to the hellscape that is me now. I don’t know why I do it, but I just can’t stop. The first step is admitting you have a problem right??? Things I “look forward” to are always disappointing. I used to see commercials of a woman looking sad in a board meeting and then staring sadly at her unused pottery wheel as a way to illustrate her depression. Then she got the right pills and was back to banging out bowls and mugs! While I’d never make pottery, and I’ve always looked sad in meetings, I can relate to the loss of the interest and overall apathetic attitude. On my best day, my mantra is “blerg”. On my worst days, I can’t even think of one that’s bad enough. I miss Bryan so much it hurts–yes physically hurts. In the first months my hair fell out, my skin was crazy, my body ached all over, I had heart palpations, and I felt and looked like I aged 10 years over night. I guess in a lot of ways did. Blerg.
- It’s Emily 2.0 Now. So suffering a massive and traumatic loss changes you man. It just does. Kind of like prison, or so I’ve been told. The Emily that was here for 31 1/2 years peaced out the day Bryan did. I can’t totally explain it, except to say I feel different and look at the world differently, and Dr. F has totes validated my feelings so I know it’s for real. There was a time I was angry about this. I liked who I was! I didn’t want to be different! I may not have been totally self actualized, but I generally got up every morning and felt okay about me and the decisions I made. Now I feel like I’m stumbling through life and failing left and right, or I just don’t care at all. Not a great way to be, and just like Stella, I need to get my groove back. I’ll just have to accept that it will be a different groove.
- I miss Bryan MORE now. Can you believe it?! After some of the initial shock fades and your constant babysitters are around less, you have to get down to the business of living solo. Ugh. The reality of life without him has set in. And what is life really but a long, lonely march towards death?? Maybe not for you, but I mean at least for me it is. I’m sure in a hilarious ironic twist I’ll live to be like 90 years old. That’s a looooong time without your bestie and loooong time not living the life you guys had planned together. I struggle with the “one day at a time” thing, given that I’m a planner by nature and trade. I take in the totality of life without Bryan and it gets overwhelming to think about. I think about all the inside jokes we’ll never share again. All the stupid, hilarious conversations we’ll never have. All the road trips we’ll never take. All the houses we’ll never buy and fix up. All the TV we’ll never watch together. My God, the television might really be the worst. I love Netflix. That is all.
- Misty water colored memories. I’m scared sometimes, by just how fast the memories fade. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I have widow brain (that’s real thing, Google it). I want to remember all the things that made Bryan my hubby all at once, and it’s just impossible. Sometimes I watch videos of Bryan, just to keep his voice on my mind. This summer, my stupid phone deleted all my saved voicemails one day and I had a meltdown at a Firehouse Subs. That was fun. But when a random memory does pop in my head, I’m diligent about writing it down. These are things I hope stay in my head when I no longer remember who I am or how to go to the bathroom on my own. I could just drift off to the memory of Bryan singing Amy Grant’s “Baby Baby” just because.
- I’m Like the Most Empathetic Person Ever Now. Experiencing Bryan’s death and the shit storm that’s followed has caused me to see the world in a new lens. When I hear of someone who’s lost a parent, spouse, child etc., I don’t just feel sad for them, I’m shattered all over again. My pre-widow self just wasn’t capable of this higher level of sympathy and empathy, but now it’s like a super power y’all. Not that it’s a super power I particularly wanted, but I actually feel useful sometimes when these new, raw grievers talk to me and I can honestly relate or just be there to listen. I’m acutely aware of the “well what the hell do I do now?” feeling that comes after the funeral, cards, and casseroles stop coming. So I try to keep those grieving on my mind and reach out. You’ll never know what it’s truly like unless you’re a part of this club that nobody ever wanted to join, but if you do, I hope you support the other members.
- Just cut the bullshit. Ain’t nobody got time for that! When you’re all exposed in the pit of despair, you get skilled at prioritizing what’s worth emotional energy and what’s not. Just call me Imperator Furiosa because I’m a woman on a mission and I’ve got very little patience! Since I have so little energy to begin with, I can’t waste it on the bitchy woman at the grocery store, or the dick head that cuts me off on my commute home. I just tell them to have a #blessed day and be on my way. Okay maybe I still flip the bird, but I’m not still thinking about it 10 minutes later. Baby steps. I’m still grieving! One day I”ll get there. I also put less credence into what I see on social media in terms of comparing my life and goals to other people’s highlight reel. Everybody has got shit they’re going through, and it would be nice if we could just acknowledge it and be cool with it.
So that’s that. These are just some knowledge nuggets I’ve accumulated these last 395 days. I know I’ve got more to learn, and maybe I’ll update as I stay buckled in to this vomit-inducing carnival ride of widowhood that I just can’t seem to get off of. Any of you have pearls of wisdom to share? Ideas for posts? Be sure to comment!
Wow. This is harder than I thought it would be. How do you “welcome” people to a blog, that by all accounts, is most likely going to be real downer? I can guarantee it will always be honest, sometimes offensive, and sometimes witty (hence the title, duh). Of the myriad of things you lose when your husband of 2 1/2 months passes away (barf I hate the phrase) suddenly, one I really hate is my lack of drive to do…well anything really. So at the request of a few and my own attempt to do something, I’m starting this blog. Who knows? Maybe 30 years from now when I sit on my yacht with husband number 5 off the Amalfi Coast (note to self: locate the Amalfi coast), I’ll take a look at this blog and marvel at how far I’ve come! So yeah anyway, if you’re down to see what it’s like when a 32 year old widow decides to be out there just living her best life, strap in!
“Pity is for the living, envy is for the dead.” – Mark Twain