#hotgirlsummer or something

Aloha widowinos.  As #hotgirlsummer comes to a close and we enter thotumn,  I thought I’d check in and see how everyone’s insta-worthy vacays have been going.  Oh, what’s that you say? The last 3 months have been pretty much like the previous 408 months (give or take) before it, just hotter and with more body issues? Same girl, same.

wendyshotgirlsummer2

Accurate.

I’d like to say I haven’t had a chance to write because I’ve been out living my best life filling out a high cut bikini in all the right places and downing White Claws like there’s no laws, but in reality I haven’t written because I’m just lazy and busy with unfun things, like a soul-crushing corporate job. Said job has afforded me the luxury of travel so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.  Since the summer started, I’ve been given the opportunity to travel to exotic locales like Scranton, Pennsylvania…twice! Geez how did a girl get so lucky?

white claw

It’s true. When a White Claw is in-hand, it’s basically the wild west.

I did make an attempt at a bonafide “holiday” this month, and some might say I failed spectacularly.  A few weeks ago I packed my flowiest beach cover ups and darkest highlight and contour palette, and headed on down to Mexico way. What ensued was 7 days of blissed-out relaxation, white sandy beaches, gourmet meals, and top shelf cocktails.  Just kidding.  My time spent at the El Dorado Royale gourmet resort was more like a Groundhog Day-style loop of “I wonder if this meal will give me diarrhea” and “Why is this pool water so hot?” and “Well that’s a new place I’ve never sweated before” and “I think I cut myself on the rocks at the beach” and “I ordered this room service 90 minutes ago, where is it? and “Oh, it’s the middle of my vacation. I better check my work email and put out all of the fires that somehow only I can fix from a country away” and “This map is useless. I’m lost, again” and “I wish the one guy who’s hitting on me didn’t also own a MAGA hat” and “The last time I was somewhere tropical was my honeymoon. Cool” and “OH MY GOD IT’S SO FUCKING HOT!” sweaty  You know, everyone’s dream vacation.  To be fair, it wasn’t all bad.  Despite it being Mexico and our buttholes were consistently clenched in fear, we had two or three really amazing meals during the week, met some very kind people, and I learned how to make a swan and an elephant out of towels. So, I consider it a win. Maybe it really was a #hotgirlsummer after all.  Most likely from heat my body kept expelling at an alarming rate, and not because people of the opposite sex find me physically attractive in any way.

But I don’t yet consider all lost.  Labor Day Weekend is upon us, considered by most to be the official end to summer.  I shall use this last chance wisely, and make an instastory so full of hard seltzer drinks, neon bathing suits, Lizzo jams, and plant-based burgers, your heads will explode!  At the same time I’ll be thinking of all the jokey memes Bryan would have been coming up with the moment #hotgirlsummer took off and of all the ways he would have turned my “experience” at the El Dorado Royale into a kick-ass one. And I’ll try to look back at it through that lens and hope that he can still keep trying to make me better. Sorry. Meloncholy widow moment. It happens.  Enjoy what’s left of the season and try not get too excited for all things “pumpkin spice”.  It’s gross. Period.

Leaving A Mark

About a month ago I got a tattoo to memorialize Bryan. At the risk of sounding like a devotee of Twilight [for the record I AM NOT. I don’t even know what they’re called], Bryan imprinted so profoundly on my life, that it just made sense to leave an imprint on myself to mark that time. [Update: I just Googled what you call fans of Twilight…apparently it’s “Twihards”. Cool.] I thought a lot about what I wanted to permanently remind my of not only my amazing husband, but also of the earth shattering effect the aftermath of his death has had on me and those in my orbit.  It goes without saying that this has FOREVER changed me to my core (but not like beneficially in the form of six-pack abs or anything) as well as the trajectory of my life.  Needless to say I couldn’t take this inking as lightly as if I was at Daytona Beach Spring Break ’87 excited for my butterfly wing lower back tattoo. No offense to any of my tens of readers with lower back tattoos. Love you hot messes!

lower back tattoo

True story: this was the first thing that came up upon Googling “lower back tattoo”. NOTE: Shown here for reference only. I do not, I repeat do not, have this tattoo.

Also, I should note this wasn’t my first tattoo, so the “should I get a tattoo at all or not” wasn’t really a factor in my decision making.  It’s true what they say, once you get one, you definitely want more. Anyway back to the design.  For a while I had wanted to get a tattoo based on this new technology where you tattoo a sound wave and using an app can then play it by scanning your tattoo.  Bryan had left me so many cute, funny, and random voicemails that I envisioned using one of those, and I’m deathly afraid of forgetting the sound of his voice (like it keeps me up at night).  Well thanks to my shitty iPhone and shitty Sprint service, my phone deleted ALL OF MY SAVED VOICEMAILS (more on that here) so that idea was a bust. Thus it was time to resort to the trusty old internet machine. Scanning Pinterest, memorial tattoos run the gamut from beautiful to heart wrenching to tacky to confusing to just plain poor ink work. While I went for inspiration, I definitely wasn’t seeing what I wanted.  I had figured I would do something more symbolic vice the very on-the-nose broken heart, inspirational quote, birth/death date.  I also figured I’d know it when I saw it.  Every few weeks I’d peruse the boards seeing if anything new or interesting popped up, and no dice.  My “Inkspiration” (get it?) board was about as full as it was going to get.  And thus this idea languished on my mental to-do list for a while, you know with all the other basic functional things I was struggling to do: get out of bed, shower regularly, maybe do a load of laundry, try watching less Netflix, it’s getting embarrassing, etc. etc. You know, the usual.

Then one Friday in April I was driving along A1A beachfront avenue a la Vanilla Ice and decided to just pop into the tattoo shop I’ve used before and like.  I’m making a concerted effort as of late to “just do it” (no Nike reference here) instead of waiting until the drive and/or motivation manifests itself, because the funny thing about depression/grief is, it basically never does and you just have to push through it. So I went in and started chatting with the gentleman about elements I’ve seen from Pinterest that I like and things I didn’t like and why I was getting this tattoo in the first place.  He seemed interested in this tattoo project and gave me some ideas right away that I hadn’t even considered.  He offered to draw up a design and asked when I’d like to come in for the session. Turns out, he had time the next day and if I didn’t jump on it, my schedule would preclude me from getting it for weeks (I’m very busy and important) so I said why the hell not and set the appointment.  I’ve noticed this is a pattern I’ve developed. While I don’t tend to make rash decisions (SEE: lack of new fancy car, move to Bali, opioid addiction or shaved head in year one of widowhood), I don’t have a problem pulling the proverbial trigger quickly once I’ve considered it for an acceptable amount of time.  So while I may have “considered” the tattoo for close to 2 years, I actually got it in under 24 hours.  Ironically enough, Bryan was not a fan of tattoos. Like at all. So perhaps my hesitation came from a subconscious feeling of wondering how he would feel about it. But too late! It’s my body my choice* I have to give a shout out to Marc at Florida Velvet Tattoo.  He did great work and came up with a design I love.

Editors Note: *Except in Georgia, Alabama, Ohio, Missouri and other pending states.

tattoo 1

Just me, in total calm blissed-out zen and definitely not clenching a stress ball with excessive flop sweat.

I got the forget-me-not flowers because not only are they generally used to memorialize someone, they are also the flower used to represent SUDEP. Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy or SUDEP, is what Bryan passed away from.  I haven’t really talked a lot about it on here, but I do have plans to as I’m starting my pro-active phase of grief. I wouldn’t say I’m at the “acceptance” phase yet by any means, but this is a new one I made up unique to my “journey” (eye roll).  The swallow, or at least that’s what kind of bird I’ve decided it is, was just all around sweet to look at (just like my bae) but also links to the way I think Bryan still comes and visits me now and then.  You may call BS and that’s fine, I’m surprised I’m open to this stuff as well, but I saw a Medium about 4 months after Bryan died (a post for another day) and she said that Bryan had been trying to visit me and was tapping on my window as a bird.  I had noticed a bird had been coming to my window for what seemed like an excessive amount of visits to not get bird seed, but hadn’t put it together.  So for now, I’ll choose to believe it.

 

tattoo 2

I’m happy to say it healed nicely and has caused me to seriously expand my racer-back tank top collection, which I don’t hate.  Pro tip: when getting a tattoo make sure you wear black. Apparently they like bleed or something. Until next time, wittiest widow over and out.

Untitled Death Anniversary Post

Today. Today is the day that Bryan has officially been gone 2 years.  Sometimes it feels like it just happened yesterday and I’m right back in the shock, sadness, and chaos of those first few days.  Other times it feels like it was a dream you wake up from and have a hard time remembering the details.  It’s surreal to think about my life just 2 years and 1 day ago and how I don’t even recognize it, me, or people in that life.  There’s very little about Emily BBD (before Bryan’s death) that seems to have carried through to Emily ABD (after Bryan’s death).  Sure, I’m still “me” but for the most part I feel fundamentally changed in my core being.  This is something I have a hard time articulating.  Those that know both Emily BBD and Emily ABD will say sure, you’re still you, just sadder or maybe more cynical.  And while that’s true, I feel like it’s more than that.  I see the world differently.  I react to situations differently.  I care far less about what people think and what kind of impression I’m making, for better or worse.  It’s likely worse, but whatevs.

One the 1 year anniversary, we honored Bryan in a park he loved with a memorial celebration surrounded by friends and family.  It was healing and sad and genuine and gut wrenching, yet still had its funny moments.  I loved hearing stories about him before I came along from this childhood friends.  In a way it felt like I was still getting to know him.  Today there will be less pomp and circumstance, but I know that many people will be thinking about him, hopefully laughing a little bit and likely crying a lot.  In fact, I wrote this yesterday to allow for maximum “feeling my feels time”. #selfcare

bryan memorial

As my sophomore year of widowhood comes to a close, I can say with certainty that those who warned me it would be “harder” were right — sort of.  Maybe it’s just different. Year 1 is all about addressing the shock and surviving.  Year 2 is about getting down to the business of living and your “new normal” whatever the fuck that is.  It’s the mundane, boring existence that surrounds the majority of everyday life.  It’s maintaining a house, paying bills, running errands, going to work, seeing friends (when you can force yourself to leave the house)…except doing it all solo with this nagging pit in your stomach that’s there to constantly remind you of the void in your life.  Plenty of single people live happy and fulfilled lives. So I’m not knocking them at all.  In fact that was me for the majority of my twenties. I was out there doing it!  It’s just that now I have to do it while knowing what could have been and how it’s just sometimes easier with someone in your corner.

sad

When the shock wears off and the early stages of grief have ended, you gain a different perspective on your situation.  In this second year, I think it was less about that longing and acute missing Bryan feeling (don’t get me wrong, if that dude showed up today I’d be all over him like a spider monkey), and more about my anger and sadness at my life situation.  When I thought about myself as a “widow” and what that meant, it was no longer always “my husband is dead, WTF” like the first year.  It was more like “I feel lonely, angry, empty, annoyed” and an overall feeling of “I can’t be bothered” to be dealing with this life circumstance.  But SPOILER ALERT I did anyway. Yay me.   There’s also a sense in year 2 from those in your orbit that you should be moving on.  I’m here to give this PSA: there is no timeline on grief! Once a widow, always a widow.  And unless you’re a licensed professional or a widow/widower yourself, you have no authority to infer/imply/or flat out tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing or how I should be living. That’s just #FACTS.

phoenix

Possible tattoo idea??? Am I Right? [sidenote: those experiencing grief are not known for their rational decision making skills]

Also, in an exciting turn of events, and when I say “exciting” I really mean “daunting” and “triggering,” the anxiety and guilt that lay dormant for 18 months over how it all went down decided to rear its ugly mug, and I’ve been addressing my latent PTSD in this second year as well. FUN STUFF!  Sparing the details, I know on a rational level that I couldn’t have done anything to change the outcome, but when my brain decides to flash the scenes from the day, it’s pretty damn rough.  I don’t want to remember Bryan that way so I’m working through that bullshit with Dr. F.  Maybe the 3rd year is when I become a self actualized phoenix who rises from the ashes in a blaze of radiant color not yet seen by the human eye to say “Hello World! Here I am!”. Probably not. But hey, you never know.

Love you Bryan, mean it.  And you too, widowinos.

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My Life Does Not Spark Joy

As many of you probably have also done recently, I stumbled upon that pixie-esque Japanese delight that is Marie Kondo via her ubiquitous Netflix series, Tidying Up with Mario Kondo.  I had a vague notion of who she was via my layman’s knowledge of the cultural zeitgeist, but I was woefully uninformed on the truly life changing art that can come from purging your shit.  Anyhoo, after watching a few episodes, I decided to think about just what does and does not spark joy in my life…truth not much.  All touchy-feely thanking your clothes as you chuck them in a trash bag aside, Mrs. Kondo makes some goods points with her patented KonMarie method.

marie kondo joy

I’ve never been that happy about anything, including Bryan, as Marie Kondo is about a stranger’s black t-shirt.

I’ve noticed over the last 716 days that I’ve been husband-less that I’ve started to fill the void in my life with “things”.  It started slowly at first, perhaps out of boredom, that I might go to Ulta just to browse; or open the Amazon app just to see what they recommended for me.  Now, almost 2 years later, (ugh the dreaded deathiversary is fast approaching) I’m Diamond status at Ulta, and have a whole 3rd bedroom full of still-packed boxes of my former married life, as well as Amazon boxes full of crap I don’t need.   Who buys a bedazzled dickie or marble-look bathroom cups just because Amazon suggests them? I do.

dickie

If I’m being truly honest, this dickie has totally sparked some mutha fuckin’ joy.

When I first bought and moved into my post-marital home last year, there was a lot to do and a lot to buy, and I have to admit, I was kind of getting a rush from buying a new comfy couch, selecting the perfect quartz counter top, and going all in on a fancy front loader washer and dryer.  So many paint color choices!  Is the thread count on these sheets high enough? Never mind that I had like 4 sets of perfectly fine sheets somewhere in a box.  I needed to buy these new ones. My former self would have been ashamed.  Who succumbs to basic domesticity so easily? Oh. That’s right.  A widow who has already had to succumb to playing the game of life with a 2-7 offsuit hand.  It’s starting to make sense now!

So after folding my underwear in thirds and letting my socks “rest” as Marie suggests, I started to get inspired.  What else could I start storing vertically so it’s viewable in my life?  Better yet, what could I just say “Arigato” and  “Sayonara” to and start to remove some of the weight off this emotional yolk I’ve been bearing? (Sidenote: the yolk is a very deep emotional metaphor for how I feel burdened daily that I came up with in therapy. Continuously evolving y’all.)  Since I’m finally starting to learn that the tiny rush I get from ordering stuff and seeing the box on my doorstep, or grabbing the latest mascara and earning more points, is fleeting, and that I generally feel just the same or worse later, it’s time to think of all the good the purge does.  I’ve started to avoid and purge negative influences as well.  It’s not just my stuff I need out of my house; it’s some of the dark emotions and feelings that rumble around in my head that need to go. It’s letting go of the hurt I feel towards people who let me down.  It’s starting to remove the “stuckness” I have and opening myself up to moving forward…in whatever fashion that may be.  It is also totally about thanking my Camp Horizons ’97 t-shirt and tossing it because it no longer sparks joy for me.  Until I;m a totally self-actualized human being, I’ll just be breaking down a bunch of cardboard in my guest room.

2019: Same Shit, Different Year

Hola fellow widowinos.  It’s 2019 and you know that that means!!!…Absolutely nothing.  The new year has never really meant more to me than the passage of  time, but as a lonely woman it only serves to highlight the status quo of my less than awesome life.  Apologies for my MIA status the past few months. The final quarter of every year is a bit rough for me as I forge through the emotional minefields of my late father’s birthday, Bryan’s birthday, my dad’s death day (on Thanksgiving!), my would-be wedding anniversary that I’ve never actually celebrated with my husband, and of course Christmas.  Ah, the holidays! As of I’ve said before, now fraught with melancholy!  But I digress. So for as much of a resolution as I plan to make, I resolve to post on a more regular basis, as I know you all are itching with anticipation at every thought (not really).

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Since we last spoke, I can’t say anything totally radical has changed.  I go to therapy, take my meds, try to get out and be social, work the steps and go to meetings — oh, wait that’s a different program isn’t it.  Maybe that’s my problem! But in all seriousness, while I don’t always feel like I’m progressing in my grief day-to-day, when I make periodic check-ins from this day a year ago, I do see some progress (I think, I hope).  For example, Christmas 2017 I just pretended wasn’t happening.  So much so, that I flew over an ocean to get away from it.  I spent the actual day of Christmas in rainy London catching up on sleep from jet lag from my Christmas Eve flight across the pond (side note, how does Santa do it?! amiright?).  Then I spent the subsequent days sightseeing and drinking tea and being around friendly strangers who had no idea what my story was and I LOVED it. Also, Christmas in general is far less commercialized and in your face in Britain than it is here, so it was a welcome relief.  This year I decided to face the music and acknowledge the day and the time with the family I have left. It wasn’t…horrible.  Maybe next year I can say it wasn’t too bad. I even willed myself to put a tree up in the home I  bought completely after Bryan that he has no connection to.  Opening those Christmas ornaments was like a firing squad of emotion as I unwrapped newspaper only to be hit upside the head with “Remember your engagement???” or “LOOK! Your honeymoon!”.  Needless to say, decorating the tree took a few hours as I had to take to my bed frequently and revive myself with loads of smelling salts.  BUT I did it. And I guess I’m proud?

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I’ve also been more cognizant of the fact that time is moving forward for those around me, whether I feel like it has for me or not.  Within my friend group in just the last few months, there’s been a birth, 3 new pregnancies, a couple moves, a cancer diagnosis in remission, and quite a few new furry friends.  Oh and also this girl I know announced her THIRD ENGAGEMENT! I mean kudos to her. I’d love to know her secret. Anyway, all this to say that while I’ve spent the past few months trying out makeup tutorials on Youtube and watching really obscure crime documentaries on Netflix, the world has kept on spinning.  I hope, with cautious optimism of course, that 2019 brings me something more exciting than just the final season of Game of Thrones, but if that’s all, it wouldn’t be that surprising.  Until next time, here’s to whatever kind of 2019 you want to have, and dear God I hope the House impeaches Trump.

Music to Cry To: The Ultimate Widow Playlist

So it’s been a hot minute since I posted to the Widowino Universe.  Apologies, I was just experiencing some summertime sadness, laying on a flamingo float alone in my backyard pool staring up at the clouds.  Speaking of summertime sadness, sometimes I just like to chill and feel my feels while listening to sweet jams.  I’ve always found music to vibe with whatever mood I’m in, and ever since I was a newly minted driver cruising with windows down rocking out to Now That’s What I Call Music Vol. 8, it’s been a meditative experience for me.  Bryan was the same way.  We made playlists for every experience, big or small.  Whether it was a kiss-themed playlist for our aptly named “Smooch Fest 2014” all the way up to allowing our wedding DJ zero creative license by giving him literally every song to play, music “rocked’ our soul.  So it seems right that I created a  new soundtrack for the shit-storm that is my current life.  I’ve been collecting songs for months, in anticipation of the ultimate sonic release and this post, of course.  So if you’ve been searching for the perfect melancholy blend of notes, look no more!  These are the ultimate songs to do the emotional heavy lifting.  Have you ever been crying in the mirror and thought I wish I had some equally depressing music right now? THESE are those songs!  Or maybe you’re on a train, not sure where it’s going, and while you rest your head against the rain covered window, you thought “you know what this cliched sad moment needs, a soundtrack”. Then you’ve come to the right place!  The playlist can totally be played on shuffle, but for the true emotional roller coaster, I suggest playing them in the order listed here.  Enjoy! (Note: for maximum enjoyment have a day, in the tub, with red wine and a good cry.  Make sure to stay in there long enough for the water to get cold and then ever so slowly submerge your head.  Lastly, tell yourself you did your best over and over.)

  1. On the Nature of Daylight — Max Richter.  If my life was a movie, this is the song that would have been playing while you watched me run up the stairs in slow motion and find Bryan.  The song that played while the EMTs pushed me out of the way as I was hysterical, still in slow motion.  The song that played while the phone fell to the ground in the foreground of the shot…yes, still in slow motion. Too morbid? I think you may be lost then, here let me direct you to a site that might be more your speed.  Now I just mostly listen to this song when I take my makeup off in front of my Hollywood vanity mirror in total darkness except for those 12 mirror bulbs illuminating my face and its suddenly aged (pronounced “age-ed”) wrinkles. I’m also wearing a chic mu mu a la Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard.  Interesting side note, I wear mu mus now. I’m really leaning in to this whole widow thing!  Sheryl Sandberg would be proud, on BOTH accounts.
  2. Life and Death — Paul Cardall.  This aptly named little diddy  has a lot of the great melodies you think of when something profound happens in life, or death…Oh I see what he did there!  Cardall actually wrote this song while facing his own mortality waiting for a heart transplant, and I think that really gives it the extra punch of authenticity, don’t you?  The crescendo is quite dramatic and good for solo train rides around the 3:45 mark.
  3. Fade Into You — Mazzy Star.  Everyone has that quintessential emo moment of their adolescence when they were feeling hella deep. Just me? Oh.  Well anyway, for me that moment was the slow dance prom scene in the highly underrated 1995 movie Angus. The popular girl had just given Angus some #realtalk about her bulimia and actually imperfect life and it was deep AF for my 10 yo self.  Point is, this is the song they dance to as prom king and queen.  Now that I’m old enough to actually understand its meaning, I think the lyrics are a solid metaphor for my feelings on losing my identity as part of an “us’ and a wife and how I need to forge a new identify. #barf
  4. To Build a Home — The Cinematic Orchestra.   This song was a must add to the playlist ever since I saw that crappy old crock pot spark and set those curtains aflame and then proceeded to lose my shit along with the rest of America.  If this is the song that’s played the moment the Pearson family’s life went up in literal and proverbial flames, then it’s good enough for me.  Of all the songs on my list, I think this one elicits the most single dramatic tears down my face.  I think of the future I won’t get with Bryan and the fact that I won’t get “to build a home” with him, like ever.
    this is us fire_1516940816229.PNG_76549928_ver1.0_900_675

    FYI: I store my crock pot in a certified clean room devoid of oxygen now.

     

  5. When It’s Cold I’d Like to Die– Moby.  If you’re surprised to see a Moby song on here, perhaps you’ve never heard of Moby.  The first line of this song is “Where were you when I was lonesome?” for pete’s sake!  It’s a question I ask a lot; maybe to myself and maybe to Bryan, depending on what you believe, but at this point I still have anger over him leaving me, and by all accounts, and Dr. F, that’s perfectly fine.  Also, I felt/feel like dying a lot, cold or otherwise, so this makes sense.
  6. Captain Phillips– Henry Jackman.  One thing I’ve always done is listen to movie scores while I need to concentrate and write and think.  I do it even while blogging! When I heard Jackman’s score in Captain Phillips, it moved me.  Maybe it was the majesty of Tim Honks, America’s hero (that’s his name right?) bringing the captain’s fear and anguish to life, but this song gives me the feels.  The tagline of the movie was “out here survival is everything” and most days I feel like I’m just surviving, so this tune was apropos.
  7. Born to Die — Lana Del Rey.  Fake lips and horrible live performances aside, I actually love Lana Del Rey.  This song epitomizes how I feel when I’m out pretending to the world to be “okay”.  It’s also got a zero fucks given vibe, which I must admit has been one of the few freeing things to come from the tar pit of my brain.
  8. Nothing Compares 2 U — Sinead O’Connor.  It’s totally been longer than 7 hours and 16 days since Bryan took his love away, but I do certainly sleep all day so at least that part of the song is accurate.  Plus this is a true oldie but goody when it comes to the lonely hearts club.  I’ve also considered shaving my head more than once over the last 18 months, and Sinead may or may not have been the inspiration.  Hey, a widow’s ideas can’t all be winners okay?? Bonus: The single dramatic tear game in the video is quite strong.
  9. The Cold — Exitmusic.   Another “cold” song.  I guess there’s only so many metaphors for sadness.  Lead singer Aleksa Palladino’s voice is haunting and how I envision I would sound if I had any talent.  This is the quintessential song for solitary staring off into the distance, perhaps by a body of water (dealer’s choice), or better yet headstone. True Story: this song came on while I was visiting Bryan at the cemetery.
  10. Habits (Stay High) — Tove Lo. This is the song I imagine would be the personification of my life, if I had gone down the vice route while dealing with grief.  I’m honestly a little bummed it didn’t happen for me, I hear opioids are all the rage right now.  But according to my extensive widow research since this is a blog of the highest journalist integrity, self medication and destructive decisions are a common part of many people’s grieving process.  So this song makes the list as an homage to my fellow widow divas currently laying over in Struggle City, and that’s just fine.
  11. Runnin (Lose It All) — Naughty Boy ft Beyoncé and Arrow Benjamin.  If I lose myself, I lose it all.  That’s the theme of this anthem that Queen Bey sprinkled her magic dust all over.  It talks of loss, loneliness, and doing it all yourself, with a catchy beat to back it up.  They don’t call her a queen for nothing.
  12. Green Light — Lorde.  A little bit of anger, a little bit of hope, and lot of bad assness.  I wish I could “just get my things and just let go”.  In some ways I’ve done that already, but in many ways I’m waiting for my green light, stuck in neutral at that light that’s always red at that abandoned intersection.  Why can’t I just hit the gas and go?  What’s stopping me? Oh right, crippling depression.
  13. Elastic Heart — Sia.  I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart.  Grieving does nothing if not make you harder, better, faster, stronger©.  You start to see the world differently and you’re forever changed, as much as you may try to fight it.  I feel like Sia really gets me and my internal struggle here, so good job Sia.  P.S. How do we feel about Shia LeBeouf in the video? Oddly attractive and rugged? No? Yeah, me neither.
  14. All By Myself — Celine Dion.  You might be thinking…hmm safe choice.  Or “wow this one’s a little on the nose”.  And to you I say, don’t question Celine or my’s decisions ever! The reality of the situation is I am, in fact “all by myself” and I “don’t wanna be” anymore, sooooo yeah.  And who doesn’t love a good power ballad to sing into their ice cream/dinner spoon (hello 2:40 mark)?!
  15. Dancing On My Own — Robyn.  When I get there, this is the song I think will be my anthem when I’m at peace with my new life and I’m just out there, dancing on my own, and owning my dance.

So there you have it, music essential for being in your feelings.  I’ve got loads more but this post was taking longer to write than I felt like it should so that’s what you get!  Let me know what music gets you through hard times and makes you feel the feels!  I’ll make a B-sides soon with reader suggestions.

My Subconscious Throws Shade

I don’t dream about Bryan much anymore, and that’s unfortunate.  He wasn’t even in many dreams in the beginning.  When he was they were very disjointed and we were usually dealing with the fact that we had just broken up (?) or something else equally stressful.  It was an odd way of interpreting him dying, but dreams are never really literal anyway.  Side note, if you do dream about only mundane everyday things, maybe you should read a Tolkien novel or something. Anyway, I did recently dream about Bryan, after getting nada from the celestial plane for months. When I woke up however, I wasn’t exactly stoked about it. You see, my subconscious had manifested a version of my spirit bae who was kind of a…tool.  It was Bryan, just douchey.  Like if Bryan lived in Ocala, Florida or some other equally godforsaken, southern fried place, and wore crocs and jorts exclusively.  In the dream Bryan was straight stealing checks, checks (!) from random people and using them to buy stuff like TVs, video games, and…lawn equipment. Aside from the televisons which are universally liked, he wasn’t in to either video games or lawn equipment in real life. I can’t even. Um what does it mean when your subconscious talks shit about your husband?  I was so confused.

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Now Mr. Griffith, exactly why were you committing the truly low-rent crime of stealing checks? It’s frankly, embarrassing.

Just think of me as a well-dressed Leonardo DiCaprio because it’s time to go into the dream, and unpack this shall we? First question, why is this dream set in the swamp land of the Australia of America? I live in Florida now (which also means I’ve got a license to talk shit®), but never Ocala, and Bryan never lived here.  If I was the architect of this dream, I sure as well wouldn’t have picked a place where there are more meth heads than alligators.  Neither of those things are particularly appealing to begin with, and Ocala’s got a shit ton of both. Secondly, the Bryan I and everyone knew was the kindest most generous person ever.  He wasn’t no criminal, and even if he was, I’m sure it would have been for something way sexier than check fraud.  Like diamond heisting on the French Riviera.  He always looked quite dapper in a tuxedo. Lastly, he wasn’t even good at it! I can’t remember exactly how his thievery was revealed, because dreams are foggy, but like it wasn’t hard to figure out.  Then everyone was pissed off and I had to defend him as the good wife that I am/was/will be whatever.  According to the 2-second Google search I just did, dreams “which revolve around theft are the psyche’s way of indicating a fear of loss in your life. When you have dreams about theft, consider your own feelings of security in your waking world.” Well that actually…makes a lot of sense I suppose.  Although I”m not sure how scared about loss I still am since it’s happened to me more than once on some heavy AF levels.  Also I give zero fucks about my own life and I”m not scared to die #liberated, so maybe it’s not that accurate after all.

It was a weird dream feeling (what I call the feels you have in the dream world) to know everyone pretty much thought your hubby was an a-hole, and that you had to be his ride or die (too late) chick when you weren’t feeling him either.  Dream Bryan didn’t even apologize when I pulled out the big guns of “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.”!  Well I don’t remember much after that, except waking up and thinking “I don’t dream about you for 6+ months, and the first time back you’re a petty check thief?!”  Damn subconscious, it’s shady over here.  I couldn’t really find too much specifically on dreaming about a dead loved one acting differently, but the general themes were anxiety, insecurity, and change, which all sounds about right.  So I guess I’ll chalk this up to I’ll take what I can get, and hope my psyche interacts with a better version of Bryan in the future.  For now, I’ve got to make sure that top has actually stopped spinning…

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It was my birthday.

I’ve done it! I’ve aged to 33 whole years! I can’t 100% say it’s been graceful, dignified, or that I’m looking forward to 33 more, but it happened.  Generally 33 is not a milestone year by any recognized marker, but when you’re fresh into widowhood, friends and family tend overly indulge you on your birthday and basically throw a Goddamn ticker tape parade.  I’m not complaining, I just know that any chance to focus on something other than my horrible, depressing day to day is something your circle will pounce on.  I actually had to plan a birthday celebration semi-last minute because people were DISAPPOINTED I wasn’t planning on anything for my birthday! When does that ever happen?  Honestly, when are you ever generally excited to celebrate a 33 year old millennial’s woo girl birthday.? The answer is never, and that’s totally as it typically should be.  But as we’ve discussed before, when you’re a widow, “typical” is no longer “applicable”.  Anyway, I was all set to acknowledge the day minimally, but generally keep on, keeping on:

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My friends had other plans:

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Wearing 3 birthday hats is gangsta AF

 

So we’ve settled somewhere in the middle and will be doing 2 of my favorite things tomorrow, drinking and singing karaoke.  I’m totally cool with that.  I love doing both of those things, and preferably simultaneously.  I also think I have an inflated sense of my skills, but you know YOLO!  I mean I thought it was totally appropriate to sing “Gangsta’s Paradise” at my wedding while all of the typical outlying wedding guests that probably shouldn’t have formed their opinions of me based on that performance and instead solely on my bridal beauty, quizzically looked on.  I used to sing Alanis Morissette to Bryan while he was driving, hoping he would compliment me on my beautiful and spot on vocals.  Well, Bryan was never a liar, so the shower of compliments didn’t ever happen.   He did lovingly put up with my beautiful vocal stylings and even occasionally joined in.  So tomorrow night, I’ll be dedicating the perennial fave “My Heart Will Go On” by the greatest singer in the world, to my Ride or Die, BLG.  Everyone else can just deal with it, it’s my 33rd birthday after all!

The Holidays…Now Fraught With Melancholy!

Mother’s Day 2018 was just a couple weeks ago, and I made my not-obligatory-but-really-obligatory-because-the-passive-aggressive-guilt-isn’t-worth-it-if-I-don’t-go trip home to Virginia.  It was…fine.  The weather was beautiful and brunch was delicious, but I couldn’t help but notice the overall air of melancholy I felt the entire time.  The house was so quiet, the wifi questionable, and I felt simultaneously lonely and longing for alone time.  Grief is wack like that.

Going home doesn’t make me happy the way it used to.  After my dad died in 2011, the first holidays were very shall I say, “dark”.  Literally and figuratively.  Like for real, my dad put up all the Christmas lights a la Clark Griswold, and you know my mom wasn’t climbing on the ladder to hang 27 wreaths on every window of the colonial I grew up in.  His passing was Thanksgiving Day so those first few holidays were a total blur/nonexistent, but by Christmas 2012 an attempt at normalcy was made.  I say attempt because I wouldn’t consider it a rockin’ around the Christmas tree success.

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Home Alone with cardboard friends would have been better

As I sat in the living room by the tree with my brother and mom, I couldn’t help but notice how quiet it was.  No music playing, no extended family or friends like years past, the gifts just seemed not as exciting, and as if we were just going through the motions of opening them.  I remember thinking, I guess this is what family is now, and being depressed at said thought.

A year later I was dating Bryan and I was excited to go home, celebrate the holiday with him, and meet the clan that forged him in the fires of Moordor! j/k he was just a normal baby j/k he did actually weight 11 pounds! Anyway, his family has always been very close, more close than mine, and they did the holidays up right.  His sister had just had a baby and Bryan was quite proud of his new nephew.  Throughout the time we were together, I started to like the holidays again.  He definitely influenced me as I saw how happy he was to spend time with family, cook great food, and exchange thoughtful presents.  When Mother’s and Father’s Days came, he dutifully picked out charming, hilarious, and loving cards, and ensured the Omaha Steaks for his pop came on time.  (Getting weekly Omaha Steaks mailers became a joke in our house after that. They are relentless about the meats)!  Celebrating the holidays with Bryan was just more relaxed, joyful, and we started to make our own traditions.  Suddenly, I no longer associated the word “obligation” with holidays.  There we were, just living the dream, putting up tiny Christmas trees,  passing out on White Russians at Thanksgiving, and shotgunning beers at the Grand Canyon on the 4th of July!  But then, and I don’t know if you’ve already heard, he DIED.  What a jerk.  In the aftermath, holiday celebrations were frankly the last thing on my mind, as I was transported back to that pointless melancholy feeling but times a million.  I couldn’t understand how people could look forward to those days that seemed like a waste of time, money, and mental energy.

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America’s Birthday 2015

I still generally feel that way about designated days for celebration.  So I as I flew home and sat at a spring brunch to honor Mom, it stung extra hard to know that Bryan could no longer honor his mom whom he loved so much, and that I was once again a single lonely woman without the family I made for myself.  The crazy thing about this widowhood is that it never stops surprising you in new and shitty ways!  On the surface I wouldn’t expect Mother’s Day to be a trigger day (I use that word because I”m woke, y’all), but it inevitably was.  I made a point to visit with his mom and stepmom and send them each a card from the both of us, because I know that’s what Bryan would have done.  It was great to see them, and I’m thankful we are so close.  I just wish every damn holiday wasn’t so hollow. Wittiest Widow, over and out.

It’s the Little Things Really

I was walking through the airport last Sunday and I thought I saw Bryan walking toward me.  A tall, bearded, burly, bespectacled (alliteration! You’re welcome Mrs. Yagel, 9th grade English teacher) young man with a kind smile had just come up the jet way from the plane I was about to board.  For a fleeting moment I was like “hell yes! it’s about damn time!”  My heart literally skipped a beat at the same moment my eyes finally focused to of course reveal it was not, said dead husband.  Your mind plays funny tricks like that on you when you lose someone you love.  I fancy myself a rather rational person, yet throughout this process I keep escaping all logic in short moments.  For about a half a second I truly thought it was him, and my mind and body did too as my heart jumped and I became laser focused.  All the sound and logical thought that’s been fighting to come through these last 13 months just disappears.  Shittily (word? yes) enough…this happens fairly often.  Sometimes I’ll be driving or doing something else that lends itself to my mind wandering, and my mind likes to then take these moments to remind me “hey, can you believe your husband is dead?! That’s bananas!”.  It’s like my subconscious wrestles with the reality too and needs to keep resetting itself.  I can’t really explain these little moments, except to say they are like micro-bursts of forgetfulness-realization-shock-depression all rolled into about 1.25 seconds.  I then sit and dwell for a few minutes as I’m reminded all over again “WTF THIS really is my life! How did I get here?!”  The tears well up, I stare off into space, a shocking and/or vivid visual or memory of Bryan may or may not pop in my head, but then I take a deep breath, loosen the drawstring on my sweatpants, and go back to that bag of Doritos and season 7 of Parks and Recreation I totally haven’t been letting occupy my time for the last 2 hours (or 4).  My body really is a temple, y’all.  I wonder when the shock will wear off.  Maybe it never will.  Maybe as I accept my third Pulitzer for “excellence in grief journalism” I’ll fall off the stage when I get a micro-burst and I’m like “wait, what? I have THREE Pulitzers?Awesome! They’re because my husband died? NOT Awesome!” [face plant].

Other moments I find quite fun are the times something funny, stupid, boring, sad, embarrassing etc. happens and the first person I think to tell is Bryan, only to be reminded in that instant that I can’t do that. Ever. Again.  I won’t say these happen too often or too strongly, as my rational self keeps these in check most of the time, but I hear from others in the bereft club of life that these can be a real punch to the emotional nut sack!  And sometimes they are for me as well.  Just earlier today I was in the bathroom cogitating on this very blog and thought, hey maybe that’s a funny topic, let me see what Bryan would thi-oh wait never mind. Sigh. [flush sound].  Irony of ironies, he probably would have totally dug this here blog o’ mine.  He was a witty writer and cunning linguist of the utmost quality, and I know if I had started a blog for any other reason, he would be my Editor In Chief.  In a weird way, he encouraged me to share my “thoughts on things” and even made this Facebook cover page for me once so that I could share my witticisms across social media:

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Hmmm. Perhaps a prophecy is being foretold! If that’s the case, I would just like to say, if you knew something I didn’t back then Bryan, I am NOT amused.  However, I will continue to share my “Thoughts on things” and thanks for letting me hash out my crippled stream of consciousness on a key board.  It’s something in my routine that I actually don’t hate and, it really is about finding joy in the littler things after all.