#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.

My thoughts after, After Life

“Tony had a perfect life — until his wife Lisa died. After that tragic event, the formerly nice guy changed. After contemplating taking his life, Tony decides he would rather live long enough to punish the world by saying and doing whatever he likes. He thinks of it as a superpower — not caring about himself or anybody else — but it ends up being trickier than he envisioned when his friends and family try to save the nice guy that they used to know. “

after life

If you have Netflix (who doesn’t) and/or you’re a fan of British comedian Ricky Gervais, you might have heard of this new series, After Life. I was made aware of it by a friend, and I initially avoided it thinking it was a little too close to home.  Well I’m happy (?) to admit my preconceived notions were not affirmed.  This show gave me ALL them feels.  I laughed (a lot), I cried (also a lot), I got annoyed, angry, amused and felt peaceful towards the end of the show.  Perhaps what stood out to me the most was the authenticity with which Gervais wrote about spousal grief without having experienced it firsthand.  He tells a story that’s so perfect a mixture of the mundane daily life, the profound sense of loss, the internal struggle and isolation one feels, and finally those fleeting moments of joy or levity that don’t happen nearly enough.

 

My “grief journey” such as it is, has been a messier one.  As I settled into life as a widow and the “obligatory period of everyone feeling sorry for you and giving everything you say or do a total pass” ended, it was obvious that my journey was going to be a rough and dark ride.  I haven’t turned to Jesus. I haven’t spent my days being nothing but “grateful” for the time Bryan and I had together. I haven’t thrown myself into my work, or taken on some great life goal like running a marathon or starting a foundation, or going on a speaking tour, or any of the other myriad of “acceptable” grief rituals propagated throughout media and society. Instead, I’ve owned my general “zero fucks left to give-ness” with gusto! As I’ve said before, I just don’t have the mental bandwidth to be polite and and listen to your stupid story about your new gluten-free diet, or let assholic people’s behavior go unchecked. The tagline of the show “hell is other people” could have been written about me.  If my circumstances have taught me anything, it’s there’s so much wrong and injustice in the world and I won’t have it! And by that I mean, I won’t let it happen without first providing a pithy and cynical comment for the record.  So I feel like this is why After Life resonated so deeply with me.  Dr. F pointed out just the other day that perhaps it’s because watching a show that mirrored back a grief experience more similar to my own made me feel less alone on this journey.  And I think she’s right. Tony’s “superpower” is one I was also intimately familiar with. For a period of time I too thought it was suddenly so freeing not to sweat the small stuff and not give a fuck about what I said or did.  I had no fear of death and knew that was always an option in my back pocket.  While it didn’t end up being my superpower per se, I considered it my silver lining or consolation prize if you will, to the state I found myself in.  [Side Bar: Bryan HATED the phrase “per se” so I just cringed when I wrote it. Sorry B! RIP. much love] Tony’s also got that one thing that keeps him from completely going off the proverbial ledge: a dog named Brandy.  His wife loved that dog and Brandy’s a loyal companion, so the least he can do is take care of the dog in honor of his wife’s wishes (which you see periodically throughout the show).  I think that’s such an important aspect of grief too.  While you’re “in it” you’ve got to have someone or something that keeps you grounded in reality and keeps you going. It’s nearly impossible if you don’t.  It can be anything, a hobby you’ve always loved, a pet, a person (but that can be tricky), an event you’re looking forward to, or maybe just the will to see it through.  For me, I think it was a Katy Perry concert I’d planned months in advance–we can unpack at another time–and maybe the stubborn desire to not accept that my life would end on such an unceremonious fart.  Even when I was at peace with being done, something would just say “yeah, but fuck that. that would be so lame to let this beat you.”

after life headstone

Good Dog

Ricky Gervais has commented publicly that nothing he’s ever done in his years-long career has had this much of a reaction or positive and intense response. Not even The Office (crazy I know! But I think the American one is better, oops)! He’s been reading comments on social media and is writing a second season. I don’t usually tweet, @, or comment on the LinkedIn profiles (that’s still a thing right?) of celebrities, but in the last week since finishing the show, I let him know what this show has meant to me and to thank him for “getting it”.  It’s one thing to find a movie, show, book, album etc. that resonates with you and inspires you to be great; it’s a much rarer feat to find that same connection when you’re at your lowest and some piece of mainstream media is willing to get in the trenches with you.

A Dissertation on Women Who Publicly Complain About Their Husbands, Ferguson et al, 2019

Don’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay I guess I shall elaborate if I expect this to ever get published in any kind of research journal of fine repute. This is my less than subtle, bitter way of saying I’ve got no time for women who think it’s cute and forms camaraderie to complain about all their husbands’ mundane shortcomings in a very public forum, i.e. a kid’s birthday party where he is not helping out enough. I. AM. NOT. HERE. FOR. IT.  Once, I tagged along to a birthday party for my nephew and was horrified by what I saw, heard, smelled, and tasted! Aside from the fact that kids’ birthday parties nowadays have to somehow be a social event for the parents as well by forcing them to stay the entire 4 hours (barf), these kids are spoiled beyond belief! This party might as well have been a soft opening for the next Cirque de Soleil show. What happened to a slip n’ slide and some pizza from Little Caesar’s? But that’s a post for another time.  What I encountered was a privileged white woman in a gaudy McMansion running around frazzled and talking mad shit about her husband, who was casually watching football.  Now I’m not defending the lazy, chauvinist guy on the couch, but I am defending the fact that she chose to marry him and she got what she got. So frankly, if he does what he’s always done, you have no one to be mad at but yourself.  Plus, I assume he left the couch at least occasionally to go to work and pay for that structure that some people refer to as a house, but I thought was more an art installation depicting the housing crisis of 2007. Also, for the record, all of these tasks he wasn’t completing to her specifications were ridiculous and unnecessary. I’m pretty sure that if the green PJ Masks (some random kid shit) goes before the blue one, the party will survive.  Anyhoo, she then proceeded to gather all the hens, I mean moms, and me, around her giant granite kitchen island and roll her eyes and tell us what a loser he is and dick he’s being.  I had just met her that day, but was already over it, as it were, by the Trump sign I’d seen earlier in her front window. So I felt the need to say “yeah…but at least you have a husband.”  The silence was deafening.  I know that she knew my situation, but still thought I would delight in the take down of her beloved (it’s debatable). Well, false.  I promptly turned around and filled a glass with the signature cocktail (?) chosen for this 4 year old’s birthday party.

pj masks

The source of Trump Tammy’s ire.

While this is an extreme example, I find I notice the one off negative comments about spouses much more nowadays. And it really grinds my gears! Aside from the obvious lack of husband due to his permanent vacation, I can honestly say I’ve always found it ugly and never spoke about Bryan that way when we were together. Now my distaste is just turned up to 11. Of course we fought and of course he annoyed the crap out of me, but I didn’t think telling an acquaintance (or rando I just met at a party) how bad he was at loading the dishwasher was “fun” or even made him better at loading said dishwasher.  This is separate from confiding in close friends about relationship problems and bigger issues.  That serves a very important purpose, and I’m happy to be a sounding board for my friends to this day.  I just want people to take a step back sometimes and be thankful that he’s even there to yell at about how he laid the PJ Masks characters out so shittily in the first place. Oh, and keep it to yourself, because it’s frankly a boring conversation topic to begin with.  That is all.

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.

mebryanoct16

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.

inception

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…

inception top

My Yard Needs Cutting

This morning as  I left for work my landscaper rolled up to conduct his usual bi-weekly lawn maintenance.  I waved to him and anticipated the inevitable “Your grass is cut, you can pay me now” text (I’m paraphrasing).  Like clockwork my phone pinged, however this time it was joined with the little passive aggressive shame nugget that I really should be having my lawn cut more often because it’s summer and why don’t I pay up so the yard won’t look like shit? (again, paraphrasing).  I mean he’s not wrong…it was starting to look a little Florida vacation home circa 2007 (that’s a cerebral economy joke in case you didn’t get it).  At the same time it’s like “Back off bro! I’m a lonely widow who doesn’t own a lawnmower!”  This just proves to be another glaring example of one of things I hate about widowhood…having to do all the shit myself.

Before I met Bryan,  I lived alone and embraced my independent womanhood.  Sure, I wanted to find a life partner, but I was okay running my own self.  In the immortal words of the Child of Destiny, “All the women, who are independent, Throw your hands up at me. All the honeys, who making money, Throw your hands up at me. All the mommas, who profit dollars, Throw your hands up at me. All the ladies, who truly feel me, Throw your hands up at me.” Yes, that was me being an independent honey who profits dollars.  When I did find a true partner in Bryan, I found that I relished taking some of the load off.  Suddenly I wasn’t responsible for EVERYTHING and it made life easier.  This isn’t some profound new idea after all, but I know of plenty relationships that aren’t that way, and I think, “what’s the point?”

Bryan was happy to do the grocery shopping, vacuuming, and getting the oil changed in my car-three things I have always hated, and still hate, to this day.  He also did 99.9% of the cooking (there’s one time he was gone and I had to feed myself and another time I made him a cake).  It was glorious, I just watched Jeopardy and food appeared.  Now I don’t mind cooking per se, it’s the cleaning I hate…and he did that too.  The kitchen was his domain and I was fine with that.  Nowadays, I go to the grocery store maybe once a month if I’m lucky and barely microwave a frozen meal.  I eat out way too much, causing damage to my wallet and waistline.  That’s just what it’s like in the abyss.  I recently had my kitchen completely redone with new cabinets, counter top, back splash and paint.  I’ve cooked in it ONE time.  #realtalk  The reason for this is likely 1 tbsp. laziness, 2 cups depression, 2 tsp. hatred of dishes to clean, and 3 tbsp. indignant bitterness that Bryan isn’t here to cook for me.  Now that’s a recipe for…wait for it…disaster!  LOLz

I also tend to ugly cry most late Friday nights as I land at JIA at 11:48 pm from a long week in Nowhere USA and must drag my 50 pound bag a mile to my car, if I can even remember where I parked it.  Pre-Bryan I didn’t mind this ritual.  I could finally drive my car and not some shitty Chevy Crapper (trademark pending), I was finally warm in the Florida air, and I could sleep in my own bed and catch up on my TV.  When Bryan and I were together he always picked me up from the airport, and dragged my suitcase up and down stairs.  I would literally say “You can take my bag now” unironically.  Those were the days, you guys.  When I landed at DEN I was suddenly a little less exhausted and bedraggled because I knew my man was waiting for me at Arrivals Door 508 with (always) a Coke Zero and (sometimes) pizza!  But that is no more.  I must carry my own bag, metaphorically and literally. I’m so fucking deep aren’t I?

Last Friday night, my flight from Minneapolis was late and I landed at 12:20 a.m.  I’d been up for 19 hours.  My bag was the last one on the carousel and after walking in stifling humidity (no longer pleasant) keys betwixt knuckles to avoid rapists, I could not find my car.  Widow brain had struck again and I totally forgot where I parked it.  Twenty minutes and two elevator rides later, it was spotted, but not without a parking ticket!  So yeah I cried all the way home.  Thanks Bryan!

I’m chalking this up to the many “secondary losses” I’ve mentioned before. I hope to someday not feel like every day is a burden and utterly annoying and exhausting.  I’ve got to retrain myself to embody the Destiny’s Child mantra of a honey who makes money.   I guess I just got too comfortable having a husband.  Pro Tip:  Don’t have a husband and you’ll never be mad/sad when you don’t have one! On that note, I think I’ll go pay the landscaper now.

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:

crazy birthday

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!

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:

thoughtsonthings

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.

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.

purple day

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.

sudep action

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!

Hey Guys,

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.

  1. 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!
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Misty water colored memories.  I’m scared sometimes, by just how fast the memories fadeI’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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!