Numb

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Today I went to take pictures of Bryan’s tools.  As a mechanic for almost 15 years he had accumulated a vast amount.  I thankfully have family who can keep his huge toolbox safe and inside.  It’s been more than a year since I saw the box, and I’ve been dreading this day for days…and putting it off for months.  My sister finally told me I needed to deal with it.  The first moment I laid eyes on it it brought back so many memories.  Bryan was his toolbox, it was such a huge part of his life.  He was so proud of all that he was able to do with his hands and while it was a thorn in my side at times because he had a bit of a tool addiction I was also proud of all that he had accomplished with his hands.

For most of the two hours I was there I was able to keep myself from falling apart.  I opened every drawer, opened every case and took pictures of everything I could.  It dawned on me this evening that for most of those things Bryan was the last person to touch them.

It has been months since I was so close to something that reminded me of him so much.  While I was working I began to feel numb.  My mind and hands worked while my thoughts went blank.  While I was driving home my entire body felt heavy, my mind blank, my heart empty.  It was very much like the fog I lived in during the months after I lost him.

My sister called me while I was driving home to see how things had gone.  She was thankfully already on her way to my place.  Once I saw her I broke down.  Pain so fresh and raw again….it was overwhelming.

She knew what I needed though.  After I let out my pain I spent the rest of the day with my nieces, being able to enjoy their smiles, gurgles, and giggles.  On the hardest days I’m glad I have my family to support me, prop me up, and point me in the right direction again.

I still feel a bit numb, a bit empty.  I know grief isn’t a linear thing, it’s fluid…but days like today made me wish it was.

Fresh & Easy

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I moved…..I moved 50 miles away and somehow I take one step into a grocery store and I’m sent back in time and place.  I went to a Fresh & Easy….grocery store chain….and my mind went back to shopping for us.  Hmm I wonder what Bryan would like…oh wait.  I sometimes wish it wasn’t so easy to remember.

Reliving the past

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After my last post I began to look at the pictures I have from the last few years.  I picked out my favorites as a reminder to myself not to lock these memories away.

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Bryan on our first day of our honeymoon in Kona.  I may never be able to go back, but he will always be there in my mind.

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We were so relaxed and happy during our whole trip.  I’m so grateful that we were able to spend that time there together.

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Our wedding day.  I love this picture because you can really see the love we had for each other here.

Broken

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I am broken.  It has taken me over a year to see it.  I’ve known it, thought it, thought I was working on it….and then buried it deep deep inside of me.  It has taken going through a new relationship and hurting a great thoughtful man to finally see it.  For five months I thought I was happy.  I thought I was ready.  I thought I was done with grief.  Instead I buried my grief and focused on making my new relationship everything I had had with the love of my life and then some.  That was until I started waking up and staring at the back of his head and forcing myself to say “this isn’t Bryan”.  It took even longer to realize that all the “faults” I was seeing in our relationship were small issues and I was really trying to run from what I had created.  I’ve been alone for two weeks now.  It took me a few hours after I broke up with this nice caring man to realize that I had needed out because I can’t love him when I still fully love my husband.  And that I need to be alone to let myself grieve.  I tried to replace what I had because I missed it and needed it.

I hate myself for not seeing it sooner.  I know when you’re in pain you do things you wouldn’t normally.  I am not a person to hurt others.  I realize now that because I buried my grief I have allowed myself to be behind.  Yes, yes there’s no timeline for grief, but damn it if I had be working on healing myself, on making myself someone I can be proud of, instead of trying to simply replace what I had, I might be where I need to be now.

So instead of being mad at myself I’m going to learn from my mistake.  I am going to refocus on getting to know myself now.  I’m going to try to enjoy being alone, single, happy, and healthy.  I am also going to embrace the widow along with the pain.  I have to stop burying it and start allowing myself to feel every painful moment.  If I don’t I will find myself here again.

Taking a new step…

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These weeks of contemplating while everyone I know is working has put me on a new path.  It is one that I didn’t think that I would get to at this stage….dating.  When Bryan passed I knew that I would continue on, that I would date again, I would fall in love again, and I would be able to create the family that we both had wanted…only I would be doing it for both of us.  However I didn’t think that I would be beginning that journey again until much later…maybe a year…maybe two.  Then I realized that even though I wasn’t completely aware I’d started looking again.  I was smiling at men I found attractive, I was flirting with strangers…not my usual.  And then one day the necklace that held Bryan’s wedding ring, his ring that I wore every day since his death, broke.  It was the second time, but somehow it was different this time.  I didn’t feel the panic that I had before.  I didn’t feel that I needed to find a new necklace to carry it…I put it in my jewelry box, next to my wedding ring and left it there.  After a few days of not wearing it, not needing it, I decided maybe it was time to put myself out there.  I took it as a sign that I could live, I could begin again and that I needed to.

I signed up for online dating, the lovely vain world of pictures and very little information about people who “might” be a fit.  I was sure to add on my profile the dreaded word “widow”…somehow I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that word.  I began talking to a guy who seems really nice, so we went out.  Had a lovely time….yet somehow Bryan was still there.  My date would talk about himself and there I was thinking…that’s kinda like Bryan.  At one point I had to remind myself to focus on what he was saying and not that what he had just said made me think of Bryan.  I was able to contain my emotions and ended up having a nice evening.  I know there’s no turning that part of my off, and I wouldn’t if I could…but starting to move beyond our past is hard when my past continues to come back to me.  I am resolved to take each moment as it comes and see how this all turns out. 

I can only hope that those who were closest to Bryan won’t see this as a betrayal of him and what we had.  I know from experience…when my Dad began dating after my Mom died…that not everyone takes this step easily. 

Sometimes lyrics say what you can’t….

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I’m usually not one to post lyrics, though I do often find songs that say what I am feeling. However today I heard a song for the first time that so truly reflected how I felt/feel that I must share.

I Believe

Christina Perri

I believe if I knew where I was going I’d lose my way

I believe that the words that he told you are not your grave

I know that we are not the weight of all our memories

I believe in the things that I am afraid to say

Hold on, hold on

I believe in the lost possibilities you can see

And I believe that the darkness reminds us where light can be

I know that your heart is still beating, beating, darling

I believe that you fell so you would land next to me

‘Cause I have been where you are before

And I have felt the pain of losing who you are

And I have died so many times, but I am still alive

I believe that tomorrow is stronger than yesterday

And I believe that your head is the only thing in your way

I wish that you could see your scars turn into beauty

I believe that today it’s okay to be not okay

Hold on, hold on

‘Cause I have been where you are before

And I have felt the pain of losing who you are

And I have died so many times, but I am still alive

This is not the end of me, this is the beginning [x4]

(Hold on)

This is not the end of me, this is the beginning

(Hold on)

This is not the end of me, this is the beginning

(Hold on (I am still alive))

This is not the end of me, this is the beginning

(Hold on (I am still alive))

This is not the end of me, this is the beginning

(Hold on (I am still alive))

This is not the end of me, this is the beginning

(Hold on (I am still alive))

This is not the end of me, this is the beginning

(Hold on (I am still alive))

This is not the end of me, this is the beginning

(Hold on (I am still alive))

This is not the end of me, this is the beginning

Unsettled

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I had a friend just show me the light of my own feelings and I could not be more thankful. While I was traveling in Ireland all I wanted to do was be home. Don’t get me wrong I LOVED Ireland and had a heartfelt joyful time with my Dad, but I missed the rest of my family and my dog. I had thought that going away would help me not feel lonely, would help me focus my attention on something new…I was wrong. All it did was made me miss those people that I do have in my every day and of course made me miss Bryan even more. Dublin, Galway, Killarney, Cork…it all made me see Bryan. How can some place that he’s never been hold a part of him? The answer is simple of course, it’s me, I hold a part of him and I carry him with me every where. Part of me had hoped that I would be able to leave him memory in California….that being in a completely new setting would allow me to have a new adventure without him. I was wrong, completely wrong.

Now that I’m back I’m itching to leave again…anything to get away! This unsettled feeling continues to grow in me and I didn’t realize why. As a friend pointed out this is truly the first time since December that I have had time to just be. No work, no moving, no schedule….just nothing. Instead of allowing myself this time to feel and think about how much my life has changed and is continuing to change I’m trying to run away. I know it’s a cooping mechanism and one that I need to not use because when else might I get this time to re-evlaute the choices that I have made in the last few months. Yes, the thought of really giving myself the time to think through my tragedy is scary. I’ve spent so much of my time trying to fill the void with anything and everything just so I DON’T have to feel what I’m feeling…can I finally let myself do it without falling off the deep end? I think I owe it to myself to try to…and trust in my loved ones to bring me back if I do end up falling down.

Life in prespective

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Life is very short.  That is one of the many things I have learned since December.  When Bryan died I had an overwhelming need to move, to go see the world, to experience anything and everything I could.  I came to the conclusion that I needed to begin fulfilling my bucket list and the biggest thing on my bucket list since I was a little girl was Ireland.  I began to schedule my trip, plan my trip, prepare for my trip.  Originally it was a trip just for me, to prove to myself that I could do it on my own.  It took a few months to realize that traveling for the first time to Europe by myself would be lonely…even if I was in the “most friendly” country in Europe.  Thankfully my Dad came to my rescue and decided to join me on my two week excursion.  After planning for months the days are getting closer….only 3 more days until I fly out. 

The only problem is is that every time I begin to fill something out…traveler information…his name pops into my head.  I’ve always been the one to plan our trips and fill out all of the information and for some reason I always put his name down first.  Knowing that this is a trip we had discussed…with a few more countries added…opens that hole in my heart a bit.  I know even though this trip is for and about me it’s also a memorial trip for him.  He’ll be with me every step of the way, there will be many things I wish I could experience with him…but I remind myself that he is there with me.  I am hoping that this thought will help bring me peace while I’m there…here’s to hoping!

Happy birthday sweetie

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Bryan would have been 31 years old today and the thought that he doesn’t get to celebrate this day opens the hole in my heart a little bit more. Instead of focusing on that I’m trying to celebrate it in a way he would enjoy.  We had tri-tip and Kona beer for dinner, saw a movie, and went to Costco….oddly Costco was one of his favorite places.  It was a good day.  I’m also trying to remember all of the other birthdays we celebrated together.

Last year for his 30th I had wanted to do a big to-do, but he wanted something more low-key.  Taking a rare week off from work we headed up to Bryan’s one room cabin in Markleeville near Lake Tahoe.  We both enjoyed the fresh air, pine trees, and quiet that we didn’t get much of in the Bay Area.  Bryan however enjoyed that the cabin was almost always dark which meant he could sleep as long as he wanted…and I usually let him.  For our first day Bryan spent most of the day sleeping while I sat outside reading and watched our dog, Hunter chew up any stick he could get a hold of.  We spent the rest of our time traveling to Gardenerville, NV, making a day trip to Reno, and having him discover he could actually find a book he enjoyed reading.  The memory of that week brings me peace because I know that part of him will always be there.

It is that simple reason that the idea of going to the cabin fills me with fear.  For most of our years together we spent at least one weekend in Markleeville each summer.  Bryan’s Grandparents started a great tradition where each group that visits the cabin must add a journal entry of what they did while visiting.  I know that each of our visits are well documented…having written them myself….it also shows how much we enjoyed being there.  I hope that Bryan’s family will continue to make trips there and that one day Bryan’s younger brother will bring his children to the cabin and talk about their uncle Bryan.

I find it odd and calming that I think of Bryan being there and being in the many other places he loved to be.  I know that in my mind he will always be in Markleeville, in Kona, in Santa Margarita, and in my heart.

Moving

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In the past 6 months I have moved 5 times….and I’m almost where I want to be.  My first move was out of the house my husband and I shared with our roommate.  I sold most of our things, unable to keep them and having little desire to keep them as well.  I moved into my sisters’ house and was thankful to have them constantly around.  However an hour and a half one way drive to the elementary school where I taught was not the best idea, so I moved in with a fellow teacher in the area during the week.  How thankful I am/was for her, she understood my grief having lost her father and was more than willing to take me in.  As the summer came closer I came to the realization that San Jose was too full of “us” memories.  Everywhere I went I went with Bryan and it was unbearable.  I came to the conclusion that I needed a new place to begin the “new” me.  Thankfully the sisters have a studio in the backyard and were willing to let me stay there.  Move number 4, a short move, but a move none the less and now I have my own space…something I haven’t had in a very long time.  I was amazed the idea of creating my own space was so powerful.  Being able to make my own mark on my own space, it gave me something back, gave me back a little bit of power that I didn’t realize that I’d missed.  Losing Bryan took most of me as well and as silly and odd as it sounds being able to make my own space has given me a little bit of me back.  My last move was out of my classroom, the second hardest move…the hardest of course being my first move…taking down the class that I thought I would be in for years and knowing that Bryan helped me put some of it up….not to mention leaving other teachers whom had become my second family.

While moving my things that many times has been hard it’s also helped me cope.  It’s helped me figure out the next step and find something to look forward to.  I am continuing to enjoy filling my new space and am excited about the possibility of finding a new school and a new classroom.  It has not been easy and I’m still learning in the process, but at least I’m in the process.