Living

With the new year I’ve decided to move this blog in a different direction.

2018 post-love was about surviving and existing. Just getting out of bed and finding my way through each day. I made mistakes, I hurt people, I failed at so much.

But I made it.

I could keep dwelling on grief forever. I could stay in my hole, wallowing in the sickeningly bitter feeling of loss. Or I can look forward.

This doesn’t mean I’m forgetting Christine. I learned from that. I won’t ignore her ever again. I will still have horrible, terrible days filled with pain, loneliness and grief. I will cry, I will wail. I will have days of numbness.

I’m sure I’ll still write about those days as they come.

But I’m choosing to live.

I’m living for my kids, my friends, my family.

I’m living for me.

So what does that really mean?

Not entirely sure. I’m still not planning on rushing out to find a partner. I’m not trying to fill that hole with a replacement. I’m not ready. I’m also not going to go out and solve all of my problems. I’ll keep going to counseling, I’ll keep reflecting on who I am and who I should be.

But I have made a list of goals, resolutions for the new year.

I resolve to:

⁃ Forgive myself

⁃ Be more present in my children’s lives

⁃ Run a marathon

⁃ Climb a mountain

⁃ Cook at least 4 healthy dinners for my family each week

⁃ Go out of my way to be kind to at least one person every day

⁃ Visit a country for the first time

⁃ Commit an act of service every week and involve the kids when possible

⁃ Keep Christine present in my life by living each day striving to be the man she would want me to be

⁃ Raise/donate $10000 for suicide prevention

⁃ Meet new people and learn from them

⁃ Start a podcast

⁃ Love fiercely

⁃ Become a companion for a suicide widow(er)

⁃ Ask for help when I need it

⁃ Be mindful of how my words and actions can be perceived by others, regardless of my intent

And if I don’t finish everything on this list it’s OK because my final resolution for 2019 is the only non-negotiable.

In 2019 I will learn to give myself grace.

That last one is so important. I’ve had so many people tell me that ‘You need to give yourself grace’. It’s a trend, a theme. I tend to take the world on my shoulders and blame myself for every misstep. I don’t want to live like that anymore.

I don’t want to live under a blanket of stress and guilt.

I was married so young that I never took the opportunity to learn to know myself, relying on Christine to make me whole. Now I’m without her. I’ll never be whole again, but I can decide who I am without her and using guilt to drive my direction is not healthy. I’m going to learn to forgive myself, be gentle when I fail, choose to learn from mistakes to make myself a better man.

In my first post I wrote ‘welcome to the shit show’. At the time it was true. I was (am) a mess.

But 2019 is about life. My kids, mine, ours. How I impact others.

So welcome to my life. I’m glad you’re here.

– B

Peace and Hope

I entered this holiday season with a spirit of defiance and anger. And it’s not been easy. At first, seeing all the happy messages and Santa pictures and Christmas cards infuriated me. I hated everyone for having something I could not.

But slowly over the course of the last several weeks my heart has softened. I reflected upon my loss, but also my response, or rather how Christine would want me to respond. It was my job to be the calm and thoughtful person in our relationship and that hasn’t changed. I also thought about the man I want to be in her absence and decided it isn’t someone who responds to love and joy with anger and spite.

I awoke this morning with a feeling of… not contentment, but peace. I also feel the budding growth of hope. It’s in its infancy, just pushing against the surface, trying to break free and blossom, but it’s there.

That’s weird to think about. Hope and peace. This month has been so incredibly turbulent and difficult. I’ve struggled at work, the kids have been more sensitive than usual. Add the extra work involved in the holidays, shopping, getting to events, all while the absence of her is brought into hyper focus.

So it’s been hard. I’ve dreaded the Big Day since Thanksgiving. How was I going to make it through this while carrying my kids through it? Anxiety has been through the roof. I’ve been more forgetful than ever before. And then I got here. I got to the Christmas Eve.

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house;

Not a single present was wrapped. Fuck.

I hate wrapping presents and I’ve been putting it off. I knew time was up, there wasn’t any more wiggle room. Then something great happened. A friend of mine texted me and asked if I wanted to keep her company while she wrapped her gifts. I said yes as long as I could bring mine over and do the same. We hung out, played with her dog, shared stories and got the presents wrapped.

And then she gave me a stocking.

I was so touched. It meant so much to have a friend I’ve only recently met think of me and go out of their way like that.

It’s funny how incredibly powerful a small kindness can be. I want to be more purposeful about that in my life. Just letting people know they matter, that they’re important.

I went home, tucked the presents under the tree, got the stockings filled and sat on the couch. It was shortly after 3:00 AM at that point and I should have gone to bed but I couldn’t rest my mind.

She wasn’t going to be here. No matter what we did, no matter how the day went, we would be constantly reminded Christine wasn’t there.

I talked to her, told her how I felt, how much I missed her and how much I wish I could feel some closeness to her. I don’t know when I fell asleep, but I woke up on my couch at six after dreaming about Christine. She was upset with me, she was dismissive of my feelings. I had wronged her somehow and she didn’t want anything to do with me.

Sleep found me again, but I was sure this was a sign of how the day would go. And then I woke to my kids coming down the stairs… and there was that peace and that hope.

We tore through our stockings and then followed our tradition of taking turns opening each present one at a time, youngest to oldest. Then the kids cleaned while I started breakfast.

That part was hard. I made the same Irish food we had the year before and I needed help I didn’t have. It turned out OK. It’s hard to cook through tears.

So we had our food. The kids were playing with their new toys and I dressed for a run. Off I went. I made it a couple miles between breakdowns. I let off a few blocks from home to compose myself again.

You can do this. You can do this for the kids. Game face.

And I did. We took it easy, we spent time together. I felt that peace again.

I messaged people, telling them Merry Christmas. I messaged widows and family and friends old and new. Merry Christmas. Peace and hope.

We left the house around 2 for dinner at my parent’s. We arrived to find a giant pile of snow my uncle brought down from the pass so we could have a snowball fight. It was so much fun. The neighborhood kids joined in, and a few parents.

And then dinner. It was great.

We opened a few small gifts and talked about the past. My uncle cried when he picked up a Santa mug that had been owned by my great grandma. We laughed about getting hit by the grief train. I talked with my aunt and her new fiance. I locked myself in the bathroom and cried quietly. We had dessert. I got a ‘Merry Christmas’ text from someone I hadn’t talked to in a while. My family shared a drink, and then we went home.

More peace. More hope. Why??

I took a nap, E played video games. We all kind of did our thing. My friend texted me around 9 and asked if I wanted to watch Daddy’s Home. I said yes and went over to her house but we just played fetch with her dog instead. She gave me a stuffed unicorn to replace one of the ridiculous, oversized throw pillows for my new couch (the one I keep falling asleep on). I don’t know why I find this so important to point out but she is a friend. We hang out. It’s so nice. I don’t want to say ‘just a friend’ because that means a friend is less important than a spouse or girlfriend. It isn’t always that way. Sometimes we all just really need a friend.

And then home.

Now I’m trying to write about my day to work through these feelings. Peace and hope. Hope and peace. And I think I got it.

The day wasn’t easy. I thought about her a lot. I cried a lot. I’m thinking about her now. I don’t miss her any less today than I did yesterday. Probably more.

But here’s the thing. I made it through the day. I did it. I did it with the help of the people I know reaching out today telling me Merry Christmas. I did it with the help of my kids who were just amazing to be around. I did it with the help of my family. I did it with the help of my friends.

The peace and hope I feel is the realization that as hard as it is and as hard as it will continue to be… I can do this. WE can do this. And we’re going to.

Merry Christmas,

-B

 

I’ll Tell You in Ten Years

There are several phrases I hear from people with stunning regularity. Depending on the person and my mood my response varies greatly. I’ve had this discussion with some other people who have recently lost their spouse and found that responses to trauma are incredibly cliche.

And I get it. There really is nothing to say that can help, but people’s instinct is to say something, anything to show empathy and caring and helpfulness. I mean, it backfires constantly in horrible and sometimes hilarious ways.

Is it weird to find humor in this stuff? It’s not because any of it is actually funny, of course. It’s all just so insanely ridiculous and…wrong.

Here are a few of my favorites:

How are you? – The ‘are’ is dragged out so it’s more like ‘How arrrrrrrrrre you?’ often with a slight tilt of the head and a little frown. They’re trying to show sympathy, but I don’t think they usually want to hear an honest answer because it inevitably means they have to come up with something, anything to say. Something like:

I don’t know how you do it – Do what? Be a dad, keep working, keep moving? I mean… I wasn’t given a fucking choice. That’s how I do it.

You’re so strong – Can you help me understand ‘strong’? Like, what do you mean by that? What is strong about laying in bed until 1 in the afternoon, so crippled by emotions you feel unable to get up. Or is it my daily breakdown in the car?

Here’s a few synonyms for ‘strong’. Well built (OK, that one’s true. I’m hot af). Sturdy. Durable. Indestructible.

…I guess the word works in a certain kind of way but only if by ‘strong’ you’re saying I’ve been getting my ass kicked but haven’t decided to join Christine. Otherwise I’m just existing. I am not strong.

And here’s the one the guts me every time.

How are the kids? – The best response to this question is one a friend shared with me ‘I’ll tell you in ten years’. I really don’t know how they’re doing. But here’s what I’ve seen so far:

E is more moody and argumentative. He spends every moment I’ll allow in front of electronics. He’s more awkward, and nervous around people. His grades are getting worse. He also got in his first fist fight at school the other day. He broke down pretty hard at the graveside service. He and I have always had a somewhat strained relationship because he is the most willful of the kids. I’m softer now but I don’t feel any closer to him. I don’t know how to give him what he needs.

T is probably the one who has adapted the best. The only real uncontrollable break down she’s had was when we were driving home after her birthday party. It was May 23rd, just 4 days after she found out she would never see her mom again. T had asked for a picture of her with her mom. I gave it to her in the car because I couldn’t handle doing it with an audience.

T: I MISS HER!!!!

And she fell apart. Since then she has done mostly positive things. She told me her mom and her had a saying, ‘I love you to the moon and back’. I didn’t know that. T found a light up sign with that saying on it. She told me she some times feels like Christine is close, like a cloud and at night when she turns the light on that she’s actually in the room. T will tell her about her day, how soccer is going, etc. She also told me she leaves the light off some nights because she wants to share her mom’s presence with the rest of us.

The angriest one is K. She is pretty pissed off at her mom. They already had a rocky relationship and K is upset that Christine would put us all through this much pain. She is the one that talks the very least about it, doesn’t share memories often and tries to avoid any conversation about how she feels.

Then there’s B. This one is killing me. She’s so far away. She doesn’t get to be around us and is stuck in grief alone. Similar to me, things don’t seem to be getting better for her. She got a tattoo, a bushel of forget-me-nots, Christine’s favorite flowers. Her and I have spend a few nights texting our sadness to each other. She feels like a lot of people dismiss her because Christine was her step mom and it shouldn’t hurt as much. She’s coming for Christmas and I’m so looking forward to seeing her.

So what are you supposed to say? What’s the right thing? A lot of time, it’s nothing at all. No, that’s not right. It’s just some affirmation that you care. My friends who know me best get it. ‘I love you, man’. That’s really it. It’s all that’s needed. Because there’s no right answer.

Sometimes I don’t even need anything. Just being there for me to talk to means so incredibly much. I can’t fix this, you can’t fix this. Why would we use words like we’re trying?

Even better? The thing I appreciate the most? It’s when someone shares a story about her with me. It’s been almost seven months since that day. When a person takes some time to tell me they’re still thinking about her it means so fucking much.

So so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portrait of a Day

When you lose a spouse you lose so much. Dreams, hopes, future, companion, lover, friend, confidant, all gone.

Something else you lose, especially if you’re a parent, is time.

I don’t have much to write about so I thought I would capture a day in the life of a solo-parent and share it with you all.

6:15AM Wake up, brush teeth, get dressed. I worked from home so I got to sleep in an hour!

6:30AM Dialed into first meeting and got T and E up and ready while talking through team strategy in 2019.

7:15AM T and E out the door.

7:30AM Second meeting, acting as a proxy for my director in front of a partner org’s VP. And I made coffee.

9:00AM Meeting ends, finally looking at my emails.

10:00AM Pre-meeting meeting to discuss another meeting.

10:20AM Excuse myself from the last few minutes of that meeting. Rush to the car, realize I hadn’t eaten yet. Run back inside, grab a protein drink, back to the car.

10:35AM Get to T and E’s school to pick E up for his counseling appointment.

10:45AM Still waiting for E, the meeting the pre-meeting was about starts.

10:55AM E finally shows up, we get to the car using only hand signals because I’m on the call. He’s gotten good at this game.

11:05AM Drop E off 5 minutes late, drive back to the school.

11:40AM Still on the call, go into the school to pick up T and get her to counseling.

12:00PM Got T there on time! Pick up E and take him back to his school.

12:22PM Arrive at the optometrist. Fill out the paperwork at record speed. Have to fill out ‘widowed’ for martial status. During the appointment she asks how long ago it happened. Then how it happened. Then gave me advice on how to deal with suicide. Thanks for the tips.

1:10PM Pick up T, ten minutes late. Back to her school.

1:30PM Driving home, next meeting starts, a two hour preparation meeting.

3:00PM T and E get home. I forgot T was having a friend over. I feed them a snack while I finish up the meeting.

3:45PM Go to the gym for a quick run (it’s raining and cold and I just don’t feel an outdoors run today). One of my asshole friends convinced me to sign up to run a marathon with him in June and I just started training. I hope he’s reading this. Asshole.

4:45PM I get home. T wants a pick up at the store and her friend needs a ride home.

5:15PM Back home. Preheat the oven and get the rib roast in. Take E to a scouting event.

6:30PM Pull the roast out and let it rest. Go pick up E.

7:00PM Dinner. It was bomb.

7:30PM Clean the house.

8:30PM Finally hit the couch and start writing with a John Oliver rerun in the background.

I did a lot. I did it well. I did it by myself. I’m a freaking super hero!

See? I’m recovering, right? Things are looking up. I can do this.

But then there’s the day before to think about. On Monday I got up at 5:15 and went to work. Checked Facebook when I got to the office.

Facebook let’s me know Christine’s account had been memorialized (my request) and my relationship status is now ‘widowed’. I break down and nearly turn around and head home.

My schedule was packed. I just float through the day, trying to pay some attention to what’s going on but I feel totally disconnected.

The 3 o’clock meeting was cancelled so I went home.

I walked in the door at about 4:30. Went upstairs and stared at my bedroom ceiling for 1.5 hours until I realize I need to feed the kids. T has already called a friend for a ride to soccer. She knows the drill.

Dinner was leftover pizza. I laid on the couch with the Seahawks on in the background. Kind of watching.

At 8 I went to the store and bought a bottle of wine. I drank it all, then hit the whiskey cabinet while listening to sad music. I finally head upstairs and crawl into bed fully clothed. No idea what time.

Remember at the beginning of this when I said you lose time? When you’re in it, when you’re awake and aware, time flies. When you’re down and hurting it’s the opposite. It moves so slowly. I beg the clock to move but it feels stuck, trapped. Like me.

I don’t know who I am. Am I the dude that’s rocking this shit or am I the guy who can barely make it through a day?

It’s like a real life Two-Face. Fate flips the coin and decides what my day will be.

Guess we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

Ups and Downs and Downs and Downs

I haven’t written for a while, mostly because I’ve been struggling to adequately explain how I am feeling and because, if I’m being totally honest, I’ve spent a lot of time in avoidance mode.

Last week while in Costa Rica I decided to do some things for myself. First, I booked an 80 minute massage. I’ve only had one of them in my life and that was a relaxing couples massage with Christine. I didn’t know what to order and thought ‘Deep Muscle’ sounded like the right one. It wasn’t.

If you’ve never received a deep muscle massage but want a similar experience, just ask someone to alternate between beating you with a broomstick and tickling you with a feather for an hour.

Anyways, as I lay there I decided to think about Christine (like I think about anything else), but not in regards to how I feel, more about how I should frame my thoughts about her. I made a decision to stop thinking about what I could have done differently, and stop dwelling on how I feel. Easier said than done, of course, but it’s a step.

As soon as I made this agreement with myself a warm sensation overcame me and Christine’s face came into my mind. She was smiling and radiant and beautiful. I felt calmer. I felt better.

The next day I got up early. The local team was taking me on an ATV tour. We rode them up muddy hillsides, through the jungle, along cliff tops, across shallow rivers and through the surf on a white sand beach.

I was speeding through the river, water fishtailing behind me, smiling like an idiot, when I thought to myself ‘I am so lucky’… ‘Oh, right’.

This is an issue. I have a moment of happiness. A moment where I’m not dwelling on Christine or her loss, and then I reflect on the happiness and ‘poof’ gone. It’s like my soul is telling me I’m not allowed to be happy.

We finished the ATV ride with a beer on the beach. The plan was to make the short drive to the beach resort town of Jaco for lunch. This had been the plan for weeks, but when we got in the car one of the guys changed his mind.

Him: Let’s go to Playa Hermosa instead. I know a good restaurant there.

Playa Hermosa was the beach Christine and I stayed at when we visited. I just knew in that moment we were headed to the same place she an I had eaten. Panic spiked.

No, that’s not true. It wasn’t panic. A better term would be ‘pre-panic’. It’s something I’ve been experiencing a lot. Anxiety caused by the fear that I will enter a trigger event. I haven’t had one of those since Maine, but I am regularly nervous of it happening again.

I was right, we pulled into the same place… and it was OK. Totally OK. I mean, it was reflective. I thought a lot. I walked the beach where we walked, looked out over the same horizon. I shared stories about our trip with my team members, the things Christine and I did. It was OK. It was good.

I told her goodbye.

That night as I was reflecting, trying to remember good times I found it was almost impossible to think of specific events that could be classified as ‘good times’. It was difficult. I realized just like bad times, I needed a trigger to bring them up. I went to Ireland, I remembered our trip. I went to Costa Rica, I remembered the adventures we had.

This sucks. This really sucks. Why didn’t I do a better job of storing these away for the future?

The answer is obvious of course. I thought there would be more. When you have unlimited money, why worry about saving?

So instead I started thinking about her in general terms. Her smile, her face, those freaking moles on either side of her nose I loved so much. Her laugh. For people that met her that laugh stood out. It was so pretty, so loud, so passionate. Then I remembered her other laugh. The one that was the most real. When she was surprised by hilarity she would have this loud raucous bark. We classified it as her crazy homeless woman laugh.

Thinking about that made me smile. Then by the time I got back to my room I was sad because I couldn’t have those things anymore.

I spent the remainder of my time in Costa Rica staying busy. During the day I worked hard, met with everyone I could. At nights I’d talk to friends, any friends that would help distract me from her. It was nice talking to them, it was distracting. I stayed up until exhaustion took me.

On my way home I was getting on the plane in Atlanta and I realized I had never looked back at her Facebook profile. There is a great place to see happy memories, I thought.

I started scrolling. I made it back to May and then started reading all the things people had said about her following her death. It’s so much fun when you realize you’re crying around a bunch of strangers and you’re pretty sure they’ve noticed.

I was watching the Alabama/Georgia game on the flight and there was a Chick-Fil-A commercial. It’s one of those ones where the guy comes back from service abroad and surprises his family. He was in their cow outfit getting pictures with his wife and kids. They had no idea it was him in the suit. Then he takes off the head and reveals himself.

The look on his wife’s face, seeing him again, the joy and confusion and whatever else. It’s exactly how I would look if I saw her again.

I totally lost it. I actually barked. Who the hell cries during a Chick-Fil-A commercial? Me, that’s who.

When I got home I said hi to the kids, hung out with them until they went to bed and then went to the bar. Weird stuff happened. Not going to go into it, but it was weird.

I stuck around talking to some people I’ve met there until they called last call.

Sunday was another Get up, Get dressed, Get moving day. Made it through. I was up that night, thinking about happy memories. Trying to remember any specifics I could. Then I had a thought.

What if the specifics are difficult to recall because almost all of our time together was happy?

And then I went to sleep.

A Better Man

I went to the bar the other night. Alone. There’s that word again.

Things were overwhelming so I took a walk to the nearest watering hole.

The new Queen movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, has this great line:

‘The human condition requires a bit of anesthesia’

Truer words.

As I sat I thought about a time before Christine.

I wasn’t a great guy. Not to say I was terrible, but I wasn’t great.

I was much more self centered. I didn’t have a lot of concern for others. I was impulsive. I lied all the time.

Being with Christine made me a different person. A better person. She was my catalyst.

And she didn’t do it through nagging or arguing or any forceful method.

She did it by believing in me. She trusted me. She saw something in me no one else ever had.

I loved her for that. Love her for that.

It made me want to be the man she thought I was, or at least could be.

It didn’t happen overnight. I was still working on it when she left me. It’s a process. But improvements were noticeable pretty quickly.

My mom: Ben has changed so much. How did you do it?

Christine: I didn’t.

She was wrong of course. Her love was what did it.

I’m telling you all this because I was struck by a thought sitting in that nasty little dive bar. I can be anyone I want to be now.

Of course I always had that ability. I could have remained as I was before Christine and for all I know she would have miserably powered through. Or just left. Who knows.

But in honor of my love for her I became a better man.

Isn’t that a funny term? ‘Better man’. I think we (as men) miss the point so often. A Better Man isn’t someone who just brings in more money or is a provider or whatever the fuck. At least not in my mind.

A better man understands his job is to give. To give unconditionally. To give when it’s easy, to give when it’s hard. To show kindness. To be vulnerable. To take everything on his shoulders. To give and give and give.

And never ask for a single thing in return.

To do the dishes. To cook. To clean. To be MAN enough to take on everything and anything.

To me, that’s a man.

To stretch, to take a breath, and to carry more.

I don’t have that anchor anymore. Yes, I have my kids. It’s not the same. It really isn’t. I can be a great dad and still be totally self centered in the rest of my life. Love of a child is transformative, but not in the divine way. Not like a man and woman entering into a union by choice. At least not for me.

See, she chose me and I chose her.

So now what? Without her, without that reason, what do I do?

I can go back to the Other Guy. He had a lot of fun. Too much, probably.

But isn’t that dishonoring my love for her? If I return to my bachelorhood, or some semblance of it (I really am too old for that shit), what was the point?

So I look into the proverbial mirror.

I used to look at myself in a real mirror and say ‘Who are you?’

Now I ask ‘who do you want to be?’

If I regress, if I become someone who wasn’t chasing her love, trying to be worthy of her, then aren’t I saying she didn’t matter that much?

The worst thing is I’ve realized through events external to Christine I wasn’t even the man I thought I was.

Yes, thoughtful in my actions, but not thoughtful in my words.

Selfless in my actions but selfish in my thoughts.

So there it is again. The choice. Do I strive to be the man I wanted to be for her, the man I thought I was? Or do I take the easier path?

Me: Hey mirror, I choose her.

Get Up, Get Dressed, Get Moving

Saturday was difficult. I woke up feeling very low. I couldn’t summon the strength to get myself out of bed. It was too much effort to even think about it.

I can’t tell you why Saturday of all days was like this. What combination of factors was making me unwilling to start my day? The holidays could be part of it. Maybe it’s because this is the first day in months that I didn’t have anything I needed to do. No work, no soccer, no scouts, no plans. Nothing.

I used to cherish these rare days. Rather, Christine and I did. Now it’s just giving my mind more free time.

I lay there. I flipped through every social media platform I use, trying to find distraction. Nothing worthwhile.

That’s a big thing right now. Trying to find anything to take my mind off her for a few minutes. Not ignore her like before, but just a few moments of respite.

I rely on friends, but I don’t want to over burden them, so now I’ve started conversations with people I’ve never met in real life. Weird, I know. Some of these people are Christine’s friends from work, some are people that reached out to me after reading something here, there’s people from the ‘wids’ group I’m in on Facebook.

Then the same thing happens. I stop sending messages because I don’t want to wear that person down, but of course I’m so excited when they reach out.

Weird stuff.

A lot of it is also desire to have an intimate relationship with someone. By that I mean a companion. Someone I can bounce texts with, talk about the weekend, how much it sucks to pay a mortgage, fatherhood stuff.

I don’t have one of those.

After social media failed me I watched the slideshow video on my phone. This always hurts so much. It’s also one of the only ways I can really connect with her. The live pictures allow for sound and a couple seconds of video.

I didn’t realize until she passed away I didn’t have any video with her, or very little at least. These tiny snippets are what I have left.

In one she’s taking a selfie, and makes this funny face suddenly.

Today I laughed. I haven’t done that before.

My favorite one is where she’s looking at the camera and then her eyes drift down and this incredibly intent smile spreads across her face. I smiled back.

I needed to get up, get the kids food, pack for my trip. I couldn’t compel myself.

Me: Get up, get dressed, get moving

I repeated it. I repeated it again. Ten more times.

I put my phone down and got up.

It took me 45 minutes to shower and get dressed. I usually do this in less than 15. I kept forgetting what I was doing. But I did it.

T and E were watching TV. I got them something to eat.

My hair needed to be cut. I walked outside. I drove to the barber shop.

And kept driving. I was listening to music that reminded me of Christine and decided in that moment I would go visit her gravesite. Which is dumb because half of her ashes are sitting on her nightstand. Whatever.

I was listening to Billie Eilish ‘you should see me in a crown’. I’ve been listening to it a lot. There’s one line that sticks out everytime:

‘Tell me which one is worse

Living or dying first’

I don’t pretend to know what she intends with that lyric, but I answer ‘living’ every time.

Wid brain in effect. I can’t keep a straight narrative.

I pulled up to the gravesite and turned off my car. When I do that the CarPlay stops playing and the radio comes through the speakers.

‘Happier’ by Bastille and Marshmello was playing. Of course. Of course it fucking was.

‘I will go go go’.

I had a breakdown, holding onto my steering wheel like a life preserver.

But it also felt… special? Like it was the right song.

This is the first time I’ve visited since the burial. Did you know there isn’t a manual about what you’re supposed to do?

Me: Hey Babe, a lot’s been happening…

I was only there for probably 15 minutes. Should probably bring a chair next time. I mostly told her about what’s going on with the kids, what she’s missing out on and then finally asking her for some comfort and relief.

Strangely enough, I felt better. I kept moving.

The night has definitely been better. Got food for K to eat while I’m gone, ran a few errands, got back to the barbershop.

My hairdresser today was trying to convince me to go to a medium. That was WEIRD.

She was so into it.

Sometimes I’m thankful for these easier stretches, like tonight. The problem is they also give me hope that it’s getting easier, and then it doesn’t.

I’m flying out early for a week working in Costa Rica. Just like Ireland there will be many Christine reminders. More goodbyes to say.

On to the next day.