the wittiest widow

Witty Commentary on widowhood

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.

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

lower back tattoo

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

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

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

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

tattoo 1

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

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

 

tattoo 2

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

“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.

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.

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

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

marie kondo joy

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

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

dickie

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

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

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

OMG you guys. Puhleeeze tell me you’ve seen the documentaries about the music festival that never was, Fyre Fest. Not going to lie, I subscribed to Hulu just so I could watch its documentary, Fyre Fraud, only AFTER I devoured the Netflix documentary aptly titled Fyre.  For an emotionally unstable widow, these docs are my kryponite.  I vaguely remember when this shit show all went down (April 2017) but to be fair, I was barely showering back then.  Well after watching the downfall of over indulged millennials, I went down an internet rabbit hole that took me days to get out of.  When I did finally emerge 48 hours later, I knew I had a mission in life. Everyone I know should walk, nay RUN to their nearest streaming device and check these hot messes out. Maybe all the shit that’s happened in my life has led me to this point?  Wait. that’s dark.  So maybe not.

fyre

 

I’ll still keep spreading the good word of the Book of Fyre though.  This is a cautionary tale of what can happen when Ja Rule (R-U-L-E!) becomes friends with this dork ass Jersey Boy named Billy, and their social media personas take over their cognitive decision making skills, or lack thereof.  Aside from the juicy factor, I feel like this is really a social commentary on the FOMO culture of the 21st century.  All the hype and build up and buzz around this music festival was just a facade, and ultimately led to its downfall.

fyre-fest-documentary

The “dream team”

fyre-festival-aftermath

There isn’t an insta filter strong enough for this wasteland.

That’s just me getting all deep and cerebral about a juicy gossip story.  Maybe this resonated with me so much because my grief and subsequent depression makes me feel like people’s shiny happy social media lives have been turned up to 11, and I constantly have to remind myself that I’m not the only one with a less than an American Dream reality.  So when the curtain is pulled back, and the private yacht-luxury villa-sushi-Pablo Escobar island-fantasy was just that, a fantasy, it was more than just a little satisfying.  I honestly feel like Josh is all of us when watching these documentaries.

image1

Chicken soup for the middle-class soul is right! You know everyone grieves in their own way, and I’ve been told over and over by “experts” that there’s no wrong to grieve.  So I guess I can add smug realness to my box of therapy tools! Any moments of the day not spent thinking about my life or doing the “hard work” of moving foward, or “being strong” are moments I cherish.  So these collective 3 hours was time well spent in my book.  I would love, love love to discuss all the amazingness that was Fyre Fest in the comments. Until then, I’m going to go look for my glamping villa, I mean FEMA tent now.

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