Thursday, September 30, 2010

Trying to not forget...

I knew Bryan better than I know myself. I could tell when he was upset... I could tell when he was hiding something... I could tell when he was stressed... and I could tell when he was anxious. Not only could I read his emotions just by looking at him, but I also knew every inch of his body (graphic I know...). I am worried that over time I will begin to forget "him". When I close my eyes I can picture him... his face... his hands... his feet... his smile. So, not only for myself... but for Owen as well... I am going to make a list of the things that remind me of Bryan so that WE never forget.

• Bryan had the most beautiful sky blue eyes. Every time he smiled he would get little wrinkles on either side of his eyes... Even on some of my worst days, if Bryan would crack a joke and smile at me... I would melt and all of my troubles would seem to fade away.

• Bryan had a little mole on the right side of his upper lip, something that I looked at every time I kissed him while he was asleep. I remember when I would kiss Bryan I would always have to stand on my tip-toes. Bryan was a whole foot taller than me so I always had to wrap my hands around his waist and stand on my toes to reach his beautiful lips. Oh how I miss that... I think some of my favorite memories with Bryan are when we would just slow dance (me on my tip-toes of course) and kiss. We slow danced everywhere... in the kitchen while cooking... in the morning in our pj's... at night before we went to bed... and the grocery store when Bryan would beg me to let him get Oreo's... and outside while we were out walking our dog.

• Looking at pictures of Bryan, you can tell that he had the most beautiful hair. Whether he wore it long or short... it was always thick and flowing. Bry had a scar on the top of his head, where he needed stitches, when he was little from hitting his head on the monkey bars. He also had a silly colic on the back of his neck on the right hand side... He was always so frustrated when he would get a hair cut and it would swirl in all different directions. On nights when I could not fall asleep I would always play with Bry's hair and twirl it in my fingers. It was so comforting and soothing to me... and to him too.

• Bryan had a birth mark on his upper left arm (close to his shoulder). It was just a small circular one. He also had a white mark in the middle of his upper back... a scar that he got from shingles when he was a little boy. Every summer... whether he used sun screen or not... it would burn and turn bright pink. I always teased him and told him that he had a beauty mark.

• When I close my eyes and try to remember holding Bryan's hands... I feel so at peace. Our hands always fit perfectly together. Bryan and I always joked that we were made for each other. Our bodies always fit just right together. Bryan had the softest hands. Although they were super strong from fishing and hunting they were slim enough where my tiny fingers could fit easily in his grip. We always held hands... when we walked... when we drove... when we sat on the couch... when we did homework. Whenever we would hold hands in public I would always hold on to Bryan's pinkie. He always thought that was so funny.

• Anyone that knows Bryan, knows that he had the most unique feet... Because he danced for most of his life, Bryan had very high arches. I hate feet... they freak me out, but I loved Bryan's. I always called Bryan monkey because he used his feet like hands (just like a monkey would). I remember one night when we were laying on the couch and he couldn't reach the remote, he grabbed it with his toes, flipped it in the air and caught it in his hands. Just crazy.

• Bryan had incredibly long legs.... super high hips... and ridiculously long arms. Finding clothes for him was nearly impossible and took for ever. It would literally take him hours to try on clothes and do the "wallet" test. He was one picky shopper.

• Most of all... more than anything though, I miss Bryan's sense of humor. I miss his goofy faces and random dance moves. I miss the way we fought. When we would get into arguments he would get down on all fours and run around the house like a gorilla... banging on his chest and making monkey noises... how could I stay mad at that? I miss his grouchy face in the mornings when he would eat cereal in front of the TV in his polka dot boxers... I miss his girly laugh... his high pitch squeal when I would tickle him... the loud noise he would make when he would blow his nose... the excitement he would get when hunting would come on TV... most of all...

I close my eyes numerous times throughout the day and try to picture Bryan. I try to imagine us cuddling in bed and holding hands on the couch... but each day it gets harder and harder to do. I am terrified that in time I will forget him.... I will forget his smell... his smile... his presence... his laugh. Although I see pieces of him in my son, it just is not the same. So.... I hope that in writing some of these things down, I will not be allowed to forget.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Exhaustion has officially set in

Owen is officially one and a half years old... and with that being said... he is super active. Running (literally running) around the house, going up and down the stairs, un-rolling the toilet paper, playing in the dog food, climbing on the furniture, and digging through the pantry... I spend most of my days following him around and saying NO. "No, don't hit the kitty". "No, put that down". "No, get off of that".

When Bryan and I first found out that we were going to have a baby, it was mixed emotions. I cried in the living room while he danced around the house. I was not ready to be a parent and did not think that being pregnant was a "good" thing. Bryan, on the other hand, was very excited... you could not wipe the grin off of his face if you tried. Although Bryan always worried that he would not be a good father, I knew that he was going to be the BEST. He was going to put all other fathers to shame.

When I was pregnant with Owen, I was really sick, and spent the first 6 months of my pregnancy throwing up every meal and only drinking ensures. Every morning I would wake up to a new sticky note on the front door (that usually read... I love you and the baby. Have a great day at work and don't forget your vitamins). Not only did Bryan leave cute messages everywhere in the house, but if it was ever raining or snowing he insisted on driving me into work and picking me up. He put my shoes on the boot warmer at night so my feet would be warm in the morning, he made late night trips to the store for my cravings, he became a member on various baby websites and had updates sent daily to his email letting him know where our son was in the developmental/growth stages and he rubbed my back when I just couldn't move any more. Bryan was the BEST husband ever. I never thought... in a million years... that he was going to pass away and leave me alone... a single parent raising our baby. I never thought I would have to figure out how to do all of this on my own.

On days like today... when nothing seems fair... I often wonder if I am doing a good enough job. I know that if it were me that had passed away and Bryan was still here with Owen, he would be doing a phenomenal job. Bryan would be teaching him how to fish and hunt and do well in school and excel in sports and be an amazing human being. I am worried that I am just coasting... just getting through the daily challenges. I know that I could be doing much more. I could be finding a good job, putting him in swimming lessons, bringing him on play dates, taking him to the park, teaching him how to hunt/fish and making him organic healthy meals. Instead, I am so exhausted by the time I put him to sleep at 8pm that all I can do is sit on the couch and stare mindlessly at the television.

But, some days, when Owen blows me a kiss and gives me a hug... I feel like I am all that he needs. Maybe right now, I am good enough. Maybe right now, I make him happy. When we play dress up (he loves playing dress up...putting on shoes and necklaces... or his new dinosaur costume) and he giggles and his eyes light up, I feel like he is happy. When he grabs a book and comes over and sits on my lap, I feel like he enjoys being with me. When he tackles me and says "tickle tickle tickle", I feel like he is having a blast. I hope that when Owen looks back on his childhood he does not feel upset or sad... that instead he feels proud and honored to have been raised by me, even if I was a single, stay at home mom, just trying to make it through the day to day things. I just want to make him proud.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A new normal...

For the first time... in a very long time... I feel somewhat "normal" again. Earlier this month, I attended the Liz Logelin Celebration of Hope, a foundation started by Matt Logelin after his wife passed away. Being a widow at 25 is not something that you see or even hear about everyday... so it was nice to meet people similar to me. Although it is sad that I found comfort in meeting other people who had lost their spouses, it was nice to know that I was not alone... and like them, I would get through the dark hole I am in and see the sunlight once again someday.

Before Bryan even passed away I was reading Matt's blog (my friend Tiffany told me about it before I gave birth to Owen). His writing always spoke to me... it was honest and real. After Bryan died, I began to blog, hoping to be just as honest and real as Matt had been. Although I am not yet 100% comfortable saying what is on my mind... for everyone to read... I am working on expressing myself through my writing in ways that I have never done before. Matt is an amazing man and is changing young widows lives everywhere. With his honest words, touching story, and heartfelt advice... he has helped many people survive something that is so horrible it is even hard to believe... the tragic death of a spouse/soul mate.

Lately, I have been trying to focus on all of the positives in my life... which if you know me, is not something that I typically do. Looking back at this past year (it was 1 year on September 3rd) I do not know how I made it through. I know that if I did not have Owen, I would have wanted to join Bryan in Heaven... I would have wanted to give up and just throw in the towel... I would have wanted to sink into a lonely dark hole and never come out. But, I did not have that option. I had Owen. I had to wake up everyday and be present in my son's life. I had to continue on and give him the life that Bryan would have wanted him to live. Even though he is a little devil at times... like when he screams at the top of his lungs and hits me in the face... he is my everything. Owen has kept me alive... he has made me see the light again. Every time I look into his baby blue eyes or watch him dance in his diaper to "Fresh Beat Band" I see Bryan. Owen has Bryan's spirit, his sense of humor, his smile, his toes and his glow.

This month has been tough... Bryan's 1 year death anniversary (Sept. 3rd), his funeral (Sept. 9th), our 3 year wedding anniversary (Sept. 22nd) and our 8 year dating anniversary (Sept. 23rd). I am not entirely sure how we have gotten through, how I have gotten through... but we have. Every day is a new challenge and sometimes I don't want to do anything but cry... but looking at Owen gives me hope that one day, we will be OK... we will find our new kind of "normal".

I have been avoiding Bryan's music since he passed away, up until recently when I attended the Dave Matthew's Band Concert. Since then, I have been listening to more of Bryan's favorite music lately and finding comfort in some of their lyrics. Bryan LOVED music and always found special meaning in their words. This particular song stood out to me. It is by Mason Jennings (Rachel sent it to me 11 days after Bryan passed away).

"Sometimes late at night I go the field
Is that where you are?
Are you a shooting star?
Can you say my name?
Darling can you hear me?
Tell me where's your heart now that it stopped beating?
It's right here, it's right here, it's right here"

Although Bryan is not here with me physically I feel him everyday. I see him in Owen, I hear his advice in music lyrics, I feel him in the great outdoors and I dance with him in my dreams. I know he is here with Owen and me. I know he is and always will be Right Here!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sioux Falls

Ahhh the fresh Sioux Falls air has felt so good these past few days. I always thought that being in Sioux Falls would be really hard for me, seeing as Bryan and I lived here for almost 7 years. But, honestly, IT FEELS GOOD! A part of me feels like I am home. Every where I look is a memory of a good time spent with friends, a laugh shared, a simple kiss and a meaningful conversation. This is where we spent 80% of our lives together, where we made our first home for ourselves, and where we had our beautiful son. When I am here... I feel Bryan... I feel whole again.

My best friend and roommate in college, Tiffany Worthley, and I decided to make a spontaneous decision and signed up to run a 5k on Sunday. I have never been a runner...EVER. Bryan always wanted me to go out on runs with him and instead I would opt out and just chill on the couch with a soda in one hand and the remote in the other. Bryan always wanted to run a marathon and train for a triathlon... so I am working towards doing those things for him... doing those things for me.

So, Tiffany and I set out last night and made three laps around the Augustana campus (exactly 3.1 miles) and I could not help but think... that Bryan would be proud. Here I am, his little couch potato, busting it out and running the same paths that he once ran while he was on the Augie track team. For the first time since his passing, I felt like he was proud of me... which is a really good feeling to have.

Tonight Tiffany and I are making tye-dye Bryan t-shirts and running the race in his name tomorrow. Although I know that I am not the most athletic or healthy person out there... I am going to continue to push myself and run every race for Bryan that I can.

This is for you Monkey... I love you.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

One year down...

One year ago today, Bryan was laid to rest at Lakewood Cemetery. One year ago today, I was saying goodbye to my best friend and partner... saying "until we meet again." This year has been very hard, harder than I thought it would be. But through all of the pain, Owen and I have emerged and in a way... we survived.

I am not sure why I have not been keeping up with my blog, I really don't have a good excuse, but I think it is because Owen keeps me on my toes at all times. Since my last post a lot of things have changed in our lives. Owen and I moved to Maple Grove, MN, in April, into a beautiful two story town home. Although we miss Bill and Lori, we like having our own space and all of our things. Owen loves his big boy room and I have to admit that I really missed sleeping in my own bed. It has been really hard being surrounded by Bryan's things and all of our wedding gifts, but even though it sucks... it is also very comforting and needed.

Not only did we make the "big" move to Maple Grove, but I decided to give in and go see a counselor. I started going to the Grief Counseling Center a few months ago and even though it was a hard transition for me to make, I have to say that it has been very helpful. Being able to talk to someone who is not directly affected by Bryan's death has been nice. I have a lot of work to do, but I know that it will help me out in the long run. I don't think that I would have been able to make it through this past week without it.

Through counseling I have learned that I need to be more spontaneous and open-minded. So, I decided to do something that I have wanted to do for a long time. My cousin, Tiffany, and I started a photography and design company called "Sweet Love Photography and Design." It really did not take Tiffany and I long to come up with the name of our company. The last two words that Bryan said to me at 1:22pm (an hour before he died) were "sweet love." After Bryan died I realized that I was going to live the rest of my life following my dreams and inspiring people. Chasing something that I know Bryan would be so supportive of...Photography. So if you are ever in need of photos... you know who to call.

Trying to get through the first anniversary of Bryan's death has not been easy. I tried so hard to pretend that it was just a normal day and not the week of September 3rd... but my brain would not let me forget or pretend. Owen and I have been trying to move forward and do things that remind us of Bryan but it has been difficult not having his sense of humor and fun loving personality around. On September 7th, Owen and I decided to make another spontaneous decision and we added a new member to our family. On Tuesday we brought home a 2 pound kitty from the humane society and named her Lindy Prairie (after the name that Bryan wanted us to name our daughter someday... Lindy is a fishing rig). Although she does not take away our pain or bring Bryan back... she has made our last few days a little happier. Penny sure loves having a partner in crime.

I know that I have not been blogging lately, but I need to start getting back into the swing of things. Blogging/writing for me is very therapeutic and I know that it is something I really need to continue doing. So... be prepared to read more and more about the Prairie Clan.