Before and After

I have so many ideas that pop into my mind but the moment isn’t right to sit down and write. Can I think of any of those topics again when I have a sleeping child? NEVER. The topics I end up writing about are the ones that pop up again and again and I basically hash the entire thing in my head and I just write. As I was logging in I realized there was a draft that Mr. Loco started but ended up publishing a different post two days later back in 2013. I love going back and reading his words. I remember conversations we had after he posted about running or any of his other blogs. I remember us hashing through his thoughts on before and after. Here are his words.

“I have a bad habit of thinking in terms of before & after GBS, or the things that I haven’t done since GBS. Before GBS, I had a primary care physician that I saw occasionally for a checkup and to renew a maintenance prescription. Now I also have two neurologists, a cardiologist, an orthopedic surgeon and a pain management specialist. I addition to the maintenance prescription, I’m also on Lyrica, Elavil & aspirin for neuropathy, Roxicodone for pain related to swelling in my feet and whatever the Lyrica/Elavil/aspirin combo doesn’t cover, Lopressor to get my heart rate under control, and Colace, Sennakot & Miralax to counteract constipation caused by the Roxicodone. I have to use an app on my phone to keep track of them all. I haven’t driven a car since pre-GBS; not only am I on narcotic analgesics, but I can’t move my feet, so Mrs. Loco drives me to & from work and all of my appointments. I haven’t had a beer in the same time frame (and I’m really missing out on the summer seasonals), but if I mention this to Mrs. Loco, she just reminds me that she hasn’t had a drop to drink since before we started trying to get pregnant, meaning nearly two years.”

Now I have my own before and after. I measure time in before and after.  Things are measured in when Mr. Loco was alive and after Mr. Loco died. It may seem odd to people but that is my measurement of time. I sort memories and people and pretty much everything into before and after categories.

They definitely get sorted into friends who knew Mr. Loco and friends who never got the chance to meet him. There are the people he knew who would get the thumbs up for being awesome after he died and there are the people I know he would be disappointed in. You never know how people will respond to a major tragedy until it happens. I can only hope they do better the next time. The great thing is that some of our great friends are still great friends and some new friends stepped in to be super awesome.

I do sort new friends into the ones who Mr. Loco would have thought were amazing friends or “good people” as he liked to say or the ones he would have found so smart and funny or the people he just would have clicked with. The great thing is there are a great handful of people who he would have enjoyed greatly. There is something comforting in knowing he would have loved some of these new friends. There are definitely people I met after that he would have adored. It is sad that he was not able to meet some of the awesome people in our life at the present moment.
On the flip side are the people I know who would not have been his favorites. They honestly are not my closest friends but people in outer circles. Sometimes I chuckle to myself when people say things and I can hear so clearly in my head what Mr. Loco’s response would have been. Sometimes I can’t help myself and point out a flaw in logic. His debates with others were always entertaining. I know he would be in full swing with it being political season. You tend to see some true colors during election years.

Photo Memories
Pretty much every time I look at an old photo of Baby Loco, the first thing I do besides squeal inside at her cuteness is to identify if Mr. Loco was alive when the photo was taken. EVERY. SINGLE. PHOTO. I think about the parts of Baby Loco’s life he got to experience. I think of all of the fun things we got to do. I am thankful we were picture takers and most of our fun was documented with a snapshot or two.

I also am reminded of how crazy life was for a chunk of time and how he was an amazing father through some tough times. I also give myself a pat on the back for juggling a 7 month old baby in the hospital for 12 hours a day for around 37 days. We both did a pretty kick-ass job of handling a crazy hard situation. I think the fact that we were an awesome team helped tremendously.

I am so thankful that we took the time to have family photos taken three times with Ruby. Those photos are some of my most favorite family pictures. They are definitely featured in our house so you know I love them. I tell people not to drag their feet on family photos or even just doing stuff together as a family. You never know how much time you have together. Take pictures and have some fun.

2014-05-21 20.35.50Picture 279 copyCover The Clark Familyfacebook cover shot
I look at pictures from after and think about how he would have loved certain things: how he would have thought certain jammies were so cute, how he would love some of the things she is interested in, how he would love going to classes at the zoo, and how he would have taught her so many things that I have not even thought of. It is interesting how your mind can bounce to so many different things in mere seconds.



Now I mostly post photos but before I had a smart phone I mostly posted text based status updates. Facebook of course shares your memories with you. I always brace myself before I look. It is always a before or after moment.I tend to put memories and stories and basically most things in life into categories. I love when I would post funny things or song lyrics way back when we were just friends. I always hold my breath before reading the comments. I tend to think “THIS would be something he would think was funny.” or “THIS would be something that he would get the reference to.” Most of the time I am spot on and there is a witty comment from him. He always got my odd references or made one of his own. Obviously certain times of year are harder than others. When I am not looking for a comment from Mr. Loco sometimes it is just striking to look at my posts over years of time. There is definitely a before and after silly posts to serious posts. I don’t mean that I am always serious now, but there is definitely a shift. It is very easy to identify before and after.

My entertainment choices have definitely been sorted into before and after. The things I am able to watch after are drastically different. There are no RomCom movies and I am pretty careful about topics even two years later. I haven’t watched more than a small handful of movies over the past two years. The same goes for reading. I am convinced every book is going to be a sneak attack of sadness and so I just don’t even start. I was a librarian for a decade. I was obviously a reader. I want to start reading again but the thought causes me stress, so I haven’t really.
I will fully admit to being completely out of touch with pop culture. What is “cool” is so not important to me. Not that it really was before but at least I knew about current movies and songs and tv shows. Now people talk about things and I have NO CLUE WHATSOEVER. I am pretty ok with this. I feel slightly guilty as a librarian but other than that, less tv is a good thing right? Having to google image people just to know who they are talking about isn’t the end of the world. This is my after.

I think I measure who I am or was in before and after as well. When I think about how I would describe myself at various points in life, it becomes very interesting to think how things shift. When you are in Facebook groups you tend to do introductions every so often. This week I have done them for two very different groups. The words I used to identify myself are very different before and after. How you describe yourself to people you don’t know is also an interesting exercise. I imagine how people perceive me has changed greatly as well. I don’t really know and can only guess.
How much of yourself do you reveal? Do you not say anything about being a widow because it is such a personal thing and it is not like people share such personal things about themselves? Do you hope people gossip enough and if they are friends of friends that they already know all of your business? It is one of those things that is so very personal but you are sort of expected to share, but how much do you share? I wear a wedding ring. I have a three year old. To assume I have a husband is not a notion coming from left field. Do you just cut them off at the pass so they don’t ask something because they see you wear a wedding ring and assume? Do you just throw the word widow out there to help them not stick their foot in their mouth? Does that prevent you from tearing up when you have to give some sort of explanation or to prevent them from saying something to your kid about going home to see daddy? I honestly have not figured this one out. If you have any brilliant suggestions, I am all ears.
Throwing it out there helps me in lots of ways although it is awkward. When is the right time to throw out that tidbit? It is honestly easier online when you can type it out. You can compose yourself and your thoughts. It is harder in person. It is not like you meet people and say “Hi. I am a widow. It’s been two years. This is my three year old. She looks a lot like her dad. Yes, yes, it is sad. Well, my kiddo has to pee now so that will give you a moment to decide to run away, avoid eye contact, ask some questions or just chat.”
I must say that there are so many people who handle such information with grace and ease. They may not think that they do, but when people are able to chat and ask questions in a way that makes it all not awkward, I am impressed. I am not sure I would be half as awesome if I was on the other side.Some people just make things comfortable and I am able to tell stories with ease although some stories will likely always make me tear up or I will have to know you pretty well and share little bits of the story over time. It is nice to be able to share stories. Thanks to all of you awesome people! Seriously. Thanks.

After Identity: Widow. World’s Okayest Mom. Caretaker of Chuckles the Dog.  1/2 Marathoner. Liberal. Firefly Fan. Feminist. Lover of Traditions. Atheist. Awesome at Being Excellent. List Maker. Brainstormer. Looking for the Next Big Project. I am sure I am missing some good stuff but this is most definitely an AFTER description simply due to that first word. That first word shapes everything and always will.

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