one year

Auntie Bea

Dear Auntie Bea,

A year is a long time and yet, it hasn’t felt like any time has passed at all. I miss you. It’s that simple. But your presence in my life is ever-lasting.

I think of you often, in that proverbial ‘I miss her so much’ kind of way, but in other ways too. Blowing up the air mattress because “I don’t want to spoil the punchline, but…Mac popped the air mattress;” ordering chicken parm at a restaurant because you’d laugh and say you expected nothing less; whiskey because it was your go-to drink, ice on the side, so you didn’t get stiffed; going to a movie because it was our thing, right before Thanksgiving; and Thanksgiving and Christmas because holidays don’t feel real without you sitting in your chair;  watching ‘The Good Wife’ because you loved that show; playing board games because you were competitive and funny and always up for a good time; eating at Bea Bea’s pancake diner because it was our nickname for you; lounging on the beach, any beach, and thinking of the Cape; sitting in a library because you were once banned from one for complaining about the wifi during read-aloud time; feeling cold because you’d yell at us to shut the door and throw on multiple blankets; attending the Women’s March because you were one of the strongest women I’ve ever known; hearing ‘Happy Birthday’ sung out loud because no one did it as beautifully terrible as you; eating ice cream with joy; flipping the bird at poor driving; calling someone ‘fresh’; acting fresh; being brave, confident, and happy; and in so many more ways, every single day.

A lot has changed over the year since you’ve been gone. You’ve probably seen it all, so I won’t get into it. But here’s the thing. A few years ago, you said how important it was for us to laugh and cherish the good times because this was how you wanted to be remembered. I never anticipated the day that we’d have to say goodbye, and I still can’t believe it’s already been a year, but you were right. We remember the good times. They were great times and they are cherished. You are cherished and loved and missed.

So thank you for being with me then. And thank you for staying with me now.

Love,

Caitlin

a year

It feels like I’ve blinked and a year passed. The reason I focus on today is that it’s been an official year since my cat, Bandit, died. A year ago, I kept wishing to go back into more blissfully ignorant times or zoom into the future because the pain was so fresh. I still miss him and I’m not sure you can really ever fully recover, but it’s still been a year.

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I try to focus on the time we did have together, although sometimes are easier than others. Hug your pets a little harder, spend some extra time with the pats, and love them because they are precious gifts to us.

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For Orlando

One of the greatest things in life are the people who share as many differences as they do similarities to help us understand all of these wonderful perspectives in life. We have strengths and weaknesses, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and so many other qualities and characteristics that define humans. These make us who we are.

We then go into the world to explore, succeed, fail, and live. We make choices, actions that define us too, actions for which we should be judged upon. Not who we are, but what we do in this world. The people inside that club in Orlando were celebrating by drinking and dancing; the people in the movie theater were seeking a brief respite from every day life through entertainment; all of those students, both young and old, were learning and growing as they sought their place in the world; people in their places of worship were trying to connect to something they believed bigger than themselves. I could provide more examples across the globe of innocent people trying to live their lives being disrupted in the most violent and terrible of ways because one person or a group of people decided to hate, to allow that hate to consume them, to pick up a weapon, and to destroy.

Unfortunately, we have proved time and again that the love we share after these tragedies, that the prayers we we wish, and the tears we shed are not enough to stop it from happening again. It’s time that we stand up, similarities and differences together, and we make an active choice to say that this is no longer the type of world in which we want to live.

At the very least, right now, let’s focus on the wonderful people who we now consider to be terrible losses. They deserved better. So do we.

Time

They say time heals all wounds, which is sad because it advances on the human capacity to move forward. Right now, I’m okay, getting through, because even as my own world has shifted, life as a whole does not stop. It’s an old cliche. Death means pain, but it’s a product of love, which makes living worth it. Funny, in that it’s not funny at all, how we so easily forget our own mortality until it’s forced upon us.

The weekend was a weird one and I can’t say that I’m sad it’s over. I took a good amount of time for myself to reboot. The weather isn’t helping my mood, considering it’s April 4th and snowing. On the bright side, I do seem to have a fowl problem. On the way to the gym on Saturday, I had to stop thanks to a flock of geese crossing the road and on the way home, I had to make another stop for some turkeys. Strange, but I had to laugh.

On Saturday, I had to run inside on the treadmill thanks to a rainy day. As it turns out, if I had waited until later that afternoon, I could have run outside as the sun flashed itself, but it was still a good workout. On the treadmill, I have trouble with boredom (who doesn’t?!) so I decided on an interval program that followed the pyramid method. I started at 6 minutes of walking at a slight incline, then ran for 6 minutes at a slower pace. As I went to 5-4-3-2-1 minutes, I increased my incline for walking and speed for running. It was effective! To finish, I used the Tabata interval method by sprinting for 20 seconds and recovering for 10 seconds over 4 minutes. By the end, I was tired and looking like a sweaty mess. No matter how hard I work, nothing affects me quite like running. To finish the workout, I went through a plank-heavy core workout.

Sunday was the official start of the week for my workouts, which meant it was biceps and shoulders day. Last week, I performed each exercise for 8 reps and 6 sets, which is long and exhaustive. Even though the end result is the same, I found the 12 reps and 4 sets that I did yesterday to be friendlier. I did six exercises for each body part, including core, before fitting in some quality cardio time on the elliptical.

Though I spent an unfortunate amount of time being lazy and procrastinating, I did get some writing done, something in which I’ve been slacking. The unfortunate thing about writer’s block is that it’s exacerbated by not keeping up the habit, so I’ve pretty much been screwed. Here’s to making time for it, just as I do every day for exercise.

Healing occurs through living and experiencing, and so, I’m trying.

At the very least, there will be baseball today. (Picture found somewhere online probably).

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Go Sox! (Picture taken by me…)

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I’m Not Paranoid, But…

I’m not saying I’m paranoid, but if you have a Mac (or a computer in general), then you’ve probably noticed the little green light near the camera lens glow when you haven’t turned on the camera. I’d taken to ignoring it in the past, but then I was babysitting my neighbor and she had a piece of tape over hers and I had to ask about it. It’s a precaution that is unfortunate and not altogether overcautious considering this world in which we live. Regardless of whether it’s necessary, the tape that now graces my screen makes me feel just a bit better. Let’s not be creepy, people!

I’m ashamed to admit that it didn’t take long for me to forget to snap a photo of my meals before I eat. The only meal I have to show you in the past 24 hours is this one from dinner. Chicken stir fry chock full of vibrant veggies and brown rice.

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It is a thing of wonder.

My workout yesterday consisted of strength training that hit my triceps, chest, and legs. Lately, I’ve been doing four exercises for each part of the body and three sets of fifteen reps each. It creates a good burn, but a burn nonetheless. Since focusing more on endurance, I’ve noticed that I’ve still been able to go up in weight, which is satisfying. After the strength portion, I focused on some core work before hopping on a bike for some Tabata sprints.

Other than exercising, writing, and working, I’ve been watching Chelsea Handler’s new docu-series on Netflix, Chelsea Does, and thus far, I’ve loved it. I’ve always found her funny- i.e. when I met her at a book signing and she signed my book “Caitlin sucks eggs, Love Chelsea.”- and I watched Chelsea Lately a ton, but this new series has a serious and poignant edge to it that raises a lot of good questions and portrays interesting perspectives to difficult or not well-known topics. I’ll go more in-depth once I finish the series, but I highly recommend it and I am looking forward to her new series debuting!

As to how I’m doing, I can admit that the pain isn’t as fresh, but I’m not healed. There’s a sorrowful glow that sits in my stomach. This morning, the blankets had bunched up around my legs and it reminded me of when he would curl up on my bed and later, I heard a noise that sounded like the thud Bandit would make when he jumped up on my desk. Then I remember what happened and it hits me all over again.

Yet, we keep on going because living our lives is a wondrous thing.

Life After…

Coming back to a normal routine after death is a challenge. Bandit was such a fixture in my everyday life and I keep waiting for him to come around the corner, meow, or be lounging around on one of our beds or couches. The last week was a blur, but I kept busy with work and other things. It’s strange to be in mourning, yet keep going and finding a new normal. I wasn’t feeling especially inspired to blog last week because somehow logging my meals didn’t feel right when I was so sad. And I didn’t want to keep harping on the point. Things around here will be consistent again.

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It’s funny because while something so devastating has happened, other parts of my life are coming together. I am happy to announce that I will be starting to put my Personal Training certificate to good use officially! It’s so great to get to inspire people and help them find health and happiness.

Heading back to the weekend, it was packed, starting with Thursday. My workout included two kettlebell circuits with a friend before I hopped on the treadmill for a walk/run/sprint session. After work, I went out for Mexican with my friend Molly. I selected the steak fajita salad that had tasty grilled steak over greens with peppers, tomatoes, and cheese. Yum! We stopped for ice cream before heading home, despite how cold it was. Note: It is never too cold for ice cream. I will always persevere. I hadn’t seen Molly in so long so it was great to catch up!

On Friday, my day started with a crushing Spin class and some at-home Yoga. After my shift, I headed out for an impromptu dinner with a few of my co-workers. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time and I really needed it.

Saturday morning, my alarm got my heart racing because I had been in a deep sleep. Once I’m up, I don’t mind the morning shift, but it was hard pulling myself out of bed in the dark! When my shift ended, I fit in my workout that was a total body strength session. With muscles burning (in the best of ways), I met my parents and grandma for lunch before the semi-storm. The storm that never really was, at least to Boston standards, was calming in a sense as we all were bundled up inside, watching the Bruins and then Inside Out. There’s something special about sleeping in a warm bed when you know the snow is falling outside.

I can’t say that Sunday wasn’t a disappointment, at least when it comes to the Patriots. Neither team played particularly great, except the Broncos’ defense, but I always expect them to pull it off in the end, so it was a shock when they lost. The social aspect of the game was still fun. I went with my friends Nouha and Sarah to a local bar for some nachos, wings, and beers, then back to Nouha’s couch to lounge on the couch and watch the crushing loss. To ease our sorrowed hearts, we played a few rounds of a card game then got absorbed in some of those Buzzfeed personality quizzes. Sometimes, they are spot on, it’s weird.

I won’t feel guilty about all the indulging, especially on Sunday, because I did have a kicks workout, including a body strength circuit and a run. But I will say, I am very much looking forward to healthy eating today as I don’t love the feeling of being overly stuffed. Whew.

Now we’re back to Monday morning. Hope everyone survived the storm in their neck of the woods. Let’s make this week a good one!

 

 

For Bandit

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Dear Bandit,

Thank you for letting me be your crazy cat lady. It’s because of this that I now have hundreds of pictures to look at when I miss you. Right now, I feel as though my heart has been ripped out of my chest, but I think it physically happening could not hurt as much as this does. My heart feels empty and my gut full of sorrow. I keep expecting to see your head pop up from the bed when I walk in the room or peep around the corner when you sneak out from the basement.

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When we first got you those fourteen years ago, I was a skeptical cat owner. I didn’t want a pet or the grief that ultimately came with losing it. I had just lost two grandparents and the pain was fresh and I wondered why we had to bring that risk into our lives again. Though you were never one to shy away from a bite or a raised paw, you purred your way into our hearts with your snuggles and soft fur and strange antics. Now that I’ve lost you, and I cannot fathom that I am typing these words or writing this post, I know that all of this pain I feel now was worth even just a second of our time with you.

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Mortality suppresses itself behind the routine of everyday living before unveiling itself under the worst of circumstances, grief, the most blinding and genuine emotion one can feel. You were our everyday, our routine, one of us, and that’s why it hurts so much now. You no longer come down from a long day’s nap to swat us out of our seats and watch TV with us. You don’t bound up the stairs for bedtime in order to secure your spot or down the stairs to greet us when we walk through the door to come home. Home does not feel as safe and as warm and as happy without you.

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In the mornings when I’m still lying in bed, I still wait for the meow of protest willing me out of bed and to pat you, or the crunching of friskies as you grab a snack before returning to your nap. I want to shine your mouse laser at the wall and see you jump, swing a string above your head and laugh when you pretend not to care then jump for it like you can’t help yourself. I want to sit on the couch with you as you look out the window or lie with you at my feet as I go to bed at night. I just want you back.

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In time, we will find solace in our fourteen years of memories. I may be able to look at these pictures, reminisce about your life, and say your name without bursting into tears. Sunday was the hardest day of my life because I had to do one of the hardest things I ever will. I know it was best for you, ultimately, because we didn’t want you to suffer. But holding you in my arms and whispering how much I loved you as you went peacefully from this world will haunt me as much as comfort me in your memory. Coming home without you was like never coming home at all.

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We die hundreds of deaths every time someone we love passes away, friend, family, pet, or all. I did what I needed to, for you, because for me, you were my sound board and my comfort, my softness in a hard world, and I will never forget that. I felt safe and loved when I could press my forehead against yours and you wouldn’t even bite me in disgust.

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All of these words are not enough to convey how much I love you, how much I miss you, and how grateful I am to have had you. There is a hole in my heart and an empty space in my bed. I hope there is a laundry basket filled with warm blankets and freshly laundered clothes waiting for you.

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Sweet Bandit, goodbye for now.

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Love,

Your Family

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