Stream of Consciousness Saturday May 13, 2023: “starts with over.”

I am participating in SoCS hosted by Linda G. Hill (click on the link for the ping back to the original blog post and to see the rules). Today’s prompt is “starts with over.”

The word “overwhelmed” is what sprung to mind first. This week has been a difficult one. My brother’s dog Krieger passed away. He was almost 11 years old and sadly developed lymphoma. He made it 3 months before the disease progressed to his liver, and then he quickly took a turn for the worse. Unable to keep food down, and clearly in pain, my parents made the tough decision to put him to sleep. They didn’t want him to suffer.

My brother died nearly 9 years ago, leaving Krieger in my parents care. For 9 years, Krieger served as a living reminder of my brother — and now, he too, is gone. My brother, stolen from this world by a selfish piece of garbage who decided to get behind the wheel while high on drugs. My brother, an air force reservist, and a police officer, who served his country and community was taken away, while the career criminal served only 6 years in jail for his death.

The justice system failed us. It failed us when they gave early release to the garbage that killed my brother. Over crowding, they said. Within 4 days of that release, my brother was dead. It failed us again for giving 8+8 years concurrent instead of 8+8 consecutive. Again, it was up to the Judge’s discretion.

Sometimes, it makes me ashamed to be a lawyer — to be a part of a system where “justice” is more illusion than fact.

I don’t understand. I will never understand. My brother was literally the type of person who would give you the shirt off his back, even if he didn’t have a spare.

During hurricane Sandy, our neighbor’s ranch house was completely flooded. They lost nearly everything, and everything had to be stripped and rebuilt. It was basically a gut renovation. After working triple shifts (because of Sandy) my brother would spend his free time helping them rebuild. For free. He even bought them lumber at the store.

Another time he noticed that a Jewish man was walking on a dark, busy and dangerous street at night (it was the Sabbath and riding in a vehicle was forbidden). After seeing him several times, my brother bought him a reflexive vest so that it would be safer for him to walk along the busy road. When he saw him again, my brother got out of the car, and gave it to the man.

That was the type of guy my brother was. And now he is gone. And the career criminal lives on, out of jail and free to commit more crimes. He felt no remorse for killing my brother. He never offered more than a mumbled fake apology. Killing my brother was just another crime in a slew of crimes. He spent more of his life in jail than out. This person will never be redeemed. He will never be anything more than a drain on society.

But yet my brother is gone.

Somehow, over the years the pain has lessened, but it never goes away. Sometimes its worse, like when I’m watching a movie I know he would like. Or when I think that my daughter will never know him except for what I tell her.

Or sometimes, something happens, like the death of a beloved, spoiled pet, that brings up everything again.

I can only hope that the two of them are somewhere together again, going for runs at the beach, playing ball at the park, and wrestling on the floor.


BOOK REVIEW: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: After I Do

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Book Length: 336 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Chick Lit

Read Start Date: April 19, 2023

Read Finish Date: April 27, 2023

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: From the New York Times bestselling author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, comes a breath taking novel about modern marriage, the depth of family ties, and the year that one remarkable heroine spends exploring both.

When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for? This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game-and searching for a new road to happily ever after. 

My Review: The novel tells the story of Lauren and Ryan, a married couple who have been together for 11 years but are struggling in their marriage. The book takes readers on a journey through the couple’s decision to take a year-long break from their marriage to try and figure out what they really want.

The novel begins with Lauren and Ryan at their breaking point. They have tried couples therapy, but nothing seems to be working. Lauren is feeling unfulfilled in her job as a freelance writer, and Ryan is feeling stuck in his job as a lawyer. They are also struggling with communication issues, and their once-loving relationship has become strained.

After a particularly bad fight, Lauren and Ryan decide to take a year-long break from their marriage. During this time, they agree not to see each other or communicate in any way. They both hope that this time apart will help them figure out if they still love each other and if they want to stay married.

The year apart is not easy for either of them. Lauren struggles to find her place in the world and her purpose in life without Ryan. She also finds herself becoming more isolated and lonely as she spends more time on her own. Ryan, on the other hand, finds himself drawn to a coworker and begins to question his feelings for Lauren.

Throughout the novel, we see the couple grow and change as they spend time apart. They both have experiences that help them grow as individuals, and they begin to understand themselves better. Lauren discovers a new passion for photography and starts a successful business, while Ryan decides to leave his law firm and pursue a career as a musician.

As the year apart comes to a close, Lauren and Ryan must decide if they want to stay together or move on separately. They both have new perspectives on life and love, and they must decide if they can forgive each other for the mistakes of their past and build a new future together.

As a fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s recent books, I couldn’t help but notice that her writing style in After I Do feels different. Although Reid is an excellent writer, the tone and structure of this book deviates from the style of her more recent works. Perhaps it’s because After I Do is written in the first person, or maybe it’s because it’s a contemporary novel rather than historical fiction (or what I like to call modern historical, where the story takes place in the last few decades rather than centuries). Whatever the reason may be, it feels like a departure from her usual style – but this could also be an early work in the evolution of Reid’s writing.

Although I have been divorced myself, I found it difficult to relate to Lauren. When I ended my own marriage, I was completely done with my ex and didn’t think about him or care about his whereabouts. However, Lauren seemed to be consumed by the absence of her husband and continued to think of him throughout their year-long separation, even writing unsent emails to him. From the beginning, I sensed that she didn’t truly hate him as she claimed. While the book’s message seems to be that the year break was necessary for them to rediscover their love for each other, I couldn’t help but wonder if they were truly in touch with their feelings. If they were so fed up with each other that they wanted to break up, why did they immediately realize that they couldn’t stand being apart? This made me question their level of self-awareness and the authenticity of their feelings.

Despite this one small flaw, some positive aspects of the book include:

Realistic portrayal of marriage: One of the strengths of the book is its realistic portrayal of marriage. Reid does not shy away from showing the ups and downs of a long-term relationship, including the challenges and struggles that many couples face. This makes the story relatable and authentic

Strong character development: The characters in the book are well-developed and complex, making them feel like real people rather than just fictional constructs.

Thought-provoking themes: The book tackles many thought-provoking themes, including the importance of communication in relationships, the challenges of pursuing one’s dreams while in a partnership, and the question of whether love is enough to sustain a long-term relationship.