Coffee and Grief

This is what a widow looks like…

This is what a motherless daughter looks like…

This is what a fatherless daughter times two looks like…

This is what grief looks like…

In four years I lost 3 family members. Not including being estranged from my bio-dad in 2010 after grad school graduation. He up and left with his new family and never made contact with me again. That’s why my step-dad of 40 years became my “Jad” (his name was Joe so I called him “Jad”). That’s a lot of loss in a short period of time.

I learned how to handle my first loss in 2017 with the help of friends, family, a therapist and a personal trainer. I spent 5 glorious weeks in Rome learning to heal through food, coffee, culture and a long-term friendship. For once someone took care of me. I didn’t have to think, just heal. It worked. I was healing.

I went back to work ready to face new challenges and be a better person having gone through the hardest thing I had ever experienced in my life. Not to mention the trauma and PTSD from that experience. It was so bad that I couldn’t watch hospital scenes on TV. Even though my brain knew it was for drama, it was still too close to home. I spent a lot of time in the hospital; I’d log 14-16 hours in the room keeping my late wife company. I even slept with ear plugs, eye mask, face mask and gloves. It wasn’t great sleep so we all decided that I should sleep at home even if it was only for four hours.

My best friend would come and get me to help me recharge; we would go to Denny’s, Chili’s, or grab coffee somewhere. As a caregiver you have to learn to take care of you too. It was hard to leave, but it was important for my mental health as well even if my heart didn’t like it.

I became a widow at 47. We had an amazing 10 years together. It wasn’t all sadness and sickness. We went to Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Hong Kong. We had a great life and I am thankful to have been there for her. Vanessa was a sensitive and beautiful person and she wanted me to mourn her, but not be lonely. She wanted me to be happy and find love again.

I thought that would never happen because who wants a widow? We’re damaged, sad, stuck in the past, or you’re competing with a ghost. These were my thoughts. I figured I’d be alone for the rest of my life, untouchable by another because the other person would think I couldn’t be in love them as much as I loved someone before. I had massive fear of rejection. Massive fear of loneliness and massive sadness.

Never knowing or realizing that I was very much wrong.

Enter Brandi. She didn’t run because I was a widow. She didn’t feel like she was competing with a ghost. She didn’t say the wrong things, in fact she said the most perfect things to me. I had no idea someone would ever love me the way she does. I had no idea that my late wife gave me tools to help me understand Brandi’s sensitive heart. And because Brandi and I went through so much trauma we are able to really help each other and work together to fix a situation or work through a problem. We both see signs that Ness approves of this relationship. I know that Ness and Brandi would have been great friends had they ever had the chance to meet.

When I told my in-laws about Brandi they were very happy for me. We met up for dinner and I told them all about how we met at her coffee shop and showed them pictures of her and us. They were thrilled that I was happy again. Mind you, I had tried to push them away after I came back from Rome. They knew what I was doing and they weren’t having any of it. We still talk and text regularly. Every few months or so just to check in, catch up on who’s doing what, our various travels and just connect. This family has been my pillar. They are understanding since we all went through the same trauma and we were all there when the crap hit the fan. They broke the mold with this family and I am so glad they stuck around and didn’t let me push them away. Love you MKamps!!


Grief is a bitch.

There is no wrong way to go through it, only the way you feel.

I woke up every day waiting to be on the other side of it. The sad, sleepless nights, the unhungry moments that lead to poor diet and unhealthy weight loss sucked, but I had to go through it my way to understand what rock bottom, for me, felt like. It felt like shit and the only thing that got me through was coffee.

I met friends for coffee, even if I couldn’t drink it, I still ordered it because I loved the smell. I loved how my favorite coffee shops felt like a warm blanket in my sad lonely world. Coffee was my solace in Rome. And coffee is what brought Brandi into my life.

Coffee and I have had a very long and open-relationship; we’ve always been there for each other.

Grief and coffee are very much linked for me. My mom loved coffee, she introduced me to coffee (see https://coffeefitnessunicorn.com/2021/10/26/coffee-lover-not-coffee-snob/comment-page-1/#comment-241). At the hospital we would see a little coffee cart outside a patient’s room (we didn’t know that was actually something you didn’t want to see as that meant it was very bad for the patient and that was a way for the hospital to provide comfort). I had to switch to decaf when I was a very fresh widow as my emotions made me feel sick to my stomach daily for several months. Then I was able drink half-caff for a few months after that until I could handle full strength once again. Grief and coffee were battling with me. Grief felt like it was winning, but coffee never gave up.

Grief maybe a bitch, but coffee is a badass warrior who always fights for me.

Heartsleeves Coffee Comes to OC

I’m feeling kind of nostalgic right now. I did something I waited 30 years to do; it was at this time last year I resigned from my safe, corporate job and did something I dreamt of doing since I discovered the wonderful flavor that is a cappuccino.IMG_1811

On Sept 4, 2018, Heartsleeves Coffee opened in Orange County and brought independent, craft coffee to Aliso Viejo.

I waited 30 years to have a coffeeshop and this was my magic day.  IMG_1415

Let me back up…

Brandi Kirschbaum is the brains, operations and creative genius behind Heartsleeves Coffee and I got the share her dream after a fateful meeting in San Diego. 

It all started when I, the reluctant business traveler, went to San Diego for a professional, corporate trainer conference.

Our love story is not the focus of this tale, but it does explain how we opened a craft coffeeshop in Orange County.fullsizeoutput_1b5e

I’ll save the love story for another blog post.

Back to how Heartsleeves Coffee came to Aliso Viejo.

While in SD, I walked into Heartsleeves Coffee, met Brandi— instant chemistry— team saw the sparks ⚡️ and next thing you know she is closing the SD shop on a high note and moving up north to be with me. 

We got the opportunity of a lifetime and decided to take over a space in Aliso Viejo. 

We signed the paperwork and celebrated both my dream and hers of having a coffeeshop with someone they love. IMG_1418

We did a soft opening on September 4, 2018.

We shared our love of craft coffee.

Brandi was killing it with her amazing coffee cocktail like concoctions and I couldn’t have been more proud.

We were an awesome team and we learned that we can handle anything together. We had fun sharing craft coffee with Aliso, but we were both burning out with the hours we were keeping. It was time to walk away knowing we did something that hadn’t been done and we did it together. 

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We opened our doors on September 4, 2018 but sadly we closed them a few short months afterwards. We weren’t defeated; we were pleased with our achievement: Heartsleeves Coffee brought independent, craft coffee to Aliso Viejo.

 

Here’s to doing something great babe. I know because we did this that we can do anything. 

Thanks for taking me on a ride through coffeeshop life. IMG_4951

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop…

New Website and Blog Page!

Welcome to the new Coffee Fitness Unicorn website and blog page!

Thank you for following my journey.

This is a new chapter of my coffee musings, but with the same love of coffee, just new name so I can keep the social medias consistent.

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When I first started blogging and taking coffee pictures, I was afraid to put my content out there in the big internet universe

It took three years just to build the courage to pick a name, pick a website host, and then add my words and images to the page.

Fear held me back for quite some time…

But, now, after enough coffee, I believe I can do anything.

So now, I am closing the old website and blog to start new and see what coffee adventures I create with a little less fear.

Stick around for more coffee, fitness and unique antics.