During Bryon’s final hours, one of our closest friends and I sat in his room and we would take turns going over to him to talk to him. He wasn’t conscious at this point but no one really knows how much he heard or if he could even hear us at this point. But we continued to talk to him. I am not going to tell you about everything we talked about but I am going to tell you about one promise I made to him.
I was probably rambling at this point. But I started talking about our travel maps. I struggled on a good first anniversary paper gift but decided that we should buy a large map of the U.S. and a huge map of the world and put them on large bulletin boards and pin all the places we travel. True to my nature, I even found a way to make it more complicated by adding color coded pins to denote places that only I had traveled (blue) and places that only he had traveled (green). We used red pins for the places we traveled together and yellow pins to denote places that we both had been but not together.
In a perfect world, I would have made these maps for him and given them to him as a gift. But I knew that there was no way I could hide them. So I presented my idea to Bryon and he liked the it and true to his “take charge” nature, he located the items online, purchased them and put the maps with the adhesive onto the bulletin boards. He did let me help with the assembly. He even indulged my system of color coded pins. Though one day as a prank, he put one of my pins in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia even though I have never been to Africa and didn’t tell me. He waited until I figured it out. He thought it was the funniest thing ever so I left the pin in place.
Anyway, as I was talking (or rambling) to Bryon during his last night on Earth, I started talking about these maps. I remember saying that I couldn’t believe that there wouldn’t be any more adventures together. We loved to travel. We had so many plans and so many places we wanted to visit. We would never go to San Diego and visit all the Top Gun places. We would never go to Branson, Missouri (it was always his dream to go to the Nashville of the Ozarks. A dream I never understood). We would never go to Scotland, or Seattle, or London or Texas. Travelling with Bryon was amazing because he was a planner and he would make the best of wherever he was. We could be in some random place but give him 5-10 minutes on his phone and he would figure out the top tourist attractions, the most random tourist attraction, what famous (or not-so-famous) person lived there, if there was a Waffle House or a Chick-Fil-A nearby and what the best local places to eat and grab a drink and he would come up with a plan to see it all. Literally, all I had to do was show up and enjoy the amazing vacation.
Our adventures were going to be over. We wouldn’t put any more red pins into our map. But I told him that I promised that I would still take our daughter on adventures even though it would be hard to do it without him. Bryon would want her to see the world. We brought her everywhere with us. By the time she was 16 months, she had already been on two Caribbean cruises. Bryon wouldn’t want us to stop travelling. I even bought special pink pins to denote our girl trips.
So today my daughter and I embark on our first adventure without Bryon. It is going to be hard without him. It will be the first time I will fly alone with my daughter. We will be going to a place that Bryon had never been but always wanted to go. We will be spending time with my best friend and her two year old daughter.
So get ready Las Vegas. The McKim girls are coming.