My weekend was a lot like other weekends. There were social engagements. There were errands that were done as well as errands that didn’t get done. I got some cleaning done and there was even more cleaning that didn’t get done. I wanted to take a nap but that didn’t happen. On Saturday evening, I was rushing around getting my daughter ready for her sitter and getting myself ready for a birthday dinner. Embracing a night where I wouldn’t need to be carrying a diaper bag, I grabbed a small clutch purse that I hadn’t used in a long time. I opened it and inside there was a shiny green toy baby. I looked at it for a second and then I remember that it was from our trip to New Orleans in 2014. I was nine weeks pregnant and we were going on a cruise (this was before Zika was a thing) and we spent a few days in New Orleans before the cruise. We had had dinner at Emeril’s restaurant NOLA. I don’t remember what Bryon ate but I remember that I had the fried chicken because my stomach couldn’t handle much else. For dessert I had iced cream and Bryon had King cake and this little toy baby was in the King Cake. Being the sentimental packrat I am, I saved it and forgot about it. There even is some frosting still dried onto it.
Now it is three years later. Our nine week old fetus is now an active two and a half year old girl and Bryon is dead. I don’t think this toy baby is a sign from heaven but it was a nice memory I had forgotten about. I thanked Bryon for that memory. As I clean out my house, it is likely that I am going to find more memories but I know over time these surprise memory triggers are going to become less frequent.
Our circle of friends always call ourselves “the family that we created.” Some members of our social circle know each other from college, or from politics or other organizations in Bryon’s life. Many of us are not from the Albany area and we live far from our own families so we do depend on each other like a family. Bryon’s sickness has also brought us closer together. We were there to comfort each other. They got me through the funeral and those early weeks of raw grief. We continue to help each other and support each other. Bryon’s death continues to bring us closer each day. Our souls are on some sort of journey and Bryon was in each of our lives for a reason and there is a reason that we are together now. We may not know, or ever know, the exact reason but there is a reason. We are all exactly where we are supposed to be.
During my conversations with close friends this weekend, we came to the realization that while Bryon might be physically dead, he is not really dead. He still has us laughing hard when we tell stories of his antics and those stories bring us comfort. While we share situations when we need Bryon’s guidance, we share the guidance he gave us when he was here. He truly lives on in our memories. While we may all be special and one of a kind, Bryon was different. He completely shattered the mold.
Our friendships have changed since Bryon died. Most of us in our circle have grown closer. We take the time to check in with each other more. We celebrate the events in our lives more and if there is no event to celebrate, we make up a reason. Being alive is a good reason. Every brunch together, every birthday dinner, every game night, we are meant to be together. We are in each other’s life for a reason. I may never make sense of why Bryon’s life had to be so short but I know that we were meant to be together for the short time we had and that it is because of Bryon that I have these amazing friendships and a whole bunch of happy memories. I have no idea where my life is going to end up, but wherever I go, it will be a result of the time I spent with Bryon as well as the time spent with my friends now. I don’t know how but these two factors are going to play a pivotal role in the rest of my journey on Earth.
Some friends have grown apart from our core group since his death and that’s okay. It’s natural. We are all moving forward. Forward doesn’t necessarily mean together. Just like some of us are in each others lives for a reason, there is a reason that people grow apart too. We are each on our own path and must follow it. Coming to this realization makes it easier to let go of any relationships that may be toxic because there is no reason for that to be in my life or my daughter’s life. Toxicity brings no value.
One thing none of us doubt is that Bryon is still playing a role in everything down here and we could very well just be pawns. There may be relationships I don’t have yet because Bryon still has it in the works. He was never one to play his best card right away. He is too smart for that. He has plans for all those close to him and he’s going to orchestrate it carefully. We just need to be patient.
I thought of this over the weekend when I brought my daughter to the birthday party of one of Bryon’s law school rugby teammates. I don’t know his teammate and his wife very well but they are great people and have always been kind of my daughter and me. They expressed an interest in our daughters being friends as they are close in age. Only time will tell if they become good friends of ours or if our daughters become close friends. But it is a good reminder to myself to not to get too comfortable with “the family that we created” and that I need to be open to the other friendships too. Because Bryon’s work may not be done. There could be people that are meant to be in my life that aren’t yet and it may take awhile for our paths to cross. Or maybe the friendships I have now will change and I need to be open to whatever those changes might be.
I certainly don’t know the meaning to everything or anything for that matter. I will never understand why Bryon had to die young. But I do think he was given more personality because he was here for a short time. I also think that maybe his soul was in some way more developed and therefore, he didn’t need to spend 80 years on this earth. But I know that he is still here and he is still working his magic and it gives me hope that maybe there are good things yet to come for me, my daughter and for everyone in our family that we created.