The first dance recital

Last Saturday was a big day in the McKim house.

It was the day of my daughter’s first dance recital.

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This was her first year of dance.  She was in a ballet and tap combination class for 3 and 4-year-olds.

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I know as a rookie dance mom, I found the whole experience a little overwhelming but my daughter handled it like a pro.  On top of skipping her nap.

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She played the role of “Little Miss Sassy” so well.

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This age is still a little unpredictable.   Age 3 is young to be on stage.  I was worried that she would get scared but she made it on stage.

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And she rocked her dance.

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I asked her what she thought about being on stage and she told me that she liked it.  The stage was a big stage at The Egg Performing Arts Center in downtown Albany.  I asked her if she saw lights or people and she said she saw both.

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This day was very emotional for me because it was her first recital and Bryon wasn’t here to see it.  When she was a baby, Bryon and I talked about how we were going to put her in dance class and that she would be in a recital. It is bittersweet to see her grow and reach milestones and not have Bryon there.  We may be coming up on two years since he died but his absence is still profound.  But she is going to have a lifetime of firsts and milestones and I am just going to have to get used to the emptiness that accompanies those events.

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It didn’t help that it was also Father’s Day weekend. I was in a bad mood (with my daughter’s father being dead and all) but my parents made it for the recital.  My daughter loves her grandparents so much and we were lucky they got to see her.

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My best friends birthday

Today is my best friends birthday. I won’t share how many years she has but it is more than me.

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With the exception for three months where I lived in Indiana, we have always lived a plane ride away.  So we don’t get to see each other nearly as often as we like.

But as a birthday challenge of sorts, I wanted to see if I could reconstruct all the times we have seen each other.

2006

We first met in April of 2006 at the Young Republican Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.  More specifically, she was sitting in front of me on the shuttle to the hotel from the Romanian Embassy.

 

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Washington, D.C., 2006

 

We saw each other again at the Young Republican National Federation (YRNF) Cleveland Board Meeting but we weren’t really friends yet.

It would be at the YRNF Fall 2006 Board Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.  This was when we would become friends.  I had just lost my race for State Rep back in Maine.  This was also the board meeting where I met Bryon.

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Louisville, Kentucky, 2006

 

2007

March- We had a YRNF Board Meeting in New Orleans.

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New Orleans, 2007

Then there was the Young Republican National Convention in Hollywood, Florida in July.

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Hollywood, FL, 2007

That fall I lived in Indiana.  I know there was an evening I was staying the night near Chicago and my work partner and I took the train in to have dinner with her and another good Chicago friend. Sadly, I don’t have a pic.  It was 2007.  I still used a flip phone.  Don’t judge.

She also took a flight to Louisville to work on a campaign.  We knocked on doors somewhere in Kentucky.  I don’t have any pics of that weekend either.

A friend and I drove up to Chicago one weekend and we went to Navy Pier.

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Chicago, 2007

Sometime in the Fall of 2007 was also the YRNF Board Meeting in Houston, Texas.

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Houston, 2007

By the holidays, I was back in Maine.  Her family didn’t celebrate Christmas so she came to Maine to celebrate with my family.   She flew into Manchester, NH and my Michigan Best friend (who still lived in Maine at the time)  came with me to pick her up.  During a blizzard.

We celebrated the holidays in Maine.

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Maine, 2007

It’s not a Sullivan holiday without a trip to the range.

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Maine, 2007

We then took a trip to Boston.  There were Irish pubs…

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Boston, 2007

…and Scorpion Bowls…

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…and some wicked bad karaoke.

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Boston, 2007

We also walked the Freedom Trail in the freezing rain.

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Boston, 2007

And we went to Cheers and these guys were our dates for five minutes.

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Boston, 2007

2008

I was still living in Maine and I was traveling out to Albany for the New York State Young Republican Leadership Conference and she decided to fly in.  (This weekend was also when Bryon and my love story began)

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Albany, 2008

 

I had missed the Young Republican Leadership Conference that year because it was the same year as the Maine Republican Convention.  I guess when scheduling it, Maine didn’t matter or something.  But we had a Maine Young Republican Conference in Portland and she flew in for that.

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Maine, 2008

She flew in that Fall to help with some campaigning.  There was a hurricane in the Gulf of Maine that weekend.  Luckily, it was far enough out in the ocean that we really just had rain.  But we ending up painting signs in a barn.

Oh and there was some more bad karaoke.

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Maine, 2008

 

And then there was the YRNF Fall Board Meeting in Nashville.

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Nashville, 2008

2009

First there was the Spring YRNF Board Meeting in Orlando.

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Orlando, 2009

Then there was the Young Republican National Convention in Indianapolis.  And I have no pics from us.  I feel like she may have worked and drove in late.  Or maybe I was a jerk friend who spent too much time hanging out with my boyfriend.  I was also running for Northeast Regional Vice Chair and I know I was consumed with that.

Since I have given you a lot of pics of bad karaoke, here’s one of Bryon singing good karaoke.

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Indianapolis, 2009

The Fall 2008 YRNF Board Meeting was in Kansas City, MO.  I had tonsillitis, went against doctors orders and I barely left my room.  I emerged for meetings because I was the Northeast Regional Vice-Chair and had to be there.  So no pics.  But we were both there.

2010

We both happened to be in Indianapolis for two separate events.   I was in town to watch Bryon’s alma mater’s basketball team play Butler in the Bracket Busters.  You were in town with your boyfriend for a race.  We met up for dinner at St. Elmo’s Steakehouse.  This was the winter of illness so I was out of it because I had bronchitis.

That spring she came out to visit me in Albany but I had picked up a really bad case of Gatroenteritis while working in the ER.  But she still came anyway, but I was not any fun.

2011

We did not see each other this year.  This is a sad year.

2012

And the beginning of 2012, she came out to Albany for my engagement party

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Albany, 2012

Then there was my wedding

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Albany 2012 Photo: Heidi Benjamin Photography

And her wedding in Mexico

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Mayan Ruins, 2012
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Bachelorette Party, Mexico, 2012

 

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Mexico, 2012

2013

We didn’t see each other in 2013.  We were too busy being newlyweds.

2014

I flew out to Chicago in February for your baby shower.  We went to the Sears Tower and we were both pregnant and stopped to rest on every bench we saw and used the bathroom every time we saw one.  A far cry from our old days.  No pictures because we both feeling tired and pregnant.

2015

Your family came to visit mine in Albany.  It gives me goosebumps to think that this would be the last time you would see Bryon.

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Dinosaur BBQ, Troy, NY, 2015
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Albany 2015
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Albany, 2015
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Albany, NY

2016

Bryon had been in the ICU for 4 months and been transferred to NYC.  You made plans to come to NYC on Bryon and my birthday weekend and you arranged with my father to meet halfway between Albany and NYC so you could bring my daughter to see him.

But that weekend never happened.

Well it did.  Just not the way you planned.  But it ended up being a funeral weekend in Albany.  I was grateful to have you there for me.

2017

Life goes on.  And you made sure to make time for me this year.

First was Vegas in Feb.

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Las Vegas, 2017

Ann Arbor in March.

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Ann Arbor, 2017

And my daughter and I came to visit you in Chicago in July.

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Chicago, 2017
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Chicago, 2017

We were supposed to go to Disney in September, but Hurricane Irma had other plans.

2018

I realized that I needed to use my Southwest credit from our canceled Florida trip.  So I came out to see you in March.  We took the girls to Wisconsin Dells and the Museum of Science and Industry.

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Chicago and Wisconsin, 2018
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Chicago, 2018

And this is where our story currently is.  It is so cool to see our girls growing in these pics and that they will grow up together.  Who would have thought that a friendship forged during drunken YRNF weekends would turn into a friendship that spans two generations?

And we get to continue our story this coming weekend. I am so excited!

New York, New York

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a New England girl and Boston is my city.

 



But I do feel some shame when I think about how little I time I have spent in New York City even though I have lived in Upstate New York for almost nine years.

The first time I went to NYC was when I was a senior in high school in 1996.  My cross country team traveled from rural Maine and we ran a 5k in Van Cortland Park in the Bronx. We also saw Les Miserables on Broadway, went to the Natural History Museum, shopped at Macy’s and saw Trump Tower, the Plaza Hotel and FAO Schwartz.  We also ate a Bennigan’s in New Jersey. I loved all of it. I was amazed that NYC was so big and that it made Boston look like a small town.

My second time in New York City was December 2008.  I had been dating Bryon for a couple of months and we met in the city to attend the New York City Young Republican Club Holiday Dinner.  Bryon took me to see all the store windows decorated for Christmas. He also took me to see the tree in Rockefeller Center and that was the first place he told me that he loved me.

 

I returned a few more times that year.  I was still living in Maine and I was running for Northeast Region Vice Chairman of the Young Republican National Federation.  I would stay with friends and campaign around the Mid-Atlantic. Bryon would join me. The trips were fuzzy but I remember going to a bar called Stitch in the Garment District that had $20 drinks (Bryon didn’t let his status as a poor 1L in law school stop him from getting me drinks) and I remember walking by the Brooklyn Bridge with Bryon.

But I have only been to NYC four times since I moved to New York State 9 years ago.

The first was right after I moved here. Bryon and I drove to Queens to attend a cookout at a friends house.

The third time was in November, 2013.  I was pregnant with a baby I would miscarry later that same week.  Bryon and I took a one night cruise on the Norwegian Gem out of NYC and the following day we explored the city.  Only being pregnant, I was not good company. I was tired, had sciatic pain and could only tolerate eating saltine crackers.  I remember we had lunch at McGee’s Pub, which is the bar that inspired McLaren’s on How I Met Your Mother.  Then we saw Pippen at The Music Box Theater. I had wanted to see the Rockettes but Bryon really wanted to see Pippen.  He told me we would see the Rockettes the next time.

The next (and fourth) time Bryon and I would go to NYC would be when I had him transferred to Columbia Presbyterian and I temporarily moved down there.  A family who was friends with my daughter’s godmother took me in. I will always be grateful that they welcomed me, a stranger into their home and did everything they could to make me feel welcome even though we had no way of knowing how long Bryon’s recovery was going to take.

Aside from the one night where my daughters godmother took me to Times Square and to a Mexican Restaurant in Harlem on the same block as the Seinfeld Restaurant, I did not see much of the city. The family I stayed with lived in Hamilton Heights.  Every morning I would walk a block to the subway station, stopping to get an Iced Coffee at Dunkin Donuts. The hospital was one stop on the express (three on the local) away in Washington Heights and I spent my days in Bryon’s room in the MICU located in the Millstein Building.  The security guards knew my name. When I was hungry, I either got food in the cafeteria or I went to the Chipotle or Starbucks on the same block.

Since then, I have driven by NYC on a few trips where I have flown in and out of Newark, NJ.  We also drove by the city on our way to and from Philadelphia last month. I remember saying to my friends that I had not been to NYC since Bryon died.  I know there is so much that city has to offer. We had so many ideas of things we wanted to do with our daughter when she got older. I am thinking about possibly doing a weekend trip next fall.  I want to take her to see the Rockettes. We will see if I am ready.

I think it is safe to say that if I visit NYC again, I will be avoiding Washington Heights.

So now that I have gotten all that out of the way, I will get to the point of this post.

I am choosing to remember Bryon and our second trip to NYC.  

It was May 2011. Seven years ago.  I was pissed at Bryon because we never went to the city.  So he did what any good boyfriend would do.  He took me down to NYC.  And typical to his zest for life, he packed a lot into that one day.

So he took me to the city.

We drove downstate and took the Metro North train into the city.  We arrive in Grand Central Station.

We went to the Top of the Rock.

We then went to Chinatown where I may have bought an “imitation” Coach purse.  Bryon was dissapointed that I wouldn’t go into the places with a back room. It scared me.  Bryon normally couldn’t care less about purses, but when it was time to haggle, he jumped right in and haggled with the lady.  Even though I was paying, he wasn’t satisfied with the price given.

Bryon then took me to McSorley’s.  McSorley’s was an experience.   It is the oldest running Irish Tavern in NYC.  You have two choices of beer, light and dark and you order them in increments of two.  We ate the cheese platter which consisted of cheese, saltines and raw onions.  The place is full of history but the best is the legend of the wishbones.  the legend is that when the soldiers went to war during WWI, they put a wishbone up above the bar and took them down when they returned.  So the wishbones that remain memorialize the soldiers that did not come home.

After McSorley’s, Bryon took me to a dish shop called Fishs Eddy.  I don’t remember it being the best place to be when you were tipsy.

Then we went to Little Italy.  We had dinner at a pizza place and then went somewhere else for cannoli.  I have no idea the names of the places we went.

We finished the night at a hidden bar above a Five Guys.

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A city with so many memories.  A city that I will always associate with Bryon’s death.  A city that Bryon planned on taking our daughter at Christmastime.

I need to decide if I want to take my daughter down this fall.  It would be a shame to not take advantage of all the city has to offer.  Nothing in life is definite and if I were to leave the area, I would probably kick myself for not going down there.  So now I need to decide, Rockettes or the Natural History Museum or both….

Have you ever been to New York City?  What is your favorite thing to do?

Field trip to the farm

A few weeks ago, my daughters preschool class went on a field trip to a local farm for “Baby Animal Days.”  The kids got a chance to pet the baby animals.  It was a very cold and rainy afternoon but the weather did not ruin the fun.

Here are some pictures from the memorable afternoon.  Do you live on a farm?  If not, have you ever visited one?

Why this widow donated her wedding dress.

The dress came into my life on October 28, 2011.  Bryon and I had been engaged since Sept 6, 2011, and had set our wedding date for Sept 29, 2012.  We had our venue and wedding planning was in full swing. I needed a dress.

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Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

I can’t say that I was looking forward to picking out a wedding dress.  5 out of 6 of my bridesmaids lived out of state so I was pretty much alone in the process.  I wasn’t going to be sitting with a group telling Randy that I was saying yes to the dress. (Yes, that is a TLC reference)

I have also struggled with my weight throughout my life so that also left me apprehensive about the whole wedding dress shopping process.

I had looked through some wedding magazines and I had an idea what I wanted.  I wanted a princess gown with sparkle but I didn’t want anything too crazy.

At that point in my life, I was working in a clerical position at a local emergency room and my schedule ran from Sunday to Thursday.  Bryon and I decided that we would go to Boston because Filene’s was going one of their “Running of the Brides” events on Friday, October 28, 2011.  It ended up being the last time Filene’s did the “Running of the Brides.”

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Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

These events were known to open at 4 am and be full of brides and their teams running around grabbing whatever they could find.  Bryon and I decided that we would aim for a ten a.m. shopping time after things settled down and we left Albany for Boston around 6 am.

Bryon was not going to go shopping with me. We were old-fashioned about many things and seeing my wedding dress was one of them.  Luckily, one of my bridesmaids who lived in Maine made the trip down to Boston to help me shop. Bryon decided that he was going to take a tour of Fenway Park while we were dress shopping.

I told my friend my vision and my size range.  I looked at a few racks and found exactly what I was looking for but it was a size too small. Yes, I planned to exercise and lose weight and all that but I didn’t feel comfortable relying on my plans.  I knew it was safer to err on a larger sized dress and have it altered own.

Luckily this dress was a mass-produced Alfred Angelo dress and I quickly located the same dress in my size.  I quickly located my friend who has a few dresses she found for me to try on. Then I stripped down in a busy store and put on the dress.  Normally that might seem bizarre, but that morning, everyone was doing it.

 

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Buying my dress at Filene’s “Running of the Brides in Boston, 2011.  (Cellphone picture)


I knew the moment I put on that dress that this was it. This was my dress. It was love at first sight.   It was a princess gown but not too poofy and just the right amount of sparkle.

There was what looked like a few black grease stains on the bottom but I figured they would come out with dry cleaning. (Spoiler alert- they did!)

I didn’t even try on the dresses my friend picked out. We both knew there was no point.

I called Bryon to tell him the news. He couldn’t believe that I picked out a dress so quickly as his tour of Fenway Park hadn’t started yet.  I told him how much the dress cost ($500) so he could input the data into his Google spreadsheet. He loved Google spreadsheets.

While Bryon took his Fenway tour, my friend and I took the subway out to where Bryon and I had parked our car and I locked my dress in the car.  We went back into the city and we met Bryon for lunch at Boston Beer Works right outside of Fenway Park.

Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

I don’t remember much more from that afternoon. I had my dress and I was happy. Bryon was happy that I was happy. We walked around the city. We went to Cheers (it will always be the Bull ‘n Finch to me) and Bryon got annoyed by some tourists that were blocking the door.  We had dinner at an Italian Restaurant in the North End that Bryon had seen featured in Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. Bryon had a bit of a man-crush on Gordon Ramsay and gushed after a trip to the men’s room saying he went in the same urinal that Gordon Ramsay must have used.

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Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography



Our wedding came and went.  It was my day. It was everything I dreamed it would be and I felt like a real princess.

Now it is five and a half years later.  My husband is dead and I have no use for this dress.

I am never going to wear the dress again.  I mean, even if I get married again, I am not going to wear it again. For one, it’s the dress I wore to marry my first husband who is now dead. Secondly, even if it wouldn’t be weird to wear the dress again, my tastes have changed. It was the perfect dress for me in 2011-2012 but now it wouldn’t suit my style in 2018.

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I can remember telling Bryon I wasn’t walking down the steps in the heels I was wearing. He obliged. Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography



The dress has sat in the back of the closet in my spare bedroom.  I never had it cleaned after the wedding and the bottom of the dress is dirty from being dragged on the floor all night.

When Bryon was alive, he encouraged me to get the dress cleaned and then sell the dress but I just couldn’t bring myself to part with the dress I wore on one of the happiest days of my life.

Now, this dress, which is a symbol of my happiness is also a symbol of my sadness.

EQ4C1830-334And I began to wonder what I should do with this dress.

The first thing people usually suggest to me is that I should save the dress for my daughter.

While I think it is touching when someone wears their mothers’ wedding dress, I felt like I would be burdening my daughter.  I didn’t want her to feel like she had to wear my dress.

Styles change.  Yes, she could change the style but the dress was strapless, to begin with. Also, the dress was made out of polyester, not some fancy fabric. Lastly, I hope my daughter doesn’t struggle with her weight like I do and the dress size may not be easy to work with.

I feel that my daughter deserves her own “say yes to the dress moment”.  A moment that, God willing, I will be there to witness.

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Flower Girl Dress Shopping, 2018  (Cell phone photo)


The second reason I don’t want my daughter to wear my wedding dress is a bit selfish.

I have attended two weddings since Bryon passed and my daughter and I will be in a party wedding very soon.

And at each moment I am always taken aback at the father-daughter moments. Because Bryon won’t be there to walk her down the aisle. He won’t dance with her.  (Which he once mentioned he wanted to dance to Sitting at the Dock of the Bay because it was in his favorite movie, Top Gun. I told him it would be our daughter’s decision, not his.) He won’t be beaming with pride. He won’t be making jokes, pretending to be annoyed at how much the wedding cost.

Now I don’t know who is going to walk my daughter down the aisle.

Maybe she will have a stepfather. I am optimistic that I will fall in love again. And he will be a wonderful man because I wouldn’t settle for anything less.

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Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

Or maybe my daughter will have her grandfather walk her down the aisle. Or maybe her Godfather will walk her down the aisle. Or maybe one of the many uncles she has, the men who were Bryon’s closest friends.  She has lots of great men in her life to choose from.

But the only thing that is certain is that Bryon won’t be walking her down the aisle and that moment is going to take me aback.  Even if that moment is brief, that moment will be there. I will feel my breath being taken away. I will feel like I am being punched in the stomach.  It will sting. There is a good chance I will tear up. Because even though so many people love my daughter, the man who gave her life and loved her so much won’t be there to walk her down the aisle.

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Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography


And if she were in my wedding dress, it would be too hard for me.

So this brings me to this wedding dress from one of the happiest days in my life that was a symbol of all my sadness.

I am in the process of clearing Bryon’s belongings out of the house. Letting go of each item is a process, no matter how small.  First I have to decide if an item holds a practical use for me  If not, does someone I know have a practical use for the item?  Is the item broken? Those questions are usually easy to answer.  It’s the sentimental items that are tough.

Sometimes I break down and cry. Sometimes I get angry because he is dead and all I have is…stuff.  Sometimes I feel empty. Sometimes I feel nothing at all.

My wedding dress was definitely a sentimental item.

EQ4C2025-437I felt like my wedding dress wasn’t done yet.  My dress had done what it was meant to do.  It had served its purpose.   It made me feel beautiful on one of the happiest days of my life.  I felt like my dress wasn’t mean to just sit in my closet and remain a symbol of my sadness.

One day I felt like it was time to let go of my dress.

I remembered hearing about charities that take donated wedding gowns and making gowns for babies who have passed away.

Just like I knew right away that my wedding dress was the one, I knew immediately that this was what I was meant to do with my wedding dress.

The families of those babies are in a deep and profound grief and while I don’t know the pain of losing a child, I do know deep and profound grief. I felt like I needed to whatever I could to help.

EQ4C2130-494I couldn’t think of a more dignified second life for a dress that made me so happy. That dress didn’t deserve to sit in a closet, avoided.  That dress would go on for a deeper purpose.

It brings me a sense of healing to donate that dress will, in some form, bring comfort to a grieving family.  My wedding dress made me look beautiful at my wedding and lives on in my memories and these angel gowns may be the last (and maybe the only) chance for these grieving parents have to see their child dressed in something beautiful.

I went to google and saw that most of the charities that made angel gowns weren’t taking wedding dress donations.  I looked through my google results and saw that there were many other worthy organizations that accept weddings dresses for various uses.  But I felt drawn to this particular purpose.

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Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

After searching, I found the Facebook page of a charity made angel gowns and it was local.  I sent the charity a message over Facebook messenger to inquire if they were currently accepting and they responded within the hour.  They were accepting wedding dresses and I could drop it off at a Ford dealership on the other side of town.

I also learned that they were looking for shipping sponsors to purchase VISA gift cards as these gowns sometimes have to be overnighted free of charge to the recipients.  Gift cards to Wal-Mart and Jo-Ann’s were also appreciated as these seamstresses were volunteers and can always use donations for materials to decorate these gowns. I did decide to be a shipping sponsor and a donated a VISA gift card along with my dress.

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Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

It was also requested that the crinoline be removed.  Crinoline is that netting-like material that makes up petticoat.  My dress had a lot of it.

I took the dress out of the closet.  Then I took it out of the garment bag.  I looked at the dress one last time. I contemplated trying it on the dress on but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that.  As requested by the charity, I removed the crinoline. Then I removed the sparkly band that sat just under the bust of the dress.  I decided that I would set it aside for my daughter. She can incorporate it into her wedding, should she choose to do so.

Then I cried.  I bawled.

I hadn’t bawled like that in many months.  Sure my eyes tear up a little but I couldn’t remember the last time I bawled like this.

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First date. Engagement. Wedding Day. All at this bar. Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography

I put the dress back in the garment back and brought the dress downstairs where it hung on a hook on the exterior door of my kitchen.

The dress sat there for 4 days because I did not have the time to bring the dress where my daughter would not have been present.  I was afraid that I was going to be an emotional mess and I did not want her to see that.  Though part of me dragged my feet because this would be final.

One morning after I dropped my daughter off at daycare,  I decided it was time. I put the dress into my car and drove to Latham Ford.

Dropping off the dress was an easy process.  The salesman held the door open for me and told me to go over the receptionist.  The receptionist took the dress and thanked me.

And then I left.

At that moment I felt nothing and everything all at once.

My dress was gone.

I couldn’t ask for it back.

I didn’t cry.

I know I made the right choice for me.

* * *
All wedding day photos are courtesy of my wedding photographer, Heidi Benjamin.  Thank you for being so gracious.

http://www.heidibenjamin.com/

Good Vibrations Gratitude #18

It’s Friday.  You know what that means-

Time for some Good Vibrations Gratitude.

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Here are the 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1. The fact that this will be a quick blog post without a lot of words because I am getting ready for a Bachelorette weekend!  Fun! Fun!

    #sorrynotsorry

  2. My parents.

    Because this weekend is made possible because they came to watch my daughter for the weekend.

    Kimmy Gibbler told me that her son was sad she was going away for the weekend and I said that I think my daughter is thrilled because her grandparents are here.  Bye Mommy!

    Plus, I got to witness this moment.  Pappy couldn’t resist buying his granddaughter a big kid bike.

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  3. Cupcakes and Champagne

    I was feeling kind of down earlier this week but time with my friends always cheers me up.  #tribestrong

    And I want to be clear that the champagne was only for the adults.  The kids got milk and/or water.

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  4. Caffeine

    Because I am exhausted and have been drinking a lot of it this week.

  5. Surviving and thriving

    Life isn’t always easy but I have everything I need.  I am a survivor.  I have clarity.  I am living.  And for that, I am thankful.

    What are you thankful for this week?

    gratitude-makes-sense-of-our-past-brings-peace-for-today-7514836

My first kiss

I have noticed lately that Facebook has been asking me a lot of questions.  They say they wanted to help people get to know me.  I find that humorous because I totally overshare on Facebook.

Most of the questions are benign.

Like,

In case anyone was wondering-

1) Too many to quote but anything from Love Actually, 10 Things I Hate About You and Mean Girls will do the job.
2) Hoodies and mugs from places I travel, especially Starbucks You Are Here mugs
3)  No

And then Facebook thinks I should tell people about my first kiss.

Excuse me, Facebook?  That’s kind of personal, eh?

My first kiss was not exciting but this question felt like it crosses so many boundaries.

After I was done being put off by the nosiness of Facebook, I decided to share my first kiss on my WordPress blog.  Because WordPress didn’t press me for the information.  (See what I did there?  The pun was intended).

But yeah, my first kiss.

I was a late bloomer.  I was a shy teenager, at least when it came to boys.  I had very little confidence.  I did not have a boyfriend in high school or most of college.  Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and give my younger self a pep talk to increase her confidence.  But she will eventually get some confidence, though it will take years.

Anyway, it was a Saturday night during my sophomore year in college, meaning it was 1998 or 1999.  I was wearing overalls that I bought at Wal-Mart and my hair was in a ponytail as I let a friend do a box perm (also bought at Wal-Mart) on my hair in the dorm bathroom and all it did was create a frizzy mess.  So my hair was in a ponytail that whole year.

I wish I had a picture.

You may be reading this and cringing.  Or laughing.  Trust me, I am cringing and laughing as I write this.  I wish I could back in time and along with the pep talk, I wish I could give my younger self a lesson in style.  Because 20 year old Kerry has her assets at their best, she just didn’t know how to accentuate that.  And that there are more options of places to shop at than Wal-Mart.

Where was I?

Right.

Saturday night, sophomore year, 1998-1999ish, overalls and bad perm.  I was chatting with a guy named Dave in my friends dorm room.  I don’t remember his last name (or maybe I never knew it) but it began with an “S”.   He was a friend of a friend and he didn’t attend college.

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We were alone.   Maybe it was 1999 and everyone else was just partying like it was 1999.  It was one of the few nights that someone did not pull the fire alarm which usually happened at least four times a week in my dorm.  I spent many Maine winter nights outside freezing while waiting for the fire department to let us back in.  Eventually we learned to just go to Dunkin Donuts when this happened.

The caffeine never bothered me anyway.

Frozen

This Dave guy and I were talking.

I remembered we had identical cars.  We both drove green 1998 Saturns.

(I miss Mean Green.  Drove that car for 10 years and 240,000 miles.  Even took it out to Indiana at around 219,000 miles when it was leaking some sort of fluid.  Probably not the best idea but the car got me back to Maine before she was retired.)

Where was I?  I keep getting distracted.

Right.

Saturday night, sophomore year, 1998-1999ish, overalls and bad perm, etc.

So this Dave guy that drives an identical Saturn as me and doesn’t go to my school kissed me.

It was not exciting.  Actually it was very anti-climatic.

I saw where this was going.  I did not wait a long time to just be some hookup on campus.

A voice inside me told me that I at least deserved dinner.  Heck, I probably would have settled for one of those stir-fry sandwiches made by Scary Gary from the Crack Shack.  (Okay, it was called the Snack Shack and there was a guy named Gary and everyone, and I mean everyone, called him Scary Gary.  I may have called him that to his face when I was drunk one night.  I am sure I wasn’t the first.  Or the last.)

I wish I had a picture.  I wish smartphones and Facebook existed back then.

But maybe 20 year old Kerry was more of a bad-ass than I give her credit for.  She was not desperate for male attention.  After all these years of thinking she had low self esteem, maybe she knew her worth all along.

I told this Dave guy that we needed to get to know each other better.  Dave verbalized his understanding.

He had nowhere to sleep that night.  I made him sleep on the floor on the flip and f*ck.  (Which is now in my old bedroom at my parents house).

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Flip and F*ck- mine was green. A staple in any 1990’s college dorm room.

He snored.  Loudly.

Dave and I never went on a date.  I continued to wear those overalls and I never got another perm.  I didn’t kiss another guy until my senior year in college.  And that guy did think I deserved dinner.  And I liked Pizza Hut Pan Pizza.  And then we saw 101 Dalmations.

Okay, I still do like Pizza Hut Pan Pizza…occasionally.  But  now I would not be impressed if I was taken there on a first date.

Eventually that relationship ran it’s course.  It was evident that this guy did not ever want to get married.

Looking back, I can see a lot of red flags and problems but my younger self had to learn for herself.

A little over two and a half years into that relationship, 24 year old Kerry listened to a voice that told her that she deserved to be happy.

So she broke it off.

Oh and if you are wondering, their first kiss was not exciting either.  No fireworks in that relationship.

I began to get involved in politics and met many new friends.  One friend was like an older brother to me.  One time we were driving to a political event and this friend was trying to give me dating pointers.  One thing he said to me was that if a guy took me to a chain restaurant on the first date, then there shouldn’t be a second date.

At first my friend’s advice seemed harsh but then it made sense to 27ish-year old Kerry.   I mean, her college boyfriend took her to Pizza Hut and there was zero passion in this relationship.

It took several years and several frogs but I did eventually meet a special man.  A man who thought I was worth steak dinner.  And fancy Italian dinner.  And quality dinner of many different cuisines.

The relationship with that man had so much passion.  No anti-climatic kisses.

For eight years, that man loved me.  We were married for four of those years.

For eight years, that man worked so hard to give me, and later our daughter, the world.

It took awhile to find him and I had to kiss some frogs but I am thankful for the love he showed me.  For thinking I was worth it.  For setting the bar high on any man that might come after him.

I don’t know what the future holds but at least, thanks to Bryon, I can go into it knowing what love is and not to settle for anything less than what I deserve.