As a history buff, I have always had a fascination with cemeteries. Each stone memorializes a person or persons who had lived.
The words I type can not express my emphasis on the word “lived”. I mean that in every essence of the word. These people, who lived in another dimension in time, had emotions like us and may or may not have lived their life to the fullest.
I have always loved cemeteries.
Apparently so does my daughter. I mean, her father does live in one now.
She jumps up and down with excitement when it’s time to go visit a cemetery. I am not alarmed, she is a smart child and she has had to face things that many adults have never had to face.
But in her young life, she has also helped her grandfather place flags on Veterans graves every memorial day.
This was my daughter last year placing flags on graves with her grandfather.
And last year we got to attend the parade.
This year was different because of a certain virus.
My daughter did place flags with her grandfather. If I heard my father correctly, they visited 9 cemeteries.
There were some family cemeteries. This is Higgins Cemetery where we placed a flag on a grave of a Civil War Veteran.
We visited an old forgotten family cemetery in the woods. The owner of the land was going to clear the land and found the graves. The owner did some research and found that one of the graves belonged to a Civil War Veteran. The owner contacted the VFW and the grave was rededicated.
And we visited a grave of a Civil War Veteran that was in the woods behind a subdivision.
Today there was no parade but my father and his fellow comrades still held a few small memorials (while recording LIVE by drone on Facebook).
Because they will never forget.
My daughter did get to say the Pledge of Allegiance at two of the Memorials. She was so excited to participate. She can tell you why we are gathering which I think is impressive for a 5 year old. Though she had trouble staying focused during the reading of General John A. Logan’s Memorial Day Order. Hopefully that will come with age.
How was your Memorial Day? Were you able to participate?
Last week we attended the Christmas Tree lighting in the next town over. We had missed our towns tree lighting due to it being on the same night as gymnastics and swim.
There were crafts and treats and even a visit with Santa.
We saw the Grinch as performed by the Frogtown Puppeteers at our local (and historic) theater.
My daughter was in our local holiday parade with her Girl Scout Troop.
We went to the Downeast Festival of Trees. I had never been before. I learned that the trees all have prizes and you put raffle tickets in the buckets of the trees you wanted. My daughter took my tickets and put them into the buckets of all the trees with toys.
She also saw Santa again and told him she wanted a Barbie. Because the 30ish she has now isn’t enough.
On Sunday my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop took part in the Wreaths Across America Ceremony. My father, Local and District VFW Commander was a part of the ceremony.
This week we also had my daughter’s first school Holiday concert. I am bummed out the Prime Minister didn’t attend but I guess he’s busy with the elections in UK that are wrapping up as I am typing this. I am also disappointed that I didn’t get to dress her up as a Christmas Lobster.
(Bonus points if you got the Love Actually Reference)
The excitement isn’t ending any time soon.
But this week it dawned on me.
I spend so much time thinking about Bryon isn’t here to see our daughter grow up.
I don’t think about what a blessing it is that I get to our daughter grow up.
It doesn’t mean that it isn’t sad that Bryon isn’t here.
We will never forget him. Never.
I will always think about the fact that he is missing whatever milestone we are celebrating or what fun event we are doing.
But maybe it’s okay to stop dwelling on it so much.
My daughter and I have many years ahead of us. Years filled with busy, hectic weekends.
My daughter’s joy has always been my biggest priority.
My second priority has been thinking about Bryon, being sad and dwelling on his death and absence.
And my happiness comes last.
But maybe it’s time to swap the second and third. It’s a hard thing to admit but being sad all the time is exhausting.
And I can’t believe that Bryon would want that.
My daughter and I are still living on this Earth and it is time to embrace life for what it is and enjoy it.
As I wrote my post, I thought about how it was my 44th Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday post.
I thought to myself, “I guess this is the President Obama of Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday posts.”
I was amused.
I share my amusement with Kimmy Gibbler.
She was amused.
Though she is also amused that I tend to mark the passage of time by Presidential Administrations. For example, I might realize I hadn’t done something since college and say “I haven’t done that since the Clinton Administration.”
I guess this week (#45) is the President Trump of Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday posts.
I guess people are going to really love this blog post or really hate this blog post.
I am only kidding. Though I am just going to leave that topic now and move onto number two.
We took a week off from dance after our last class. I was nervous about returning but I also realize that I need to give my daughter a chance to redeem herself. She needs those chances to learn and grow. If public tantrums becomes a pattern, then I will reconsider our participation in activities. Since there is no alarming pattern, I am going to treat it like an isolated incident.
My daughter paid attention and was polite to her teacher and classmates.
I am also grateful for her dance teacher for being understanding. We chatted before class and she was encouraging about the situation.
Disney on Ice.
My friend blogs for Macaroni Kid Albany and she invited us along to Disney on Ice tonight. I am grateful she invited us. My daughter had a great time. I did too, of course. And it was good to catch up since we both busy moms and that is hard to do.
The maintenance guy at Times Union Center.
On my way to Disney on Ice, I needed to meet my friend at the Box Office. I was trying to remember how to get there and I said that to my daughter. The maintenance worker heard me and stopped what he was doing and politely gave me directions. He could have kept on walking. I appreciate him taking the time to direct me and for being nice and helpful.
I was originally going to say Hummus. Don’t ask me why, but I am on a hummus kick this week. I always thought it was overrated but I am liking it lately.
My daughter and I left Disney on Ice, walked to a nearby parking garage, paid for our parking and left. I missed my entrance onto 787 and had to loop back around. As I looped back around near the Times Union Center and saw tons of blue and red lights. This had happened.
I am grateful that we didn’t linger and that we missed the excitement. I am grateful we missed it.
I have never been a big fan of Halloween, especially as an adult.
But now that I am mother, I can’t help but get excited about it.
This year we had our second annual Halloween Pajama Party with some good friends.
The tradition was born last year when my friend and I were shopping at Gymboree and I thought the pink skeleton pajamas were cute. My friend asked me to buy them since she had skeleton pajamas for her boys and she said we could do a Halloween movie night. I was sold.
My daughter and I were at Crazy 8’s a few weeks ago and picked up another pair. And luckily movie night happened again this year.
We also had Halloween Dance Party at her dance school.
There was also a Halloween Party at school.
And trick or treating with her class at a nearby office park.
I had every intention of taking her trick-or-treating in the neighborhood but she told me she was done and that she wanted to give out candy to trick-or-treaters. I was surprised but I decided not to push it. I didn’t want to turn a fun day into a stressful evening by forcing her to do more trick-or-treating.
She was disappointed that we only had nine trick-or-treaters.
She is already excited for next year.
I decided to take a trip down memory lane at Halloween pasts.
Halloween 2014 Age 5 weeks.
My daughter recently found that stuffed pumpkin and is obsessed with him. She calls him “Punky Punks”. She sleeps with him every night and brings him to school for naptime. When these picks showed up on Facebook Memories, I showed her and she was so excited to see “Punky Punks”.
Also that afghan was made by my mother when I was a baby. So she’s the second generation to use it.
Halloween 2015 Age 13 months
I found this costume while doing an upstairs costume cleanout. I still haven’t decided if I am getting rid of it.
Halloween 2016 Age 2
The first Halloween after Bryon died.
Halloween 2017 Age 3
Rapunzel. Everyone’s favorite.
Halloween 2018 Age 4
And last, but certainly not least, Moana. Though a good friend of mine saw the hair and thought she was Cher. Maybe next year. It would be awesome to get two uses from a wig bought on Amazon. Though I think the odds are good that my daughter will pick another princess.
How was your Halloween? Do you have any Happy Halloween memories or any traditions?
It was the day of my daughter’s first dance recital.
This was her first year of dance. She was in a ballet and tap combination class for 3 and 4-year-olds.
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.
She played the role of “Little Miss Sassy” so well.
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.
And she rocked her dance.
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.
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.
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.
Today is my best friends birthday. I won’t share how many years she has but it is more than me.
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.
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.
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.
March- We had a YRNF Board Meeting in New Orleans.
Then there was the Young Republican National Convention in Hollywood, Florida in July.
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.
Sometime in the Fall of 2007 was also the YRNF Board Meeting in Houston, Texas.
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.
It’s not a Sullivan holiday without a trip to the range.
We then took a trip to Boston. There were Irish pubs…
…and Scorpion Bowls…
…and some wicked bad karaoke.
We also walked the Freedom Trail in the freezing rain.
And we went to Cheers and these guys were our dates for five minutes.
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)
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.
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.
And then there was the YRNF Fall Board Meeting in Nashville.
First there was the Spring YRNF Board Meeting in Orlando.
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.
The Fall 2008 YRNF Board Meeting was in Kansas City, MO. I was recovering from tonsillitis 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.
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. She was in town with her 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.
We did not see each other this year. This is a sad year.
And the beginning of 2012, she came out to Albany for my engagement party
Then there was my wedding
And her wedding in Mexico
We didn’t see each other in 2013. We were too busy being newlyweds.
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.
Her family came to visit mine in Albany. It gives me goosebumps to think that this would be the last time she would see Bryon.
Bryon had been in the ICU for 4 months and been transferred to NYC. She made plans to come to NYC on Bryon and my birthday weekend and she arranged with my father to meet halfway between Albany and NYC so she 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.
Bryon’s funeral was there the day before his birthday. We went out for hibachi for his birthday with some friends. My daughter and I were so sick that night (from a gastrointestinal illness, not the food). I laid down on the couch and was too wiped out to even move. I remember thinking “How can I do this alone?” You took turns with my parents taking care of my daughter through the night and then went to whole foods to buy me some probiotics in the morning before driving back to NYC to get your flight.
Life goes on. And she you made sure to make time for me this year.
Memorial Day Weekend we, along with my Maine best friend, went to Cedar Point in Ohio with the girls. To make up for the missed Disney Trip
Then we met up with some friends for a kid free trip to Austin, TX for my 40th. That trip was…interesting. Austin was great but it turned one of my friends were not really my friend after all. It’s seems stupid now but it was a lot for my brain to process. But she was loyal to me, like she always is.
I say we need to do a re-do. With the trip into wine country.
A year with a lot of change…good change. But I did not get to see her that year. There is next year, I said.
So I was supposed to be going to Chicago to see her this weekend as well as a wedding in Wisconsin. And all know how that turned out.
Let’s hope everything is cleared up for the rescheduled wedding date this Fall,
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.”
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.
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
Photo Credit: Heidi Benjamin Photography
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.
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.
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. And 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.
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.
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.
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. I 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. I 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.
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.
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.
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.