This weekend I did the first of my long runs for my half marathon training. My training cycle has gotten off to a slow but steady start. I have joined a new gym called Metabolic Meltdown and I do those workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays and I run on Tuesday, Thursdays and Sundays. I was having trouble motivating myself by just running and I need more strength so I hope this plan works. So far I have been enjoying it.
So on Sunday I took my daughter to the local university and did the 3 mile loop around campus, plus one extra mile.
It was the longest four mile run I have ever done.
First of all, since I have slacked off on my training, I gained weight and I was pushing a stroller with my almost 3 year old.
It was hot.
My daughter kept dropping things and I kept having to stop and pick them up.
I didn’t want my daughter to fall asleep on the run so I kept her entertained by singing Old MacDonald since we watch OutDaughtered all the time. OutDaughtered is the show about two year old Quintuplets. My daughter refers to the show as “Babies.” All I hear is “I want to watch Babies!” Anyway, there is an episode where they are singing, or supposed to be singing, Old MacDonald in a recital. So my daughter and I sang Old MacDonald and my daughter kept choosing “chicken” so this Old MacDonald had a farm full of chickens. Old MacDonald can thank for me sneaking in one cow and one cat.
My daughter saw one of the Albany city busses and kept saying ice cream truck. I told her it was a city bus, but she wouldn’t believe me. I told her she would disappointed if we went over and tried to order ice cream. But I made it through the run. I think when I reach the six mile mark on my long runs that I will need to get a babysitter. I can’t be pushing the stroller for 8 miles. I will go nuts.
I was really wanting to get an iced coffee but I decided to stop and let my daughter run around the fountains. She was so happy which made me happy. Life is about the little moments.
I am going to get a little Sophia Petrillo on you.
Picture it: Billerica, Massachusetts. 1989. Or 1990 depending on which half of the school year it was.
A young girl sits in her fifth grade class at Eugene C. Vining Elementary School. Her female classmates have a whole bunch of boy band paraphernalia on their desk, including those large pins that you could stand up. Like a picture frame. Her male classmates would snicker and lodge pencils at these large picture pins, trying to knock them down.
This girl thought the boy band was stupid. That girl was me and that band was New Kids on the Block.
I wanted nothing to do with them. I wanted nothing to do with those large stand up pins, or the t-shirts, or the plastic water bottles or the bed sheets.
My mother, who was a Beatles fan back in the day, encouraged me to like them but I wouldn’t give in. In fact, that might have fed into my resolve not to like them. (Sorry Mom!)
So I have no stories about going to their concerts when I was a middle schooler. Because I just didn’t care. I have always had a streak in me that didn’t want to do what was popular. To this day, I have never read a Harry Potter book or seen a Harry Potter movie. So leave it me to be 25 years late for the New Kids Party. But better late than never, right?
My friend had won tickets and four of us went. We were so excited. We had dinner and margaritas at El Miriachi before the show.
Oh no! I admit, I was more excited about seeing Boyz II Men than I was about New Kids but I wasn’t going to let it ruin a great night.
My friend and I joked that Bryon was behind it. Bryon liked Boyz II Men though I wasn’t allowed to talk about it when he was alive. He was embarrassed. Though when we were planning my daughters Baptism, he made me watch the scenes from the Fresh Prince of Bel-air with Nicky’s Christening.
Our daughters Christening was the Sunday of Epiphany and Bryon said it would be cool to get Boyz II Men to come. I didn’t put any more thought into it until a few days later when Bryon says that Boyz II Men won’t be playing at our daughters Christening because they were not in our budget. Leave it to him to actually look into it.
So my friend was saying that because Bryon couldn’t see them, then none of us could.
We will have to catch them next time.
My daughter’s Godmother and I were talking about how my daughter will like some band that doesn’t exist yet and she won’t want to go with us. Because we will embarrass her. Her Godmother’s stepdaughter will probably take her.
And one life lesson: don’t spend too much time on social media during the concert. You might miss the dancer that rips off his shirt. True story.
In the past, I didn’t enjoy my life fully. I never lived in the moment. I was always worried about other things all the time. So I made sure to really just embrace being at the concert with my friends. There may have been some adult beverages.
But being a widow always has some level of sadness. It shows up even at the happiest times. Even though Bryon wouldn’t have gone to this concert if he were alive, I did miss him. I missed the fact that he would have been making fun of me. I missed the fact that I didn’t have him to come home to. I came home all excited and he wasn’t here to listen to my stories.
There is also some level of guilt. Guilt that I am having fun without him. Guilt that I am here to enjoy events like this and he is not.
I carry close to my heart the fact that Bryon embraced life. He didn’t hold back. And when he was in the ICU for five months, he fought. He fought even though he would likely have permanent damage to his body. He wanted to live. So I must continue to live my life fully. I owe it to him.
I am going to preface this post by stating that Bryon and I did meet through politics so politics plays a role in our story and it may come up from time to time. However, this is not a political blog. It’s a blog about grief, life, love and resilience. There will be no political commentary from me.
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A seer sucker suit hanging in the closet.
A vintage briefcase bought at an estate sale.
A shelf of books.
A pair of size 13 Aldens in the closet.
A whole bunch of Brooks Brothers bow ties.
Bryon’s Albany Law Rugby sweatshirt with “Shrek” embroidered on the sleeve.
Several copies of Smithsonian Magazine and The Economist.
A lot of political memorabilia.
His coat hanging off the back of a dining room chair.
A six pack of beer in the back of the fridge, untouched after 14 months.
His laptop bag filled with a folder of travel documents from our last cruise 15 months before.
One voicemail I found in the deleted files on my phone.
This is a list of items that remain from Bryon. This is certainly not an exhaustive list. These items are reminders of who he was and the life he lived. The capture aspects of his personality and his passions. These very reminders sting whenever I look at them, but at the same time, I can’t get rid of them because they are all that remain. Every time I get rid of an item that belonged to Bryon, I feel like I am getting rid of a piece of him.
But so much more remains of Bryon’s memory than the items that clutter up my house.
This weekend I had the honor of co-presenting the first ever New York State Young Republican Bryon McKim Alumni Award. I was touched, but I wasn’t expecting to get as emotional as I did. Bryon and I hadn’t been actively involved in this organization for a couple of leadership cycles. There were several old friends but most of the faces in the crowd were new to me though they welcomed my daughter and I as if we were old friends. This organization had played a large role in our life for several years, both at the state and national level. I was reminded that this was our beginning. Our love story started at a New York State Young Republican Event. If it wasn’t for the Young Republicans, Bryon and I would never have met, fallen in love, gotten married or had our daughter. It was almost as if I was in the part and present at the same time. Being at that meeting brought up all those emotions because even though it had been years, once I was sitting down at that dinner, it almost felt like I was reliving those memories.
I just think about all the ways the people who knew Bryon have chosen to honor him. The Bryon C. McKim Memorial Derby Party. The Bryon “Shrek” McKim Albany Law School Memorial Alumni Match and the Shrek award. The New York State Young Republican Bryon McKim alumni award. People don’t choose to honor your memory if you hadn’t made some sort of difference in their lives. Bryon touched so many lives and I appreciate that his memory being honored. So many people die and ultimately become forgotten and it is comforting to know that Bryon won’t be forgotten.
It means so much when the recipients of these awards say wonderful things about Bryon in their acceptance speeches, though as time passes, I expect that the recipients of these awards will remember Bryon decreases. Eventually they will only know about Bryon through his legacy that is passed down by others in the respective organization.
Everytime I go to an event that honors Bryon, it still hits me like the proverbial ton of bricks that I am attending a memorial event. Memorial events are to remember dead people. Bryon is dead. Gone. He is a memory. But I will show up because it is important for me to honor Bryon’s memory and honor those who choose to keep his memory alive.
Bryon has left behind a legacy of friendships. Bryon had built relationships with so many people from so many different areas of his life. But his legacy of friendships isn’t just with those he had relationships with, but also with all the people that have been brought together because of Bryon. Bryon was a really good mediator which was a talent that could be a headache for him at times, but he took the responsibility of this talent seriously. Many of my friendships are the result of the bridges that Bryon built between others.
Bryon was full of life and leaves behind so many stories, most of them hilarious. At Saturday’s event, I was talking to a good friend. Her father died when she was little and that she heard a lot of stories about her father through his friends and that she feels like she knew her father from these stories. She assured me that my daughter will know Bryon from all these stories. Many people have said this to me, but honestly, it was a sentiment that always felt hollow to me. One of those comments that is well-intentioned but feels like it was just said to me to try to comfort me. It meant so much more coming from someone who grew up in the same situation that my daughter will grow up in. But my friend is absolutely correct. Bryon has left behind a legacy filled with stories and those stories will ultimately be passed down to our daughter through his friends. And even though it’s painful to think that my daughter will not remember Bryon, I am thankful that Bryon left a legacy that includes all these stories and friends. Not every child who loses a parent has that legacy.
On my two hour drive home, I just kept thinking about Bryon and our early years. So I decided to end this post with pictures taken at various Young Republican events. We weren’t good about remembering to take photos so please remember to take photos! Someday they will be what remains of you.
I had a good weekend. My parents and my friends spoiled me. However, like all the other “firsts” I am feeling lots of emotions, of which I am still sorting out in my head. I am mentally too exhausted to write about them at the moment. I might need to take a day or two to decompress.
However, I would be remiss if I didn’t share photos from our trip to Indian Ladder Farms for Baby Animal Days. The goats, the bunnies and the 4 day old chicks were my daughters favorite.
We all came ready to celebrate the two most exciting minutes in sports.
There were old friends enjoying each others company. There were new friendships formed. Lots of laughter, celebration and happiness were in the air.
There were lovely ladies in dresses, hats and fascinators.
There were dapper men in seersucker suits.
Delicious food was served- bourbon meatballs, pulled pork sliders, mini Kentucky hot browns, mint julep chicken skewers and chicken and waffle skewers. Because we all know that food tastes better when it is served on a stick.
Makers Mark Mint Juleps were consumed in special Bryon McKim souvenir cups. So many Mint Juleps were consumed that the bar ran out of Makers Mark two hours into the party. Bryon would be particularly proud of that.
There was a silent auction full of amazing items that were generously donated from members of our community. The silent auction was accompanied by friendly competition to outbid each other.
The second word is Bittersweet.
We were having a great time but we all knew that this party would not be happening if Bryon was still alive. If Bryon were still alive, we would have been having our annual Kentucky Derby party in our backyard. The backyard party would have been at a smaller scale but just as fun.
Ultimately Bryon had to die to bring us all together to have a good time.
As much fun as I had on Derby Day, I would have given it all back if it meant Bryon would still be here. But I think I am reaching the point in my grieving process where I am beginning to accept Bryon’s death as it is. I have days where I still ask “why” but I know that even if I can figure out the “why,” it doesn’t change anything. Bryon will still be dead. And there is nothing that can change that.
We can’t change the fact that Bryon is gone but instead we chose to take a horrible situation and make the best of it. Many people die without leaving their mark (pun not intended) on this world but Bryon made his mark (okay, pun was intended this time) and we made the choice to keep his memory alive. Derby Day had the potential to be a very sad day but instead, we chose to celebrate Bryon’s favorite day of the year. And we celebrated in true Bryon McKim fashion. I am grateful that I had so many amazing people to celebrate Bryon’s life with. We all remember what a difference he made in this world. He helped so many people when he was alive and we chose to continue his legacy and help others in his memory.
I want to thank the Bryon C. McKim Derby Party Planning Committee: Vince Casale, Lynn Krogh, Danielle Grasso, Joseph Hanson, Jennifer Muthig, Mike Utzig, Nick Wilock, Jennifer Armstrong, Mike and Natalie Kosar, Sara Stein and everyone else who assisted in the planning process. I am awe of your talent and you ran this event like a well oiled machine. You could run a small nation. Bryon would be proud.
I want to thank our sponsors for supporting the event and all the business who generously donated items for our silent auction. My daughter and I are very lucky to be part of such a supportive community who looks after their own.
I want to thank Wolff’s Biergarten for all your hospitality and help putting on this event. You were great to work with and made our experience enjoyable.
And I want to thank everyone who came out to support our event to celebrate Bryon’s life and keep his memory alive. One of the biggest fears that a grieving person has is that their loved one will be forgotten. Thank you for reminding me that while Bryon may be dead, he did live.
I look forward to celebrating with you again in 2018.
I started this blog as an outlet for my feelings and I have decided that I have been writing about too much depressing stuff lately. My life isn’t all depressing so I decided to share some of my fun moments. I mean, my life won’t always be this depressing, right? My daughter and I had a busy weekend so I thought I would share that.
On Friday evening I had plans to meet some good friends for Mexican food at El Loco. I had gotten a baby sitter for my daughter and I braved the drive to downtown Albany and even found a parking spot. It was great to catch up with my friends.
I was supposed to run the Fly Creek Cider Run 10k this weekend but I dropped a metal trashcan on my toe on Easter. That doesn’t sound like a big deal but my big toenail is blue and I had to wear flip flops all week because it hurt too much to wear regular shoes. By Friday I could wearing shoes was bearable but I decided that it wasn’t the best idea to run the 10k or 5k. I was disappointed because I really was looking forward to this race. I was signed up to run it last year but missed it due to Bryon’s illness. Maybe the third time will be the charm.
There was a rugby tournament at Albany Law School so my daughter and I went for a little bit. My daughter wasn’t that interested but we did walk around the track and even did a little running.
Saturday afternoon was the birthday party of the son of Bryon’s best friend. He is turning 3. They did an amazing job with the Mickey and the Roadster Racers theme. There was also a bounce house and wagon rides.
Reminders that life continues on. It feels good that that we are making happy memories that my daughter and my friends children will grow up with. But, like everything else, it is bittersweet because Bryon isn’t here for those memories.
Sunday was the monthly brunch with my girls. This is turning into my most favorite day of the month. We alternate houses and we each bring something. We had an amazing brunch with Blueberry and Strawberry French Toast Casserole, Goat Cheese and Sundried Tomato Quiche, Vanilla Bread, Sausage, Fruit, cookies, Mimosas and great conversation.
I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend or better company.