The start of our love story 

July 31, 2008
Somewhere in cyberspace

Bryon: cool

  when are you coming in tomorrow?

4:59 PM me: Depends on when I wake up and get on the road 🙂

 Bryon: lol

5:00 PM me: I actually wish I had known this was going to happen. I originally wanted to take tomorrow off and come out Thurs and go to Cooperstown on Fri

  But it was not meant to be. No baseball hall of fame for me

 Bryon: its not that great.

5:01 PM me: overated?

 Bryon: yeah. but I havent been in a few years

5:02 PM me: Thanks for crushing my hopes…

 Bryon: thats me though, you may like it

  you should come out early tomorrow and go.

5:03 PM Its not far from albany

 me: I doubt it

 Bryon: doubt which part?

 me: Isn’t it like an hour away?

 Bryon: yeah.

 me: I doubt I will want to drive another hour after driving 8

5:07 PM Bryon: I would be interested in going again, I would go, and drive.

 me: But’s it’s lame…. 🙂

 Bryon: yeah but there is a great brewery in cooperstown

 me: so the truth comes out…

5:08 PM Bryon: lol

 me: when would I have to be out there if I were to do that?

5:09 PM Bryon: whenever, Cooperstown is an hour from albany, I have a meeting until 1, so whenever you would like.

5:11 PM me: Mapquest says it takes 7 hours and 23 minutes to get from Surry, ME to Albany, NY

  When does the baseball hall of fame close?


16 minutes

5:28 PM Bryon: sorry i was away there

  

  the hall closes at 9

5:29 PM me: I figured that out. Went to the website.

  I am used to Maine, where things close at 5

  🙂

 Bryon: that is why NY is better

5:30 PM me: If you say so…

5:31 PM Alright, I will plan to be out there around 2 or 3. That way I don’t have to get up at an ungodly early hour

5:32 PM Bryon: sounds good

​This is the conversation that led to our first date, brought to you by gchat.  What can I say? We are representative of the social media age.

I always teased him about this conversation, about how the Baseball Hall of Fame was lame until I said I wanted to go.  Bryon never tried to hide the fact that it was me he wanted to see.

 *  *  *

August 1, 2008
Cooperstown, NY
Albany, NY

Nine years ago today I went on my last first date.  I was a Maine girl in New York and her “friend” took her the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.  At first there was a work scheduling conflict but it ended up working out.

After going to the Baseball Hall of Fame, we weren’t ready for the date to end. So we had dinner at The Pump Station.  The after dinner, we weren’t ready for the date to be over so went to Mahars.  Then Lark Tavern.

August 2, 2008
Saratoga Springs, NY

Bryon and I were at the New York State Young Republicans Day at the Races.  We spent the day avoiding each other because we didn’t want anyone to know that something was going on between us.  But we snuck away to the paddock for some time alone together.

 *  *  *

August 3, 2008
Albany, NY

I say good-bye to Bryon.  I was sure this was going to be a fling.  None of this made sense.  He was seven years younger than me and lived three states away.  I mean, he just graduated from college and I was almost 30.

But love had other plans.  And we never looked back.

 

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10 Things I Miss About You

This poem is inspired by a poem in one of Bryon’s favorite movies.

I miss that you didn’t take life too seriously,
that you just didn’t care.

I miss arguing with you about stupid stuff,
like the length of your hair,

I miss being annoyed by all the sports on TV,

I miss our conversations,
even the ones about poop and pee,

I miss that you planned our vacations,
though you always gave me a say,

I miss that you kept me safe,
and always assured me that everything would be okay,

I miss that you would always make me laugh,
whenever I was mad,

I miss that our daughter will never know her Dad,

I miss that you would always steal my pillow,

I miss that you are not here and I am all alone.
I wish you were here,
so I didn’t have to be a fucking widow.

Boston, 2015: Swan Boats and a rowing machine

July 18, 2015

It was a Saturday morning.  The baby woke up and usually I would be the one to get our daughter.  But this morning, Bryon told me he would get her.  I laid in bed thinking it was nice.  A lazy morning in bed is a rarity.

It didn’t last long.

5 minutes later Bryon came into our bedroom and asked that question-

“Hey, do we have anything planned today?”

I knew exactly where he was going with this.  He had spent the last 24 hours looking for a used rowing machine on craigslist because he wanted a fancy one without paying the price for one new.

I respond with an un-phased “where did you find a rowing machine?”

“I found one in Arlington.”

This peaks my interest.  Being a native of the Boston area, I knew he meant Arlington, Massachusetts.  And I am always up for an adventure and I love Boston.

“So if we go to Arlington, is there any chance we can go to Boston?  I want to take our daughter on the Swan Boats.”

The Swan Boats are a Boston institution after all.

Bryon assured me that since he couldn’t pick up the rowing machine from the seller until 5 pm that there would be plenty of time to go on the Swan Boats.

So off to Boston we went.  We stopped for breakfast at Chick-Fil-A in Chicopee, Massachusetts.

We arrived in Boston and we parked at Alewife and took the Red Line to Downtown Crossing.

I love my daughters impression of her first subway ride.

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A perfect summer day in Boston.  Bryon and I decided that we wanted our daughter to know both Boston and New York City when she got a little older.  I wanted to do a trip to Boston in the summer and I wanted to take her to a Red Sox game in Fenway Park.  Bryon said he wanted to bring our daughter to New York City at Christmastime.

This ended up being our only trip to Boston together.

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That face.

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Bryon always loved wearing a Pawtucket hat instead of a Boston hat.  He loved that only true baseball fans and true Red Sox fans knew that the “P” stood for Pawtucket.

(For all you non-baseball fans, Pawtucket is the minor league baseball team affiliated with the Boston Red Sox.  They are located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.)

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We went to get the rowing machine at around 5.  The machine was a bigger model than advertised and we struggled to fit it into our Suburu Forrester.  Luckily we were able to take it apart and get all the pieces in.  Bryon was thrilled because he would have been willing to pay more for this model.

Just in case anyone is wondering, it isn’t the model that Frank Underwood uses on House of Cards.  Bryon told me once that it is model lower than that.

Bryon and I joked that the guy we bought the rowing machine from was the Boston version of his brother because the houses look the same as the ones in his brothers neighborhood.  Also, the guy we were purchasing the rowing machine from had two sons the same ages as Bryon’s nephews and one even had the same name.

The only difference was that Bryon’s brother does not have much hair and the guy we bought the rowing machine from had a ponytail.  Bryon was really good at reading people and he said that the guy still had the ponytail to show the world that he was still a non-conformist even if he sold out to corporate America.  Bryon always made me laugh.

The rest of these photos (courtesy of Facebooks “On This Day” feature) were taken back at home.  Most days I am content with my daughter being my only child.  Even if I were to fall in love again, I will be 39 this summer.  I am not sure I want to go through the sleepless nights again.  And the pumping.

But then I look at these photos of my daughter and then I feel a twinge of sadness that she will be my only child.

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 Chicago: Family Matters House

In February 2014, I was at the end of my first trimester.

In the beginning of February Bryon and I flew to New Orleans to go on a Caribbean cruise (this was before Zika was a thing).  We flew through O’Hare. I remember being very exhausted as we walked through the airport. Bryon was always a fast walker in general and a foot taller than me.  Pregnant or not, I was always struggling to keep up.  In the airport on that trip Bryon had to take my carry-on (he did always say he was the pack Mule) and slow down. The difference was, in this trip, he couldn’t complain about it. I was carrying his child after all.

Two weeks after that I returned to O’Hare for a baby shower for my best friend who lives just outside of Chicago.  She was in her third trimester. We were both exhausted, hungry, and were constantly looking for restroom because we kept needing to pee.

While I was there, Bryon, the ultimate vacation planner, told me what we should do.

My best friend and I laughed but we were too tired, hungry and too busy racing to the bathroom to bother.

Bryon and I always planned to take a trip to Chicago with a side trip to Wisconsin to visit a good friend of ours.

We never got to take that trip.

So the her first thing my best friend did when she picked me up from O’Hare was take me to the Family Matters House.

This one was for you Bryon.

When I posted this picture on Facebook my friend asked if Carl Winslow was in the police car. Maybe he was!

The house was across from a park. I can totally understand why Carl and Harriet chose the place to raise their 3 kids. Even if their third kid disappeared in the last season…

My daughter wasn’t impressed. 

I think Bryon would be happy.

For my daughter: what your father taught me about love

For my daughter:

They say that a girl learns how she is supposed to be treated by observing how her father treats her mother.  Unfortunately, you will not see this firsthand.  You will learn about other kind of love from all the people in your life that love you.  But you will not see how your father and I loved each other.  So this is my attempt to write down, the best I can, what I learned from your father’s and my love.

  1. True love does exist.   You might have to wait for it, but it exists.  I had given up on the idea of falling in love.  Part of that was my own fault.  We come from an Irish family and showing affection and love is not our strength.  We are not usually warm and fuzzy.  I never let my guard down.  I still don’t know why your father thought I was special and worked for my affections but I am happy he did. 
  2. It’s okay to have standards but still keep your heart open.  I had a list of ten items.  The top three were Republican, Catholic and a Red Sox fan.  Almost everyone thought I was nuts and told me I was being unreasonable. (The irony is now the only one of those three I can say I am with any certainty is a Red Sox fan.  These days I feel “meh” about religion and politics.)  The fourth item was being Irish which your father was ⅛ Irish so that might be stretching it.  I can’t remember much of the rest of the list except I wanted a man that could provide intelligent conversation (check),  a man who like to travel (check) and a man who had depth to his personality (check).  I wanted a man who could to the symphony and wine tasting one night and go to a baseball game, drink beer and eat hot dogs the next.  I was told that one was unreasonable but it described your father perfectly.   I also wanted an older man.  I almost didn’t give your father a chance because I was stuck on the age issue.   You have to be honest in what you are looking for but you also have to know when to be open. 
  3. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.  Your father and I were not a likely pair.  I was 7 years (actually 6 years and 363 days) older than him.  We also lived 7 hours apart.  I was not looking for a younger man or for a long distance relationship.  Your father wasn’t initially looking for a long distance relationship either.  Your father would text me and say he liked older woman and I pretty much would text back with “well, good for you.” Your father pursued and I resisted but in the end, it happened and there was nothing to stop it.  We fell in love.  We fell hard and we fell fast. It was meant to be. 
  4. You are worthy of a nice dinner.  It’s not about the money, it’s about the effort.  A friend of mine who is like a big brother to me once said that if a guy takes you to a chain restaurant on your first date, then there shouldn’t be a second.  I told this to your father and he agreed 100%.  Granted, your father generally had a disdain for all chain restaurants (except Texas Roadhouse and Chili’s) but you are unique and he should not take you to a generic place. 
  5. Love brings out the best in you.  The right one will make you want to be the best version of yourself. They will see the best in you.  You will strive to be a better person when in love. 
  6. Love with care- choose your words wisely.  Your father and I were/are both passionate people and we had some heated disagreements.  We were both guilty of saying things that we didn’t mean.  Choose your words carefully.  Love can be strong but life is fragile.   Even though we were both guilty of it, I am haunted by those words.  Even if you forgive each other and make up, you can’t take words back. 
  7. You don’t know how much you love someone until they are at death’s door.  Your father and I lived a busy life and we didn’t always take time to enjoy our love quietly.  But there were many days that defined our love.  Days where I thought I couldn’t love your father more than I already did.  The evening we got engaged at Mahar’s.  Our wedding day.  The day you were born.  Each of these events made us realize greater depths of our love.  I remember being in labor and I was cursing everyone and everything (sorry but it was true, labor is no joke!)   I remember your father saying he loved me so much and that he never loved me more than he did at that moment.  My love reached its culminating point when he was at death’s door.  You don’t know how much you love someone until you realize that they could be gone at any moment.
  8. Love doesn’t die.  A person will die but the love that exists doesn’t die.  When your father and I made our wedding vows, we vowed to love and honor each other, all the days of our lives.  Your father may not be here anymore, but I still love him and honor him and I know wherever he is, he loves me too.

All that remains

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.

* * *

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.

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Young Republican National Federation Fall 2008 Board Meeting in Nasvhille. Bryon called this our High School Prom Picture because of the way we were posed.
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New York City Young Republican Club Holiday Party, 2008.
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New York State Young Republican Convention in Staten Island, 2009
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New York State Young Republican Day at the races, 2010
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Young Republican National Convention in Indianapolis, 2009
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Young Republican National Convention in Indianapolis, 2009.  Doing one of the things he did best.
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New York State Young Republican Convention in the Finger Lakes (wine country), 2011

Lubec, Maine and Saint John, New Brunswick

May 22-25, 2009
Surry, ME
Lubec, ME
Saint John, NB
Alma, NB

When I started this blog, I was only planning on writing about Bryon’s death forward.  Facebook reminded me today that On This Day eight years ago, Bryon arrived from New York for his first trip to Maine.  It was before I moved to Albany.  I felt like I wanted to share what I remember about that trip.  I don’t want to forget before my daughter is old enough to hear the story so if I write it here, she will likely get a better account.  A preservation of sorts. Also, I am riding a pretty harsh grief wave and maybe writing about this will give me a break from the grief.

As I was saying, Facebook reminded me that 8 years ago, I was excitedly awaiting to arrive of my love.  It was a Friday.  It was his first time coming to Maine and his first time meeting the parents.  That was back when there was that topless donut shop in Vassalboro, ME and Bryon was getting a rise out of me by telling me he was going to stop.  He didn’t actually stop but he enjoyed pulling my chain.

Saturday Bryon and I began the 3 hour drive to Saint John, New Brunswick.  We made a stop at the West Quoddy Lighthouse in Lubec so we could say we had been to the most eastern point in the United States.

 

We arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in the late afternoon.  Bryon was driving and somehow knew his way around even without using Google Maps.  He had an amazing sense of direction. We stayed at a Delta Hotel.  We had dinner at the Saint John Alehouse which boasted the largest collection of beers on tap in Eastern Canada.  They had 29 beers which Bryon found charming.  We both ate these delicious burgers with a cheese that was flavored with Guinness and we both had a side of poutine.  Bryon was talking about hockey with the bartender.

The next day, we drove another hour and a half to the Bay of Fundy National Park.  I remember we passed a cute historic little cemetery and I was sad we didn’t stop.  (I have fascination with old cemeteries.)  Bryon assured me it was okay that we didn’t stop because they were probably Loyalists anyway.

We spent the day at the National Park.  It was beautiful.  We had lunch at a restaurant in a little coastal New Brunswick village named Alma.  I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but I remember that we ate fried clams and that the service was not good.

That night we had dinner back in Saint John at a restaurant that overlooked the Reversing Falls.  We went out a bar after but I don’t remember the name.

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The next morning, we stopped at Moosehood Brewery and Bryon bought a few pint glasses on clearance.  I think they have all been broken.  At some point, we went to the New Brunswick Museum but I don’t remember where that fit into the timeline.

On the way, I remember we stopped at a gas station and convenience store in rural New Brunswick because we weren’t sure if we had enough has to get back to the US.  (If you are not from the US or Canada, the reason we wanted to get back to the US is because gas is much less expensive here.   So if you drive to Canada from the US, always, always, always fill your tank before you cross the border.)  We put in ten dollars worth of gas figuring that would get us back to the US. Bryon couldn’t resist playing some scratch-offs.

I was excited that we were stopped on the International line.

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So many details I don’t remember.  Makes me glad that I now keep a travel journal and I write down all the mundane details like the names of restaurants and what we ate and every Museum we go to.  I want my daughter to know every detail of our adventures.  But I want to give her some idea of the adventures her Mom and Dad had before her.