Bryon spent the last two and a half weeks of his life in New York City. I had him moved from our regional medical center because he needed better care. It was two of the most optimistic and the most scariest weeks of my life. I was optimistic because he had a world class medical team caring for him. I was scared because he was still very sick and I knew that even if he survived, the road to recovery was going to be complicated.
I don’t usually think about my time in New York. I mean, it ended with Bryon dying.
Yesterday I was reading about how one of my blogging friends spent her birthday in NYC. She spent part of her day in Washington Heights, which was the part of NYC where Bryon’s hospital was located.
It dawned on me that I can’t ignore New York City forever. Someday I will have to return. I may want to take my daughter to see the Rockettes or take her to the Natural History Museum. Or the Bronx Zoo. Or maybe I would go with my Spanish teacher friend to find an Argentinian restaurant. Or to see The Bangles with Kimmy Gibbler and my Latin Teacher friend the next time they go on tour. It would be ridiculous to avoid a whole city for the rest of my life because of what happened. I will probably just avoid Washington Heights.
My daughter’s Godmother came down with her (now) fiance and got hotel rooms in the Times Square area. She was telling me all about the city as we drove downtown. I am a small town girl from Maine after all. We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant. It was my one fun night in New York City.
Though there were other good things about being in the city.
I had a family to stay with. They didn’t even know me but they knew Bryon. They welcomed me into their home and they were so kind to me. They stay ended up being short but had Bryon survived, he might have been in the city for months. They never once gave me a time limit. I know they were rooting for the slow recovery. It would worth a trip to NYC to see them and have them meet my daughter.
Bryon’s friends in NYC got to see him. That was great.
The team was much more optimistic and Bryon’s spirits were the best they had been through the whole ordeal. In Albany, Bryon was too depressed to facetime with our daughter, but in NYC, he was happy facetiming her.
Bryon still had his sense of humor. It took me a week to figure out that I could take the express train to get to the hospital faster. He shook his head and rolled his eyes at me.
But right now, NYC remains the city where Bryon died. Maybe someday I will return but it probably won’t be anytime soon.
During my weekend in Chicago I really wanted to go take my daughter on the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier.
I first rode on the Ferris Wheel in 2004. It was the Monday after Thanksgiving. I had attended a wedding in Wisconsin and it was ten days after my Grandma Sullivandied. I had found out while I was working. It was a Friday and my father and I had been planning to leave that day to try to get to Massachusetts before she passed but we were too late.
I can still remember what I did in those ten days:
Friday- Grandma died.
Saturday- Went to Massachusetts (5 hours away from my home in Maine).
Sunday- Grandma’s wake.
Monday- Grandma’s funeral.
Tuesday- Went back to Maine.
Wednesday- Helped my mother prepare for Thanksgiving
Friday- Flew from Bangor, ME to Madison, WI (via Cincinnati) to attend the wedding of a friend that I had attended university with while I was in England. My cousin (from the other side of the family) was crazy enough to fly up from Florida to attend as my guest.
Saturday- Wedding just outside of Madison, WI
Sunday- Went to Milwaukee with my cousin. We went to the Milwaukee Public Museum, had lunch at Usingers, and toured the Colonel Pabst Mansion.
I couldn’t resist posting this Wayne’s World clip.
On Monday my cousin was crazy enough to take a bus to Chicago with me. She was crazy enough walk around Chicago with me for 12 hours in the cold, November rain. We had pizza at Gino’s, walked by Wrigley field, went to the top of Sears tower and rode the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier.
I have no pictures of myself on the Ferris Wheel but here is one of me on the El.
And because I talking about the cold November rain got this song stuck in my head…here you go-
I returned to Maine that Tuesday.
There were lots of things that I did not know at that time. I had just gotten involved in politics but I had not even heard of the Young Republicans. 18 months after that trip to Chicago, I would attend the Young Republican Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. On that trip, I would attend a party at the Romanian Embassy and on the shuttle bus ride there, I would sit behind a girl from Chicago who would become on of my best friends. (You met her here)
In the fall of 2007, I was living in Southern Indiana with another friend from the Young Republicans. I was on a three months contract for work. My roommate and I drove up to Chicago to see my best friend and another good friend in Chicago. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant and then went to Navy Pier. And we rode the Ferris Wheel.
In 2007 we were single girls travelling around the country, attending political meetings and partying with future leaders and elected officials (some of them surprised us).
In 2012, we both got married. I got married in September in Albany and she got married in December in Mexico. Her location was a bit more exotic than mine but it didn’t matter. We were both there for each other on our big days.
We both had our daughters in 2014. Her daughter came in April and mine came in September. They are exactly 5 months apart.
And she was there for me when Bryon died. She made the trip to Albany (along with the other lovely lady in her wedding photo). They actually already had the plans to be in NYC the weekend that ended up being the weekend of Bryon’s funeral. His birthday was the day after his funeral and she made arrangements to meet my father halfway between NYC and Albany to bring our daughter to see him for his birthday. I told Bryon that he would see our daughter, as long as the doctors said it was okay. He was excited.
But he died a week before his birthday.
And now I am here. A widow. Travelling as much as a I can this year to make up for the fact that I spent most of 2016 in an ICU room watching Bryon slowly die. And because I promised him as he was dying that I would still take our daughter on adventures.
So that brings me to Chicago in 2017. With my best friend and our young daughters. And I wanted to go to Navy Pier to ride the Ferris Wheel…again.
Both of the little ones enjoyed the ride. I can’t remember if it was my friends daughters first time or not. I think it’s safe to say that when my daughter and I return, that we will go on the Ferris Wheel again. Maybe next time, she will be tall enough for some of the other rides.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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…
May 22-25, 2009
Saint John, 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.
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.
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.
So this blog is called “Running Forward” and you may have noticed there hasn’t been much running in it. That’s because I dropped the ball over the winter. I did some running over the winter but nothing over 6 miles. Every time I seemed to pick up momentum, I seemed to get this on-again, off-again chest cold. Plus I had gone back to work after Thanksgiving and it was hard learning to juggle work and single motherhood. I hate making excuses and I am usually very hard on myself but I am trying to cut myself some slack.
I was registered to run a half marathon the weekend I was in Ann Arbor but as the race approached, I knew I was not in any shape to run a half-marathon. At first I thought I could tough it out it. I mean, I ran a half-marathon six weeks after Bryon died. But I was in the most raw grief at the point. Then the chest cold was cycling back around again. My Maine best friend told me that there was no shame in switching to a shorter distance. I have never run a 10k but I decided I wanted to be in better shape to get a base 10k time so I decided I would run the 5k.
My Maine best friend came with me to the race expo. I went to the Half-Marathon table and explained my dilemma. I was directed to another table that was labeled “Registrations and Solutions.” Changing my registration was painless. The woman that at the table assured me that there were lots of people in my situation with illnesses and injuries.
After I changed my registration, I went to the other side of the room to claim my t-shirt. For some reason, I wasn’t feeling checking out the tables for swag. So my Maine best friend and I checked the course map so we could plan the logistics for the next day and then left.
The next morning, I got up around 6:15 am and tried to be quiet as I didn’t want to wake my daughter. But she woke up. I told her she could stay at the house with my Chicago best friend or come to the race and my daughter immediately says “RACE!” So we fed her some breakfast and bundled her up. I ate half of a plain bagel and drank a little coffee and water.
The race was set to start at 7:30 am and it started right in front of the University of Michigan Stadium. We decided to walk because my Maine best friend, and her fiance, the Scientist lived close enough that it didn’t make sense to drive. It was about a 20 minute walk. All four races had the same start. There was a lot of excitement but I don’t know what I would feel about it if I were a marathoner. The start was slow because there was a large bottleneck of runners. It ended up taking me two minutes to cross the start line.
I was not mentally prepared to run. I was not focused, I forgot my inhalor and I forgot my garmin. I decided that since this was just a 5k that I would just enjoy the run since I was anticipating an awful time.
The 5k was one lap, 10k was two. There was a half marathon lap and marathoners did two. The 5k was not well marked but I managed. I had forgotten my garmin and had no concept of how fast I was running. The race was quick. We ran down the main street and we turned onto the campus. We ran by the natural history museum where we were the day before. Before I knew it, I saw the 12 mile and 25 mile markers for the half marathon and marathon so I knew it was the last mile. I was actually feeling pretty good despite not having my inhaler.
Before I knew it, I was running through the finish chute. I was convinced my time was going to be awful but the timer said 45:59 so I knew my chip time was going to be faster. I got my medal and snagged a 5k brownie for my daughter. After the race, I went to a Starbucks for my Venti Iced Americano with cream, sugar and an extra shot and then my Maine best friend, The Scientist, my daughter and I walked back to the house.
My official time was 43:34. I was satisfied. It wasn’t my worst time and it wasn’t my best time. For being under trained, I was content and even a little excited. I had never run a 5k that was in conjunction with a marathon and a half marathon so that was exciting and I am glad I went through with racing. It actually started to rain heavily after we got back to the house so in a way, I was relieved I didn’t run. I don’t mind running in the rain but I wouldn’t have wanted my Maine best friend, the Scientist or my daughter to have to stand around in the rain waiting for me. All’s well that ends well.
Overall, I thought this was a great event. And I will be redeeming myself in 2018.
Last weekend I took my daughter on our second big adventure since Bryon passed away. My best friend from Maine, who had been living in Florida with her fiance, just relocated to Ann Arbor, Michigan. I looked at google maps and saw that it was about a nine hour drive. I ascertained that it would be long, but it was doable. The drive to my parents house in Maine is usually about 8 hours so this would only be a little longer. I decided to make this into a “runcation” (which I will write about in another race recap post.) To make an exciting weekend even better, my other best friend from Chicago decided to drive up with her daughter. In case you forgot, she was the one who consoled me as I sat on the floor in a Las Vegas casino crying a month ago.
I couldn’t seem to get my act together all week so I was packing on Friday morning and got a later start than I had wanted. I kept feeling like I was forgetting something. I had to remind myself that there were Targets in Michigan and if I forgot anything, I could just get it at Target, along with other stuff I don’t really need but I will decide I can’t live without. We finally got on the road around 9 am.
Our trip was pretty uneventful, though we ran into some snow but it was sunny by the time we were in Western, NY. Before we knew it, we were at Niagara Falls. My gas tank was just below a half of a tank but I stopped to fill my tank before entering Canada. Anyone who travels to Canada knows, gas is very expensive and it is wise to fill up on the United States side of the Border.
I was nervous crossing the border without Bryon because I had read on the internet that Canada was careful about children crossing the border without both parents. If you are a single parent traveling with a minor, you need a notarized letter from the other parents stating it’s okay. Well, Bryon wasn’t here to notarize any sort of letter. So I brought my daughters birth certificate along with a copy of Bryon’s death certificate. (We also have NEXUS cards) I was chatting with the Canadian Border agent who was very nice and she said it really was a concern when parents don’t bring any ID and it was clear I was my daughter’s mother. She did look at our NEXUS cards and my daughter’s birth certificate. The border agent said she didn’t need to look at Bryon’s death certificate but told me that it was a good idea to have it on me just in case.
My daughter finally fell asleep in Canada. The drive was long and uneventful with lots of farmland. Bryon and I had never traveled further than the Niagara region so Southern Ontario was all new territory. I found myself wishing he was on the trip with us. For starters, he would have been doing the driving. Second, we drove by so many places that would have excited him, like the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. I imagine the conversation would have gone something like this:
Bryon: Let’s stop! It’s the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame!
Kerry: You don’t even like going to the American Baseball Hall of Fame. You think it’s lame.
Bryon: But Kerry…It’s the CANADIAN Baseball Hall of Fame.
Kerry: But…you aren’t that into baseball and a visit will take up a lot of time and we want to get to Michigan before it get’s dark.
Bryon: You are a Miss No-Fun.
I also thought fondly of Bryon as I drove by London, Ontario and saw the sign for the Labatt Brewery. He loved Labatt.
I was bored with the radio in the car and ended up listening to the CBC news. I decided that would be my cultural activity of the day since I would not be stopping at Tim Hortons, or the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame or the Labatt Brewery. I drove by a really large wind farm that went on for 45 minutes. Then I was finally in Windsor, Ontario and then I was crossing the Ambassador Bridge into Detroit. The Bridge was beautiful and I couldn’t take a picture because I was driving. There was a very large American flag. I don’t know if it is because I am generally a patriotic person or if it was because I was glad that my long drive was almost over but I started to belt out “America the Beautiful” when I saw that flag. My daughter was not impressed. I can’t blame her as I am not exactly a good singer. Actually my singing is not even tolerable. Poor girl.
We made it to Ann Arbor around 7:15 after google maps took us on an interesting drive in Detroit. I was so excited to see both of my best friends. Since I don’t use people’s names in this blog, I am going to refer to my friends as “my Maine best friend” and “my Chicago best friend”. And I will refer to my Maine best friend’s fiance as “the Scientist” because, well, he’s a scientist. We sat down and ate some Domino’s Pizza (which I learned is headquartered in Ann Arbor) and drank some Aldi wine (not too bad). My daughter was excited to see my Chicago best friends daughter and they wore princess dresses and chased each other until it was time for bed.
I woke up early Saturday morning to make my run to Target to buy the items I forgot, along with those other items that I didn’t really need but decided I can’t live without. My Chicago best friend came with me and we decided to do the “divide and conquer” approach and I think we were out of there within 20 minutes. It was quite impressive.
After we returned to the house, we packed up to take the bus downtown. My daughter really enjoyed riding on the bus.
The plan was to take the girls to the Natural History Museum at the University of Michigan. They had a great time running around and looking at the artifacts but they began to get tired and hungry. We had made it through the first two floors and the Scientist went up to check the third floor and said there wasn’t as much there so we decided to leave.
I wanted to do some shopping so we stopped at The Den to buy my daughter and myself an article of clothing that said “Michigan” on it.
We then had lunch at Hopcat which was delicious and very reasonably priced. I had the tacos which were delicious. And I don’t know what the seasoning was on the crack fries, but they were amazing. My daughter learned the hard way that the hot sauce was not ketchup. There were some tears but I still think she handled better than some adults would have. The hot sauce was really hot.
When we returned, I put my daughter down for a nap and my Chicago best friend stayed with the girls while my Maine best friend and I went to the race Expo which I will write about in another post. After we went to the Expo, we needed coffee so we went to a Meijer that also had a Starbucks. In 2007, I lived in Indiana for three months and I forgot how awesome Meijer was. It’s like, one of the seven wonders of the Midwest. Anyway we were in desperate need of caffeine and I also had to get the Starbucks You Are Here mugs. It’s my latest obsession. Anyone else into those mugs?
After the girls woke up from their nap, we made plans to go to a Mexican restaurant, Los Amigos. The food was really good and I am a Mexican food snob. I was excited to see Chilaquiles on the menu because I think the only place I can get them locally is at El Mexicano in Saratoga. I was excited that they had a train. It was like Governor’s except it was a Mexican restaurant and we were in Michigan, not Maine.
We were all exhausted Saturday night and didn’t stay up late.
Sunday was race morning which, again, I will write a separate race recap.
After the race, my Chicago best friend and her daughter left. My Maine best friend, my daughter and I drove 45 minutes to Dearborn to go to The Henry Ford. It was pricey but I felt like it was something you need to do in area. We were starving so we had lunch at a diner in the Museum. It was an actual diner car from 1946. Jut don’t expect to get a diet soda because when my Maine best friend tried to order one, the waiter informed her that there was no diet soda in 1946. However, the prices were not reflective of 1946 and they did accept credit cards.
My daughter took a cat nap on the car ride and was tired and was beginning to lose it after the cars, trains and planes so we decided to call it a trip. I didn’t feel too bad because my Maine best friend decided to buy the membership because she figured out that a membership would pay for itself in two trips. She also figured that this would be the place that out of town guests would want to go so a membership made sense.
We had a relaxing Sunday night. We ordered Chinese food for dinner and just hung out and went to bed early.
My daughter and I were on the road by 7am. We had a morning stop planned in Windsor, Ontario. When Bryon and I got engaged, I went on theknot.com and was active in the September 2012 board. Theknot.com was glitchy so we moved our group over the Facebook and we are still an active group. There have been so many milestones, babies, new jobs, new houses as well as divorces, illness and now death. I am the first widow of the group (though one of the ladies of the group was a widow who married her second love in Sept 2012) Anyway, one of the ladies on the board lives just out of Windsor (she blogs here) so my daughter and I met her at a Tim Hortons. I have known her online for over 5 years and it was exciting to finally meet her in person.
After our visit, we had a long car ride back. My daughter slept for about half of the Canada portion and none of the New York portion. We stopped for lunch at a rest stop just outside of Buffalo. The drive was long and uneventful and we made it home around 6 o’clock.
This adventure was still bittersweet. I didn’t miss Bryon as much as I did when I went to Vegas. Maybe that was because Vegas was the first adventure since Bryon passed. Maybe it was because both of my best friends were there which provided twice the distraction. But even though travelling without Bryon may have been easier, I still got sad when we passed the University of Michigan stadium because Bryon was such a sports fan and I knew he would have been excited. I guess I just have to have faith that he comes along with us in his way but I just wish he was physically still here to go on these adventures with us. I miss him so much but I must carry on for him, for my daughter and for myself. But it does make me feel good that I am still fulfilling the promise I made to him in the final hours of his life.