I realize that I probably oversold the topic. You probably read that and got very excited.
But I have nothing life changing to report.
I am still living in the same house with no plans to move.
I am still working my same “day ” job. (I have day in quotes because I work many of my hours after my daughter goes to bed.)
And no, I am not dating. Not even close. And that is okay. I am focused on myself and my daughter at the moment anyway.
So I didn’t mean to get your hopes up on anything you could possibly gossip about me. Well, I did have a little bit of a wardrobe malfunction this weekend. Nothing scandalous, just annoying. But that happens a lot when you are…well…shaped like me. Whatever. Though I am a little pissy because I spent close to $100 bucks on alterations at David’s Bridal. Luckily Kimmy Gibbler had double sided tape. She’s amazing. She thinks of everything.
So nothing major. Same house. Same job. Same relationship status. Just taking a little time to re-center going from Spring (though really it has been more of a Sprinter this year) to Summer.
It has been a crazy 6 or 7 weeks. I would count but I am too lazy to at the moment.
Needless to say that I am tired and hopefully things will be slowing down here. I don’t mean that in a manner that I don’t appreciate the busyness of the past 7 weeks. It has been a fun and happy time. But it has been tiring.
As we enter into summer, I need to recenter and re-focus. I have a lot of housekeeping to do, literally and figuratively.
Around my house, I have been slowly cleaning out and donating items. Usually one or two bags or boxes a week. It still hasn’t made a dent but I refuse to let anything new enter the house. My new rule is, if it comes in a box, the box then has to be filled with items to donate. Even if the box came from Amazon with a birthday present for someone else’s kid and the original contents of the box won’t be staying in the house. The rule in the McKim house is that if something comes in, something has to go out.
I plan to stay closer to home this summer but I do have some traveling happening including a trip coming up on Memorial Day weekend as well as a trip to Boston in June for a Red Sox game. A college friend of mine has expressed interest in meeting up in Boston and I would love to see her so that may be happening. But my travel will be more spread out and casual in nature.
Staying close to home doesn’t mean boring. My daughters dance recital is coming up and I am keeping her in dance and gymnastics over the summer because she enjoys it so why not? I also have a few concerts to go to that I am really excited about.
I will be spending more time on my writing. I started writing a book and I hope to finish it before the end of summer. It isn’t the book I envisioned I would be writing first but I felt the inspiration to start it and went with that. I don’t think this will affect the frequency as to when I post on the blog. I will update you all when it is close to being finished.
I also have a few other ideas for projects but they are in the baby stages so I am going to refrain from sharing them. I want to see if they will take off before I share them.
A week an a half ago my friends (also known as The Tribe) were in Philly for a bachelorette party of one of our own.
As I am writing this post, I am going to apologize in advance for a lack of narrative. You are getting the bare bones story of my trip. Seriously, if you are Facebook friends or Snap Chat friends with me, you would have already seen most of this.
Because what happens in Vega-delphia stays in Vega-delphia.
I didn’t even SnapChat with the groom that weekend and he is one of my top SnapChat besties. Sorry! Well…not really….
The weather was amazing. It was 80 degrees and I even had body in my hair from the humidity. Albany was forecasted to be getting sleet.
Where we stayed:
At an airbnb near Center City. I didn’t take any pics inside but it was down this cute alley. The house was adorable, had four double beds (and there is a couch that folds out) and the owner even provided coffee, snacks and wine.
Clockwise from top-left: Blood Orange Margaritas/Guacamole and Plantain Chips/Some sort of Cuban bread I don’t know the name of/Vaca Frita/ Bachelorette’s Congratulations Desert, it was a chocolate cake/Cuban Coffee.
After we had a celebratory drink that tasted like grapefruit.
We had brunch here. The food was good but most dishes had eggs. I am weird about eggs. For me its a texture thing. But I would still recommend this place.
I got the biscuits and gravy. (a.k.a. The reason I can never move down South because I would gain 100 pounds.)
Eggs weren’t mentioned as coming with this dish on the menu. As I mentioned I am funny about eggs. I think runny egg yolks are disgusting and those egg yolks made me very uncomfortable. Like, I am fine if I am with someone who is eating eggs like that. Bryon ate his eggs like that. Or poached. They just can’t be on my plate. The salad was on a separate plate and I managed to swap them out with no egg yolk breakage- success! All was right in my world again.
I had Kentucky Iced Coffee without the bourbon shot and it was good.
(And of course, I can’t mention roller coasters without thinking about Step by Step.)
The roller coaster started on the day I realized Bryon had been dead for 18 months and it ended (I hope) yesterday when I realized it was the second year anniversary of Bryon’s original surgery.
I am emotionally hungover.
It was something I had to go through. I had to get those emotions out. I think I am coming out of it and I feel very different about myself and my life.
I have had to take a step back. I didn’t deactivate my Facebook but I am currently what I call “Facebook-lite” right now. It felt like the more I engaged Facebook and all the happiness of others, the more isolated I felt. I had to turn inward.
I am lucky for my friends who knew the exact amount of space to give me. They have been giving me enough space to work through my mood but they know I don’t really want to be alone. My friends also did not take my mood personally. And for that, I am grateful.
Lately I have been thinking about the passage of time.
Widows are very keen on noticing the passage of time. It’s like a widow super power.
We notice it beyond the Facebook memories.
Facebook reminded me that Bryon and my love story began ten years ago last weekend.
I realized that in a period of ten years, Bryon and I spent a total of 8 living years together, almost 4 of those years we were married. And the last 2 of those 10 years were spent in trauma and then grief.
Since Bryon fully entered my life, 20% of that time has been engulfed in sadness.
That blew my mind.
It also blows my mind to think that when my daughter turned three, she has essentially spent an equal amount of time without her father than she had with her father since he went into the ICU when she was 18 months old.
This July she will officially pass the period of being alive longer without him than she had with him. Two months before her fourth birthday.
It also blew my mind the other day when I walked into my daughters daycare. I saw my best friends younger son and he walked over to me. I picked him up. Then I thought about how he was born after Bryon died. He never knew him. And he’s getting bigger every time I see him.
When Bryon first died, it felt like we were still married. His clothes were still hanging in the closet. I still had Bryon’s shows recording on the DVR. I still wore my wedding rings.
Eventually the clothes came down as I needed a place to put the clothes I bought during the retail therapy sessions.
I started deleted his shows on the DVR to make room for recorded Disney princess movies and episodes of Doc McStuffins.
And eventually I stopped wearing my wedding rings because I needed to stop being reminded of what I lost.
Now our marriage feels like it is in the past.
Sometimes I forget what it was like to answer to someone else.
It feels like another lifetime that I had someone to email in the middle of the day to figure out what they wanted to do for dinner. I used to love to cook but now dinner usually consists of some heated up chicken nuggets or if I am feeling fancy, I actually cook spaghetti.
When I see my daughters classmates and all their new baby brothers and sisters, I think about the fact that if Bryon had never gotten sick, we’d probably have a new baby brother and sister for my daughter.
Maybe in some parallel universe that is still happening. Maybe in some parallel universe we are a family of four. Maybe in some parallel universe we buy a bigger house with a real fireplace. Maybe in some parallel universe Bryon’s career is really taking off. Maybe in some parallel universe we have gone on more Caribbean Cruises.
But in this universe, I tell my daughter that a baby sister isn’t happening. Obviously for reasons she doesn’t understand.
The bigger house also isn’t happening either. Nor the Caribbean Cruises. And I no longer have the husband with a successful legal career.
As time marches forward, I have to let go of the life Bryon and I had. At times I do okay but at other times it is a slow and excruciating process that can only be done one day at a time. It can only be done on a timeline that only I can decipher.
I am in a weird place where I am starting to feel distanced from my married life and dead husband yet I cherish the memories and am trying to remember everything I can so I can pass them onto our daughter.
I am emerging to widowhood trying to find my place. I look at my surroundings and see the shell of my old life.
When I see all the perfect little intact families at my daughters daycare, I see my old life.
Now I am a single mom who feels compelled to tell the other parents that I am widow because I don’t want to be judged for being a single mother. I find myself wanting to say “My daughters father isn’t a deadbeat. He’s just dead. That’s why he isn’t at this party. Though he probably is here and we just can’t see him or hear his wise-ass comments.”
But now I am searching.
I don’t know where I belong. I don’t know what is next.
This is new territory for me. Because the old, non-traumatized, pre-widowed Kerry did not know how to live in the present. She only knew how to dwell on the past and worry about the future.
There is no point in dwelling on the past because it is past and there is nothing we can do to change it.
And there is no point in worrying about the future because there is so much of it we can’t control. We can’t control the economy or national politics. We can’t control the housing market. We can’t control other people or their actions. So we might as well not worry about it.
We only need to worry about the present. Now.
That is hard to do when you are working through grief. How are you supposed to focus on the present when you are dealing with sadness, anger and guilt?
That is what I have been struggling with. Since Bryon died, I knew I wanted to live again. I want to love again.
But wanting to live again and actually living again are two different things.
And I don’t even want to think about actually loving again. Not because I don’t want that. I do.
But I haven’t been on a first date in ten years. Yeah…
(And to my next future husband who googled my name and finds this- I am really not crazy. Well maybe a little but really, I am just grieving. Actually I am kinda smart and kinda funny. People tell me that I am a good cook and I will stay by your side should you wind up in the hospital. Sickness and in health…I nailed it.)
This brings me to destiny.
I believe we all have a destiny.
Bryon lived a short life where he made a different and touched so many lives. His time on earth ending with a wake (viewing? I grew up saying wake and I am going with that.) where the traffic was backed up so bad that the police had to come and direct traffic.
My daughter has a destiny that is unfolding. She wants to be a doctor. I told her that’s awesome as long as she makes sure patients get better care than her father did.
Whether she becomes a doctor, an author or changes her mind completely, I just hope she becomes a productive member of society and that she does her best at whatever she does.
And while I spend a lot of energy fussing about my daughter, trying to be a good mother and fill the void left by Bryon, I know I will never completely fill that void. But I have to believe that the circumstances of her childhood are going to impact her in a profound way that she becomes a resilient and compassionate adult. And she will do great things with that.
And all this late night rambling has me wondering what my destiny is. If Bryon wasn’t meant to be here very long and yet he was still in my life, maybe there is a reason for all this craziness? Maybe it was supposed to happen this way and after I am done wading through this mess of grief, I am supposed to take my newfound resiliency and compassion and do something with it?
That is the real question that I am trying to figure out.
This past weekend I had the honor of being invited to the New York State Young Republicans (NYSYR) Rising Star Reception. (Now for those of you new to the blog, this isn’t a political blog. But politics does play a role in Bryon and my story. I have beautiful friends in both political parties.)
Coincidentally this reception fell 10 years after the 2008 NYSYR Leadership Conference in Albany. I know this because Facebook had reminded me. I had met Bryon for the second time that weekend and that was also the weekend that our love story began though it would take me another 6 months to realize it.
This organization also generously held a raffle to benefit my daughter’s educational trust. I can’t put into words how much it means to me that an organization that was once a huge part of Bryon and my life hasn’t forgotten about us. Bryon and I never would have met if it hadn’t been for the Young Republicans. My daughter wouldn’t exist if it hasn’t been for the Young Republicans. Some of my best friends come from my Young Republican years. This organization has already given me so much and they still continue to give to us.
This reception recognized all the young talent in the organization and it reminded me of my own youth. When I gave my thanks, I mentioned how important the friendships I made in this organization both in New York and Maine, as well as friends I made at the National level. During those months that Bryon was in the ICU and those early months of widowhood, I received so much love and support from friends from my Young Republicans Days. Politics isn’t always “warm and fuzzy”, I asked them to take a moment to appreciate their friendships and not to wait until they were in my situation to realize it.
Even though I don’t participate in politics much anymore, I do think it is important to bring my daughter to these events because people come up to me and talk about Bryon. And while that makes me sad, I appreciate that they remember him and say kind things about him. But I think it is important for my daughter to hear those nice things being said about her father. He may be dead, but it is nice to be reminded that he had lived.
For everyone local who takes care of me.
My neighbor always plows me out and helps me with problems around the house. Bryon’s best friend is always ready to answer my questions and recommend people. Another friend of Bryon’s mows my lawn.
My house can be overwhelming at time and I am grateful for everyone who helps me.
I was having a rough couple of days (as you probably guessed if you read my blog) and one of my high school friends reached out to me to talk. There is that saying that sometimes the best mirror is an old friend and I think that is true. As I examine my life, I seem to have gotten in touch with a lot of old friends and these old friends help me remember that I was a complete person before Bryon and I will continue to be a complete person after Bryon.
Bryon was not one to live in the past and during our years together, I lost touch with my past. But the old me is still very much a part of me. (I think I feel a blog posting coming on about this).
This has been a long winter. Bryon and I used to go away every winter on a Caribbean Cruise but I haven’t been on a cruise since he was alive. Lately I have been thinking about it.
I do have a lot of exciting things going on this Spring and Summer that include traveling, a wedding and…the second annual Bryon C. McKim Derby Party.
More to come on the Derby Party in the next couple of weeks- stay tuned!
And I have a bonus gratitude this week-
My funny daughter
Despite having an epic meltdown when we got home from gymnastics (‘nastics class) tonight, I am grateful for my daughter and especially how funny she is.
The kids in her class all wrote a book and her’s was titled “I Don’t Know.” Her teacher told me she was adamant that that was the title. The whole ride home she kept talking to me about how her book was called “I Don’t Know.” She makes me laugh so much.
These are the 5 thing I am grateful for this weekend.
Seeing Les Miserables
I mentioned in my previous post about how I saw Les Miserables on a school trip to NYC my senior year of high school and how excited I was to see it last weekend. I had a great time.I was also intrigued at how sophisticated set design became in 22 years.
Les Miserables, 2018
We did learn a valuable lesson. When you see a show at Proctors in Schenectady, make sure you make reservations if you want to eat at any of the nearby restaurants. We didn’t. None of us thought of it. Ooops. Luckily there was a stand at the theater that sold sandwiches, desserts and there was also a bar.
This whole dinner debacle demonstrated a shift in my thinking. The old Kerry would stress about everything. Bryon used to say that I searched for things to worry about. The old Kerry would have freaked out that we didn’t have dinner reservations. The New Kerry just thought “I am not really that hungry anyway but there is a sandwich stand. If this is the worse thing that happens to me all night, then this is a great night. I am out with friends and I am seeing a musical that I love.”
I know I have grown as a person and it is nice to see evidence of that growth.
My daughter’s first haircut
I had so many emotions watching (and snap chatting) this. This was my daughters first haircut. There wasn’t much to cut off but her hair did grown in uneven so it was evened out. My hairdresser also put the hair in an envelope for me.
So. Many. Emotions. I tell you.
My daughter loved going to the salon and had a great time being “grown up”.
I was texting Kimmy Gibbler and I told her that I was annoyed by all screaming kids and equally pushy parents. This was the unimpressed selfie I took and sent her. I was over it.
But it was hard to stay annoyed when I saw how much my daughter enjoyed herself. She has been telling everyone about the Princess Ball and in great detail too.
I was actually surprised at the detailed questions she asked each of the princesses. She didn’t just talk about dresses and tiaras. She asked Anna about the speed of Kristoff’s sled. My daughter is one smart cookie.
Because they are delicious. I love guacamole and avocado toast.
I had my yearly review at my job. It went well. I am thankful for my job. They hired me two months after Bryon died. Some people told me I should take more time off but I felt it was time to go back to work. Except for three weeks when my FMLA ran out, I hadn’t worked in 7 months. I was ready. That and our health insurance coverage through Bryon’s employment ended so that was also a motivating factor for going back to work.
Before I became a sole parent, I never thought I would like working from home. But now I feel like I couldn’t do it any other way. My schedule allows complete flexibility. I work a lot at night but that gives me the time to go to the gym, make doctors appointments and have the occasional lunch with friends. It also gives me wiggle room if my daughter is home sick or there is a snow day. The flexibility of my job helps me thrive (more like survive) in the other areas of my life.
My employer also provides us with a large amount of educational resources so I am able to keep up the continuing education I need to maintain my credential. That is very helpful because now I can’t go off and attend conferences anymore.
They also have an amazing program that gives each employee five days to volunteer and give back to the community. My company also donate money to grant wishes of employees in need every holiday season. I literally cried when they announced who won the wishes and told their stories. My company has a heart.
I also work with an amazing team. I have only talked to them on the phone and through email but they are great people.
And one last bonus gratitude-
The random 3 Hello Kitty pull ups
My daughter is mostly potty trained but still wears pull ups at night. I didn’t realize that we were down to one last pull up until she went to put it on. I know, I am totally failing at this motherhood thing lately. Actually I am pretty sure I am failing at life in general.I got annoyed at myself because that means I have to go out in the storm today and get a package of pull ups. But really no big deal.
Well my daughter had a big poop in that one last pull up. Of all nights. This story happened literally right before I typed this so it is in the middle of the night (because I don’t sleep anymore). I didn’t want to have to get her dressed and go to the 24 hour pharmacy to get pull ups.
I told myself not to panic. We had to have a random pull up somewhere in the house or maybe the car.
So I am very thankful for those three random Hello Kitty Pull-ups.
I am sure she is going to love reading this when she is older. She is probably going to be so unimpressed. She will probably say something like “Hey Mom, remember that time when you wrote about how I shit my pants and put it on the internet for the whole world to read?” And then I will remind her that we all have shit our pants at one time or another and that the post was actually about princesses and pull ups.
Those are the 6 things I am grateful for. What are you grateful for this week?
Last Friday I went to go see Les Miserables at Proctors Theater in Schenectady with some friends. Les Miserables was the first Broadway show I had ever seen.
It was 1996 and I was a senior in high school. My cross country team traveled from Ellsworth, ME to NYC to run in the Foot Locker Regional race. Our coach, Mr Beardsley, was also the sophomore English teacher and taught a unit on theater. We learned about Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon.
Because of Mr. Beardsley, there is probably a whole generation of Ellsworth graduates who love the theater, or at the very least, appreciate it.
So I saw Les Miserables at the Imperial Theater on Broadway with my cross country team. I was very moved by the play. I laughed. I cried. I got laughed at because I cried. The experience left an impression on me.
Three years later in 1999, I was studying in England and I saw Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theater in London.
I started dating Bryon in 2008 and I learned that he came from a family that was involved in community theater. I shared with Bryon how much I loved Les Miserables and Bryon told me hated it. In fact his whole family hated it. I got mocked for it through the years. I think it was too pedestrian for them or something. Whatever.
Eventually Bryon did give me his reason which was simply that it was too f*ucking depressing. Fair enough.
We only saw two Broadway plays in our years together. One was Pippen (Music Box Theater) and the other was Cats (technically West End, which is the London version and it was on a cruise ship.)
We meant to see more but it was one of those things that we figured we’d always have more time.
Bryon loved Cats. It was the first and last musical he ever saw.
Personally, I thought it was only okay.
Before the show started last Friday, my friends and I had grabbed some dinner, dessert and drinks and we were chatting. I recalled how much I loved Les Miserables and how much Bryon hated it.
And then I told my friends about my list.
Before I started dating Bryon, I had written a list of ten attributes I wanted in a future mate. I guess it was to keep me focused. I kept getting into “pseudo relationships” with men who didn’t appreciate me so at this point, I was focused on myself and what I wanted.
The top three things on the list were Republican, Catholic and had to be a Red Sox fan. I was told by many that that combination was not going to happen. It surprised them that I found it in a New Yorker.
Number 4 was that I wanted my mate to be Irish. Bryon was only 1/8 Irish so that was stretching it.
And I can’t really remember what the other items on this important list were. I mean, probably something about being drug-free, employed and with no criminal record.
But I do remember one thing. I wanted a man who had varied interests. Someone who could go to wine tasting and to the symphony one night and eat hot dogs and drink beers at Fenway the next.
We never did make it to the symphony but Bryon was completely comfortable in a tux. And a kilt too. He loved formal nights on the cruise and didn’t understand why others would not dress up.
We did catch a few evening concerts at Tanglewood. We picnicked on the lawn with our infant daughter.
We went wine tasting and we were those people who would taste our wine and say things like “It’s light and crisp and I can taste the touch of citrus. Very refreshing.”
We did attend many baseball games. Most were local games. We tried to catch the Tri-City Valley Cats when the Lowell Spinners were in town. We usually went on the 4th of July because never had plans on the actual holiday and we figured nothing was more American than baseball.
Though our daughter’s first baseball game was at Pawtucket watching the Paw Sox.
Bryon thought the clam chowder was wicked good. Okay, that might be my wording. Bryon was not shy at making fun of my New England vernacular.
Our most memorable game was a month after we started dating. Our relationship still a secret from our friends as we were unsure where it was heading and we didn’t want to create gossip within our political circle. We met up for a secret weekend in Boston. It was also the weekend of my 30th birthday and Bryon took me a Red Sox game.
It was his first and last Fenway game.
But I loved that Bryon was content doing a variety of different activities.
He was a Renaissance man. I told him that once and he proudly agreed.
He liked all sports. Well, except Nascar.
He was a lawyer but he was also really good at math and economics.
He knew theater and music.
He knew how to cook.
He liked animals.
He liked history and was always up for seeing landmarks.
He loved fine dining but he also appreciated the McRib.
Generally he wasn’t into Museums but he always wanted to go to the Jello Museum. That dream was left unfulfilled.
Whenever we went on a cruise, we always went a few days early to explore the departure port. (We also did that to create a buffer in case the winter weather didn’t cooperate.)
Our first cruise was out of Miami and we took a side trip to Key West.
We visited the Southernmost Point, drank margaritas and watched the sunset on Mallory Square, visited the cats at the Hemingway House, found the Southernmost Red Sox bar and Bryon indulged my need to see the start of Route 1.
I have two random anecdotes from that Key West trip.
The first was that there was a chicken crossing the road and Bryon decides he wants to catch it. But he aborted the mission halfway through and said he wasn’t drunk enough for that to be a good idea.
The second was at night when we left the Red Sox bar. We were walking back to our motel and we pass a ghost tour that was walking towards us. Bryon tells everyone on the tour that he is alive and he is not a ghost. They all laugh. Then there were some random people walking behind the tour and Bryon goes up to them and says “Oooooh, I’m a ghost. Ooooooh.” Those people laugh too.
And I laugh at the irony because while Bryon isn’t a ghost, he’s dead and could be a ghost if he really wanted to be. He’d find a way to make it happen.
That trip also took us to Miami where we ate Cuban food, tried Cuban coffee, drove by Elian Gonzalez’s uncles house and had dinner at a tapas bar that was in a gas station (and we were surprisingly under dressed for the establishment.)
Bryon had all these interests and this intense zest for life. Whenever we traveled anywhere, Bryon tried to fit in as much as he could. We ate local food, drank local beer, saw as many landmarks as possible and he would try to squeeze in a local sporting event.
How else would I explain that I saw the Ottawa soccer club (Capital City) play Toronto? I think Bryon might have bought the team scarf. If he did, I will find it someday.
Bryon was so good for me because I have always been a restless soul but I never knew how to go out, explore and enjoy my life.
I did not have the confidence to follow my dreams.
Bryon taught me how to really live.
And in some ways, he is still teaching me how to live. Even though he is dead.
I enjoyed all our adventures but I never realized how much they taught me until Bryon was gone. When he was alive, I never had to make choices or plan anything. He did all the vacation planning. He asked for my input, combined it with his wants and came up with an itinerary. He would even plot it all on a google map. Planning always made him happy and I was content to just show up and enjoy the vacation.
But now he is gone. I can’t rely on him pave the way to living anymore.
If I want to continue to live, it’s up to me.
When I booked my airline tickets for my trip to Vegas last year, it was the first time I booked airline tickets since 2009. Because Bryon always did it.
And even though my Chicago best friend was in my Vegas with me, it felt weird to be having adventures without Bryon.
A month after that trip, I drove out to Michigan to visit my Maine best friend and I drove across New York State and Southern Ontario. I couldn’t help but think about Bryon when I drove by the Labatt Brewery. And the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. I know Bryon would have been lobbying to stop- “But Kerry, we have to stop. It’s the CANADIAN Baseball Hall of Fame.”
Even though I explore the world with my daughter and friends, I do feel an emptiness because I am not sharing it with Bryon. And a sadness when it hits me that I wouldn’t be recounting the adventure to Bryon because he’s not waiting for me at home.
It’s a fear of mine that I will lose my desire to truly live before I can pass on the desire to learn and see the world to my daughter.