The day I found my voice

This was the first piece I wrote as a widow.  It was a Facebook note called “A Mini-Memoir”.  I wrote it one year ago.

* * *

Bryon McKim took me by surprise.  Those close to us know that the first time I met him was in November of 2006 in Louisville, Kentucky.  2006 was a bad year to be a Republican and I learned that because I lost my race for the Maine State House. (At least I won my hometown. Thank you Surry!)  The weekend following the election was the Young Republican National Federation (YRNF) Board Meeting in Louisville.  I first met Bryon at the Northeast Caucus.  I was the only Mainer in a room full of New Yorkers and there was one in particular that would not shut up when I was giving my report on Maine.  And we all know that that New Yorker was Bryon McKim.  He didn’t make that much of a lasting impression on me except that I thought he was rude even if everyone from New York thought he was hilarious.

Our story really began in the beginning of the 2008.  I was coming to a New York State Young Republican (NYSYR) event to try to build bridges between the NYSYR and the Maine Federation of Young Republicans (MFYR) of which I was the State Chairman.  New York and Maine had been on opposite sides of the previous YRNF election and our relationship was not good.  I was nervous about the reception I would be receiving so my best friend Tiffany came from Chicago (Illinois and New York had been on the same side of the previously mentioned election but it did not affect the friendship between Tiffany and me.)  It turned out that I didn’t have anything to worry about.  All the scary New Yorkers were perfectly nice to me.  I noticed one person who seemed to be in charge so I went up to him and introduced myself, “Hi.  I am Kerry Sullivan, Chairman of the Maine Federation of Young Republicans.”  He responded with “I know.  We met in Louisville.”  Then it clicked.  He was the a-hole that wouldn’t shut up when I was talking.  Luckily after a year and a half, I seemed to be (mostly) over it.

Over the course of the weekend, Bryon began to try to get my attention.  I thought he was nice enough but I was aware that he was several years younger than me so despite being flattered, I kept letting him down, albeit gently.  I told him I was too old for him.  He didn’t believe me.  At one point, I pulled out my drivers license.  I do remember him staring at it in disbelief.  I definitely liked him but I was not looking to fall in love, especially with a younger man who lived eight hours away.

Heck, at that point in my life, I didn’t believe in love.  I was also told that I was too picky.  I  had a list of ten items.  Funny this is, I don’t remember all ten items.  I would tell people my top 3 (Republican, Catholic, Red Sox fan) and I was told that was not reasonable especially in Maine.  There are Red Sox fans, but not many Republicans or Catholics.  I know number 4 was Irish.  (That was a bit of a stretch as Bryon was only 1/8 Irish.  I guess it didn’t end up being that important.)  I do remember two of my other items on my list.  One was that I wanted a man to be intelligent.  Preferably more intelligent than me because I like to surround myself with smart people and I like to learn from those around me.  And I like personalities with a lot of depth to them.  I  wanted a man who could go to the symphony and a wine tasting one night and a baseball game with hot dogs and beer the next night.  I wanted someone who wouldn’t be bored with Museums and historic places.  Someone would wanted to do interesting stuff but also the simple stuff. I was told that those two points are not reasonable.  I knew what I wanted and I didn’t want to settle.

Anyway, I digress.

For the next six months, Bryon and I started to get to know each other better.  First through google chat (I think it was called g-chat then) and then we went to the next level and started texting.  Serious stuff that involved actually giving each other our phone numbers.  He convinced me to come out for the NYSYR day at the races.  I agreed and I decided to come out a day early to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  I asked him what he thought of the Baseball Hall of Fame and he said it was lame.  I said that was a shame because I was hoping to go and surprisingly, out of the blue, Bryon changed his mind and said that it actually wasn’t lame and that he would take me.  So we went to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  After visiting the Hall of Fame, we weren’t ready for our date to be over so we decided to head back to Albany for dinner at the Pump Station.  Then that turned into drinks at Mahars and then Lark Tavern.

The following day was the Day at the Races.  We didn’t want anyone to know we were a thing so we spent the day on opposite sides of the group.  We acted like we barely knew each other except we did sneak off to the paddock at one point.  I left New York not sure what was going to become of us.  He was younger and lived eight hours away.  Neither of us wanted a long distance relationship.  But our relationship only seemed to get stronger.  Our communication changed from text messages to actual phone calls.  Nightly.  I remember having to put my phone on speaker and hold it a certain way or else I couldn’t hear him.  Cell phone reception in rural Maine wasn’t that great.

We made plans to meet up in Boston on August 29th, the day between our birthdays.  I called him up to wish him a happy birthday on the 28th.  He had been out celebrating.  He told me he was young and hot like Sarah Palin and that I was old like John McCain.  (Remember, it was 2008)  Yet I still went to Boston the next day.  I had fun recounting that conversation to him as we rode the Red Line into Boston.  He made it up to me though.  He took me to a Red Sox game on my birthday.  If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is.  And it was that weekend that I realized that this wasn’t just a passing fling.  It was the real deal.  I never would have known that weekend that almost exactly eight years later, I would be attending his funeral.

It’s easy to be negative.  Some days I struggle to stay positive.  Some days I am not positive at all.  Other days I am almost optimistic that despite this sad chapter, I might actually still have a good second half of my life.  The reality is that right now I feel lost and like an empty shell of who I used to be.  I feel like I am going through the motions.  I hate the term “new normal” because I hate that I have to find a new normal.  I was perfectly happy with my old normal.  I am one of those people who likes to have a 1 year, 5 year, 10 year plan.  It may not be detailed but I liked being able to look down the path I was anticipating and have a general idea as to what was going to happen.

I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen in our planned future but Bryon was there.  The other child (or children if I got my way) would have been there.  We went from being a family of three with plans of being a family of four to a family of two.  Now it’s just Maddy and me.  I don’t even know if two people fit the definition of a family.

Bryon had all these plans he wanted to do when Maddy was older.  He will never take her to a father-daughter dance.  He will never make her dates nervous.  He will never get to play catch with her or teach her how to ice skate.  He won’t ever take her to a Broadway play.  He won’t walk her down the aisle when she gets married.  He won’t take her on the proper Disney trip he was planning.  We spent a day in Epcot last February and we went to a character breakfast, but not the fancy, expensive Princess one.  Bryon said if he was going to spend that kind of money, he wanted Maddy to be old enough to enjoy it.  I know I can take Maddy to Disney but the thought of being in the Happiest Place On Earth without Bryon makes me cry.  And I am not sure that is allowed.  It’s like a sick and twisted joke.  He did this to try to be healthier for himself and Maddy and then this happened.

We would have taken a lot more cruises.  We would have eventually hit all the Caribbean islands.  I would have continued to lobby for an Alaskan Cruise and Bryon would have continued to say that an Alaskan cruise sounded boring. (We had two cruises booked.  I cancelled one and pushed the reservation out on the other.  I don’t know when I will be ready to cruise again, if ever.)   We had plans to someday go to Scotland, Ireland, England and Germany.  He wanted to go to a Chelsea game in London.  He wanted to visit the Scottish Highlands where the Fraser clan originated.  He wanted to buy a BMW in Germany, drive it around Bavaria for a week and then have it shipped home.  He said something about avoiding some sort of import tax that way.  I am not sure.

We would have probably outgrown our current house pretty soon and would have moved somewhere bigger.   We’d probably would have argued about that house.  I would refuse to live in a ranch house or a house built after 1950.  Bryon would probably tell me I was being too picky.  I would  have dug in my heels on hardwood floors as opposed to wall-to-wall carpeting and Bryon would have eventually agreed with me because he would know I was right.  Bryon would have held firm that we would never have a swimming pool, trampoline or a swing set because they are liabilities.  I would have pushed to live in the country and Bryon would have probably said there was no effing way he was going to live in a place where he would need to buy a gun because of wild animals.

Now that has been ripped away.  I look at my future and all I see is nothingness.  I know it will be filled with new adventures and of course, time with Maddy but I don’t like not knowing what to expect.  I thought I had my life figured out.  I am not good at this “one day at a time” thing.  Not only do I  have have to mourn the death of my best friend and the love of my life, I have to mourn the loss of my future.  I know an optimist would tell me that my future is a blank canvass and I can color it any way I want.  Perhaps that is true but I didn’t ask for a blank canvass.

I also have to figure out who I am as an individual which is a daunting task.  The Kerry McKim that was Bryon’s wife, no longer exists.  I am not the same person I was on March 24, 2016.  My life forever changed when Bryon was admitted to the Surgical ICU on March 25.  I will never go back to being that version of Kerry McKim again.  The truth is, there are some aspects of who I am that got pushed to the back burner during my time with Bryon.  It wasn’t intentional.  He just always had ideas and sometimes my ideas went to the background.  And I let that happen.  He didn’t do it on purpose, though it did cause tension in our relationship at time.  Of course, now I am glad that I got out of the way and let Bryon accomplish what he needed to do since his time on Earth was limited.

Now I do get to do the things that Bryon never wanted to do.  I like to do boring things like take drives to check out scenery and Bryon couldn’t stand that.  To him, there was no point. I could go on an Alaskan cruise if I wanted or to a National Park (Bryon had no interest in going to the Grand Canyon even though I told him pictures don’t do it justice.)  I can live my life at a slower pace.  It could sometimes be exhausting keeping up with him though it was exciting.  I loved every minute of it.

However, I don’t revert back to being Kerry Sullivan either.  Kerry Sullivan was a young girl who was bored and wanted “more.” Bryon changed my world.  He challenged me.  He encouraged me.  He believed in me.  I am tasked with taking the best parts of being Kerry McKim and the best parts of being Kerry Sullivan and make them into some sort of newer version of Kerry McKim.  I just don’t want to be viewed as Old Widow McKim.  While I am definitely a widow, I don’t want it to define me.

So where does that leave me?  Everyone talks about stages of grief.  Personally I think stages are bullshit.  The first one is supposed to be denial.  I was never in denial that he died.  I watched him slowly die for five months in the ICU.  I can tell you that he never gave up.  He fought until the bitter end.  I think almost anyone else would  have given up long before but he kept fighting.  While he could communicate, he obviously couldn’t express himself fully and I can’t imagine what it must have been like for him to have to lie in a bed for five months, not being able to move and having to be dependent on me or a nurse for simple tasks like changing the channel on the TV.  He had his mind up until 36 hours before he died.  It must have been hell for him to be lying in that hospital bed without being able to articulate his thoughts.

The second stage is anger.  Well of course I am angry but that will be another post for another time.  Third stage is supposed to be bargaining?  Bargaining for what?  He’s not coming back.  Then desperation.  Again, he’s not coming back so I don’t know what there is to be desperate about.  The final stage is acceptance which is probably the only stage that makes any sense.  I don’t even know what it means to accept that he is dead.  I know he is dead.  I know because all the tasks he did are now my responsibility.  (I am beginning to wonder what I even brought to the table?  I think all I did before was change diapers and make sure there is milk in the fridge.  And I wasn’t even that great at the latter.)  I know he is dead because once in a while I think about something to ask him something and then I remember that there is no point in texting him because he isn’t going to answer that text.  I know he is dead when I am watching one of our TV shows and they make a joke that he would have found funny.  He isn’t there to laugh.  He wasn’t there to discuss the issues surrounding the election.  I know he is dead every night when I lie in bed alone. Even though I know he is dead, there are times where I think about certain memories where he was so full of life and then I think about him being dead.  Then it hits me me- the pang of disbelief.  Disbelief that someone so full of life can be gone.  That realization always takes me by surprise.  It stings.  Every time.

I also have to accept that even if he had lived, our future would have not been what we planned.  He would have had some long term medical problems.  Doctor visits to NYC or Boston would have become the norm.  We certainly wouldn’t be traveling on cruise ships in the middle of the ocean far away from American hospitals.  Before this crisis, Bryon liked to take care of everything.  It was as if his goal was for me to never have to worry about anything.  I am not going to lie, I enjoyed that and took full advantage of that.  I was thrust into the caregiver role and even if he survived, he would have been sick for a very long time, possibly for the rest of his life.  The carefree days would be over but I would have continued to fight for him.

Maybe this is some sort of “post acceptance” processing.  I know he is dead.  He is never coming back at least in any human form.  Some widows get upset about “being left behind.”  I am not.  I don’t want to be in Heaven or wherever spirits go when in the afterlife at least not until it is my time.  I want to be here and with Maddy.  But I am, in a sense, left behind to try to make sense of what happened.  I ask myself why at least once a day.  Why did this have to happen?  And why did it have to happen like it did?

Then there are all the other questions.  Did I do something wrong?  Did I miss something?  Was I not paying attention to something the doctors said?  Why would God let something like this happen?  What did we do to deserve this?  Why does Maddy have to grow up without her father?  When will all this pain go away?  When does it start getting easier?  When will I start to feel like myself again?  How can I feel like myself when I don’t even know who I am as an individual?  How much is Maddy aware?  Does Maddy even remember him?  Will Maddy grow up feeling cheated?  Can I give Maddy a happy life without her Dad?

So many unanswered questions.

The only question I can answer is- would I do it all over again even with the same outcome?  That answer is yes.  Not just because of Maddy.  I am a better person because of Bryon McKim.

BCM 08-28-1985 – 08-21-2016

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” ~Dr. Suess

 

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Five years

5 years ago I woke up from a sleepless night.  I think I slept from 4:00 until 5:30.  I was too excited to sleep.  This day was going to be the first day of our happily ever after.

This was one of the happiest days of my life.  The other being when our daughter was born.  However, I think it is worth noting that I looked a lot better and felt a lot better on the day we got married as opposed to the day we became parents.

The weather was cool and a little dreary.  Father Mullen, the priest who had married us, had referred to it as a “soft Irish morning.”

I spent the morning in our bridal suite getting ready with my bridesmaids. My hairstylist said I was the calmest bride that she ever had.  The nerves didn’t hit me until it was time to board the trolley to the church.  It wasn’t nerves about getting married, just nerves that everything was going to go perfectly.

You spent the morning watching soccer at the Biergarten with some of the groomsman. You drank “das boot” even though I told you not to.

You always did what you wanted to do.

We had our whole lives together.

We bought our starter house.  Our daughter was born.  We bought a family car.  We made progress in our careers (you more than me).  We went on 5 cruises.

But our happily ever after only lasted 1422 days.  

151 of those days I was upholding my vow “to be true to you in sickness and in health.”

And now it is our fifth wedding anniversary and you are dead.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen.  We were supposed to grow old together.  We were supposed to have at least two kids.  We were going to buy a bigger house and take many more cruises. We were supposed to go to San Diego.  And Scotland.  And London.   And Branson, Missouri.  (I still don’t understand that one.  But I will make it there someday).

You were supposed to walk our daughter down the aisle.  You were supposed to hold your grandchildren.

You wanted to be an adjunct college professor and write a book on election law.

You weren’t ready to die.  You were taken too soon.

And I am here, still reeling from everything that happened.  The other morning, I drove to the cemetery and I wept.  My whole body was shaking and I was gasping for air.  I have never cried so hard where it affected me physically.  I just kept saying “Why?  Why?  Why?”   

404 days later and I am still asking why you have to die?

Maybe I will never know.

For the past 404 days I have thought about the 151 days you spent in the hospital, 149 of them in the ICU.

Every one of those 404 days, I have thought about what happened, how the events unfolded.

For 404 days, I have beat myself up which is ridiculous because I had no control over the situation.  That was up to God and the medical staff, both of which failed you.

For 404 days, I have felt empty.  An emptiness that felt like a deafening silence that echoed through my body.  The emptiness is both physical and emotional.  Your side of the bed is empty and you are not there to hear my stories.  

You were aware the whole time you were in hospital and I have no idea what was going through your mind.  The other morning I was driving and listening to some morning talk show.  The hosts were discussing the song “Seasons in the Sun” and of course I lost it when I heard “It’s so hard to die, when all the birds are singing in the sky”. Because you weren’t able to talk, I have no idea what was going through your mind before you died.  Or even if you knew you were dying.

One of the hardest parts about your death was that we didn’t get to talk about it.  You went from having back pain to being intubated in a matter of hours.  For the following 149 days, you could not speak.  You were my best friend and we talked about everything but we couldn’t talk about how sick you were or that you may be dying.  

We didn’t get any closure.  

Wherever you are right now and in whatever form you are, I am sure you understand what happened.  But for me, on Earth and in human form, I struggle to make sense of it.

You left me with amazing friends.  They are now my family, but unfortunately it took your illness and death for us to realize what we meant to each other.

I am so much stronger than I ever thought I could be.  When you were sick, I looked forward to when you were better.  I was hoping that you would be proud of me.  But you died before you got to see that.

At your funeral, your best friend gave your eulogy.  He said we were the lucky ones because we got to know you.  In some ways, I must have been the luckiest one of all.  You chose me to be by my side.  

You made such a big difference in my life.  You taught me so much.  You taught me my worth.  You believed in me and gave me confidence.  You told me I was beautiful.  One of my biggest regrets is not believing you.  I couldn’t just let you think I was beautiful.  I made it hard for you to love me.  I didn’t appreciate you. These things will always haunt me.

Our daughter was robbed because she was only 18 months when you went into the ICU and you left us a month before she turned 2.  But I am grateful that you left so many friends who love her. It makes my heart hurt to know what you won’t be taking her to any Father-Daughter dances, but you left many friends who would step up and take her.  I hesitate to use this analogy because I know how you feel about Hillary Clinton, but our daughter truly has a village.  That is one of your legacies to her.

I was talking to a friend of ours the other day.  I said that I wished you were here to weigh in on a problem one of us was having.  Because you would know how to handle it.  You knew how to handle everything.  I still need your advice.  Our friend said that while you were not here, at least you gave us a lot of advice when you were here that we can use.

But it is not the same.

Grieving your death has been exhausting.  Even though 404 days have passed, I still miss you so much that I literally feel physical pain.  I miss you so much that it literally takes my breath away.  I still go through the motions of life and I still feel dead inside.  

I still have moments where I curl up in the fetal position and I cry my eyes out.

I am in a weird place because sometimes I wonder when it won’t hurt so much.  But then I get scared.  I know that in order to get to the point where it doesn’t hurt so bad means that I have to let go to a certain extent.  The thought of letting go brings on those feelings of pain.  

Sheryl Sandberg says there is a one line Jewish prayer that states “Let me not die while I am still living.”  

I am trying.  Some days I do okay.  Other days I feel like I can barely stay afloat.  Some days I feel like I am drowning.

But I know deep down that I need to live again.  When I think about all that you had given me in our short time together, I owe it to you to try to make my remaining days on Earth matter.  

I just wish it didn’t hurt so much.

Six years ago

He asked my best friend for help with choosing my ring.  I had my suspicions when she suddenly wanted to discuss.  I mentioned it to a coworker, but I was afraid that if I mentioned it to anyone else that I would somehow jinx it.

We were at the bar where we went on our first date, Mahars Public Bar.  The bar sadly closed years ago.  They had beer from all over the world and a computer that kept track of your total.  At 50 beers, you got a T-shirt.  At 200 you got a mug.  At 500 you got your name on the wall.

Bryon and I had been drinking there for years.  I was one beer away from 200 and he was one beer away from 500.  It was going to be a night of milestones.

Bryon was antsy to go.  Almost nervous which is not like his character.

We get to the bar and sit at a small table.  Bryon is acting sappy.  Again, not his character.  Then he is on one knee and proposing.

It was the exact ring that I told my best friend I liked.

I said yes.

Then his friends seem to come out of the woodwork to celebrate with us.  Apparently Bryon told a bunch of them that he was going to propose that evening.

No picture of the proposal exits.  A good friend said he was going to get a picture but his blackberry was acting up.  But we did a staged photo.  Of which I took off of Facebook.  I hope he doesn’t mind.  If he does, I will make him a funfetti cheesecake.  Or maybe Poblano mac and cheese.  Depends on how pissed he may be.

September 6, 2011 was one of the happiest days of my life.

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.

 

For my daughter: What I learned about love from the a-holes I dated before your father

For my daughter:

A few weeks ago I wrote about what I learned about love from your father.  I actually learned a lot more about love than just that so I will most likely write more about those lessons.  But I also decided that I wanted to share some life lessons from before I met your father.   This is a compilations of the life lessons I learned from the boys I dated before I started dating your father.  I do think these experiences were valuable.  These experiences led me to your father.  Without these mistakes, I wouldn’t have been ready to let your father into my heart.  

Who knows, if I start dating again, I might write about “the things I learned about love from the a-holes I dated after your father died” but let’s hope that I have learned to weed out the a-holes.

It might not seem possible but yes, your mother dated a few guys before she met your father.  Not a lot.  Remember, your mother has a hard time letting her guard down.  But these lessons sum up my experiences and what I had learned from them.  

Some people may be reading this and thinking, well what if she grows up and doesn’t like boys.  That might happen.  And I will love you no matter what.    But I won’t be any help.  If you should grow up and prefer the company women, we will find someone that is better qualified to give you advice.  Because I can’t.  I don’t even really have men figured out.  I had your father figured out but he was not an ordinary man.

  1. Don’t be on someone’s hook.  There is a whole episode of How I Met Your Mother about it. It’s when you aren’t in a relationship but you almost find yourself in some sort of pseudo relationship.  I found myself in more of these than I can count.  I would form a close relationship with a guy but I could never let on how I truly feel because I was too proud for that.  I was sure that if I told these guys how I felt that I would be rejected and no one wants to be rejected.  So I settled on friendship.  These guys would come to me for emotional support and I gave it out.  But almost inevitably, they would find another girl to give their affection too.  I would be left baffled.  It wasn’t fair.  I had put in all these hours of emotional support and I was overlooked.  Who knows? Maybe some of these guys were into me but we convinced that I only saw them as a friend.  It’s fine to be friends with guys.  But if you find yourself giving way than you are receiving, distance yourself.  If he wants you, he will come to you.  You are too amazing to waste your time on unreturned love.
  2. You are worth a nice dinner.  This was also something I learned from your father.  I put it here because the a-holes I dated before your father support this claim, just on the negative side.  Be wary if you are brought to a chain restaurant on a first date.  Well, your first real date.  As I write this in 2017, coffee dates are apparently the thing.  Most people meet online and meet up for coffee where they size each other up.  They decide if the other is worth the cost of an expensive meal and, in my case, I would be deciding if this guy is worth the cost of a babysitter to watch you.  Sounds depressing, right?  At the very least, not romantic yet honest.  By the time you read this, I have no idea what the modern dating rituals will be.  Some really cool fad that doesn’t exist yet could be all the rage.  But remember this for your first sit down, dinner date.
  3. It’s In His Kiss.  It is a song by Betty Everett that was popular when your Grammy and Pappy where young.  The concept was elaborated on in the movie 2005 romantic comedy Hitch. Will Smith plays a dating doctor and he is coaching Kevin James (who I have a bit of a crush on, though I forgot to put him in my list of celebrity crushes) and he tell Kevin James’s character that woman judge the whole relationship by the first kiss.  Based on my experience, I think that is valid.  Your father was a good kisser.  The a-holes that I dated before your father…not so much.  Does that mean if a guy isn’t a good kisser that there isn’t a chance?  I wouldn’t say yes but you need to ask yourself if you think you can teach the guy to be a good kisser and do you want to do that.  Also, while some kissing is skill, most of it is passion and chemistry and you can’t teach that.
  4. If you say you love him and he just says that was “random”, he’s not for you.  Your mother may have not worn her heart on her sleeve but when she loved, she loved hard.  Combine this with the fact that she is hyper-verbal at times.  When your mother is in love, she likes to express it verbally and she will whenever she feels it whether it’s over a romantic dinner or doing something mundane like sitting in front of the TV and watching 20/20.  Your father never once got annoyed with me saying “I love you.”  He said it a lot too.  And randomly.
  5. Never give up your dreams for a guy.  A long, long time ago (1999, which is 18 years ago as I write this but by the time you are ready to date, it will likely be over 30 years ago)  I studied for a semester in England.  It was one of the best experiences in my life.  I had found out about a program where I could return to England for six month after my college graduation on a student visa. I could sleep on the floor of my friends flat and pour pints for six months but who cared?  I would be in England.  And then I started dating a man that would become my ex-boyfriend and I didn’t apply.  I was too caught up with this guy and his mediocrity that I didn’t do an experience where I would shine. They say it’s never the things you do that you regret, it’s the things you didn’t do.  This is one of my biggest regrets. No guy is worth extinguishing your dreams.  The right guy will wait for you.   
  6. If something doesn’t feel right, just stay away.  If you feel like you are being told lies, this isn’t a good sign.  Stay away from the guy who has baby mama’s calling him for child support despite his claims that he’s sterile and only has one testicle.  This would also apply to anyone with a criminal record or belongs to any groups that could be described as hate groups.  If the stories don’t add up and your gut is telling you something, stay away.  You are smart and you need to trust yourself.
  7. If you feel like you are settling, you probably are.  It’s not always passion and fireworks but if you feel like you can’t be yourself and that you are missing out on life then run.  I knew it was time to quit when I was dating a guy who like stay in on Friday night and watch America’s Funniest Home Videos. Granted it was before YouTube (which probably will be antiquated by the time you start dating) but it was after the Bob Saget  years.  Life is too short to be with someone who kills your spirit.

All these a-holes were good for something. They made me into the person I needed to be to let your father into my heart. So even if you wind dating your fair share of a-holes, they will shape you into the person you need to be for that special someone.