I am Sandra Abrevaya and Brian Wallach

caring for someone living with ALS,
living with ALS

Illinois


Through a decade and a half, Brian and I have experienced so much together. We have really been there emotionally and physically for each other, always taking care of each other.

The day we first met we were in Manchester, New Hampshire. I had just arrived at the Obama NH campaign headquarters. Brian had been part of the New Hampshire campaign staff for awhile as political director. I met the team at a staff picnic in the park. Brian was playing a game of catch, and my first reaction was: there are cute guys here! I noticed him right away.

I was the communications director for the NH campaign and that meant I worked closely with Brian in his role as political director. We were paired up often for work. When you work on a campaign, you work from the wee hours of the morning to late into the evening. In those beginning days before we had a real headquarter building, we worked out of what we called the “hoffice” (the home office) because it was one of the group homes where seven of the staff members lived, including Brian. One day, maybe about a month into working together, Brian and I were sitting with our laptops at the kitchen table across from each other. I sent him a message saying he should date me because I’m really funny. He burst out laughing.

Our first date we went to a restaurant and Brian showed up an hour late! Of course, he blamed work. I remember the server looking at him when he finally showed — she looked back and forth from me to him and said to him: “You better be worth it.”

We were working constantly but at the end of day, we were ready to decompress together at a local watering hole. We worked hard, but gosh we had so much fun. For both of us on the Obama campaign, we had this feeling like we were part of history and also making history together — it was such an energizing and fun period.

After Obama won the election, Brian had the opportunity to work within the administration right away, but decided to go practice as an attorney with Skadden in New York. He had been a summer associate at the law firm before the campaign and they had held the job for him. I had been living and working in DC for years, most recently as Press Secretary for Senator Durbin.

So Brian came to live with me in DC as he had a few months before he started that job. And at the time, I was waiting for the administration transition to be completed. We had this time together, both of us in DC. We went to the inauguration together, the balls and all the celebrating that went into the change of administration. It was a special time.

We had been long-distance for about a year and half with Brian in New York and me in DC. At the time I was working as Arne Duncan’s press secretary in the Department of Education. Brian asked for a transfer with his company, Skadden, and was able to move to DC. We were again working and living in DC together.

After about six months, we both ended up moving to work in the White House at the same time. We literally started the same week. And just like the campaign days, it was fun to work at the White House together. Our colleagues used to tease Brian and I as we walked laps around the hallways to chat.

After about four years of dating, Brian proposed. We were in Cape Code to attend a friend’s wedding. He proposed on the beach; it was special because this was the place he grew up coming to as a kid. Shortly after we were engaged, I took a job in my hometown of Chicago running an education nonprofit and we did another year of long-distance.

We were married in 2013 in an epic wedding in Turkey where both my parents are from. Brian then left his role in the White House and relocated to Chicago through a role with Skadden. We welcomed our first daughter in 2015 and almost exactly two years later our second daughter.

Through a decade and a half, Brian and I have experienced so much together. We have really been there emotionally and physically for each other, always taking care of each other.


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