Each time I leave the house, I feel like I am leaving something behind. I can think of many times when we followed our Wed. night swimming routine, only it included Ryan tagging along with us in his stroller. As we walked in to Ranken, I would push his stroller, Chris manage Charlotte as she trotted along in her walker. That was us. The Hawn family. The man who gave me the sign in book would smile politely, recognizing we had our hands full, but in a good way. Now, I know he must be wondering where our other baby is... with a sitter? with Grandma? He probably would never even think that Ryan was in Heaven. That our baby boy doesn't tag along with us as we go about our days anymore. That Charlotte's "back seat buddy" as we lovingly called him as we plopped his car seat in next to Charlotte in our car, is no longer accompanying her in her life either.
Everywhere I go, I just want to tell people. Take it easy on me, I could pour into a fountain of tears in a matter of a second. I am that fragile and that strong all at the same time. I feel like I can still do the things I used to do, but with much more of a tender heart. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. Even at her evaluation this morning, someone asked me if I work full time. Work. I haven't worked since April. And even then, I had only been back from Maternity leave for 2 weeks. Do I say yes? Keep them from asking more questions? Or do we admit that neither of us are working right now? (we do both still have jobs though). Chris explains, as I am still trying to think of how to answer the question. Then suddenly, the tears began to well up in my eyes. What we have been doing has been much more difficult than work. It has been the best and the worst thing I have ever been through... "Ryan, our son. That was his name. Did you know?" is all I could muster up to say. The woman speaking to me explained that someone had told her and she was sorry for our loss. And then, the conversation was over. I could have talked about him for another hour, forgetting that we were there for Charlotte. But, reluctantly, shifted my focus back to her. This was a big meeting about her future and she needed me there, not in my dream world where I at times tune everything else out.
It just doesn't feel right. We took his crib down this week. As we packed his things, we knew they were just things. I cried over the tiny outfits that I can hardly picture his little body wearing. I cried as I went back to watch videos of when he first came home, just to remind myself of what it was like. This one is one of my favorites, as I know it will be my mother's too. She always loved to hear his voice, even when he was crying.
We are learning to be just the 3 of us again. Most families don't do this until one child goes off to college. College. What would he have been? My mind can race a million different directions when I think about how special he was, how much I had already dreamed for him. I cry as I think of him listening to the thoughts in my head, knowing that the number of tears I have cried doesn't hold a candle to how much I think about him all day long. Grief isn't all tears. It is so much more, especially in our situation. How can I say that this is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me. Our son has died... It is because I believe. I believe in God and His son, Jesus. I believe in the power that His love gives in times as hard as these. I feel it. When I let myself go there, to that scary place of "why did this happen?" I remember his first and last moments. I remember that God shared Ryan with us because he does love us. I remember that someday, even if I am old, wrinkled and gray, I will see our son again. He will know me and I will know him. That day is worth waiting a million years and for me to fill those years with praise to the Lord who made his precious life here possible. I can only hope that we use them wisely and carry on Ryan's example to us all that there is so much beyond what any of us know or experience here on earth.