I have had so much on my mind lately that it seems nearly impossible to sit here and type all that I am feeling. How could my emotions possibly spill onto the page adequately? I recently spoke at a Christian Women's Retreat about grief and how we leaned on God through all we had been through. My talk was only 50 minutes long and the worst part about wasn't all of the emotions involved, it was that I had SO much more to say. I could have talked much, much longer. I talked about our journey the past 5 Years... 5. Even as I told the story, I sometimes want to step back and say, "Did that really happen?" It seems just when I have shared the worst, there is more to come. As I looked around the room at the 10 women listening to me, I wondered what they must be thinking. We were all crying by the end, and it took me almost every bit of 40 minutes to just get the story out. I even left out some... about surgeries and struggles.
The rest of the time I talked, I shared some scriptures, a website that I found helpful, pictures, answered some questions, and really tried to convey that no matter how harsh and tragic the story that I just told was, my life is even more full, even without the weight of my baby in my arms. I long to hold Ryan, I long to look into his eyes, I long to see the look on his face when we meet again. But he took a piece of my heart with him and replaced that spot with the love of Jesus and the assured promises of God. My heart is more full in that way. Ryan will always have a piece, a special part of me. That is why I walk around each day feeling somewhat incomplete. But, the new, "empty" place is slowly being taken over by a love and a comfort that I didn't know existed.
The day before I went to give my "talk" to the women at the retreat, Chris told me about a c.d. that he had to get for me. I was on my way to a 31 party, and as I climbed into the car, it was sitting on my dash. I put it in for the lonesome drive over there and quickly was mesmerized by the lyrics and beauty of the music by Steven Curtis Chapman, from his c.d. Beauty Will Rise.
He has a different story, but similar to my own in that his daughter passed away at age 5. He too struggled with the grief that I know, the belief that your child is in a wonderful place but the desire to just "See" that your child is okay. He knows the pain that I know, when every bit of you wants to trust in His plan, but part of you just wants things to return to the way they were. When simple tasks didn't seem impossible and quiet hours of the day were welcomed, not dreaded. He knows the harsh reality that the rest of his life, he too will be living as if he is incomplete. But, he also knows and trusts, as I do, that some day, he and his child will be reunited. I believe this with all my heart, and this promise, from God, makes me want to be a better Christian and to really live my life for Him.
Steven Curtis Chapman's song, #3, called "See" was his reassurance. If you want to learn more about the song, you can go to this link and understand what I am talking about. His entire c.d. is beautiful and brought me to tears, one song after another, but this song particularly made me think of Ryan.
But, we have our own "See". I know I have written that I have been praying that I could "See" Ryan, similar to how Steven Curtis Chapman prayed. I also wrote to you recently about a close friend of mine who had a near death experience. I had not yet shared with you the rest of her story. She has given me permission to share this with anyone that would benefit from knowing her story, knowing I would probably write on the blog. So, I will tell you the quick story, then copy the email she sent me.
Kelly went in for a minor procedure, and just before they began, they pushed a medication that caused her to have a Grand Mal Seizure, and she coded on the OR table. It took the medical team nearly 30 minutes to stabilize Kelly, and she was then transferred to the ICU at St. John's, where the Doctors proceeded to tell her family that they didn't know if she was going to live. She miraculously did live, and thankfully had two wonderful stories to tell. The first story she shared, she told of being "held" and of feeling comforted. She said that she had a "conversation with someone, and they asked her if she was Ready?" Her reply was, "No, I have 3 young kids" and that is pretty much all she tells of that experience. If that isn't enough for you to believe in a Greater Power, then I don't know what is. I went to visit her in the ICU and we briefly talked about what happened. But, she was too ill to talk much more and said we would have to talk when she was well. A few days later, I received this email:
Thank you so much for stopping by the other day. I know on many levels, that must have been so hard for you. It really meant a lot. I told you that day that I have something to tell you when I could talk a little easier, and hopefully without crying. Well, I don't think I'll ever be able to tell you without crying, and I'm not 100% sure that you would want to hear the "story." While I was "out" Tuesday afternoon, I had two very moving experiences. One, everyone knows about. The other, was a dream about Ryan. I resist telling you about this dream because it isn't fair that I got to see it and you didn't. However, I feel extremely selfish keeping it to myself. The dream was very brief, but beautiful. Ryan was standing at this very colorful garden/wall/art center of sorts with a few others his age. (He was standing and cruising, but not yet walking!) They had these special crayons that they were using that with just a touch would change the colors of the flowers and the butterflies. Ryan and his friends were giggling and babbling. When they were done coloring their beautiful garden, they all got to swing in this amazing swing that all six of them fit in - again more laughing and giggling! These images are so vivid in my mind, that I have to wonder about the significance of this dream on many levels. Maybe it was just a dream? Maybe it was so that I could tell you how happy, healthy, and playful that Ryan is now? I'm not really sure, but the dream and seeing Ryan's beautiful smile, those amazing eyes, gave me a strong sense of calm and peace. Your perfect son continues to be just that!
This email moved me to the happiest tears I have cried since Ryan left us. Ryan was reaching out to us, the only way he could to say "See, I am okay". I am so sorry that Kelly had to go through such a scary experience, but she tells me today that she doesn't question it.
I am sharing all of this with you because I want you to know that each day we spend without Ryan feels like an eternity, and the time that we spent with him feels like a blink. Each day is different, some very hard for me, some I just get through, and very little am I able to look forward to right now. I am focusing on feeling that beam of light in my heart that Ryan brought with him and left for me to cling to. That smile he gave me as he "saw" the beauty of life beyond this earth. I am focusing on the wonderful promises for eternity that God has assured us with if we only open our eyes and ears to hear His word and be witness to His goodness. I am seeking comfort from the only truth that I know. I have Faith, even when my days seem dark, even when the tears keep coming, even when I ask myself "How do I do this, and can't imagine my life without our beloved son".
I want to end this entry with a poem that I came across when doing my research for the Women's Retreat.
When you've walked through the valley of the shadow of death
When you thought the worst was over and the worst is what was left
Some things he can't explain now, but by and by he will
Look up through the pain now, you will find him Deeper Still
Deeper still you will find him, deeper still than before
Deeper still goes the anchor, deeper still the ocean floor
Deeper still he has taught you, deeper still there is to go
Deeper still is the Savior, deeper still than we know.