Ryan's 7th Bday & The Fight For Happiness

You know, these last few weeks I have been seemingly happy. Trucking along through out the days and not really noticing how extremely anxious I've felt deep inside about September approaching. I have this really awful habit of forcing feelings down, down, down until they get masked thick with other things. Before I know it I am drowning, my mind goes to mush and instead of happiness coming easy I feel like I have to walk through quick sand to find it. It happens fast and I honestly don’t know until I know. I look back and I’m like “oh! this is why I’ve felt so damn numb and now I feel awful!” Then I tell myself, remind myself that I must feel the things I need to when I need to … or else this incredible fight to feel happiness will rear up again. 

My issue is, my son would have been seven years old this September and he isn't physically here to celebrate. Which quite frankly has been the case for his sixth birthday, fifth birthday and fourth. Every year I go through this crashing wave of anger over the fact that my son isn’t growing before my eyes. I now have to imagine what he would be like, the things he’d be into at this age and what exactly life would be like with him by my side. I typically feel more anger around his birthday than when I miss him during the holidays because birthdays in our family are a big deal! We have small traditions that have huge impact and most of the time our celebrations last a few days. So, I feel angry Ryan isn’t here. Though, I hate feeling angry for two reasons 1. because he wouldn’t want me to feel angry and 2. I can’t do anything about it so feeling angry sometimes just is a waste. Also, I feel guilty about feeling angry when I look at Mila and then look at my son’s face in photos … my kids are great I can’t feel angry right?! 

Anger is the feeling I mask the most and you’d think that after nearly three and half years with out Ryan this whole grief monster would get easier to slay. It doesn’t. In fact, the monster stays the same I just learn knew things about it, develop strength against it and so on. I mask my anger and I’m like “oh! this is why I’ve felt so damn numb and now I feel awful!” Then I tell myself, remind myself that I must feel the things I need to when I need to … or else this incredible fight to feel happiness will rear up again. 

This past week I licked my wounds so to speak, let myself feel what I needed to and teetered on the decision to celebrate big (like we always do) or take it easy this year, do something small and let the day pass. See! This is why I want to mask anger and sometimes sadness because when I let those emotions in and rule the roost negative thoughts take over. We nearly didn't do anything for his birthday. But I soon realized that that wouldn’t be fair to Ryan. I pushed negativity aside and decided to go big because turning seven is fun and this family deserves to have fun even if it hurts a little. 

I never really know how to explain what goes on in my head. I try to. I believe my husband can read it on my face sometimes. I am sorry if this sounds like a jumbled up mess. Though if you’ve lost someone you love, I think you know that life with out them is a jumbled mess. A mess that you strive forever to make sense of. 

“Ok! Enough already!” says my kids (and probably my husband too) get to the fun stuff! My family and I ventured to - surprise surprise - Disneyland for two days and stayed at the Disneyland Hotel. We’ve been staying there and celebrating Ryan’s birthday since the beginning and it just wouldn’t seem right to not. We spend one full day playing in the pool and drinking fun drinks poolside and the next playing in the parks. This trip we did a little bit of adventuring and found a fun fireworks viewing area on the top of the Paradise Pier hotel. That night will forever be burned in my memory. The three of us huddled together high atop the hotel watching the fireworks was just the best. What is it about fireworks?! On Ryan’s actual birthday we made it to the park before open and the cast members let us open the park for everyone! (I posted the video on my Instagram) The rest of the day went by so fast, but in a really good way. We celebrated Ryan the way we knew he would have loved. Truth is, even as his age grows with out him, we’ll continue to celebrate our three and half year old the way we remember him. Which again, stinks because I look at my friends boys growing older and get jealous. But I have to let those feelings go I guess. Well, I need to feel them and then let them go. 

And with that Ryan’s birthday has slipped by and I feel proud looking back at it. I tell myself, remind myself that I must feel the things I need to when I need to … this incredible fight to feel happiness will never cease. I learn that and re-learn it often. Though it is a struggle to feel happiness, once I feel it, I understand the worth of the fight.

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12 comments

  1. BirgitP says…
    09/07/2017

    They say time heals all wounds.

    I don't think that's true. I believe some wounds are so big they can't heal.

    But I do believe time will teach us how to live with them.

    But I do believe beautiful souls have the ability to turn the wounds in a magical memory so wonderful that from time to time, the wound almost feels healed.

    Xoxo, b

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. livingjuicy1 says…
    09/07/2017

    Oh, my heart is with you as I read about your feelings around Ryan's birthday. Celebrating him, saying his name aloud are what keep us mama's going who have had our child(ren) go on before us. I think if we were left on a deserted island with no concept of time our insides would feel the anxiety and intensity of these days: the angel day, birthday, Mother's Day and every day in-between.

    You keep writing, living, sharing, feeling ALL of it as you are because YOU are not alone and are helping to educate others on how to BE with us even when we are not sure of how to BE with ourselves.

    Big hugs to your THREE gingers and to you. I have been on this path for nine plus years and I can feel the familiarity of your words in my heart and SO wish that I had not a clue of what you were speaking of... Deepest of sighs...

    Hand in hand, Heart to heart with SO much understanding. Happy 7th Birthday, Ryan! You are deeply loved and sorely missed each and every moment.

    Joanie

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. jennistarling says…
    09/07/2017

    Being able to navigate between grief and joy is so tricky and seems impossible. There is no perfect process, no perfect words, and no magic button. Your honesty in this space is refreshing, it is needed and we honor it. You give us all a tremendous amount of courage when you choose joy. Simply thank you.
    xoxo
    Jenni

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. lenaathane says…
    09/07/2017

    What an incredible read. Your kids are so lucky to have you two as their parents !

    You know, when I find it hard to deal with various aspects of life , turning to your blog always helps. So thank you.
    Xxx

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. VictoriaStrong says…
    09/07/2017

    I understand. Birthdays and holidays are so hard. And the anticipation is sometimes worse than the actual day. This grief world is tough stuff. Good for you mama for finding your strong, your joy, and your pain.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. LifeByMeli says…
    09/08/2017

    I don't know if it's because I have a Ryan or because in general I'm a mother but, I think of you often. I admire your honestly and your desire to find happiness. My baby is now dealing with some medical stuff and some days it's hard to even get up. I feel consumed in what we are dealing with and I too get very quiet. This blog post was beautiful and positive and really helped me. You reminded me to keep pushing to find happiness even when it seems impossible. Ryan is one lucky kid to have such a loving mom. Happy Birthday cutie pie. I didn't know you but I'll never forget you. ?Thank you for sharing Ryan and all your real emotions with us.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Jentos1814 says…
    09/14/2017

    Its 1:30 in the morning. I have been up late for several nights playing my day over in my head. My daughter is 3 years old. Everyday comes to an end and I feel defeated. My husband travels. I'm home raising a 3 year old and a 1 year old. There are so many precious moments throughout the day. But all I can focus on is how hard raising a 3 year old is. The attitudes, the melt downs, the arguments, sometimes screaming, the up hill battle of trying to communicate with a miniature version of myself. She's only 3 but she seems so much smarter then me. She is as strong willed, out spoken, defiant, and loving as I am. And I battle with how to raise a little version of myself. I think about how I can handle things differently. If I'm doing it all wrong. If she's ok. If I'm breaking her spirit with all the rules, and discipline. 2 has nothing on 3. It's a tough age. But I stay awake blaming myself for anything negative that happen through out the day. Trying to empty my mind, I zoned out to Facebook. And came upon Ellen's video clip telling your story. I immediately went right onto your blog. Tears haven't stopped flowing since. You are an amazing mother to your son and your daughter. I will forever have your family in my heart. I took a break from reading to go upstairs and wake up my heavily sleeping daughter. She asked what's wrong mommy. I said nothing hunny I just wanted you to know I love you, your my perfect little angel, and I'll see you over some pancakes in the morning. She hugged me and kissed me and feel back to sleep. I stood over her crying. Inside I kept replaying your story in my mind. Tomorrow I'm going to wake up before my children. I'm going to make a big fun breakfast for them. I'm going to have music blaring. Because they also LOVE music. And I'm going to wake them up. And shower then with hugs and kisses. I am going to change my shitty attitude of this 3 stuff is hard. And make everyday as fun and magical for my kids as I can. You are an amazing women!!!! An amazing mother!!! Your husband is amazing as well. You opened my eyes tonight. It's like I was meant to see that post. Your son will forever be burned into my brain. I don't know if any of this is making sense. But I appreciate my crazy, hectic, awesome, insane, super magical life. I appreciate your amazing life, story, your family, your amazing blog, I appreciate your beautiful son and daughter!!! You don't know me. But just know your family will forever be In my heart. Anytime I see red, I will think of Ryan. I will never take a day with my daughter for granted. I know this post might seem selfish on my part but I couldn't stop myself from sharing how your story has changed my life, my way of thinking. I thank you for sharing so much of your life! #redballoonsforryan ?????

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Rudybeaz says…
      09/18/2017

      I am so happy this blog post struck a cord for you. Being a mom to 2 young kids is very hard - don't beat yourself up. We do the best we can even when we make mistakes. I hope your pancake breakfast turned out wonderful!

  8. edith64 says…
    09/15/2017

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    Reply 0 Replies
  9. JACOROB says…
    09/16/2017

    Oh I fully understand and relate to ALL of your feelings...we thoroughly enjoyed our son-Robbie for 8 yrs when he started his eternal life with Jesus being his helper now for 23 yrs. I thoroughly enjoyed reading as you shared your thoughts and life of Ryan and while tears flowed down my face the beauty of helping another person through the gift of Ryan's life is so precious. Happy birthday to you Ryan may your life live on through your Mommy sharing!!! Love and hugs for you all, Karla

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. lizzydixon says…
    09/24/2017

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    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Nannykaren says…
    09/25/2017

    We lost our boy 5 years ago on Father's Day. He was 28 so we did get to see him grow up with his 2 brothers and I'm so grateful. And so sad that he didn't get to finish his life. He and his young wife never had children. She remarried after 3 years and they have a beautiful baby girl which makes me so happy and so sad at the same time.
    There is never enough time for the grief to go away. The anger subsides, or the worst of it does. Friends of ours lost their almost 3 year old son, the youngest of 3 boys, 7 years ago. They celebrate his birthday every year with balloons and cake and a visit to his resting place. They adopted a baby girl a couple of years after Brandon's death. A friend did a family portrait for them after the baby girl was adopted and painted Brandon in the picture. ❤️
    When asked how many children we have, we always say 3 sons. Jay is in Heaven, but he is still our son. He is still with us in so many ways. I don't know if you believe in signs, but we've had so many from Jay that he is still close by. Heaven is not as far as we think. And love never dies.

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