Dear 2014, A Beautiful Year

I’m sitting in a beautiful Tahoe cabin as I write this. I stayed behind as the rest went snowboarding. I felt the need to get some thoughts out of my head, to really explore my thoughts and what they mean. The past few days I’ve felt so heavy. Physically heavy and quick to cry. I cry everyday, though lately the tears come and flow with out warning. Dan and I made it through Christmas and it was hard. We celebrated us, we celebrated Ryan and we were able to celebrate with family. All the while I felt so anxious. Christmas brought out this terrible streak of jealousy and fierce anger. I was just plain mad that families were able to celebrate as a whole and Dan and I were not. However, on Christmas Eve those feelings kind of absorbed into each other and melted away. I still felt sad (I’m positive I’ll be some version of sad all my life), but I also felt OK. I wasn’t angry anymore. We lit three red candles as we opened gifts and I remember thinking

“We are celebrating as a family. It just looks different than what you had imagined. And Jacqui that is OK. You are OK. You got this.”

2014 was a beautiful year. It really was. There were parts of 2014 that were really terrible. Parts of 2014 that ripped my heart out. Parts of 2014 where my head was so foggy, clouded with sorrow and every emotion possible. 2014 brought out severe panic attacks and if I’m being honest with myself…2015 will most likely hold a decent amount hurt, pain and panic attacks. Well if I’m being honest then I’ll say; The mother who lost her three year old boy in a flash hates 2014. She hates the month of May. She hates the 2nd of every month. She hates every Friday around 6pm until she falls asleep. I understand her. Who could blame her. That mother is truthfully me and yet I still can’t bring myself to truly say Good Bye to 2014. I pictured myself up to bat and hitting 2014 so far into the stands that it explodes and is never to be thought of again. But, if i’m still being honest, I don’t want to say to Good Bye. Speaking of things I hate … I hate goodbyes. I truly hate having the time of my life only to say “Good Bye” to it all. It sucks.

I don’t want to say Good Bye to the last time I held my son. Or the last time I took him to Disneyland. The last time we walked to get coffee. The last time we made pancakes or rice crispy treats together. I don’t want to say Good Bye to the year where I heard my son’s laugh for the last time or felt his little body climb into our bed in the early morning.

I don’t want to continue to get farther and farther away from all those moments.

Do you know what happens as you get farther and farther away?

You start to forget.

And that right there, is my worst fear.

My worst fear used to be death or if my grandparents died (because who would of thought my son would be the one?) Or sometimes my worst fear would be a shark bumping into my paddle board in the harbor (holy crap!) or slamming my finger so hard my nail would turn black and fall off (yikes!). Actually, my sister had that happen to her in 2014 and as I’m writing this out I know I’ve taken a left turn and here I go on a tangent... But that truly is a fear now having seen her go through the trauma. She was in so much pain she nearly blacked out. In a few weeks her nail actually fell off, and no amount of gel polish can fix such a thing. I’m sure she is happy to have that moment in 2014 past her.

Slamming my finger, yes that is a real fear because it isn't fun.

Anyways, the point is I had / have many worst fears. Don’t we all? Now my number one fear, is to forget. I remember the day after we lost Ryan and the flood of people flowing in to pay their respects and drop of copious amounts of food. I remember thinking in my head these people, all these people knew Ryan or knew of his outgoing, wild personality. I remember saying over and over and over again to anyone who would listen “Please don’t forget my son.” Sometimes it would come out soft like a whisper. Sometimes the words would fall out of my mouth in a desperate scream. A few times I would beg. I remember grabbing Dan’s older sister, begging her to never let her kids forget Ryan. “Please, don’t let them forget him. Please!” I begged her so hard as if I was starving and needed food. Please! Please…

I know I am biased. Because Ryan is my son. But if I’m being honest I feel as if my son is just to damn good to forget. Ryan had so many amazing moments. He was quick witted, hilarious, obnoxious and had such a vibrant way of living. Every tiny moment that made up Ryan’s life was special and I am so afraid to forget it all. I am so afraid of people forgetting those moments.

It is now a new year. A fresh start right? The time people make lists of resolutions and plans for an abundant year. It is the time for new and with each passing day we fall farther and farther from the last year. I sit here with tears flowing down my face hot and fast. Dan and I kept with tradition and ventured to Tahoe for New Years as we always do. Our friends wanted to celebrate the New Year and I just wasn’t feeling it. I felt angry like why would anyone want to celebrate right now? Can’t we just sit and talk about Ryan? Can’t we just sit and let me cry and feel sad? Can someone just hold me as I let myself have a good hearty cry about my loss? My heart is still so broken even just 8 months out. My heart is so broken there really is no room for any type of true celebration. But, I don’t expect our friends to understand that. I don’t expect anyone to understand that. Holy crap! I don’t even think I understand my grief and wild emotions half the time.

Now as I sit here in this elaborate Tahoe cabin, the snowboarders are back and I can hear muffled reggae music coming from the deck. My husband is trying his best to have a good time, and I am so proud of his strength. I wish I had some of of his strength. I’m sitting here and I feel less heavy after writing out all that was bouncing around in my head through New Year’s Eve and now into New Years Day. I feel a bit better. The tears are still to quick to brim my eyes, but that is expected right?

I like to let myself feel all there is to feel while walking this grief. I like to assess my feelings so I can kind of learn from them, grow from them. I’m so desperate to learn the ins and outs of this life with out my son in hopes of understanding it all better. Maybe I can learn how to control it. Or at least learn how to live with my loss better and better each day.

So, what have I learned from my New Year’s Eve meltdown and sappy New Years morning? I learned that I am not as strong as I say I am. I learned that I am still extremely sensitive. My wound is still gaping open and raw. I learned that in order to feel really good, a deep from the depths of your soul cry is needed to be had. Like a cry so crazy deep you can’t catch your breath and your body shakes with each whimper. A good cry lets me feel relief.

I learned all that. Just 8 months ago we lost Ryan and I’ve learned that I still need a lot of tender love and care. I’m walking around, living life made of glass and at any moment a memory, a song or a statement can come crashing into me and break me into a thousand pieces. Leaving me strangled with sadness, fear and possibly anger as I slowly try to piece myself back together.

I’m now understanding that I will always be putting myself back together. Each time with a little more strength. Like that three little pigs story; the first time I put myself back together I was weak and had only the knowledge to do so with hay. the second time I knew a little more of myself and what I am capable of with this grief looming over me, so I built myself again with sticks. The next time I will be stronger. I can’t wait for the day I will have enough power and force to re-build myself with brick. That will be a beautiful day. Maybe I’ll invite everyone in and have a party.

I lost my son in 2014, but I don’t hate 2014 for that. I don’t love it either, but in order to rebuild myself stronger I need to reflect on all the good that came of 2014. This life of loss is all over the place…as I’m sure my words are (Thank you to those who bare with me on this written journey). 2014 was a wonderful year. I’ve learned that much. It had so many amazing moments intertwined with some terrible ones…and really isn’t that what every year is made of? I will never fully say “Good Bye” to 2014. No way! I can not. I will hold 2014 close to my heart as I do the day I held my baby boy for the first time. I will relive every moment of Ryan’s life and celebrate them till the day I join him. I have to.

To forget is my fear… but to forget is inevitable. Everyone (including me) will forget some pieces. I just need to remember that as we slowly forget, new incredible moments will fill in the cracks. And with that notion I able to finally say…

Hello 2015, You better be a good one.

Happy New Year