The pixie dust has settled and all our family has gone home. We’ve spent the past week with my mom in town and three of the days were spent celebrating Ryan and his ninth birthday. As most of you know we celebrate Ryan’s birthday at Disneyland every year and although it is one of the most gut wrenching things to do, it somehow feels incredibly magical at the same time. With my family in tow I feel brave and truly Ryan wouldn’t want us to do anything else but celebrate him at one of his favorite places.
We spent our time bouncing between the hotel pool and the Disney parks. Riding every ride that Ryan deemed his favorite, followed by rides that Mila insisted on riding for Ryan like The Little Mermaid. We ate treats after treats and the laughs flowed out from us non-stop. The day was warm with Ryan shining fiercely upon us and this was the first year that Mila actually understood who and what we were celebrating. It was pretty neat to see her brain work and realize that her big brother is in fact gone, but still here in a very special way. We keep teaching and telling her the facts of when someone we love passes away. Where we believe they go and how we keep them alive in our hearts. Mila’s sweet, sweet soul gets it and she loves her Ry Ry. I’m very proud of the relationship my two children have and feel blessed to teach our third baby on the way about Ryan as well.
It is quiet now. Sunday and we are back at home feeling tired and full. I haven’t managed to cry all week and I can feel body gearing up to lose it all right here. I can feel the tears burning on the brims of eyes as I let the tragic feeling of trying to celebrate your son’s ninth birthday with out him. It was fun, but it sucks really bad and I can’t help but let myself feel crappy for a while. To be quite honest, my mom just left to catch her flight, Dan is mindlessly watching football, Mila is reading books to herself and has brought every toy imaginable onto the couch. I’ve wandered into my bedroom to write this and have a good cry.
It has been six birthdays now with out Ryan and not a one has gotten easier. It gets more difficult as I feel farther and farther away from him with each year. I can’t even fathom anymore what Ryan would be like at this age. I try to imagine him as a nine year old. I wonder if he would have still loved his hair long. I wonder what sports or activities he’d be practicing. We lost him when he was three and half and although I can try and guess based on his personality what Ryan would be into, I just don’t know. I’ll never know, but I do know he’d still be making us laugh and trying hard to do so. He’d also most likely still be loud and love hard on his little sister. (Along with being annoyed with her too ;) When I’m sitting here letting sadness consume me I think about that and how much of a void Ryan’s absence is. I let myself feel angry. I talk out loud to him, begging that he can see how good we are doing in his honor and how I’ll never let him be forgotten. I tell him I miss him and that I’ll love him forever.
Soon I’ll hear Mila or need to get something done. Then I’ll dry my tears, tell Ryan I love him once more, and continue my fight for happiness. It isn’t easy, but this life is worth fight. I share my feelings here in hopes of continuing my son’s life on some level. But also to help anyone else out there overcome with grief. It can be truly lonely once the people who support you have moved on and you are still there hurting so badly. I’m here to tell you that you are not alone and whatever you feel is 100% valid. Let yourself feel the bad but don’t be afraid to let yourself feel the good too. Trust me, there is always good to be had despite the bad we are faced with.
Once thing that for sure helps me smile is taking a look back at the fun times and seeing glimpses of Ryan within mine and my family’s smiles. Below are some photos I took on my iPhone from our day celebrating.
Happy 9th Birthday Ryan.
We love you!