Day 847

DAY 847
Dear John,

Dad and I went to Israel.  You would have loved it.  You would have wanted to stay and join their Army.  They looked sharp in their uniform!   I know people think there is so much danger and unrest, at least us here in the US, but it’s not like everyone thinks.

We are all guilty of a lot of assumptions as to what a place is really like.  Weird, really, when you’ve never experienced it for yourself, and it’s all based on the opinions of others and the media.  I felt that way before I went to New York – and it wasn’t at all what I thought it would be.  It’s like anywhere else with people, sites, food, and daily life.  How different would life be if we could all see the truth without all the haze that blinds us?

Anyway, I wanted to tell you, John, that I have a whole new appreciation for Mary.  When we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and stood in front of Mary’s statue, there is a sword plunged deep into her heart. What an accurate depiction of losing a child…

Losing a Sibling

The memories that Facebook and Timehop present each morning can bring an unexpected smile, or trigger your grief so profoundly it's paralyzing. Today they brought a smile. And then writing this brought an onslaught of tears . . .

We took a family trip in 2012 to Hawaii.  Today as I went through those photos, it reminded me just how funny our kids are.  Together they were quite a show.  It made me reflect on my daughter's journey, her loss, and how often times siblings are forgotten in the process.  
On this particular trip, the two of them were sitting on a driftwood bench together, posing for a photo - that I'm so glad I insisted upon - when an elderly gentleman approached and told them what a cute couple they make.  Of course, that delighted John and mortified Kate.  
You see John absolutely adored her.  He thought she was amazing.  John was also a snuggler and would gladly squeeze her to pieces.  She wasn't at the stage of life where she thought sibling snuggling w…

A God of Visions - A God of Details . . . (and a really cool story)

On the second anniversary of our son’s death, my friend Ronna came by to see us. She shared with me a vision she had of John. It went like this: "I saw the best picture of John. He had a glorious twinkle in his eyes, and he leaned in and said 'Mom, I’m doing so great!' The peace on his face and in his voice are indescribable."As she relayed this vision of John to me, her eyes welled up with tears, but the joy she exuded was palpable. She told me she could still see his face so clearly and she just couldn’t describe it fully – the joy. 

This is not the first vision to come from Ronna and her husband David.  I also wrote about David's word regarding our little Davey Sue coming into the world, and he also saw our son being greeted in Heaven by a family friend who lost his life in a private plane crash.
At the same time, I received a Facebook message from Allison. She felt led to contact me about a company from South Dakota called Rebekah Scott Designs, click here f…

Year Two. Remembering John.

As I woke up this morning, complete with all its horrible memories, I had a thought. 
When John was about six, we lost him at Camp Snoopy in the Mall of America on New Year's Eve for a brief moment. He and a friend came off of a ride on the opposite side we were expecting, and for those moments, we had no idea where he was. Do you know that feeling? Absolute terror? Adrenaline kicking in, panic overwhelms you and you start frantically searching? Well, his death is similar in feeling, only it’s about a million times worse and it lasts all day every day. You spend the rest of your life managing those horrific thoughts and that incessant feeling of panic. Where is he? Only you can't find him.
Anyway, John Ryan would be 26 now - and I thought, why not share 26 ways to remember him or get to know him today. 
Feel free to add anything you think he would have loved. We so enjoy hearing about him through you.

Why Do We Say What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger?

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! 
What does that even mean?  

Quora says that the phrase or cliché “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, was originally penned by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, in his book Twilight and Arrows, and it was used as a motto for Hitler’s Nazi youth camps.  He wrote a similar line in a later book entitled Ecce Homo, just before he went completely insane.

Umm, that's not a motto I want to adopt.  Furthermore . . . 

In our case, John's trauma did kill him.  His pain did not make him stronger.  In fact, it was more than he could bear and it led, eventually, to his accidental overdose. So I guess he wasn't strong enough, huh?   

And now, his trauma has become our trauma.  His pain will forever be our pain.  His death has become our instant replay.  His death is what we try to keep held tightly behind our walls.  His death has affected who we are and what we do. It has infiltrated every fiber of our being - the very air that we …

Conversation With God

Before John died, I had a 3 a.m. conversation with the Lord one night.  I knew about the drugs.  I knew what that meant.  I had been pleading for his life, for his healing, for his willingness to get help, for his trauma - that he would accept counseling, try meds for depression, anything...something.  As his mom, my heart was broken, I didn't know what to do, and God quietly asked: "Do you trust me?"  
Do you trust me either way?   Do you trust me if the answer isn't what you were hoping for?  If the outcome isn't the answer, isn't the solution you were hoping for?  Will you trust that I know the whole picture?  That I am the creator of the universe and that John is my child first?
I cried for hours before I answered.  I begged and pleaded and I knew that I had to surrender.  I finally said "yes, I trust you no matter what.  I trust you with John's life and I trust you with mine." 
On mornings like this one, where it seems like the whole world is …

The Ghost of You

Everywhere I go,  you are with me. 

The memories of you, they either come along, or they meet me.  
But they are always there.  
I cannot escape them, nor do I want to.  
I always want you with me, even if it hurts.

I go to grab a coffee, you are there.  

Iced Caramel Machiatto.

I go to the grocery store, you are there.  

Hot sauce, cereal, Tostitos cheese dip.  
Did you get chips?  
Can you make that casserole?
The one with the chicken and noodles, you know, my favorite? 

Today I asked Alexa to turn on some music, background noise for the dog, and you are there.

"I'm not alright, you're not alright . . .don't let me go".

I wake up to a new message, a loss mom . . .she's struggling. Her son also overdosed, we share our stories, and you are there.

I see you. You are so cold, so pale, so still.  In your Ole Miss long sleeve.  You're not breathing.

You especially hang with me on Mondays.  
The ghost of you.  
It's always harder on Mondays.  And today is no exception.