Sunday, January 31, 2010
The Storm Has Passed
Good Morning Butterbean,
It is Sunday morning here in Virginia. “The storm has passed”. It has been three hundred and thirty seven days since leaving us behind. Ryan, I am not sure why I count the days but looking back the last eleven months, I have been compulsive marking the days on my Day-Timer. I do not complete this task after the fact, but rather in advance. Usually, as I sit in my home office, with a pencil I look to the future. Carefully, with only you on my mind, it seems to be a tool to prevent me from my most recent fear of becoming indifferent, I neatly insert the number on each Sunday of the month. I want to know at all times exactly how many days you have been gone. People react differently to the death of a loved one. I recall when your Grandma Young passed away three years ago Christmas, the first thing my Dad asked us was to please remove all the pictures and to remove her dresser and cloths as soon as possible. It must have been his way of dealing with tomorrow. Live goes on and after sixty-five years he wanted to begin this new chapter of his life as soon as possible. The morning my Mom passed away, I was driving you from our home in Tarrytown to meet some of your friends in New Jersey. You had joined us for her last days over Christmas, she lasted longer than we thought and you had to go back to UNCW for Hell week. You did not want to go. You wanted to stay to say your final goodbye. You so much loved her and she you. Growing up you spent a couple of weeks each summer with them in New York. A teammate of yours, visiting her family from Jersey agreed to drive you back. After I dropped you off, I began the forty-five minute drive back to Tarrytown. As I entered the freeway, my cell phone rang. It was your Aunt Karen. Your Grandma made her final Journey. By the time I arrived home, all of her belongings were gone. My brothers and sisters handled my Dad’s request.
There are no rules with death and mourning. I am convinced that each personality, all being different have their own defense mechanisms to address grief. All experiencing this unthinkable reality of death, must go on, they must, for there is no other option. Losing you Ryan or for any parent to lose a child takes this challenge to a level few will ever experience. The storms appear with out warning. At times, these storms are a brief shower, leaving just a few tears behind. There are times; these storms are so intense you cannot escape its grip. You are trapped in tears, a prisoner of your memories both past and future yet to enjoy. The catalyst can be a song, it can be a holiday, perhaps a brief memory of a special time together, and even a well-executed flip turn can trigger this disbelief. The storms are barely tolerable, but they are also welcome, as the absence of them may lead to indifference.
This indifference I prefer never to experience. Rather, I will embrace these storms and look for the rainbow, look for your memories to fill my heart with your love and spirit you left behind.
The storm began Friday night, three hundred thirty-five days from your accident. Unlike the storm of last February 28th, we were warned. We had time to prepare, time to fill the cupboards with food and drink. I spent Friday morning at the grocery store, knowing by early afternoon, panic would set in, the store shelves would be empty and lines unbearably long. I briefly think as I write this morning, how would have I prepared if I had known you would be taken from us. I smile this moment with many tears as it occurs to me, I did prepare. I spent quality time with you for twenty-one years. You always knew I loved you, I told you often. I cherished you and you cherished me. Our bond was truly special. I will always miss you Ryan. I am thankful for this preparation.
I spent the day Friday, late morning and afternoon making a sales call in Richmond. Finishing up at around 3:00 PM, I drove to the Williamsburg, YMCA for some “Endless Laps”. Shannon had written me a new work out. Anticipating being snowed in I wanted to accept the challenge of these 3200 yards, for I knew the storm would make a weekend work out unlikely. She included lots of pulls and more IM’s than my arms could tolerate. I finished, confident and knowing the feel of the water was present, you were present. I spent a few minutes in the hot tub, as you did so often after hard workouts. I always think of you while warming down basking in the hot water, usually crying and smiling as this contradiction seems always present. As I make my way home, your Mom calls me. Working in a hospital it was possible she would not be able to leave should the storm arrive early. I would then spend the weekend alone but never lonely, for you would be with me, pen and paper in hand. Luckily, that was not the case; she also was on her way home. By late evening, the flakes began to fall. We took turns, walking outside, looking out over our small farm in awe at the beauty before us. Falling snow, the flakes large, none appearing to be the same, began to grace the fields. We took turns letting Venus and Rex play in the white powder. Somehow, they knew we would be together as a family the next few days. At first, they were unsure of this peculiar white powder on the ground, but after a few minutes, they were play fighting and rolling in this sea of white. It really is special to watch a couple of dogs, having no worries, having this much fun. Many thoughts of times past, times in the snow, making snow angels and snowmen with you and Taylor brought wanted tears to our eyes. We know and accept the storms are necessary to heal the earth to heal our souls, to keep you with us silently in our hearts.
We spent all day Saturday, at home, for there was nowhere to go, the roads closed to all but the few adventurous daring souls. Once again, we spent the day together, no plans in place for we would let nature decide our day. By Saturday afternoon, we were encircled by this sea of white, ten inches deep, virgin, clean, and spiritual except for the tracks left behind by Venus and Rex. As is usually the case, by 10:00 PM we were fast asleep, each to our own private dreams, a place we all experience as the body and the mind have a chance to recover from the previous days storm. I suppose it is the only way, we as humans can accept the past and prepare for the challenges not known as of yet. I so much enjoy sleeping; however, my wish for you to join me during this peaceful time has not come true. Perhaps, perhaps one day it will. Until this miracle blesses me, I will continue to talk with you, to think of you, to recall memories, and to cry for you, whether working, swimming, running, writing or spending a few days with your mom, joyfully imprisoned by natures healing storms.
It is 5:00 AM Sunday morning. As usual, I am up before the sun. I enjoy this time, a cup of coffee in hand, I prepare for a new day. I am a little annoyed, disappointed, as I think about yesterday. The desire to write, the thoughts necessary were not present. I could not have planned for a better background to talk with you, imprisoned by the storm. Your spirit, my spirit could not find the thoughts or prose to inscribe. Startled out of my daydream, Venus and Rex are sitting by the door whining. Nature is calling them. I grab a fresh cup of coffee and as I walk outside, I notice the sun is up, not a cloud in the sky. I am suddenly, at least for the moment entranced by the beauty before me. Spiritual is the only word coming to mind as I look out over the untouched field of white, the sun casting glaring rays of hope and enlightenment as the trees look on smiling and comforted by their new blanket. I absorb this heavenly view for a few minutes, allowing all to be absorbed by my hungry soul. I immediately begin this letter to you for the storm has passed, leaving behind only beauty, hope and the desire to share my life with you one storm at a time.
Ryan, I love you so much. Please keep the storms coming!