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It Never Ends

I always find myself amazed at the force with which my grief can hit. Sometimes it is like a slow build, until you just aren’t sure you can get out of bed that day. Other times, it is like someone has walked up to you and violently shaken you until all that is left is the pain and horror of that one day that changed your whole existence.   I had one of those violent shakes last week, and it has yet to let me go. I go through the motions. I go to work, try to accomplish everything that is required of me, come home and pray for sleep and relief, then wake up and do it again.  I laugh and smile and strive to seem normal, when the whole time I am engaging in this intense spiritual warfare that no one can see. I don’t want my husband or my son to see it, because there is nothing that can be done but get through.  These valleys in my grief are getting further apart, but no less devastating. I have read many stories and testaments over the past few days from other moms who have suffered and share this loss.  You see yourself in their words, and thoughts and you realize that although grief journeys are different for everyone, for moms, they are remarkably similar. I read a testimony from a mom who lost her second born, a year younger than Ryan, in the same way.  She is very early in her grief journey, and I see so clearly that I was exactly where she is now, looking for answers, battling guilt and despair and not really wanting to live a life that doesn’t have her son in it.  I want so badly to reach out, and let her know that she won’t always live exactly where she is right now, but I find myself right back there at this very moment, so how could I really say that and mean it?

I have had so many conversations with God over the past two weeks. What is the purpose for this, why do I deserve this when I have worked so hard for 3 1/2 years to stay strong, and present, and someone Ryan and Zach could be proud of?! I am still not sure that I understand, and I often ask myself who it is I think I am by questioning God (I do that a lot, he’s probably going to want to talk to me about that one day). But I have decided that by being able to remain standing through periods like this, by surviving  and remaining strong through pain such as these past two weeks, it helps make me who God needs me to be.  I don’t yet know why he needs me, but I feel in my heart that he has plans for me. I know he will reveal them to me in his time, but of course, I am not a patient sort (which will undoubtedly be another conversation we will have one day). But I know that he is faithful, and he will hang in there with me. Besides, between Ryan and my Dad, I don’t think they are giving him much choice!

I do believe this too shall pass. God will walk me through this valley, as he has so many times before over the past 3 1/2 years.  But I believe unequivocally in the power of prayer, and without shame ask for your prayers and good thoughts and love.  I have so many amazing, wonderful people in my life, and I am so grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

My Amazing Mom

I am completely in awe of my mom.  Losing my dad after close to 50 years of marriage should have broken her, because her love for my dad and his for her was and remains so deep. They had experienced all the joys and pains of life together. They endured the loss of two grandchildren, and each of their parents. They suffered through the terrible battle of cancer, and Mom slowly watching Dad move closer and closer to heaven with each passing day. All of this should have broken Mom, but nothing did.  She was an amazing advocate for my Dad’s health, and has steadfastly supported me as I have walked the journey of grief after losing our precious Ryan.

Mom didn’t turn from the world, as anyone would have understood and some probably anticipated . Instead, Mom has continued to embrace and actively participate in the lives of her children and grandchildren.  She has traveled with me both abroad and in the states for my work. She has attended each high school graduation, and the graduation from graduate school of her only son.   The first Christmas after we lost dad, she went through his things and gave to each of the six of us, and each of our kids, something that belonged to him she knew would mean something special for each of us.  She has always listened, and has held me up when my own grief felt too much to bear in that moment, even though her grief was no doubt weighing as heavily for her.  She has remodeled the home she shared with Dad, and did it with his thoughts and tastes in mind.  She has gone to therapy every single week, and now wants to give back and volunteer for Hospice, because they have done so much for her.  She has lost over 50 pounds, because she wants to be as healthy as she can for herself and her family.  Mom, you are my hero, a rock star and my best friend.  You believe in me, and never fail to let me know that.  I just wanted to make sure everyone else to know how incredibly strong, brave and amazing you are.  I love you!!!

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Mom and I taking in the view from the London Eye

 

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Winner of this battle…us!

It has been a rough couple of weeks.  To say I have felt under siege would be an understatement.  The spiritual battle I normally face day to day has been so much more intense lately.  It took me a little while to figure out why, but I had a bit of an epiphany a couple of days ago, and now it all makes sense.

First of all, and most importantly, we are thrilled to announce that Ryan’s website is finished and is now up and running! It turned out beautifully in our eyes, and we cannot thank Hayden Pugh enough for his time and talents.  Hayden, you have been a blessing to us on this journey, and we thank you so much.  The website address is http://www.ryantylersullivan.com.  Please visit when you get a chance, and share with us your thoughts. Thank you to all of our friends and family who have walked this journey with us. We are awaiting God’s further plan for us and for this scholarship.  We pray it will be a blessing to others and will honor our beautiful son.

Now, back to my epiphany. I believe in my heart that Satan was working overtime to keep us from reaching our goal of having this website become a reality.  I can’t begin to describe the challenges he put in my path the past few weeks. Needless to say, it tested my will, my heart, my faith, nearly everything. But what Satan didn’t realize was that he couldn’t test my love for my son. That never wavers, no matter the obstacle.  He gave it the ol’ college try, but he didn’t win.  The website is a reality, and we have put something out into the world that we pray continues God’s work.  We kicked his butt, and I know Ryan is up there secure in the knowledge that our love for him did that.

 

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Still on the Road, my baby still with me…

I worked in Montreal, Canada this past week. I had never been there, and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.  As is always the case, far from home makes me miss all my guys a lot, including Ryan.  I find, since losing Ryan, that whenever I travel, I look for  a sign from my baby boy that he is with me.  I can’t begin to tell you all the signs I have seen all around the world. It doesn’t matter where I am, my sweet boy always let’s me know he is there.

Many of you know from this blog that the Siberian Husky was Ryan’s dream dog.  He would always tell me that he was going to live in a cabin in the woods, him and his dog.  Every time I see a dog while I am away, I am always looking to see if it is a Husky.

We were heading to the Rental Car counter after leaving Customs in Montreal, and I saw a man standing near the entrance to the doors.  The Customs line had been long and a little hairy, and I wasn’t really paying attention.  As we went to go through the door, something told me to turn my head and look.  I saw the most beautiful Husky, with those piercing blue eyes and beautiful white coat.  It stopped my breath, and I told my friend who was with me,  “There is my sign.”  Ryan finds me, no matter where I am.  I wish I had my phone out to take it’s picture, but it was probably best I didn’t.  The poor guy wouldn’t have known what to make of a grieving Mama snapping pictures of his dog and smiling with tears in her eyes.  The Lord knows best, and I saw what Ryan needed me to see.

 

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Po Box 763

There are times when the Lord settles my heart, and shoulders my despair so that for a time, I am able to breathe. Then there are other times, where I believe the Lord allows me to rest in my grief, so that I may continue to learn that through his grace, we will survive this.  Today feels like one of those times.  I spent yesterday afternoon at the place of Ryan’s rest, and allowed myself to cry as I haven’t in quite some time. I know it isn’t something Ryan would want, and I know it would be difficult for Stacey and Zach if they knew that was where I was and how I was feeling, but I think God just wanted me to slow down and rest in my grief. I thought about my precious boy, and the amazing kid he was.  I screamed a little at the Lord to remind him that I do not understand why this was my journey as a mother to walk. I questioned myself as a mother, and if there was ANYTHING I could have done differently. I asked myself all the questions I ask when I am resting in my grief, and as always, am reminded of God’s grace.

Not long after I returned from Australia, I took a day away from work.  I was so tired, and knew that I was on a precarious ledge with my grief.  It always is worse when the spirit and mind are tired.  I have learned that is when Satan attacks, when you are just too tired to engage in the spiritual warfare that is losing your child.  All day I could not settle or rest.  My mind kept going back to those difficult moments.  I prayed so hard, and told Ryan and the Lord that I needed some help.  I needed a sign so that I wouldn’t continue to drift to that bad place.

I decided that day to get the Po Box for Ryan’s foundation. It was something I had been putting off.  I paid the money, and they assigned me a random box and told me to go and try the key before I left. I did, and it worked fine, so I turned to leave.  I don’t know why, but I turned back and looked at the box again.  For reasons only the Lord knows, I took the numbers from the box and added them. 7+6+3= 16, our precious boy’s age when he went to be with the Lord.  This was my sign. He touched this Earth for 16 years, and through his foundation, he  would touch it for many more.  My dear friend Tesi, who lost her beautiful Alex told me that she wasn’t surprised that I added the numbers.  It was the Lord and Ryan telling me to, so that my heart would see the sign.  She told me that we see things from a heavenly perspective now, because such a large part of our hearts is already there waiting for us.  I know we keep our hearts open to these signs. Because we do, we get to see and feel God’s grace.

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Thank you Cris for finding this picture. It is truly one my greatest treasures.

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Zach…Part 2

Most of you remember that Zach was applying this summer for an internship in Houston.  Well, we are so grateful and humbled because our boy did it! He has been offered, and accepted, an internship with PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Houston starting in January.  He is incredibly excited (in Zach’s low-key, “it’s cool” sort of way), and we are immeasurably proud of him.  It probably won’t be long before I start freaking out about my baby navigating Houston on his own, but as he has shown us many, many times in the past three years (and even before), he is going to be ok.  Since this is my brag about Zach post, he made the Dean’s list for his Spring semester, taking some challenging Accounting classes! (Can you tell I am a little proud?  Trust me, if he sees this post, I am going to be in trouble for embarrassing him. What can I say?? Proud, proud Mama!)  Thank you to our friends Lisa and Richard for cutting out the announcement and sending it to Zach. He got the biggest kick out of it!  As always, we know that we are blessed beyond measure in many ways, and we thank God for his unending grace.

Zach’s Mama

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Posted by on July 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

About our Ryan

As many of you know from Ryan’s foundation website, I was working to try and write something that could go on the “about” section of the website.  Thank you, Hayden, for being patient while I worked through this.  The website is not up yet, but this is what I wrote about our precious boy.  I hope it conveys the depth of the gift he was to us.  I hope when someone goes to the website to apply for a scholarship that they come to understand what a great young man he was, and that they leave feeling as if they wished they had known him.  It is probably alot to ask for from a single passage, but as his Mama, it is my deepest hope it has done him justice.

About Ryan

Ryan Tyler Sullivan was one of the brightest lights to dwell here in this life.   Though his time here with us was far too brief, he impacted the lives of every single person he touched.  He was, and still is, a tremendous warrior for Christ.  He believed whole-heartedly in the Lord, and the necessity and privilege of having him in his life.  He became a born-again Christian at age 14, and no one was more convicted and committed to making God the priority in his life than Ryan. 

Ryan was a beautiful and most beloved son to us, and the closest of confidants to his big brother.  He filled our lives with so much laughter, having inherited his Dad’s sense of humor.  He was always there with one of his signature bear hugs, squeezing so tight you thought your heart would burst.  Saying I love you was as easy as breathing to Ryan, and we cherish every “I love you” he gave to us.

Ryan also believed in the goodness of people, and approached everyone he met with an open and loving heart, and a desire to somehow make that person’s day better in some small way.  He always put the needs of others before his own.  He was one of the most unselfish of young men you would ever meet.

Ryan went to be with the Lord on February 24, 2013 at 16 years old. Though this day will forever be the worst in the lives of Ryan’s family and friends, it is the day we know brought Ryan face to face with his Savior, and when he was granted entrance to Heaven. He will rest there in the place that defies all understanding and description in its beauty until we see him again.  We have said this many times…He had only one decision that mattered that he had to make on earth, and he got it exactly right. Because of this, he sits at the feet of Jesus.

The awesomeness of Jesus Christ is something that has been revealed to us many times as we walk our journey of grief.  This scholarship foundation was one of those revelations.  Since the moment we lost our precious son, we knew we wanted to honor his life and legacy in a meaningful way, and in a way Ryan would be proud of.  The idea of this foundation was a quiet whisper in our ear, after nearly 3 years of living this new life we didn’t ask for.  Ryan, we know, would be immensely proud.

Though Ryan is not physically here with us, his impact is still being felt. We hope this scholarship foundation will allow Ryan’s goodness and light to continue to be a blessing to others.  As his parents, our greatest wish and desire is that Ryan never, ever be forgotten. We pray this scholarship will be his lasting legacy, and that because of him, God’s work here on Earth may continue, always.

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One of the loves of my life

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2016 in Uncategorized