Thursday, December 15, 2005

Matthew's 5 year old Birthday

Last night, at 3am, Matthew vomited; again at 9am and again at 3pm. He has the stomach flu and is his first illness for this season.

At one year birthday, Matthew had a fever. At the 2nd year birthday, it was Ryan’s turn to get sick. At the 3rd birthday at Disney: Matt had a fever at 3am and was fine next day. At the 4th bday at Disney, he vomited and fine the next day and now.

I think it is Ryan's sign to tell me to focus on Matthew. I was planning to go to work but instead we stayed at home: played games, watched TV, cuddled and napped with Matthew. It was nice but broke my heart to hear him said his tummy hurt. Also, I think I saw 3 sets of twin boys of the 2 hours I was out to see the doc....

I was so focused on Matthew today that I couldn’t focus on Ryan as much. I lit a candle for him.

There aren’t tears shed today much because the tears were all dried up since the start of Halloween. The anticipation was much more difficult. Matthew reminded me that I needed to focus on him. Today will be the first day where our time with Ryan is shorter than our time without him. It breaks our hearts….

My dear friend wrote this and really hit the spot:
“Happy birthday Ryan…thinking of you today and what a handsome young man you would be at the age of 5! I know you would you be as sweet as your brother with love and laughter in your eyes. We all miss you and love you and cherish the short time you were here. I believe you are with us each day though, keeping us safe. Happy birthday big boy!”

Saturday, December 3, 2005

3rd Annual Angel Ryan Project Recap

Dear Friends,
We want to thank you for taking time out of your busy holidays to participate in the Angel Ryan Project. With your generous donations, we collected 216 gifts in two weeks. Matthew, John and I delivered 90 plus presents and 125 Target gift cards to the Mid Peninsula Boys & Girls Club today. The club will hold a party for 600 plus children this Friday. So far they have collected 350 gifts, (including ours) and in hopes to reach their goal in the next few days. The director told us that unfortunately, the general public often disappoints to give. So they are so grateful how much Angel Ryan has helped them.

Our holiday traditions in Ryan’s physical absence have been bittersweet. While we ensure Matthew celebrates his birthday with a splash, we spend our remaining energy in collecting gifts to remember Ryan. Matthew learns that the holidays are about giving love to those we care about. The 3 of us spent last Sunday at Ryan’s resting place planting poinsettias, raking leaves, decorating. Matthew was eager to help in whatever task to keep his brother’s place tidy. He held the incense, bowed three times and said, “I miss you, Ryan and I love you.” We sang happy birthday and released blue, green balloons and watched them disappear into the sky. Matthew saw me cried and hugged my legs. I told him that I miss Ryan and it was okay to cry because crying makes me feel better afterwards. I told him how lucky I am to have him and I love him. My little boy understands.

Through your generosity, you have touched our hearts, Ryan’s spirits and the joy of many children. You also have taught Matthew compassion. You have taught us the spirit of the holiday. Thank you for giving.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

3rd Annual Angel Ryan Project Request

We are in Washington DC spending Thanksgiving with John’s family. It is our first in two years. For Christmas, we decided that we would spend Christmaswith my sister and my brother in law in Hong Kong.

The holidays are extremely delicate period for us. We try to plan in advance to ensure we feel some peace during a vulnerable time. This year will be our third holidays in Ryan’s absence. Although we have learned to adapt to our new lives, we miss our boy and wonder how he would have blossomed now. Come the boys’ 5th birthday on December 15th, the time we have spent without Ryan will be longer than the time we had him.

Ryan has given John and I a gift – the gift of living in the presence and the gift of gratefulness. We no longer need to search for what we don’t have, what will make us happier. Ryan has reminded us that we should only be happy now and be grateful of what we have now because in a blink we can lose what we should have treasured. Of course we live with a hint of sadness that represents our loss of Ryan.

Through living in the presence, we enjoy and live so authentically through Matthew. Matthew is a delight. He often tells me that, “Mama, this is my choice.” And I told myself, “Good for him.” Our little boy who used to follow the shadow of Ryan has broken out of his shell and has blossomed into a confident little boy.

As the boys’5th birthday is approaching, we will organize our third annual Angel Ryan Project. We hope you can continue to support us to donate gifts in Ryan’s honor. Matthew and I will go shopping on December 5th….He understands that we are shopping for the children who are less fortunate and each gift
purchased is used to remember Ryan. Matthew and I will deliver the gifts to the Mid-Peninsula Boys & Girls Club on December 8th.

Last year, we collected 150 gifts in 7 days. I hope we can collect the same if not more. Please take a moment to celebrate Ryan’s life with us. We hope you can help us make a difference during this holiday in Ryan’s honor.

Feeling Vulnerable

There is always the fear that people are less anxious about remembering and supporting. I drove myself crazy today because I sent out the email last week for the Angel Ryan Project and didn't hear much response.... until today people were responding about supporting.

There is always that fear that people are so busy with their lives and can no longer take the time to honorRyan. It is just so emotional. I cried a lot today but feel better now. Kind of silly but because it is so personal. Sometimes, I wonder if it is easy just to hide and hibernate. When I reach out, I have to risk for potential disappointment but I guess at the end, this method is more helpful in my healing and honoring Ryan.

Reality is memories fade...Ryan just becomes old news...I really just need to learn to deal with that. He is my little boy. I really feel I need to hibernate for a while.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Change is difficult

Change is difficult. We finally said our final goodbyes to our neighbors Emily and her parents last night. As we hugged, I just burst into tears. I will miss them so much. They chose to be involved in our lives during this past two years. I will miss the habit of coming home and seeing Emily across the street asking her to come over to play. It has been a constant ritual. Matthew has company and our house was filled with happy kids’ play. Emily has been the convenient void for our family and I have developed so a special bond with this little girl. I will miss watching her grow up with Matthew. The next time I would see her she will be half year older.

I don’t think anyone can relate or understand that loss that we feel. It is just not losing a neighbor who is moving away. For us, it is a loss of a special relationship and friendship that we feel so close to. These people could have chosen not to be involved in our lives but they did. We feel so safe with them and they feel the same in our emotional space. Friendships like that come rarely and we are so afraid to lose that because we value that gifted friendship.

I was reading to Matthew last night and he kept pushing the "Matthew bear" and Emily's voice comes up saying “I love you, Matthew.” I just burst into more tears.

Matthew asked, "you miss Emily?"
I said, "Yes, I will miss Emily, Auntie Lesley, and Uncle Sid."
He put the bear closeby my face and pushed the button and said, "I will make you better" and Emily's voice came up.
Matthew said, "Well, we are going to have new neighbors. They have a 8 and a 3 yr old."
I said, "Well, we don't know them and we don't know if they are nice."
Matthew, "Everybody is nice. Well, some people are nice. Some are not so nice."
I said, "Emily, Auntie Lesley and Uncle Sid care a lot about us. They are our friends. The new neighbors are not our friends."
Matthew fell asleep.

John and I looked at Emily "old" house and tonight that house is not the same...empty feeling. Tonight, our house is quiet. Hopefully, we will adjust and we just have to.

I will surely miss seeing Sid and Emily around 6pm and asking Emily to come over. I just never thought I would befriend so personally with my neighbor. I love my privacy and never want to know my neighbor!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween - bittersweet

Halloween, I think it is still my favorite holiday for a child. I want Matthew to have a fulfilling fun Halloween holiday despite of our experience. For the past 2 weekends, we went to various Halloween carnivals, parties to really savor the Halloween spirit. We carved pumpkins and talked about the anticipation of Halloween. Matthew chose his costume to be Darth Vader. He was concerned about wearing the mask not to intimidate children younger than him. He hesitated to be Darth Vader after his friends told him that Darth Vader is a bad guy. Our little boy is growing up.

In order to ensure that we are going to feel “safe” on Halloween, we brainstorm all the possibilities on whom we want to join for trick or treating. Matthew has many friends but there are a few parents whom both John and I are also comfortable with in spending this holiday when it is a very sensitive period for us. We just couldn’t anticipate. So for the unknowns, we ended up putting a lot of efforts planning to ensure that we can be “safe”. What is “safe”? If we have a grief burst, an emotional letdown, these friends allow us to express those feelings freely.

Tonight was a disappointment in my planning because I let myself down. The friends that we decided to spend trick or treating with wanted to spend time with us except we didn’t know that they already had made plans to meet up with their friends. We didn’t know that there would be more people involved until the night. At the last minute, we decided that we didn’t want to join them because we want to protect ourselves not knowing how their friends were like. Should we have been notified by our friends about having other companies, we would have anticipate otherwise.

Matthew ended up going trick or treating with our neighbor who will be leaving the neighborhood in 10 more days. They had a great experience getting candies and it was such a delight for us as parents to absorb all those special moments.

At bedtime, while I was reading to Matthew, I burst into tears. The tears were long overdue. I let out all my emotions.

Matthew asked me, “Why are you sad?”
I answered, “Mama misses Ryan.”
Matthew said, “I miss Ryan too. He is my brother. He is 2 and then he will be 3 then 4. I will be 5. So I am his brother. I will be nice to him.”
I answered, “Matthew, you were always so nice to Ryan. You took such good care of him.”
Matthew said, “Do you want a hug or a kiss or both?”
I said, “Both.”
Matthew leaned over, kissed and hugged me, asked ,”Do you feel better now?”
I nodded in tears, “Matthew, Mama loves you so much and so happy to have you.”
Matthew said, “I love you too, Mama.” and went to sleep.

You know what the cry was for? It travels back to our deepest emotions and loss. If Ryan is still alive, the boys would have company to do trick or treating together and I would never need to brainstorm whom Matthew can spend Halloween with. What if Ryan is around? Thoughts like that made John and I feel so vulnerable. We lost Ryan. We lost the pillar in our family to make our love complete. That loss challenges us each day and most sensitive during a day like today. This loss and holiday experience is so foreign to those who aren’t bereaved. Eventually, the world continues to turn and nobody can really understand the feelings of those bereaved . John and I just need to adjust and conform to the world.