Monday, January 30, 2006

The Grief Burst

I have not felt the need to write for a while but today I want to capture a moment of this journey. We were in the support group and as the new year arrived, John and I decided that it is the right moment to close out of this support group so we can allow others on the wait list to join.

As the meeting started and as I shared Ryan’s story and our lives with an incoming new parent, my feelings exploded. I couldn’t control my extreme sadness as I described my journey through the loss of Ryan. It was like a volcano erupting. John after two and half years felt he had allowed his grief to reach the deepest pit that now he could come out of the pit and perform like a normal citizen. He was like a walking dead for two years and now out of that pit.

As for me, he said I had been grieving by keeping myself busy with projects, I did not reach that pit as deep as he did or was I ever in the pit? When I was least expecting it, that “burst” surfaced out from that pit uncontrollably. I didn’t know I had it in me. It is just a reminder that I need to stay with the group to process those emotions that I have managed to cover with layers of blankets.

As I was telling the story, I realized I started losing memories of the details. I would be the first to admit that I am someone who is born with a weak memory bank.

But I told John that I still have vivid memories of my touch with Ryan….the many nights when he was ill and he couldn’t sleep. I would let him lay his head on my shoulder. I would pace around the room and humming this one lullaby that I don’t even know the name of. I would feel his hair sticking up because he was too warm. I would feel his little chubby hands which fingers would be so straightened as he stretched himself. I would feel those chubby flat little feet. I remember the size of his little body. I remember how proud I felt to be his mother….a little boy who had enormous confidence and layback attitude. I remember how calm and peaceful I was whenever I was alone with him during the nights. I remember telling myself how handsome of a man he would grow up to be despite having a less attractive baby face than Matthew. I was ready to tell the world…here is my handsome and confident son. I knew he would grow up to have that internal confidence that other teens may lack. I just believed Ryan was born with that confidence. No matter how forgetful I can be, perhaps a mother will never forget her son….

Friday, January 6, 2006

My Birthday

Christmas and the holidays came and gone. We went to Washington DC to spend Thanksgiving with John’s family. Our traditions were to bring the boys back for xmas but we couldn’t so we chose what we thought was a gentler holiday to give Matthew an opportunity to spend with a large extended family. In the Asian culture or at least in that gathering, we just pretended we were fine when asked. Nobody really tried to ask you how we really were or how we were coping. It is just not in the culture. So even though we had not seen these relatives in 2.5 years, everyone just focused on Matthew without any mention of Ryan as if he never existed. So it was extremely difficult for us to put on a face that we never could have been happier. All in all, we saw the joy of Matthew and it was very special for him to spend time with so many people. After all, that is what the holidays are about. Now we have done our first, I know we can do future holiday gatherings.

We went to Hong Kong to spend Christmas with my sister and brother in law. We kept ourselves busy by shopping and spending money. Being in a foreign land made us cope with the holidays easier. We all focused on Matthew and he brought all the adults so much joy. He reminded us what living is.

Today is my 41st birthday. John was in Vegas this week and returned late. I got a phone call from the radiologist after doing a mammogram at the beginning of the week. They asked me to do another ultrasound as they want to do a follow up on the mammogram. For a moment, I felt vulnerable. What other challenges can be presented to John and I? John was more nervous than I was. John has reinvented himself so differently. The year when I first met John, he received a birthday card from his fraternity brother. The card showed a boy sitting on the sidewalk fishing in a puddle and he caught a fish. That was John’s attitude. Now, he said our hope is to return to some kind of normalcy after our tragic loss of Ryan. We are so just sensitive to our environments.

As for me, I was afraid….my mind travels….I feel a sense of responsibility to Matthew. I need to be well and alive to care for my child. That is my priority. As much as I am not supposed to worry until I have to, I will still travel to that dark moment.

While in the office, I heard a CD played from my co-worker’s office. It was a CD that I was playing a lot right after Ryan’s death. In the CD was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star sang in Hawaiian style. My co-worker never had played any music from her office let alone this CD of the 3.5 years that I had consulted there.

At the end of the day, I often wondered if Ryan was trying to send me signs to remind me that it is not as important to reflect on the past but to be in the present and the future. He is trying to teach me about how I should live my life. On his 2nd anniversary while we were driving to Auburn for a getaway, a mother called me to ask me when and if I was going to have a Ryan’s Ride in San Francisco because her children asked about the event often. I just have to believe that it was a sign from Ryan to give me strength.

I kept my birthday low key. I worked and came home to my loving child who spent all night long wishing me a happy birthday and telling me he loves me. How can I not count my blessings? That is the best gift of all on my very special day.