Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas in Hong Kong

The trip to Hong Kong was so very intimate for us as a family. Matthew was so very engaging with Baby Alana. Baby Alana looks like my brother in law so there is no reminder of Ryan. But while carrying her in my arms, she represents so much, an extension of hope and joy to the whole family. She is just the perfect baby, always smiling and peaceful. She is an easy baby like Ryan. Matthew surprised us all. He would rather follow my sister to the ladies lounge to wait for her to nurse Alana than to be with me. He became the great 7-year old helper to my sister in the busy mall, holding the side of the stroller. He was like that the whole trip. There was just a natural bond between Matthew and Alana that came so effortlessly. I was surprised to see him so engaging with a baby for so long and did not turn back into the selfish 7 year old. I never have seen him to play such a role with any little ones.

Watching my sister and brother in law as parents was a joy. They were so very involved, loving and calm. I am so very proud of them.

As we departed, we just realized how important it is for us to see each other more often as family. We need to make it a tradition to have family trips. My sister really missed us when we left as she knew how important family connections are after becoming a one will dote over Alana as much as we will....

As for Ryan, he is in my heart but just not front and center like before. I told John I don’t know if it was because I was out of my routine…being in a different country and feeling distracted. Or I have truly mastered to live in the joy of presence. We came home yesterday and got a call that a friend of ours just passed away to cancer in her mid-forties. She was survived by her 2 boys and husband. As much as I have learned to stay positive with my new life and realize how death is just a fact of life, I felt so angry hearing that news. I feel that as adults we can learn to deal with death of our child but I felt so angry that these 2 boys have to survive the loss of their mother and her love. That very special privileged love that I have for Matthew was taken away from these 2 boys. How fair of life is that? So I acknowledged my anger and learned to carry on….

Friday, December 14, 2007

The day before the boys' 7th year old birthday

Letter to a friend remembering….

Today we squeezed in the time to go to Ryan’s resting place as we are leaving for HK tomorrow (on the boys’ bday). The place closes at 4pm and Matthew and I got there at 3:45pm. John took the day off and he went there to clean up the place before I got there. I have not gone in 6 months and thought it must need much cleaning. When I went there John already had planted the poinsettias and the mini Xmas tree so Matthew, Christian and I helped to decorate the place with a wreath, snowman and ornaments....

I stood there but no longer do tears pour anger has subsided standing in front of his grave. It was a calmer feeling....I miss him but the pain is not there...just sadness. It was that pain that prevented me from wanting to stand in front of his grave all these years. Then I realized how much I have come.... I found that Ryan is buried in such a beautiful area under the big oak tree with a beautiful view and I felt a sense of calm (but slightly).

At Matthew’s birthday, this is the second year while singing happy birthday I was only focused on Matthew, not Ryan. I saw how happy Matthew was to feel so special and I didn’t want to miss that... Even if I look at the photos of the little young Matthew, I feel sad too... That youth becomes all memories now...whether Ryan is dead or Matthew has grown up. I truly feel how we need to “feel” in the presence...because eventually the “7 year old Matthew” will become a past.

His 1st grade teacher told me that Matthew talks about Ryan. Matthew answered a homework question...when do you feel sad? He answered, “when someone I know dies.”.

To live each day requires so much internal strength and we all grow as humans....I think that is truly human survivorship.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

5th Annual Angel Ryan Project Request

Dear Friends and Families:
Hope you are well. Somehow this has become an annual letter for us to connect with our families and friends.

Can’t believe four and a half years has gone by and this is the 5th Annual Angel Ryan Project. This year I have been feeling exhausted physically and I realized I no longer have the stamina like past years. Perhaps I should nurture myself more and skip the Angel Ryan Project. How do I find the stamina and energy to plan the 5th Annual Ryan’s Ride in the spring when I am this exhausted now?

But as I began to plan for Matthew’s 7th birthday party and the sounds of holiday music being played on the radio, I realize that I could not skip the Angel Ryan Project. It is a representation of Ryan’s spirit and an opportunity for our family to truly learn the meaning of holiday giving.

Matthew will turn 7 on December 15th. We missed celebrating with Ryan for five birthdays already. Sometimes I try to imagine a seven-year old Ryan. but I couldn’t. I cannot picture how he would have looked now. Matthew, on the other hand, has grown to be so sensible. At many times, he would parent me:
“Mom, you don’t know how I feel because my brain is not your brain.” When I told him that he was right, “Mom, I am only a kid and I know it. You are an adult.” Matthew is right. I learn to be a better person from his lecture. Three of Matthew’s favorite books are about this set of twin boys who grew up to be professional football players. I asked him why he liked these books so he said the books remind him of Ryan and him.

This year, John and I had come across several parents who had since lost a child to cancer, sudden death. I am just reminded that challenges like these just happen in life randomly. And as survivors, we have the obligation to relate to these individuals and share the darkness in their lives. How can we not be there for them when not many have walked that path to truly understand the grieving journey?

We still have not ordered a marker for Ryan. I have to think of a quote to put on the marker but I want it to be right. So the guilt continues onto 2008.

2007 has been a miracle year. Alana Sophie, my niece and daughter of my sister, was born in Sept. She was healthy and gorgeous. I flew to Hong Kong to spend 5 days with her right after her birth to share the precious moments. I held her in my hands and felt the enormous joy and hope. I questioned if others feel the immense joy that I felt of having a niece in their arms. Matthew, John and I will visit Alana during this holiday season. I told Matthew, “Alana is like a sibling to you. She is the closest to you besides Ryan.”

John has started a new venture after 12 years with Sony Playstation. We all have learned to still live life with a passion and he is working hard but enjoying the new opportunity. On 12/9th, John will celebrate his tenth anniversary of being cancer free. I am so blessed for his continued good health, his patience and love to Matthew and I. I know I am stronger because I am sharing my life with John.

Matthew and I will deliver the gifts to the Mid Peninsula Boys & Girls Club on Wednesday, 12/12th at around 4pm. If your children are interested in helping with the delivery, please join us. I hope we can count on you to celebrate Ryan’s life with us by donating a gift or 2. The value of each gift is only about $15 and the club will mail you a tax receipt. The Club is an after school program for low-income families so gifts will be most appropriate for children between 7 to 14 years old age. They often lack gifts for the older children.

John, Matthew and I are grateful for your continued support to help us honor our little boy. You are the ones who keep this project going for our family. No words can express our gratitude to you. The delivery will be next week so please contribute to the Angel Ryan Project now and help us reach our goal to collect 200 plus gifts again.

May you find peace and joy during the holidays and be surrounded by love from those you care about.