The truth is life is full of joy and full of great sorrow, but you can’t have one without the other. ~Andre Dubus III
Ryan E. Piper
September 24, 1977 – October 23, 2001
I love this time of the year, always have and probably always will. The crisp evenings, the bright foliage, the shorter days and the smell of winter around the corner make for a comforting time of year, mysterious and romantic. Coming off the heels of a hot humid summer I feel alive, ironically, since autumn is a prelude to winter, which usually symbolizes death and old age.
How can I love this time of year when my heart continues to break? Simply, I don’t associate the fall season with death or loosing Ryan. Sure, I can’t escape October 23rd, the day that began my lifelong sadness, the day my body began to ache from the pain of loss and my breathing became shallow with every memory of Ryan. I choose to honor Ryan’s death and proclaim his life.
Today, I want to celebrate Ryan’s life and his eternal happiness in heaven. After all, Ryan has no stress or suffering and is at home with our Father. I believe he’s doing all right. Yes, that’s something to celebrate, even though I miss him terribly and I can’t wait to hang out with him again.
October also contains good memories. Ryan was buried on a Saturday and the following day, Kyle was baptized at three months old. Sometimes this season introduces snow, which incidentally we had our first flurries during Ryan’s burial procession all those years ago. How do I remember that? How can I not? I can still recall riding in the car behind the hearse, my sister at the wheel (Kyle was with a babysitter) and large white snowflakes dropped from the sky. At that moment, I accepted the fact that my life was now drastically different, but I would get through it, not easily but I would. The snowflakes felt like a gift from Ryan and he was trying to sooth my pain. I always enjoyed snow and so did Ryan.
Believe it or not Ryan’s funeral procession reminded me of my Pappy’s. During Ryan’s ride to the cemetery, I had major déjà vu, although, Pappy passed away in the spring. However, it was the same view behind the hearse, the same car ride, the same cemetery, the same sadness and the same loss of a genuinely good-hearted person. It shouldn’t surprise me since Ryan and Pap were really close. Maybe that feeling wasn’t déjà vu but them being reunited.
There’s no secret to me moving on without Ryan. At that time, it came in the form of a little baby boy. Now that child is nearly an adult. Kyle was always a blessing and continues to be one. It does sadden me that Kyle would never benefit from personally knowing his Dad. He would have been ten times the person he is today with Ryan guiding him in life, and Kyle’s a pretty great kid already. Ryan loved him so very much, even before Kyle was born. He would be proud of the young man he is today.
God blesses us all every day. Sometimes we don’t agree or see the bigger picture, but I guess that’s why we keep the faith and continue to share the love.
I miss you Ryan. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think of you. Make sure you save me a seat.