So, if you remember the Wizard of Oz movie, where Dorothy lands in the world of Oz and she steps from the black and white world into the world of color? I loved that part of the movie. That was always one of my favorite parts. Life after the loss of my oldest son, Ryan has been that movie part, but in reverse…life was in color with him and Joe both in my world together. Everything was as it should be…I had my first grand daughter. Charlotte Rose. Things were good…Joe was married, he had a house…Ryan was healthy, he had a job he really enjoyed. He was SO excited about being best man at Joe and Brittany’s wedding. It was May 23, 2015. It was one of the happiest days of my life. Everyone was together. It was the most colorful day! Yes, the most colorful day, EVER!
Then 30 days after Joe got married and the last time we were all together Joe had to make a phone call to me at work. “Mom, Ryan’s dead”…and just like that, my world turned to black and white. Now, Ryan had struggled with addiction for years. He was clean and then would crash due to a stress. His “clean” periods varied, but we were always hopeful his coping would improve. He self medicated to treat his anxiety, insomnia and boredom. He had trouble finding work and that was a huge trigger for him. Idle hands were literally his cross to bear. So, 30 days after the wedding, he returned to Miami and lost his job, he couldn’t sleep, he reached out to us but we did not know the extent of his pain. Yes, before and after. It has been black and white ever since Ryan passed away. It has been over a year now. I keep thinking it would get easier…it doesn’t. You just get used to it. It is like a book you really enjoy reading. You take it down from the shelf, read it. Put it back for a little while. Take it down again, read it. Cry a little. You get used to the nevers…Never to hear his voice, never to see his face, never to hear his laugh, never to see him get married, never to see his baby…all the nevers to be. It can make you crazy. I don’t cry as much, but I do cry still everyday. I think I always will. I have accepted that. Like an old friend. Tears clean the soul.
Friends and family say they understand. I know they try. The guilt can be overwhelming. How could I not save him? I am his mom. I am a nurse. I should have been able to help him. I know he forgives me. I know God forgives me. I am unable to forgive myself. It is a constant work in progress. I decided not to medicate my grief. I want to feel it. I want to remember. Grief is the price of loss, the price of love. He was loved deeply, and so, I grieve deeply.
Let’s face it, there is not a lot of compassion for the death of just another addict. My son, Ryan was more than the addiction that took his soul, his dignity and finally his life. He was sweet, kind, funny, creative and bright. He did not have an enemy in this world other than the addiction that killed him. I have pledged to be honest going forward. I am not ashamed of my son, he tried. God knows he tried. I will tell his story everywhere I can and beg people to help those struggling. Never give up hope!
Will I ever see color again? I don’t know. I guess I will…little by little. I see little glimpses every now and then. I have joy, but there is always a little bit of sadness underneath it. I am grateful for the joy, it reminds me that the color is out there. I thank God every time I feel the joy. It keeps me hopeful and I know Ryan would want me to see the color again. So…I keep trying. Mitch and I go out on the river in the kayak, we work in the garden, close to where he is buried on my farm. I play with my grand daughter, little Lottie…I keep trying to see the color. Someday I will, I know I will. I have to believe….
So, His name is Ryan….his life mattered and had meaning….love is eternal!