Ryan was here ...

My not-so-sweet nothings, mostly comprised of my feelings at losing my two-day-old son, Ryan David, to congenital heart defects, and to celebrate the arrival of Ryan's healthy little sister, Megan Elizabeth, and hopefully welcome another little miracle into our brood in July 2010.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

My unfinished art

Last week my dear friend K and I briefly talked about the items we had made - or started to make - for our babies. It was then that I was reminded of one of my many uncompleted projects stashed in my bedroom closet: Ryan's baby blanket.

Over the last 15 years, I have made no less than a dozen crocheted blankets for friends and family and their new bundles of joy. I even made two back-to-back for a set of twins; I used mauve and burgundy yarn and simply inverted the pattern so the blankets would obviously be a matched set.

Tonight I decided to venture into my closet and peek into the bag that I had thoughtlessly discarded after Ryan's death. When I came home from the hospital mid-August, I was eager to quickly dispose of those things that brought back painful memories of what I had just been through.

I hadn't so much as looked in that bag since Ryan's birth - the bag that contains baby blue, cream, and navy blue crocheted squares. I remember stuffing the skeins of yarns into my hospital bag, making certain that my crochet needle didn't get lost in the sea of birthing books and baby supplies that I took to the hospital. I was anxious to crochet a few squares while awaiting my baby boy's arrival; I figured I'd have some time to kill before my labor progressed to the point that crocheting would be the furthest thing from my mind. I never got to that point though. Ryan's birthday happened so quickly and made such a sharp, unexpected turn for the worse that I didn't have the opportunity or desire to make even one additional square.

It was the strangest thing when I looked in that bag and ran my hand over the soft, fuzzy yarn. I realized that Ryan will never get to nuzzle his chubby cheeks against the cottony-softness of that blanket I was so proudly making. I'll never get to swaddle his tiny body and rock him to sleep in the blanket that was his and his alone. Instead, it's just an abandoned pile of crocheted squares - they could be drink coasters to those unfamiliar with yarn-art! - and a reminder of what was dreamed and never came to be.

Just like that blanket, there is so much of me that will always be incomplete and unfinished. I feel like I, too, am the project that was pushed aside and forgotten - never to be finished due to tragic and sad circumstances.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Two years ago ...

At this time two years ago, I was standing in my bathroom, staring in disbelief at the positive pregnancy test laying by the sink.

I remember feeling ever-so-slightly optimistic that I was indeed pregnant, but I was in a bit of denial. But, after seeing those two pink lines pop up on the test stick, it was confirmed: I was indeed pregnant. Mike and I had been trying to reach this point for the last six months, and it was finally here.

I'll never forget the wave of emotions that washed over me that afternoon. My eyes welled up with tears. I was excited and terrified at the same time. I had almost instant butterflies in my stomach. I looked at my reflection in the mirror and uttered, "You're going to be a mom." I thought of a dozen different ways how I wanted to share the news with Mike. I wondered how I'd look and how I'd feel for the next nine months. And, I wondered how it would feel to finally hold my baby.

Unfortunately, that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at almost 11 weeks. Mike and I were heart-broken when we received the news that there was no longer a beating heart in our little baby. That frozen image on the ultrasound screen still haunts me, almost two years later.

My first miscarriage, which happened during my first marriage, occurred much earlier than my second one. I remember the physical discomfort and pain, but emotionally it didn't take the toll on me the way my second one did. Maybe because I was in a different place back then and there was a lot of turmoil in my life that it didn't hit me as hard. But, the second lost pregnancy left me feeling numb.

The months following that second loss were heartbreaking. Several friends announced their pregnancies or held their bundles of joy safely in their arms. It was beginning to feel that our attempts at achieving another pregnancy were in vain and that it would never happen. I felt betrayed by my body and its refusal to do the one, basic thing it was built to do.

My due date for that second pregnancy - November 1, 2004 - came and went, and we were no closer to growing our family than we were a year earlier. I still mourned for that tiny, little soul that quietly stepped into and out of our life. And, I couldn't believe how attached I had become to a person I never even knew, other than from an ultrasound picture that revealed its presence inside me.

Two years later, despite everything else that has happened in my life, I still think about what would've been my second child, wondering what he or she would be doing today and how different my life would be.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pick me, pick me!

I keep thinking that my quest for another pregnancy is like being the annoying kid back in grade school - the one who's bouncing out of their seat, making the "ooo-ooo" sound, pleading with the teacher to pick them to answer each and every question the teacher throws out to the class.

Okay. I've had my hand in the air for my turn now for quite a while - it's getting pretty damn tired and it's going numb - but it seems the "teacher" is looking beyond me or through me or not in my direction. Maybe I'm not even on the seating chart?

Six pregnancy announcements have popped up in the last week, and only one of them was from someone - myself included - who's been hoping and praying and hoping and praying some more for some good news. I need to hear that good news from someone whose life has been struck with the kind of grief and sadness that has stricken my dear husband and myself.

I'm not saying that these are unwanted pregnancies - just unexpected announcements for me to hear - but it makes it much harder to believe that I'll get another turn. Or maybe I'm not even in line for another try.

A dear friend of mine, who lost her sweet little boy nearly a year ago, has been trying to become pregnant again, but somehow, month after month, her prayers go unanswered and her pleas are overlooked.

This just doesn't make any sense to me!

I'm really beginning to wonder why some of us aren't good enough to be chosen for this gift. Is there some extra credit question somewhere that I'm not aware of? Am I waiting in the wrong line? What gives?!?

I really wish someone could tell me.

Monday, February 20, 2006

It's just not just

I'm so fed up with the complete unfairness of life.

I realize that everyone has their own drama which, to them, is more important than anyone else's drama. We all suffer varying degrees of loss and disappointment throughout our lives. And, I know that everyone's drama is subjective, gauged as greater or lesser in significance than that of others; I believe this comparison to be human nature and none of us are flawed or wrong by believing our circumstances are worse than anybody else's.

But, in my opinion, from my experience and from talking with other people, there are certain things that happen to you that automatically put you in an unfortunate league of your own.

Having your newborn die is one of those things.

I've dealt with a lot of shit in my life, most of which I have had no control over. But, Ryan dying was by far the worst thing I have ever experienced and left me feeling more helpless and hopeless than all of my other life experiences combined. And, I'm left wondering if I did something so awful and unforgivable to deserve such unending pain. I'll never know, will I? I can only speculate as to why or accept reassurances from others that the Powers That Be don't dole out rewards or punishment in that manner.

I just wish I knew how the cosmic gods do decide what happens to whom. Is it the flip of a coin or the roll of a die? Do we get what we have coming to us, i.e., what goes around comes around? Does the payback rule apply only if you've wronged others, or is it applicable even when you've led a virtuous life?

I really don't know what to think anymore. Sometimes I wonder if I'm only entitled to a tiny glimmer of happiness while others bask in a lifetime of its glory. I have a relatively happy and healthy existence with my adoring husband, but there will always be a huge void - that vast hole left by Ryan's unexpected death.

How is it that some people lead seemingly charmed lives - few disruptions or disappointments - while others have to fight and claw for every shred of good in their lives? Again, I just don't and can't understand.

There are other mommies in my unfortunate position who want nothing more than to be blessed with another pregnancy, and yet it seems to be a losing, uphill battle. Month after month, there's more letdown shoveled onto an already massive pile of sadness and dashed hopes.

We want a healthy baby that comes into this world in an uncomplicated manner and manages to go home safely and happily. And, shouldn't those who've suffered so much be granted some sort of leniency in accomplishing that task? Is that too much to ask?

C'est La Vie

Last week, when I first heard that the Westminster champion Whippet had gotten loose at JFK airport, I felt a huge lump form in my throat.

Okay ... I know: It's just a dog to many people. But, I know how utterly sick I'd be if my sweet Toby had escaped the safe confines of his travel crate and was running around some 5,000 acres of an unfriendly and unfamiliar airport.

It's now almost a week later and "Vivi" is still MIA.

I don't know why this is weighing so heavily on my mind, but it is. Maybe it's because I'm a huge animal lover and I can't bear to hear any stories of precious pets in peril. Maybe it's the helplessness that the owner undoubtedly is feeling, knowing how awful it is to watch tragic events unfold and be powerless to stop or change them.

I know that feeling all too well.

I can only hope that little Vivi makes her way safely back to her owner who misses her terribly.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Heading off into the sunrise

My morning commute consists of driving directly into the rising sun. It's a pain in the butt sometimes, trying to find just the right angle for the car visor that blocks the glare coming through the glass, yet allows enough unobstructed windshield to safely drive.

Most mornings I grumble at being nearly blinded by the incoming rays and having to constantly fiddle with the visor, but this morning's beautiful sunrise helped me to forget my petty inconveniences.

As I was getting onto the interstate, I was prepping myself to make my usual adjustments and caught a glimpse of the sun rising.

If I hadn't been on the highway, I would've slammed on my brakes and just stared at the sky. It was absolutely breathtaking.

Here was this gigantic orange ball peeking over the horizon, suspended by nothing and everything - the center of our universe. The clouds framed the sun at different, staggered levels and looked unusually wispy and delicate, allowing the sun's rays to poke through at all sorts of angles.

The colors were absolutely stunning. Practically every color of the rainbow was painted across the gigantic canvas of the sky. This priceless piece of art seemed to go on forever. It truly was a sight to behold.

As I watched yet another miracle of nature unfold, I had once again wished Ryan could see it. Maybe he did - or maybe he had an even better view and a greater appreciation of it from where he is.

Death and taxes

Well, I am officially convinced that these two things are life's greatest mysteries.

I knew that I would dread organizing all of our crap for tax preparation, but I didn't realize how sentimental and sad it would be this year.

As I was fishing through checkbook registers and receipts for charitable donations, I kept coming across a year's worth of reminders of what was and what no longer is.

Pregnancy check-up slips from my OB's office. Mike's skin cancer surgery records. Sasha's final vet bill from when we put her down. Receipts for the nursery furniture and supplies. The slew of bills from the many specialists who treated Ryan. Pages and pages of benefits statements from our insurance company. Bills and release forms from the funeral home. And, lastly, Ryan's birth and death certificates and his social security card.

It's very surreal. How is it that a year in my life that seemed to level out to a nice altitude, suddenly - and without warning - nose-dived and was smashed into oblivion?

Well, that's not completely true.

Thankfully, Mike's skin cancer surgery was completely successful and he received a clean bill of health. And, this is a blessing that I thank God for each and every day!

But, every other dream was shattered to pieces. I never, ever imagined I would be in "this" position, collecting paperwork on my dead son to present to the tax preparer.

I wonder how many other people have gone through this at tax time - having to relive the horrors in their lives when they're trying their hardest to pick up the pieces and start over.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Ryan is just about in every waking moment of every day. Or, as often as he can be, when thoughts of work or life in general aren't occupying and invading that space that I'd prefer to be all his.

I know that realistically I can't think about him 24/7, as much as I may want to. If I did, people would seriously start to question my sanity, which is already on shaky ground. But, there are some days when I just can't focus on anything but Ryan.

Today is one of those days.

The instant my eyes flew open at 5:45 this morning, I looked at his picture on the armoire and mumbled a "good morning" to that angelic image frozen in time. As I went into the our bedroom closet to choose today's attire, I looked at his framed handprints and footprints, marveling at their perfection. As I made my lunch, I remembered all the goodies I'd eat while pregnant and how they would get him dancing in my tummy. Once I got to work, I immediately looked at the Polaroid of me that's tacked to my cube wall, where my belly is out to there, snapped just two weeks before his birth. I constantly look at the picture that sits on my desk, right next to my computer monitor. Several times today I've kissed the cross that hangs from my neck, which contains a smidgen of Ryan's ashes. When I go into the bathroom at work, I clearly remember the times I'd go in there to be alone with my baby - just he and I - and we'd have the greatest talks about everything we were going to do together once he arrived. I even have his 20-week ultrasound picture as my wallpaper on my cell phone. And, every night, the last thing I utter before closing my weary eyes is, "I love you, Ryan."

Am I nuts or just a mother who misses her baby?

I certainly hope it's the latter, but I often wonder if people on the outside think I'm obsessed.

They just don't understand, though. I have so few tangible things associated with Ryan, and our time after his birth was so short and distraught, that I feel the need and desire to desperately hang on to those things I hold dear.

I worry that everyone around me will eventually forget Ryan since his life consisted of only two days. Others don't have the day-to-day reminders and memories that I have. His life and untimely death don't affect other people the way I'm affected. He was a part of me; he came from my body - every bit of him, down to his perfect little feet.

As his mother, I could never forget him, but no one else had that same connection. Me, Mike, Mike's mom, and her husband were the only family or friends to see and hold Ryan. To everyone else, he was one-dimensional and seemed to only exist in pictures or stories. That's why I worry that people will think I'm off my rocker for wanting to talk about a little life that most never got to see or touch, let alone know. Our 40 weeks and two days together is a cherished memory that I will always want to share with anyone who will listen. But, I don't want people referring to me as the kook who can't stop talking about her baby who died.

How in the world do I balance all these memories - good and bad - and work them into my everyday life in a positive way?

Tuesday's child ...

Tuesday's child is full of grace ...

I always remembered that line to the Mother Goose rhyme, but I never stopped to think about what it might mean until after I lost Ryan, who was a Tuesday child.

When I looked up the word "grace" in the dictionary, I was surprised by the many different definitions and usages for the word. Most related to God or faith, but all meanings implied goodness and beauty.

What a perfectly fitting word to describe my little angel, Ryan. He was full of grace, in every sense of the word.

Yeah. That's my boy ...

Sunday, February 12, 2006


While doing the breakfast dishes today, it occurred to me just how much I'll forever be missing with Ryan - milestones we'll never, ever reach together.

I'll never ...

... change his diaper.

... see him roll, crawl, walk or run for that very first time.

... hear his sweet voice utter "mama" or "dada."

... hear - what I imagine would be - his innocent and devilish laughter.

... be able to kiss away the pain and tears from his first boo-boo.

... be able to tuck him in warmly and safely at bedtime after reading him a bedtime story.

... be able to teach him to ride a two-wheeler.

... walk hand in hand with him.

... wave goodbye to him on his first day of school.

... be able to play Tooth Fairy to him.

... see him in any school plays or visit his classroom.

... watch him grow up.

... see him go off to college or get his first job.

... be able to teach him to drive.

... see him get married and have children of his own, my grandchildren.

... be able to be anything more than what I was during those two short days of his life, which was barely more than an observer.

I fucking hate all the things we'll never, ever get to share. I hate that it never got beyond 40 joy-filled weeks and two gut-wrenching days.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Blessed dreams ...

Today's weather reflected the weather on the day my son died: drizzly and dismal.

My God, I can't believe six months - half a year - have passed since I held my beautiful little baby boy that last time.

Ryan, My Beloved Angel, I hope your dreams among the angels are always blessed and peaceful.

I'll forever be loving and missing you ...

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Friday, February 10, 2006

The Boo

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This is Toby, aka "Boo-Boo," aka "Boober," aka, "Hound Dog." (Feel free to make up a nickname on the fly, and he's bound to respond in his typical laid-back and loving manner.)

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Toby was puppy number five out of five - "brown boy" - from Sasha's only litter, which was born February 26, 1997. Sasha's breeding was well planned and prepared. She had x-rays performed to assess the condition of her hips and to check for any hereditary anomalies. She had a thorough eye exam with a canine ophthalmologist. (Bet you didn't know such a person existed!) It wasn't the most romantic of conceptions, but it yielded five healthy and kind-hearted puppies - almost perfect carbon copies of their sweet mother.

My ex and I helped Sasha deliver her litter and it was during that beautiful moment, seeing the best nature had to offer, that I became convinced that I wanted to be a mother one day.

Aside from the birth of my beloved son, participating in the birth of Toby and his littermates was one of the most beautiful things I've ever witnessed. It is a memory I will always treasure and hold dear to my heart.

Toby was the only puppy from the litter that my ex and I kept, although, parting with the other four was much more difficult than I had anticipated. We had celebrated all sorts of milestones during the ten weeks we had the entire litter, so seeing it slowly dwindle down, one by one, was heart-breaking.

When my ex and I divorced in 1999, it was decided that I would take Sasha and he would take Toby. It broke my heart to part with Toby and break up the mother/son tag team, but, at the time, I felt it was best for everyone involved.

During the last six years, my ex gave me occasional updates on Toby, but I had resigned myself to never seeing him again; that was the unfortunate reality of divorce that I had accepted. But, to my surprise, my ex had to give up Toby and offered him to me, saying it was only fair since I helped to bring Toby into the world.

The timing of my ex's offer was unexpected and awkward, as it had been just three months since Ryan's birth and death, and I wasn't sure that I was ready just yet for the devotion it takes to be a dog owner. Mike and I had made the painful decision to put Sasha down back in March due to her failing health, but we had agreed to get another dog once Ryan had arrived.

Well, Ryan had arrived and the agreement was to get another dog, and I'm a woman of my word.

Toby's homecoming was bittersweet, but I am so glad he became a part of my life again. Coming home to that smiling face on some of my more weary days keeps me going and hoping for better days ahead. Receiving Toby's sloppy kisses on my nose and his slobbery toys for a game of fetch remind me what unconditional love is all about.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Tears from Heaven

Several years ago while I was talking to a friend via telephone, it began to snow, which isn't a regular occurrence in North Carolina winters. My friend on the other end of the line mentioned how her three-year-old little girl one day announced that snowflakes were angel tears and anyone who is "cried" upon is blessed. At the time, I thought the little girl's notion was absolutely adorable and I marveled at the little one's quick mind and innocent rationale to describe my favorite type of precipitation.

This morning I woke up to realize that it's Ryan's half-year birthday. It's been half a year since my world forever changed? Some days I just don't know how it's possible that six months - or approximately 183 days - have passed since August 9th.

As I was still trying to process and understand how much time had passed since my Beloved Angel graced the earth, I decided it was time to get myself moving and started down the stairs to the kitchen.

When I was just two steps from the bottom, I looked out the crescent-shaped window of our front door and couldn't believe my eyes.

It was snowing.

And, these weren't just teeny flurries that you have to squint to see. They were the kind that you can easily catch on your hand, where you can see their beautiful, intricate pattern for a few seconds before they melt away, becoming just an ordinary drop of water.

I drew the blinds wide open on our back door and stepped out onto the porch. It was still rather dark, but the scene was absolutely beautiful. It was so quiet and still except for the soft sound the flakes made as they landed in the grass and tickled the limbs of the naked trees. I stood by the tree we planted in Ryan's memory, and that's when the "angel tears" story popped back into my mind.

I immediately grabbed my camera because I want to forever remember how it looked to see Ryan's little tree being blessed with angel tears. I looked up at the sky, wished Ryan a happy half-year birthday, and said a little prayer in that peaceful and beautiful moment.

I stood beside Ryan's tree for a few minutes, hoping and praying that the shower of angel tears raining down upon both of us contained some of my own Angel's tears, sending some blessings his mommy's way.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

One thing I know

Trying to make a baby is one of the hardest things I've ever attempted in my life. Learning new jobs and undertaking new hobbies has always come naturally and easily. But trying to get my body to do something that it's supposedly built to do has led me down a long, lonely, and disappointing path.

I'm only mentioning this now because I'm at the end of yet another cycle. And, since it's the end of the cycle, obviously I'm not pregnant. It's the fifth unsuccessful one since Ryan. Five chances that flew right out the window despite my and Mike's best attempts at creating a sibling for Ryan.

And, adding to my frustration, I can feel the internal rumblings of Auntie Flo and her forces planning their attack, just in time to spoil this evening's anniversary celebration.

Boo. Hiss.

Of course I expected her to show up with her usual impeccable timing, but I was really hoping that, since it's our third anniversary - the first since losing Ryan - and the day before Ryan's half-year birthday, the Gods would be somewhat gracious - and maybe even take pity on us - and bless us with another soul.

No such luck.

I have really tried to remain optimistic these past few months, but I have nothing but disappointments that I'm trying to build hope from. That's a pretty shaky foundation to build anything upon. I've been pregnant three times; I've lost three babies.

Mike and I have been trying to start our family almost from the moment we exchanged our "I-do's." And, since that day, which seems to be the pinnacle of our lives, we've suffered more disappointments than I care to recall at the moment. I truly thought the innocence and pure happiness that surrounded us on that beautiful day three years ago would follow us throughout our lives.

I couldn't have been more wrong about that fairy tale. But, at least I know my body well enough to know that the monthly revolt will be underway shortly.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Tick, tock, tick, tock

Do you hear that?!?

Of course you don't - I know that.

But, sometimes the constant tick-tock in my head seems loud enough for anyone remotely close by to hear.

Of course, the running joke is that I'm hearing my biological clock ticking. I'm sure that's partly true - just picture Marisa Tomei in the movie "My Cousin Vinny," stomping on the wooden porch of the mountain cabin, complaining about her own internal clock. But, I think it's more than just biology.

I've become painfully aware of time since Ryan's birth. The morning my water broke, I had to make note of the time. Once I got to the hospital, I had to time my contractions. I was allowed three hours of unsuccessful laboring on my own before surgical intervention. When Ryan was born, 4:07 p.m. was suddenly the magical time for me. While Ryan's fragile body struggled to make it through his heart catheterization, I watched as second by painful second passed by on the clock in my hospital room. And, then, finally, my world was shattered upon hearing the NICU doctor utter my son's time of death: 10:16 p.m.

Everything since August 9th has been about time, whether it be counting it down, making the best of it, or longing to regain lost moments.

I always hear ticking, even when there is dead silence. I can never get away from the clock in my head that's always counting down to something.

I just don't know what that something is. I used to think I knew what it was; when I was pregnant with Ryan, it seemed so clear that I was counting down to the end of my old, incomplete life and readying myself for my new adventure in my new role as a mother. But, my firm grasp on time has slipped through my fingers since August 11th, and that annoying clock just won't stop.

Time is no longer my friend. Time is not on my side. Time is not all I have. Time does not heal all wounds. Time flies when you're having fun - and even when you're having the shittiest time imaginable.

I wish more than anything I could get back those precious 54 hours with Ryan ... every single second, minute and hour.


I know the phrase "I'm sorry" is terribly misused. People use those two words without considering the intended meaning behind them, while others avoid its use altogether. But, when used properly, those two words can go a long way to mending ties with someone you once loved.

On Saturday I spent a couple of hours with my ex-husband. (He was in town on business and wanted to visit our dog, Toby.) I expected the time to pass excruciatingly slow, but I was surprised that it didn't, and even more surprised by the outcome of the visit.

During my 11-year relationship with my ex, we went through a lot of ups and downs: lost jobs, medical problems, and, mostly, his infidelity. I gave him and our relationship my unconditional love throughout our time together, but most of what I received in return was betrayal and a broken heart.

When I finally put the brakes on on our relationship, it was after my ex's third indiscretion. I played my decision like baseball: three strikes and you're out. I thought it was fair and I had been more than forgiving in handling his prior affairs.

When I asked my ex to leave our house, he begged me not to do this to "us." At the time - mostly because he was so self-absorbed and shocked that his latest affair finally bit him in the ass - he just couldn't see that it wasn't me who had done this to us; he was the one who had destroyed our relationship with his continual lying and cheating.

We sought out counseling - separate and joint - but the damage was too severe to repair our marriage. I knew in my heart of hearts that he would cheat again and I wasn't willing to spend the next two, five or ten years waiting for the other shoe to drop. I just couldn't handle any more heartbreak or letdowns when I knew that I deserved better.

While my ex and I were waiting for our divorce to be finalized, he began dating a woman whom he eventually married. She came from a similar background: She cheated on her husband and swore to him she'd never do it again. She, too, fed her husband the same worn-out empty promises I grew accustomed to hearing throughout my first marriage.

The fall-out from our break-up wasn't pretty, although our split began on rather amicable terms - even the lawyer handling the divorce papers commented on the mature manner with which we were handling an unpleasant situation. But, slowly, my ex's true colors began to show, and he became especially bitter toward me for ending our relationship. By the time our marriage was officially dissolved, we were barely on speaking terms, except to give updates on our "kids," our beloved pets.

I couldn't believe that the man I once loved more than anything harbored such ill will towards me and me towards him.

I found out a few months ago that my ex had done the same thing to his current wife that he did to me. I wasn't at all surprised, but the news did sadden me. I had really hoped he had learned his lesson from the mistakes he made in our marriage. I was wrong, unfortunately.

Luckily, time does heal some wounds, and he and I are once again speaking. And, since I'm taking care of the dog he had to give up once his wife kicked him out of the house, I think he's eaten a few big slices of humble pie and finally learned his lesson.

So, back to Saturday's visit ...

Our dog, Toby, was extremely sick over the weekend. I didn't know if I'd ever stop cleaning up or smelling dog vomit! Because of Toby's under-the-weather state, there wasn't much of a visit between my ex and Toby, so much of the two hours was spent shooting the shit between he and I.

Out of actual concern, I asked how my ex was "doing" - referring to his marriage - and he explained that things were slowly turning around. He said that he and his wife are both in counseling and that they're moving into a new home in a few weeks. Then, to my surprise, he told me that he's sorry for what he did to me and our marriage.

This was the first time ever my ex had apologized for any of his past transgressions - well, he had said "I'm sorry" in the past, but it was out of obligation and not out of true remorse for his actions and the hurt those actions brought about. He went on to explain that his counseling has taught him so much about himself and why he's done the destructive things over the years that he has. And, he felt it important to apologize to me and clear me of any fault, since the dissolution of our marriage laid solely in his hands.

I certainly hadn't been waiting for his apology, and, quite honestly, I never expected to receive one. I had just accepted that things are the way they are and it was all water under the bridge.

There was something very comforting in hearing his genuine apology, even after almost eight years. I can't quite explain it, but, deep down, there had obviously been some unsettled feelings over my first marriage, and that apology has finally put those emotions to rest. There's no more anger, resentment, or hatred. I'm finally at peace over what happened and can confidently close that ugly chapter of my life.

Small steps ... it's all I can ask for right now. But, they're still steps in the right direction.

Friday, February 03, 2006

My little trooper

On Saturday afternoon, Mike is donating platelets through the American Red Cross. He regularly donates blood through blood drives at work, but this will be the first time he's donating platelets. Obviously, I don't know the specifics, but donating platelets is far more involved than donating blood; he'll be hooked up to machines and actively donating for at least two hours.

I'm a wimp. I just do not have the stomach for donating blood. I tried to do it once several years ago and nearly passed out. How I managed to make it through a nine-month pregnancy - with all the poking, pricking and prodding - is beyond me!

Thankfully, though, Mike never flinches when it comes to doing things for the greater good. He's undergone several unpleasant medical procedures during the time we've been together, and his courage never falters - not even for a second.

This must be where my little Ryan got his bravery, because it certainly didn't come from his mother. In just two days - his entire life - Ryan was poked, pricked, and prodded more than most people who live average-length lives. And, my beloved little guy sucked it up, like it was no big deal at all - all in a day's work.

I know, theoretically, that a newborn's nerve endings aren't fully functional for a few days after their birth, but Ryan was very responsive to stimuli - so much so that he was sedated to allow his body to rest and retain the little bit of strength he had. While visiting Ryan in the NICU, I was scolded several times by his nurses for touching him because he'd respond to my touch and exert too much energy - energy he needed to hopefully overcome his heart defects and the surgeries that were to follow.

He was my little fighter; no doubt about it. He was strong-willed, like his mother, so much so that he didn't want to be the cooperative patient that the doctors and nurses wanted and needed him to be. When he heard a noise, he'd turn his head to see what the commotion was all about. When I'd kiss his cheek at the beginning and end of every visit, he'd wiggle and squirm the way most newborns do, despite being connected to a hundred and one machines. And, when I placed my finger in his tiny hand, he squeezed my finger and hung on to it for dear life.

Having just come into this world, with his heart functioning well below what is considered normal, Ryan fought hard for his little life. And, although he ultimately lost his battle, that battle was a fought harder than anything I could possibly imagine. I wish I had the courage to live my life the way my little boy did in those 54 hours. He's my little hero.

It's no wonder that Mike will do anything that's uncomfortable medically, because, he, too, knows how hard our son fought and thinks that nothing we could ever experience could be worse than what our son endured.

Ryan set a wonderful example for both of us, as well as for lots of other people. That's why the words we chose for his obituary will always be perfect ...

Though our beautiful angel's time with us was short, his feisty and unyielding spirit has touched and inspired many.