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.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ryan's broken heart

Since Ryan's death almost eight months ago, a multitude of people have asked me exactly what was wrong with his heart and why it couldn't be fixed. I've always tried my best to explain it in proper detail, but, as I've unfortunately learned, the heart is a very complex organ and quick explanations of problems aren't always possible.

I've decided that it's time for me to best describe his condition and the timeline, not just for others, but for my own personal record. As vivid as so many details are now, I know that they will eventually begin to fade as time marches on. And, as horrifying as many of the specifics are, I never want to forget any of them. Forgetting those confusing particulars would mean I've forgotten something of great importance about my beloved little boy, and I can't ever allow that to happen.

Ryan was originally diagnosed with aortic stenosis, a narrowed or pinched area in the aorta. If that had been his only problem, he more than likely would have survived with a heart catheterization to open up the blocked section in his aorta. He was transferred to the uptown hospital - where they are better equipped to handle pediatric heart patients - just seven hours after he was born. He was admitted to the new hospital just after 1 a.m. on August 10.

Mike called the uptown hospital around 9 that morning and spoke with Ryan's NICU doctor, who informed us that Ryan's condition was much more serious than originally thought. In addition to his narrowed aorta, his left ventricle was underformed and his mitral valve was stenotic as well. His condition was very similar to Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), which is a fatal condition without intervention in the form of either a heart transplant or the Norwood procedure, a series of three open-heart surgeries.

In utero, the fetal heart functions differently and the left ventricle - which helps to pump oxygen-rich blood into the body - is bypassed since the mother and placenta are doing the baby's breathing. That difference in fetal heart function is why Ryan's defects weren't picked up through ultrasound; his body was being supplied his oxygen-rich blood through my breathing and the placenta, so all appeared to be well and functional. It was only after his heart was required to work on its own, outside of the uterus, that the severity of his condition was discovered.

The doctors were treating Ryan as a HLHS patient, even though he had only some of the symptoms - but he had the most serious, life-threatening ones. Prostaglandins were administered in hopes of keeping that fetal pathway open, taking some of the pressure off the over-worked right side of his heart. He was stable and all seemed to be working until late afternoon on August 10.

Ryan began to crash (his pH level was very low) and it was suggested that he undergo a heart catheterization to keep that fetal passageway open, buying him more time until other permanent treatment could be decided upon. That surgery was successful, and almost immediately Ryan's pH level and body color returned to normal.

He pulled through another night and seemed to be relatively stable on August 11. The doctors kept him sedated to allow his body to rest and regain some strength, since it was suggested that the first stage of the Norwood procedure might happen in a few days; the team of cardiac surgeons were meeting the next morning to work out their game plan.

Around dinnertime, I received a call in my hospital room, telling me that Ryan was crashing again. By the time I reached the NICU, he had somehow bounced back and was stable, but still not good. We spent as much time with him as we could before heading back to my room around 8.

The phone in my room rang again around 9:30 that night and we were told that Ryan was not well at all. We rushed to his isolette and at that point, the doctors had already given Ryan all the drugs they could to stabilize him, but his body wasn't responding. They advised that the maximum dosages had already been administered, so they couldn't take the risk of giving him even more, possibly damaging other healthy organs. His pH level was dropping again, signaling that his kidneys weren't functioning properly, either.

One of the nurses kept "bagging" his little body, forcing air into his lungs, but his condition had deteriorated so rapidly that all hope was lost at that point. His frail body just gave out. Shortly after the nurse stopped breathing for Ryan, he passed peacefully in my and Mike's arms.

Even with a half-functioning heart, my little boy fought so terribly hard for his little life - so hard that he had to be sedated so allow his body to rest. Unsedated, he was looking at everything going on in the room and turning his head in the direction of any noise he heard. He responded to every one of my touches and kisses - the only contact we could manage through the slew of machines monitoring his condition.

I only heard him cry once. I held him just twice - before his surgery and as he grew his angel wings. And, if there had been any way that it could've been me and not him in that situation, I would've done it without a moment's hesitation.

Monday, March 27, 2006


This is what I'm calling my dramas of late and their effect on my life.

"Interference" is defined as the act of hindering or obstructing or impeding.


Now, as if I don't have enough grief with everything else swirling around me, I certainly don't need all of these other outside influences affecting my intimate time with my dear husband. Bedroom time is off limits to invaders such as these. We're both about to go crazy, with trying to adequately juggle all of these problems and yet keep up with our daily routine, so the absolute last thing we need to worry about is anxiety-induced performance issues in the boudoir, when it's supposed to be about relaxing.

As much as we desperately want another baby, this most recent fertile period which just passed was hell for both of us. As always, I was excited that ovulation was imminent - getting a positive test result on my predictor kit, feeling that distinct dull ache in my abdomen, and getting other body signals that I will not describe in detail - but we were lacking our usual gusto and fervor at the prospect of baby-making and on-cue sex.

Despite our best attempts, there was just no spark to light our mutual fires. We knew we had to perform, so as not to "waste" a cycle of meds, but it was more of a chore rather than a fun romp in the hay as it usually is and is supposed to be.

After spending the better part of the weekend trying to work up a little enthusiasm to do the deed, we realized that our minds had been polluted by all the other crap we've been dealing with. Unfortunately, our concerns were weighing on us so heavily - and yes, we both exhibited a lack of interest - that gettin' it on was the furthest thing from our minds.

We were able to make a feeble attempt (or two) at procreation, but we weren't filled with that great sense of accomplishment that usually follows our frenzied mid-cycle love-making. It was almost as if we were happy that another commitment was out of the way so we can go back to our regularly scheduled worrying.

It's times like these that have me asking for a time-out from life.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Told ya so!

Surprise, surprise!

I went to the dentist yesterday afternoon, and after taking a few x-rays, it was discovered that I've got two cavities on the teeth which sandwich the crowned tooth that I thought was the culprit of my mouth discomfort.

Oh, but it gets better.

One of the teeth already has a ton of silver filling, so it's my dentist's recommendation to get all of that yucky amalgam out of that tooth and crown it. The cavity on the other tooth is small and there are no existing fillings, so I'll get a partial crown - I believe he called it an inlay.

But, before all that fun can begin, I need to get the wisdom tooth behind all these others yanked. There's a wee bit of decay on it as well (of course!) so my dentist suggested having it removed, since sometimes oral surgeons aren't very careful around dental fixtures. So, I don't want to risk having the oral surgeon mess up the permanent crown on the tooth in front of it.

Have I ever mentioned how incredibly much I hate the dentist and the fact that I inherited my family's soft teeth?

I'm going for a consultation with the oral surgeon on Tuesday afternoon, and I'm petrified. My last experience with a tooth extraction was when I was seven, and I vividly remember - almost 30 years later - how the dentist told me to shut up when I informed him my mouth wasn't numb yet. He pulled the tooth anyway, without waiting any longer for the Novacaine to take effect, with a nurse on either side of me holding me down in the chair. My poor grandmother could hear my screams from the waiting room! Oh, but my mouth was finally numb by the time I left the office. Thanks for waiting, doc.

Just as I suspected (and expected), there IS something much more insidious and expensive lurking just below the surface.

Ah, yes. So, now I'll be, quite literally, a poor saneless person by the time this ordeal is finished.

I can't wait.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

APB: Be on the lookout for Sherry's sanity

Seriously. You might spot it walking down your street, mumbling to itself with its eyes glazed over.

I haven't written in a week because I just can't organize my thoughts in order to write about anything in a remotely coherent manner.

My brain is over-flowing. Someone call the plumber!

I know that everyone has drama in their lives, but, dammit, I'm tired of having to deal with too many things at once.

There's my dad's health troubles, which, seemingly, won't be resolved until his Medicare physician coverage kicks in, which won't happen until July. He's got the hospitalization coverage, but no doctor will see him or diagnose his condition till he's got that separate coverage. (And let's not even get started on how screwed up the Medicare system is.)

There's our life insurance appeal. We've submitted our appeal letter, worded as curtly as our very-obviously-canned rejection letter, so, it's yet another game of waiting till we know what step is next.

There's my dilemma with my OB doctor. I've interviewed another doctor, but I haven't quite decided if the new doc will be better than my current one. I've found another OB, but I'm waiting to see how this current cycle winds up.

There's my mouth situation. I'm going to the dentist shortly for x-rays and to have a cavity treated, but I suspect there is something more insidious and expensive lurking just below the surface.

There's Mike's blood pressure problem. Poor guy is convinced he's going to keel over from a massive heart attack due to his mild hypertension. I'm doing all I can for him, but, as someone at the opposite end of the blood-pressure spectrum, it's a little difficult for me to understand and relate to how freaked out he is.

There are my attempts at getting knocked up again. Some days I feel like a crazed woman trying to get pregnant, employing any wive's tale I come across to up my odds. I hate that this stupid aspect of my life seems all-controlling at times. I'm in this literal vicious cycle and I want out desperately.

And, of course, there's still the grief from losing Ryan. That situation ebbs and flows, which I'm assuming is natural.

And, everyone quickly says to me, "Oh, you just need to relax!"

Relax? I don't know if I even remember how to do that anymore.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

"It's a boy!"

Those were the words I heard a year ago at our Level II ultrasound, confirming the earliest of Mike's hunches that our little Peanut was a boy.

From that ultrasound, too, we were told that our baby was completely healthy - there was nothing to worry about and we could put any fears to rest. "Completely healthy," by what definition, is what I wonder to this very day.

I'm at least glad the technician was right about who had been taking up residence in my ever-expanding belly, and that we could now refer to "him" as such, instead of as just "baby" or "it." We were really torn about knowing the baby's gender, but we wanted to be prepared for his or her arrival. We wanted to have the room decorated in the right colors. There were trains, cars, planes, blue stuffed animals, and other toys for boys. We wanted to have gender-specific outfits. And, we wanted to know for certain that the name we had mulled over for weeks was indeed the one we wanted to bestow upon this precious little soul about to enter our life.

I also remember how foreign it seemed to me that there was a boy growing inside of me, penis and all. I'm a girly-girl by most definitions, so it seemed impossible to believe that anything masculine could come from someone as prissy as myself. In my mind, it seemed to make more sense that with me being a woman, only girly things could be made by me. Obviously I was very wrong about that assumption!

But, then I realized that I was chosen to be a little boy's mother. God had a very specific reason for sending us a boy, so I stopped questioning His decision. Once I accepted that logic as being His will, I fully embraced the very special gift of my son. And, of course, Mike was ecstatic that there would be another boy in the house - a real lil Mikey! And everything I did and bought for our "Mr. Peanut" reflected that acceptance and anticipation of his grand entrance.

I wish that right now I was filled with that same excitement and glee of a year ago. I miss it so terribly much, and hope I'll be lucky enough to feel that joy once again someday ...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Going back in time

Yesterday I went back to the maternity center where I had Ryan.

It certainly wasn't an ideal plan, but I needed to speak with my labor and delivery nurse, Robyn, and since she was still on her shift, I didn't have a lot of say in where we met.

The one redeeming thing about my visit is that it must've been a slow day: There were no laboring women wandering the halls; there were no newborn cries to be heard; and I didn't see a single baby.

Thank God for small miracles.

Still, there was that overwhelming wave of sadness that washed over me as I pulled into the parking lot and remembered everything from Ryan's birth day. I was sad, too, because I knew I would be walking out of those doors once again empty-handed and with a heavy, heavy heart.

Maybe going there was something I needed to do before - God willing - I have another baby, since it will more than likely be delivered there. Maybe overcoming this obstacle was yet another step in the healing process that needed to be taken. Or, maybe it was none of those reasons and merely coincidence and nothing more.

Just as everything else I don't understand, I'll probably never know why. I can only guess.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Rattling my cage

With all of the recent drama in my life being added to the already odd mix I have going on, I honestly feel that life and its curveballs have left me feeling apprehensive and unsettled.

I've always been a worrier, but the events surrounding my dad's health and our life insurance fiasco really have me frightened that I'm being irresponsible with my health and future.

Maybe this is how most people of middle-age look at their life. I don't know for certain since this is my first time reaching middle-age status. Yay, me.

Both Mike and I are looking at life and death in a new, discerning light. Naturally, we became painfully aware of life and its fragility when Ryan died. I've mulled over the mystery of it - how it can be short and fleeting for some and how fulfilling and wondrous it is for others. And, I've pondered how miraculous it can be, too. But, lately, I've also become scared of it and its unpredictability.

I'm in fear for my own health, as well as that of my dear husband. I'm worried about my dad and whether his condition can be effectively treated or if it's already too late to do anything more than to hope for peaceful and pain-free maintenance. I'm worried that my health is interfering with my and Mike's best attempts at making Ryan a big brother. I'm worried that we aren't doing all we can humanly do to lead fit lives and have instead knocked precious years off our lives by engaging in habits that we know aren't healthy.

I know that I need more exercise - who doesn't? I know that I don't need those fries from the Golden Arches or that ooey-gooey freshly baked chocolate chip cookie, and yet I succumb to the temptation. I want my husband to be healthier and for me to help him to get his blood pressure under better control. I also know that we can play by the rules as much as possible and still be struck down tomorrow. That's the unfairness of it all. That's the part I have trouble coming to terms with. I can rationize my reckless behavior with the "it doesn't matter what you do" logic since that's what most of my experience is based upon.

Everything that life is throwing at me right now is causing me to question what I thought I knew and understood. I'm now realizing that, for the most part, I'm helpless and I'm literally holding on for dear life on this crazy roller coaster ride, not knowing what's around the next corner.

And, I've been trying to put my trust and faith in God that all will be okay, but that, once again, is on dangerously thin ice. When I seek His help, most times I feel that I'm only talking to myself and feel incredibly stupid for doing so. Yes, I need a sign that He's there. It's too hard to sit on the edge of my bed, gazing up into nothingness and believe that He hears me and my prayers.

I shouldn't feel so overwhelmed by these circumstances of life - I know that. I'm trying my best to tackle one interest at a time so I don't crumbled under the pressure being put on me, but it's easier said than done.

I want to fix it all and have it fixed now. I want to know right now that everything is going to be okay. I wish someone could give me that guarantee.

"Have you talked with anyone?"

I've had more than a few people ask me this question lately, referring to whether I have talked with a bereavement counselor.

I'm getting a little paranoid here since so many people have asked me this question, worded almost the same way.

I think I'm doing okay. It's seven months since Ryan died, and I'm able to function. I get out of bed every morning and go to work. I make dinner most evenings. I keep our household running smoothly. I haven't withdrawn from my friends or family. And I even manage to laugh once in a while.

I think that's pretty damn good, all things considered.

So, why do people keep asking me if I need to talk to someone? Are they seeing something that I don't see? Do they expect me to be acting differently than I do?

Or, is this question thrown at me because the people in my life don't know what else to say to me? Are they so uncomfortable with the situation at hand that that's all they can think of to say? Is it a way to fill what they perceive to be an uncomfortable silence - or a way to talk about "that" without really bringing "it" up?

Yes, my baby boy died. I'm sad about it and a part of me will always be sad. I miss him and want him back, but that doesn't mean I need help. It just means that my life was turned upside down and I'm trying to put the pieces back together. What more can I do?

Saturday, March 11, 2006


The number of months since Ryan died.


I still don't know how this is possible. I'm having a harder time today accepting it, although my acceptance of it doesn't change the fact that he's not here.

I want to throw a kicking-and-screaming tantrum at the absurdity of all of this.

Doesn't matter, though. He'll still never, ever coming back to me.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Making plans

Yesterday was an especially difficult day for me emotionally since it would've been my dear friend's little boy's first birthday and it was Ryan's seven-month birthday, so receiving the news about being declined for life insurance was almost the straw that broke the camel's back. I don't know that I could've gotten any angrier with the world.

Luckily, Mike already receives life insurance through his employer and it's decent - but not substantial enough, in Mike's opinion - if something were to happen to him. He wants to be certain that if, God forbid, something happens to him, I won't have any worries and I'll be taken care of. He's been talking about this a lot lately, and the topic first came up shortly after Ryan died. I guess it's somewhat natural to think about your own demise and how it would affect those around you, wanting to do all you can in advance to spare your loved ones from having to make decisions they don't want to make at a time when they feel their worst.

I hate these sad discussions, but I know they're a necessity. It won't do any good to avoid talking about the inevitable; we're going to die, whether our life is in order or not, so why not at least plan ahead.

Part of our New Year's resolutions was to better plan for our future, i.e., investments, life insurance, retirement, wills, and medical directives. We both agreed that life insurance was the best place to start and seemed to be the most responsible step in protecting the interests of the surviving spouse.

Life insurance applications are never easy, regardless of how healthfully you live your life. Unfortunately, there can be matters which are out of your control and should not be counted against you when being considered for insurance.

That being said, how on earth could someone refuse us coverage, listing the main reason for refusal as anxiety that was caused by our son's death? We didn't ask for that to happen, believe me! And, if we sought out help in the form of medication and therapy to better deal with that horrible anxiety, how can that count as a red mark against us?

Once again, as with most other things in my life, I just don't get it.

Mike and I are both still so furious and sad over this decision that we've decided to have a lawyer handle filing an appeal. We are too close to the situation and emotional over a decision where, at times, it would seem easier to just scrawl, "FUCK YOU AND YOUR DAMNED INSURANCE COMPANY!" on a piece of paper and send it on its way. Since that obviously wouldn't tilt the odds in our favor, it's our hope that a lawyer could accomplish that, and, with some possible compromise on both sides, we can resolve this to the point that we will be approved and everyone will be satisfied with the outcome. Plus, honestly, no one can afford to ever be blacklisted by an insurance company - especially at our ages - so we need to do something about this preposterous decision.

I'm still upset, too, because here we are once again, trying to do the right thing by protecting our future, and we have yet another door slammed in our faces. I would just like to be a responsible adult - as I'm always told I should be and try my hardest to be - and not have a situation blow up in my face.

Is that really too much to ask?

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Mike just found out that his application for life insurance was declined for several reasons, but the reason that was of most relevance was his anxiety before, during, and after Ryan's death.

Is someone fucking kidding me?

Right now, if I could, I'd take the thorniest rosebush I could find and stick it up the douchebag-of-an-insurance-carrier's ass and twist it.

We're now being penalized for not being shiny, happy people after our newborn's death? Oh, of course! That makes perfect sense. We should have fake fucking smiles plastered across our faces instead of picking up the pieces of our shattered hearts. That makes much more sense

I guess someone forgot to tell us that that was the acceptable way of handling a loss of that magnitude.

Yep. I'm convinced that we live in a cruel and heartless world.

Happy Birthday

Today is a very special little boy's first birthday.

I wish, more than anything, he could be spending this day with his mommy and daddy, who miss him and love him so much.

Instead, he's spending his special day frolicking with the other beautiful angels in God's garden.

Happy Birthday, Thomas Joseph.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

You can lead a horse to water ...

... but you can't make him drink.

This idiom has been proven to me in the strongest of ways regarding my father and his health.

My dad is a stubborn man - which certainly explains a lot about me and personality - and has some very serious medical concerns that he seems unwillingly to treat in the ways that numerous doctors have advised. He seems to have some form of cancer on his face. I say "seems" because no biopsy has been taken, therefore, no official or accurate diagnosis has been made. But, with four different doctors glancing at this area and saying, "That looks like cancer to me," I'd venture to say that it is indeed cancer and a biopsy will only confirm their educated guesses.

But, my dad is acting like a complete horse's ass over all of this. Granted, he received substandard treatment - in the form of a consultation - from Johns Hopkins which has left him feeling skeptical of medical professionals in general. Given that experience, I can understand his apprehension to follow through with a radical treatment option before every possible alternate option has been properly addressed and ruled out.

Last night I received a pounding on my front door at 11 o'clock. We had already been in bed, so the beating on the door scared the crap out of both me and Mike. The officer informed me that my dad's wife had been trying to reach me to let me know that my dad had been admitted to the hospital. (His wife wasn't able to reach me via telephone; I suspect she was dialing the wrong number since our phones were working just fine.)

Oh my God.

That's the only thing I could say. My dad has been trying to treat this topical infection on his own and did something more severe happen? Or, was his admittance to the hospital unrelated to his skin cancer and a new condition altogether?

After several unsuccessful attempts at verifying what was going on and the clock quickly approaching midnight, I figured all I could do was try to get some form of sleep and try my best to gather more information during the daylight hours.

This morning I called my dad's house and he answered. I let out a huge sigh of relief; it seemed to be a good sign that he was home AND answered the phone. Obviously, the first thing I asked was "What's going on?" and he proceeded to explain what the police officer's visit was all about.

He went to the E.R. yesterday to hopefully get some antibiotics for his infection. He was admitted and an I.V. drip of antibiotics was started while his doctor scheduled a CT scan. The results of the CT scan revealed an abscess - which I had suspected since my dad told me of his condition nearly a month ago. The doctor told my dad that the hospital wasn't capable of treating him there, so he would be transferred by ambulance to Johns Hopkins.

With that, my dad refused the transfer - thus refusing anytreatment - called his wife to pick him up, and off he went.

As my dad is telling me all of this, I can feel my blood begin to boil. He had his chance to finally receive treatment for this horrendous infection/abscess, and he turned his back on it. Could he actually be more afraid of the treatment than the awful disease that's eating away at him?

I just don't know what to do. I really don't. I can't bear the thought of losing yet another loved one - especially when there's the chance of saving him! And, I understand that it's his body and he's got every right to do with it as he wishes, but how can he not even consider his wife or me in making that decision?

For fear of pushing him out of my life yet again, I held back with most of what I wanted to say. I'm sitting here with my hands tied behind my back and feeling as helpless as I did while Ryan struggled for his life.

I just don't understand this. My little boy fought as hard as he possibly could for life, even though the odds were stacked precariously again him. Yet, my dad doesn't want to put forth any effort to save his, when his prognosis is a far cry better than anything we were given for Ryan.

My father's got hope and he's running in the opposite direction. Ryan had almost no hope and yet he fully embraced every opportunity given to him.

I wish someone could help me understand this ...

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Today I spent the morning being pampered by trimming my 'do, rejuvenating my color, and taming my unruly eyebrows. And when I left, instead of feeling relaxed and beautiful, I felt like I had been kicked, repeatedly, in the stomach by someone wearing pointy shoes.

No, my stylist didn't mess up my hair or give me lop-sided eyebrows. It had nothing to do with her. It was just another shitty example of how the world marches forward when I'm still weeping inside over losing my beloved Ryan.

At the booth next to my stylist's is a gal who had her little boy - healthy as all babies should be - back in November. Fortunately, I haven't seen this gal much because when I was in the shop for an appointment over the last three months, she was either on maternity leave or had the day off. But today she was there and the baby talk just swirled around, extending well beyond the imaginary confines of her booth.

During my appointment, which went on for two hours, several women (co-workers and customers) came up to this gal to see pictures of "her little man." Since I was having my hair colored, there wasn't anywhere I could run off to to avoid all the "oohs" and "aahs." I was held hostage and my torture was listening to these women gush over this other stylist's baby.

After my stylist had applied my color, I spent 30 minutes waiting for the chemicals to work their magic. My stylist thoughtfully handed me a current rag-mag and I gladly embraced the opportunity to distract my mind from the baby gawking that was taking place just inches from me.

I began to flip through the magazine only to have more "baby on board" pictures flashed in my face. There was Tom and Katie; there was "Brangelina"; and there was Gwyneth and Chris. There were blooming bellies everywhere!

I think that was the first time I was this close to a panic attack in public. I was choking back the tears as I closed the magazine and placed it in my lap. I couldn't believe how quickly my upbeat mood had shifted into feelings of bitterness and terror.

I was so distraught that I almost ran out of the shop before having my eyebrows waxed. There's only so much one can take before reaching that breaking point, and I was quickly approaching condition critical.

After my eyebrows were neatly shaped, I briskly walked to my car, got in, and just cried and cried, letting out all the pain I had contained and bottled-up for nearly two hours.

No one will ever coo over my little boy like the way those women were fawning over the other stylist's baby. I'll only receive sad looks that convey "I'm sorry" or thoughtless comments such as "Well, at least he didn't suffer."

It hurts so fucking badly that my arms are empty ... I never imagined that this kind of hurt even existed till I lost Ryan.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

My Lenten sacrifice

I have never observed Lent until this year, but I wasn't sure what things were considered worthy sacrifices. I can vaguely remember friends over the years telling me some food or drink they'd give up during the period of Lent, but I honestly never thought about it any more than to utter a response of, "Good for you!"

But, since losing Ryan, my outlook and perspective on religious rituals has been reshaped to better appreciate their significance and the role they play in my life.

I've thought long and hard about what I would give up for those 40 days - something that would truly be a sacrifice ... an indulgence that I would push aside out of respect to honor this sacred period.

I chose chocolate candy.

Okay, maybe it's a feeble attempt and not the most spiritual or respectable of choices, but it's something that I over-indulge in far too often, and it would humble me to go without it for a while. I know, I could've chosen to stop eating chocolate candy at any time - no one puts a gun to my head, forcing me to widen the girth of my ass by consuming massive amounts of chocolate - but right now feels like the perfect time to make this commitment to myself and to my somewhat-shaky faith in the Lord above.

Of course, how silly and naive of me to forget that Lent kicks off the commercially driven Easter season. And, with that, the grocery and department stores begin their crusade, urging consumers to make the biggest and grandest Easter baskets they can dream - which means aisle upon aisle of chocolatey goodness just begging to be chosen.


Well, maybe my choice of sacrifices wasn't so empty after all, given that I'll need to exercise major restraint while these delectable treats are paraded in front of me in the form of newspapers ads and TV commercials. If that doesn't take willpower to a chocolate-lover like me, then nothing does.

Oh, how I want to chomp the ears off a hollow chocolate bunny right now ...