Tuesday, September 08, 2009

First Year.

Whew. What a weekend.

Through constant thoughts of Ryan, tears shed, laughter shared, food consumed, IPA's tipped - we all survived. Not only did we make it but we did so in style and celebrated the inspiring life of a man who touched so many lives and lives on in the spirit of many, many people. (And dogs too! (That was for Makiah, Riley Jean, Nissa, and Fay-dog.))

The anniversary date of Ryan's death has been looming on my mind for the past several months. As the world kept spinning, I found myself trying to figure out the best and appropriate way to commemorate him. I asked several people - blank looks. I turned to the Internet and surprisingly found little to no information on death ceremonies. Why is death so taboo? Especially in our culture? I mean it happens to everyone - so why don't we deal with it upfront more?

Needless to say, I was on my own.

Trish (Ryan's mom) has been feverishly working on a tribute art show for Bubba. Friday was the opening show at the Blue Horse Gallery. Up until that point I had only seen small thumbprints of the work. And when I walked into the room and my eyes settled on a 48" x 76" piece she did at the base of Goat Wall in such amazing detail and color with such emotion and love I started weeping. Weeping at viewing the pains that she has struggled with the past year since losing her son. Weeping that Molly lost her brother. Weeping that such a beautiful painting could make you almost fall to your knees in astonishment. And that was just the first painting.

As I slowly circled the room, absorbing the enormity of her work while being intercepted by close friends and family, it re-affirmed that all this time I've been struggling, so has she. I feel like words don't do her art show justice. You have to see it in person. You must see it in person. The show will be up until September 25th.

That night we gathered across the street with dear friends and tipped several IPA's back. You could feel Ryan there - in his element around his friends and loved ones. We nearly shut the bar down.

Saturday morning was a little fuzzy so the drive East over Highway 20 was a little rough. Not to mention we had 3 adults in my Golf with way too much gear, food and dog. The plan was to convene with several friends at 20 Skyline in Mazama and hang out. We hung out at Lincoln, Shelley, Jonah and Annie's rental just down the development and simply enjoyed each others company. They had rented the same cabin 2 years prior on the same weekend- and it was the perfect gathering place. Especially considering the cold fall weather encompassing all of the valley.

By Sunday, more and more people had showed up. By Monday morning, Trish, Tom, Dave, Kristin and Heidi showed up. We had 20 or so people in all. Amazing that all these people would take time out of their busy lives to celebrate Ryan. Just shows what kind of guy he was and who he attracted.

Both nights I had trouble sleeping. Grief was ripping through my body. I'd try to sleep and couldn't stop thinking about him. All of the memories I have with him suddenly flooded my brain. It was as though my brain decided to start taking inventory of our life together. I'd wake up in the middle of the night and it took me a couple of hours to fall back asleep. By Monday morning, I was fried. But I was also ready.

Close to 11 am, we all convened at the parking area for Goat Wall and started the strenuous hike up to the base of Prime Rib, the climb Ryan was on. It was hard. Several times I had to stop just to collect myself from sobbing. Everyone took their time getting up to the ledge at the base. Trish and Tom were the last to arrive. Tom read a poem written for Trish that was read at the art show. And then I brought out Ryan's ashes. We passed them around for everyone to get a handful of. To feel him one last time in our hands. And then we released them at the same time.

Although I cried A LOT that day, after ward and during - once I had scattered his ashes at the base of the climb surrounded by our dear friends and family - I felt at peace. I know I still have grief to go through and there will be bumps and setbacks in the road, to make it to the first year mark and have everything come together was perfect. I guess then I realized some things you shouldn't plan for - and that dealing with death is very personal and individual but it certainly helps to share experiences with loved ones. Thank you to each and everyone of you who have helped me in the journey to get to this point - you all mean so much to me.

So if you haven't already - make sure that you drink an IPA soon in honor of Ryan and living life to the fullest. Rest in peace Bubba. I love you.


Beetlebetty said...

Tears are strolling down my face as I read this. You are amazing. Probably the strongest girl i know. You are inspiring to all who know you. Thoughts of you are always in my head. Next time you are in town we MUST get toghether. xoxox

Buttercupyaya said...

I started typing a comment here and then read Beetlebetty's...and really, I had those same words (in my variation) in this little box.
As I started to read your post, I could FEEL every bit of pain in your heart. It takes an unbelievable amount of strength and love for a person to make a journey as you did; to walk in Ryan's last footsteps. Jenn, you are a remarkably strong and wonderful woman. I think I say this every time, but at the risk of repeating myself I'll say it again: I can't imagine the amount of pain you are in every day, and I am so glad to see you and Ryan have so many wonderful souls who have touched your life and can stand by your side as you say goodbye, yet again, to Ryan (just in another form)...

all my love and hope,

Baum said...

Jen, You are the strongest woman, and I am touched by your stories. Thank you for sharing...Love!! Jill