Last week was one of reflection for me, mostly thinking of Ryan...and missing him.
It was a tough week. Every song burned my heart. Despite the words, the melodies lingered in my head as background music to my story. It was one eternal round of melancholy.
And then in the store the other day I saw a couple arguing. No, they weren't yelling...but their body language was.
They were miserable.
And I just wanted to take their hands and say, "Appreciate what you have right next to you."
But I walked away instead and began to think about the times that Ryan and I would fight. And why it was so when we did.
I do realize Ryan and I had a unique marriage. We got annoyed all the time, that is for sure. But fighting? That came about once a year in a big blow up...usually about something we didn't even remember after all was said and done. Something that had more to do with built up annoyances then the topic at hand. Thankfully, we learned this later in our marriage, and learned to talk out the things that bugged us, and not to take them personally.
We had many conversations how woman and men see things differently. Many conversations about how our needs are different. We tried hard to see past our own opinions. But even though our communication was pretty good, our marriage mostly thrived because of the person Ryan was.
We all can learn from his example. So I thought I would tell everyone, and remind myself, what made Ryan so special...which in turn made our marriage so special too.
~ From day one of our marriage he made it clear that he was never going anywhere. That no matter how hard things got, that no matter how annoyed we got with each other...leaving (purposely) would never be an option. I was stuck with him forever. He reminded me many times. I reminded him back.
~ From the time we began dating he looked me in the eyes and promised me he would never lie to me. I promised him back. We made a pact that if we used the word "promise" it was like putting our hand on the bible. We would try to get around this by saying "Bromise" instead of "Promise," but we stuck to it...always. Sure we hid things from each other. But not big things. Mostly a surprise or gift for each other. He hid some of his symptoms from me in the end...and I hid that I knew about them.
~ He called me. During the day, (before there were text messages,) he always checked in with me in the morning. Always asked how my night was. Always wanted to know how I was doing. If I had a bad night he would sometimes leave the bakery to bring me a treat and to hug us all and then run back to work. When text messages came into our life, he would text me a dozen times a day. I took his lead and called him every afternoon when the kids napped to check in on his day. If he was having a hard day, I would go visit him.
~ He told me he loved me every single day. Sincerely. With all the love and adoration usually kept for the first couple years of marriage. He told me every day how beautiful I was. I would catch him staring at me with tears in his eyes. yeah. He was that amazing. I told him how amazing he was back...and how lucky I was to have him in my life.
~ He helped. For the first 15 years of our marriage Ryan worked a 15 hour day. But he still helped clean up the house, and in contrast NEVER complained that dishes weren't done or the laundry was piling up. He was an amazing cook and delighted in making the meat for dinner. He would make special breakfast just for me. He happily played with the kids...he napped with them, and often would forgo his own nap to be with us. To give ME a break.
~ He sacrificed for us. Despite working 15 hour days, 5 days a week...he would often cater on the weekends to make extra money for us. We used this extra money for a family vacation, or a weekend away for just the two of us.
~ He took me out. Ryan knew I was overwhelmed with babies and diabetes. He would make special dates for us, or simply make sure we got out of the house often. When we were poor we would scour our drawers for coupons and old lottery tickets that we won $1 or $2 dollars on. We'd cash those in and split a dinner at a restaurant. He made those nights out happen, regardless of the circumstance.
~ He would say he was sorry first. If we got into a disagreement, he'd usually be the first to come to me to say sorry. Learning from his example, I began to try to beat him to it. When one of us would apologize the other would instantly melt and all would be well. We would talk about how it just wasn't worth it to be mad at each other, and how easy it is to let out our frustrations to the person we love most. Saying sorry, sincerely, makes a discussion about the problems much easier to swallow.
~ He was loyal. To his family, to the people he worked with, to the people he loved. He had your back, always. If he loved you, he would defend you.
~ He loved to surprise me. No matter how tough things were financially, Ryan would take a couple dollars here and there and hide it away to surprise me with a thoughtful gift. J just confided in me that some of his greatest memories were hiding gifts from Ryan to me. J said he loved having a special secret with his dad and the fact that Ryan trusted him to find a place for something so important. He made me want to surprise him too.
~ Which leads to this: Ryan always found a way to make you feel like you were his best friend. Sure, he told me over and over that I was his best friend, but I had DOZENS of people come up to me at his funeral and tell me that Ryan was their best friend. They could confide in him, and trust him. Trust him to keep their secrets, and trust him not to judge. I tried to be the best friend I could be to him too. Ryan rarely went out with his friends...he was all about our family. But he found a way to connect with them, always. He would call them on their birthdays. He never forgot a birthday, or a phone number for that matter.
~ He was fun. He laughed a lot. He didn't take too many things too seriously. He loved adventure and wanted to see the world. He made me funner. He was also optimistic about everything. "Everything always works out in the end." His motto. His hopefulness made me more hopeful too.
Sure, Ryan had his faults...he'd be the first to point them out.
He wasn't organized. At all. He lost his keys every single day.
He wasn't motivated to do yard work, or clean out the garage. But when I asked him to, he would.
He didn't have the best fashion sense.
Ummm...yeah. That's all I got.
But because the list above was long, and robust...those little annoyances were easily washed away.
He was full of crazy love.
And I tried the best I could for those 20 years to fill myself up with that love.
Pretty much, everything I am today is because of Ryan's example. Sure, I'm human, and hormonal. I have my bad days...not everyone can be as awesome as Ryan.
I think Ryan's biggest lesson to all of us is to spend our lives telling the ones we love, that we love them...and showing them too. Everything else will fall into place at home if we do.