I remember his eyes first and foremost. The twinkle in them. The deep crinkles shooting out the sides of them. They were kind eyes. Happy eyes. Smiling eyes.
I remember his smile. Not only because it always made his eyes light up, but it was always broad. There was no half smile for him.
I remember his hair. Thick and wavy in the beginning and then changed to a flattop not too many years later. I remember when we first got married he had just a little chest hair and I would comment on how I loved every bit of it. It grew in a bit thicker year after year, I’m sure only by pure determination on his part. It seemed Ryan could make even the impossible possible if he put his mind to it.
I remember his arms. They were my safe place. Even before we were dating and I was off to college in another state, thinking of his arms around me calmed me. They were strong from kneading and working with dough. His embrace was pure and unyielding.
I remember is fingers. Thick from working with his hands, callused from the knives and spatulas that lay in his palms naturally all day long. But as immensely strong as they were, they were always gentle on mine. They were always reassuring and they were always on me when we were near each other.
I remember his feet. They were never idle. Even if he was resting on the couch, they were moving, bouncing. His pinky toe was shaped like a triangle. All the boys have that pinky toe.
I remember the way he sat. The position of his arms. His casualness, his comfort in his space. I always envied how natural and easy everything seemed to him. He always had things under control. He had a confidence that made you feel like he had the mysteries of life handled.
I remember the way he ate. He relished every bite of everything. He appreciated the tartness of a raspberry and the creaminess of Brie cheese. Food wasn’t just something to sustain him; every bite seemed to be a blessing in his eyes. When I burnt the toast he would say, “I like it better burnt. I swear.” And he would eat every bite happily.
I remember all the times we would dance to “Wonderful Tonight.” He would slightly bite his bottom lip and get this peaceful look on his face. When he wasn’t looking in my eyes he would look up to the ceiling, like he could see the universe. It was concentration and contentment. I can’t explain it. But I remember it.
I remember the first time he said “I love you.” We had only gone out a few times. We weren’t even dating. I was leaving the next morning for college. He hugged me tight and went to his car. As I was walking up the driveway to my house I heard him say it. I’ll never forget the inflection in his voice. The sureness of it. Even though it was quick, and his door shut immediately after he said it. I whispered, “I love you too.” Our first kiss was 8 months after that.
I remember his excitement for every pregnancy. I was terrified with number four, but he was on top of the world. I remember the pure joy in his eyes. I remember him saying he had a feeling that God was giddy that we were going to have this baby. He really felt each boy was a gift, and his calmness about everything made me calm.
I remember waiting at the door for him every time he came home from work. Waiting for him, the anticipation of it, never got old. Day after day. NO matter how bad a day either of us had, seeing each other made everything better. I remember him driving up and me running out to the street to meet him to feel his reassuring arms around me. Even if it had only been a few hours he’d say, “I missed you.”
I remember always missing him. And now here it is 11 months since I’ve kissed his lips and missing him doesn’t even describe the torture I’ve been through. The boys have been gone this weekend so I’ve been able to let the emotions flow freely. I’m thankful for that, and at the same time not sure where to put all this pain. I’m holding it in my arms like I held Ryan. I need to let go of some of it, but putting it down seems impossible right now.
Though, regardless of all of that…I’m thankful that I still remember.
Every single inch of him. I remember.