The day Ryan passed away, it broke.
For the six months preceding, I had amazing faith. My faith reflected the way I lived every day. Hope staring back at me was my norm.
My faith was clear. It was clean. It was shiny. It was good. My mirror of faith was framed in hope, and was most definitely part of who I was.
When Ryan passed, you can imagine my horror when I found my faith on the floor, broken into a thousand pieces.
I looked myself square in the eye every day in that mirror, and suddenly the image I relied on was completely distorted and broken every whit.
I'm not sure how it happened. In the past when I was faced with hard times, the mirror only got stronger...brighter. I was embarrassed it was such a mess, and more than anything, I was completely disappointed in myself. Would I ever be able to rely on my faith again? I had no idea it was so fragile.
Putting the pieces back together was a process. Each piece I picked up I had to ask myself, "Do I really believe this?"
Some pieces I had to set back down for awhile. I couldn't make it part of me if I wasn't sure.
I had to ask myself what my life would look like without that piece. Would it be ok to go through life without believing this?
I got discouraged quickly. A few small pieces I took ownership of right out of the gate...but many many more lay before me waiting. The largest, simplest pieces turned out to be the hardest to claim.
The largest piece: Do I believe in heaven? Man. I really had to search my soul on that one. Of course I always did...but with Ryan gone, this question became REAL. It became tangible. I had to know the truth. Believing wasn't enough for me. Could I live my life thinking I would never see Ryan again? I'm sure I could...but what kind of life would that be? The obvious answer to that one for me was: Miserable. But also, I didn't want to believe just for the sake of "wanting" to. I wanted to believe because I really DID believe. It was all or nothing.
Did I believe Ryan was in heaven and I'd see him again, or not?
Thankfully, I didn't have to put the pieces together all by myself.
I asked for God's help, and he gently fixed me.
As I studied my faith, shattered at my feet, I was relieved one day to realize that my reflection was still pure and intact, individually in each and every piece. It took time to put the pieces together, but once I got the big ones in their place, all the little ones easily followed.
Since then, the mirror once again is a perfect reflection of my faith. It is not what it was before, but it is real. It is true. It is stronger. I think it is even better, because I put in the work. Like a child's artwork...I appreciate the time and effort I put into it.
I'm whole again. And that wholeness is the result of my testimony.
I know that there is a heaven.
I know Ryan is there.
I know Ryan is busy, and happy and living.
I know that I can't wait to be with him again. It is a surreal feeling not being afraid to die...actually looking forward to dying.
I know I have to stay and take care of my family...no worries I'm not planning on going anywhere! But if I'm being honest, by his side is where I really want to be.
Another thing I know:
Ryan wants me to be happy. He doesn't want me to be miserable.
He's let me know this often, in quiet ways.
So I try hard to respect that. When I cry...and yeah, I still cry a lot, I imagine him looking at me. "We'll be together soon. Everything will be ok, I promise."
I try hard to find joy every day...to not waste this experience we have on earth. I pray for that specifically every night. Because in a twisted way, I know that if Ryan checks up on me, he will be miserable if I am miserable.
At first I thought when I laughed, or found some kind of happy, that he would think that I don't miss him. But if there is anything I truly know, it is that Ryan knows how much I love him. He knows without a doubt how much I miss him...because he misses me that much too.
So now I laugh, and I laugh hard. Or I try to anyway. Sometimes I laugh and I cry. I think that's ok too.
I look for joy.
I look up every chance I get.
I hold onto my obsession with the sky. When I look at it, it is a firm testimony that God lives. It is like a little glimpse of heaven...and it brings me so much peace.
Over and over again I am gently told, "It's okay."
And thankfully, now that I've put my faith back together...I can not only hear it, but I can see it clearer, too.
Funny thing mirrors. We can't see where we are going in them, we can only see what is in front of us right now, and where we've been.
As much as I want to see my future, that isn't how faith works. Faith is working on yourself today, doing the best you can with the now, and letting go of the worry of tomorrow.
That's my story anyway.
Faith precedes the miracle.
I have faith. My future will hold the miracle.
I really do believe that.