Sunday, May 4, 2014

Taking his lead.

This morning I lay in bed, my body and mind aching…not ready to start the day.  I slept through my alarm and had mere minutes to decide if we should stay in bed, or make a mad dash to get up and ready ourselves for church. We never miss church, but today my heart was heavy and maybe, just maybe, I was feeling a little sorry for myself.

I stared at the wall, my eyes fixed on Ryan and my wedding picture.  His wide smile.  My young head cocked, admiring my groom.

What would Ryan do? I wondered.

I don't even know why I wondered it.  I knew what Ryan would do.

He would get up.

In an instant I was neck deep in a memory.  It was ten days before he passed.  He had just gotten off the phone with a friend and excitedly told me we were going to a San Francisco Giants game in a few days.

“Hold up.” I said.  “You have a doctors appointment that day.  “The” doctors appointment.  The one that will tell us whether you’ll be admitted into the trials or not.  The one that will tell us if your tumors are growing or shrinking.  What if it’s bad news?  I can’t imagine us going to a Giants game after such a heavy appointment.”

I was upset.  What was he thinking?

I didn’t have to wonder long.  He told me.

“Well, if it’s bad news we can come home and be miserable, or we can go and enjoy our time together by cheering on the Giants.  The news won’t change if we’re home hiding or if we’re out living.  Sulking isn’t going to make anything better; in fact I’m pretty sure it will just make things worse.  I choose to live, Meri.  I choose to hold your hand and enjoy a night at the stadium with my friends.”

I couldn’t argue with that, so even though it totally went against my grain, I agreed to go.  Sure enough, we did receive bad news at that appointment.  But also sure enough, we went to that game and I was able to form one of my most cherished memories with my husband. 

He could barely walk the steps up to our section, but he cheered loud and proud.  He was uncomfortable in the seat, but he smiled and laughed harder than he had in awhile.  He couldn’t eat the food because his medicine made him so sick to his stomach, but he sipped his water, serenely and contentedly.  His face was almost unrecognizable, swollen thick from the powerful steroids, but he wanted a picture together anyway.

 He smiled anyway.

He enjoyed life anyway.

He made the most of the moment anyway.

I need to make the most of my moments anyway, too.

Remembering all of this, I jumped out of bed this morning and ran to wake up the boys for church.

The times I want to hide are the times I’m woken up most to life.  Ryan taught me that life is what we make of it.

We can make it good.

We can make it bad.

We decide.

I try everyday to push away my defeated thoughts and move forward and live.  To make life worthwhile and as joyous as possible.

I try.

I don’t know how I muster the faith, but deep down I know that I’ll be happier if I move and take chances. 

Probably because Ryan showed me that.

Probably because Ryan taught me that.

And probably because I believe it…because of the way Ryan lived every single day to the fullest.

Those last months of his life could have been dark, and miserable.  Sure they were hard, but Ryan found a way to make them genuinely lighter.  It was such a gift to all of us.

How can I not take his lead?


  1. What a precious memory. You shared your memory in such perfect words. Thank you Meri for sharing this story. Thank you Ryan for such an amazing lesson in life.

  2. Ryan has impacted us all with still reminding us to live daily with joy...thank you for sharing his story. I love reading these posts that inspire me to make the most of it. Hope your Sunday was wonderful :)

  3. It's amazing how Ryan, who I never met, is so much a part of my life and I know, others' lives. Nice sunset here in NH? "It's a Ryan sunset." Feeling sorry for myself - suck it up, if Meri and her sons can do this, so can I. Thanks for writing about the game night. It made me smile for you - and for Ryan.

  4. Thanks for this... Needed it today. Love you my friend!

  5. Just what I needed to hear today and everyday! Thank you for sharing this beautiful memory!

  6. What a special, remarkable man! What a wonderful memory! Thank you for sharing. I hope that Sunday was made a little easier by holding this memory close to your heart.

  7. There is no possible way not to LOVE Ryan and to have such strength is a blessing in itself. You posess that same quality of strength, my friend. He see's it in you just as we do. <3

  8. Oh, Meri! How could you not? He did give you a huge selfless gift, bless his heart. Praying that Sunday was an amazing day. Thanks for sharing, it makes the rest of us want to get up, get out there, and live fuller! Hugs, girl!


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