More Cowbell

I have been driving Ryan’s car to work every morning and I listen to all of his presets except the sports radio stations that take up a whopping 8 of 24 spots!  I’m sure that isn’t surprising to anyone that knows Ryan.  The rest are basically classic rock and jam band stations.  Anyway, it makes me feel like that is the time when Ryan can “talk” to me.

Ryan and I met in 2000 and when you know someone for 16 years, marry them, have some kids, move back and forth across the country a couple of times and go through some fairly traumatic events together, you learn things about one another that no other relationship will ever rival.  I miss Ryan a lot so I constantly look for signs from him and a lot of that comes through music.  I was listening to Elvis’s, Always On My Mind the other day and I thought, “Oh wouldn’t that be something if on my way to work, I heard that song.”  I switched over to Elvis Radio and guess what?  Nope, it wasn’t Always On My Mind it was C.C. Rider which is much more Ryan.  This was the only Elvis song he would sing.  Ever.  This is what I mean by him “talking” to me.

Last night, I was double checking with Kamryn regarding her Halloween costume.  She had said she wanted to be the Grim Reaper and in light of recent events, I thought it may be a little too…oh what’s the word?  Not good.  She has always been a lover of the macabre when it comes to Halloween and she had made this decision before Ryan passed, but I was just hoping she would change her mind.  She is still set on being Father Time so I began my Pinterest search for costume making ideas and each pin I came across was saved with a cringe and a sigh.

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Today I got in the car and what song was playing?  (Don’t Fear) The Reaper.  OK, Ryan, I get it.  It made me smile and chuckle a little.  I know some are reading this and saying, “Amy, that’s just a coincidence.” and I would agree.  It is. A coincidence is defined by a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time and I would say this was quite striking.  What I’m saying is, you can call it what you will and I’ll get from it what I need.  I need it to be Ryan telling me to “Calm the fuck down, it’s not a big deal.”

The song also brought up another memory that made me laugh and it wasn’t the memorable Will Ferrell SNL skit.  Ryan ran a half marathon in Des Moines in 2007 and included in the swag bag was a cowbell for the fans to clang as the runners ran by or for your 1 year old to become obsessed with and refuse to put down.  Kamryn loved that cowbell.  One night, shortly after the race, Ryan asked me to please hide it from her because it was constant, clanging cowbell in our house.  I turned to him and said, “It’s from your race.”  Meaning, it’s your fault we have it so you hide it!  He gave me a very puzzled look and replied, “What do you mean?  We’re both white!”  I laughed for a good hour after that and it still makes me giggle.

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Happy 40th Birthday, Ryan

Ahhhhhh….FUCK!  I was watching the Today Show this morning and Matt Lauer said he considered swearing a lazy form of communication because the speaker isn’t attempting to find a more creative way to express themselves.  Well, Matt, sometimes there isn’t a more creative word.  Sometimes the mother of all swear words expresses my sentiment exactly how it needs to be expressed.

One month and 2 days ago was the worst day of my life.  Ryan, my husband of 13 years, passed away and today would have been his 40th birthday.  The man who gave me (albeit with a little of my help) two of the most wonderful children.  We had our rough patches. Every marriage does, but we knew how to be parents and we were good at it together and apart.  Ryan was an amazing dad.  There isn’t a better way to put it.  He loved his children more than anything.

Ryan and I weren’t living together when he passed.  It’s shocking how fast any differences we had, vanished when I received that horrible phone call on August 18th.  All I could think of was how my children lost their father, I lost my best friend and the one person who truly knew me better than anyone else.

I keep thinking of cleaning out his condo and the one, unopened bag of Goldfish crackers I found.  Yes, he had other food, but it was that sole bag of crackers that continues to break my heart in two.  Not more than a week before Ryan passed away, Rory was at his house, swimming.  Ryan texted me that Rory was ready to come home because he didn’t “have good enough snacks”.  That was the last time Rory had been there and Ryan had gone out to get those Goldfish for the next time that he came over.  I brought those crackers home and I listened from the living room as the kids ate them in the kitchen.  Not knowing their dad had bought those for them.  I cried silent tears as they happily munched their snack.

I was anxious about today.  I had no idea how it was going to effect me.  The fact that Ryan died a month before his 40th birthday isn’t lost on me.  I am 2 months older than Ryan and every year between July 29th and September 20th, there were a lot of jabs about me being his “Old Lady”.  And now he’s permanently stickin’ it to me! (That’s a George Costanza reference for those keeping track.)

One thing that Ryan wouldn’t have wanted is for me, the kids, his family, or his friends to wallow around and mourn him.  I know this because when his dad died in October of 2009, we talked a lot about what we would want when we passed.  In some ways, I am most grateful for those conversations because I know what he wanted and I know how he felt about death and dying.  We joked a lot that I would be the first to go because of the whole kidney failure thing.  It’s funny how you can joke about that stuff when you’re in your 30’s. I think I felt more invincible in my 30’s than I did as a teenager.  I don’t feel that way anymore.

So on this 20th day of September, I am thankful for me and Ryan’s friends far and wide for the texts, the cards, the cakes, the balloon, the flowers, the messages, the hugs and the friendship.  I’m thankful for his family for being my connection to Ryan and for holding on to more memories to share with our children.  I am thankful for my family for always considering Ryan part of our family even before “he put a ring on it”.  I’m thankful for Ryan’s lifelong friends for continuing to send me text messages and sharing their memories with me.  But I’m most thankful for Kamryn and Rory.  Those kids are our greatest accomplishment and the pain I feel that Ryan won’t walk our beautiful daughter down the aisle on her wedding day or see Rory’s face when he becomes a father himself is unimaginable.

I like to imagine that Ryan is looking down on us from the star that Rory and I picked out.  That he smiles when I laugh, he shakes his head when Rory is doing something Rory-like and he’s showing his proud dad face when Kamryn brings home that perfect report card.  Our love for you will never end and we will always feel your love from above.