Encouragement · Hope · Parenting · wounded Mother

An Attitude of Gratitude

If I have to choose my favorite of the  ‘7 things I learned from my son,” (previous post) it would be the first one,  “Appreciate Life.” Or, another way to say it is ‘living an attitude of Gratitude.’

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When Ryan died, I came to a real crossroads in my way of understanding life. The first road I traveled was: “the accident as highway robbery.” There was nothing ‘right’ about it. It was wrong, wrong, wrong. Ryan was stolen from us.

Ryan
Ryan

 

Quite a few years later, I stumbled onto the second road. It was a whole new way of understanding loss. The fact that we had one day with Ryan was a gift because the truth is we didn’t deserve even a day with Ryan.

You get what I’m saying?  That every day we spent with him was a little miracle for our family. Think about it, we had 2567 days with him.

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Xmas 2000

How can that be wrong?

To look at something this horrendous thru the lense of gratitude is life-changing. It would have been easier to be cynical (nothing ever really works out the way you want it) but I am not.

Here’s an idea: why don’t you put on your gratitude glasses and look at your life? It can change the way you see the worst of the worst.

I’m living proof.

Dawn

 

Grief · Hope · wounded healer · wounded Mother

“7 Things I learned from my son”

There’s no way in Hell that I would have considered doing the mommy job of preparing the funeral for my baby boy. Not physically, not mentally, not emotionally, not psychologically, not spiritually, not nothingly. It’ll take everything I’ve got to sit thru it.

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Ryan’s funeral could have been the ‘worst of the worst nights of my life.’

But Ron saved the day. He got his heartbroken self up in front of everyone, and told them the “7 things I learned from my Son.” Let me tell you some of what he said that afternoon.

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“When my son, Ryan, came along, I prided myself on teaching him the alphabet and soccer and flattered myself that I was a good teacher, but as I look back I now see that I was actually still learning and that I was still learning more important lessons than I was teaching.

Lesson 1- Appreciate Life

Lesson 2- Smiles are Infectious

Lesson 3- Explore your world

Lesson 4- Don’t take yourself too seriously

Lesson 5- Don’t confuse intelligence with experience

Lesson 6- Charity means giving when it hurts

Lesson 7- …and the greatest of these is Love.”

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Ryan

 

That, my friends, should tell you the kind of son we enjoyed in Ryan.

dawn

 

Grief · wounded Mother

The Worst of the Worst day of my Life!

I remember driving to the Funeral home with Ron to see Ryan’s body just before his cremation.

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Just the two of us, Ryan’s mom and dad. His parents. That’s all we were to anyone that day. As we entered a cold storage room, I remember thinking to myself,

“How could they be so insensitive to have let us spend our very last moments with our little boy in such an unfriendly, frigid environment?”  

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All there was was a child-sized makeshift,  cardboard coffin. It stood solitary in the middle of a room. It was a stark reminder of how Ryan died in the car. Alone. Seeing the box screamed there would be no more talks, hugs, and laughter from our little Ry-Ry.

We both gasped and crumbled. I have to admit it was surreal and unbearable that our little boy’s body was inside a cardboard box.

We cried out to God,

What kind of love is this that you would rip him out of our hearts as if he’s better off with you?”  He’ll tell you himself, he’s better off with us.

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 Some of you are wondering, “How much of him was left after the fire?”  Do you really think we opened that cheap container? All we could do was cry and say goodbye to the little boy in the box.  The only one more damaged than Ryan was me.

All is lost!

ryan’s mother

Grief · wounded Mother

The worst day of my life! (part 2)

It’s  Saturday afternoon and we’re driving Highway 83, along the Mexican border. We’ve just left Ryan’s first swimming meet and are heading for his soccer match 45 miles away.

 

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Suddenly, we hear an unrecognizable POP! It’s so loud! Our car begins to roll over and over. Then, we are trapped in our car, on fire.

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Everything in me wants to get out of the fire. The other everything in me wants to get the kids out of the fire.

My maternal instincts are raging! So are my primal instincts.

It’s like an internal civil war: “Do I save my children, or do I save myself?”  

dawn

(So I’ll see you on Monday.)

Family · Grief · wounded Mother

The worst day of my life! (part 1)

Our SUV is rolling over and over and flames are beginning to eat through my passenger seat, searing my hamstrings. The final rollover lands us on my side. My door won’t open. Everything I touch is glass, gravel, and weeds on the shoulder of Highway 83.

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The fire ignited under me and is crawling toward my 7-year-old, Ryan, sitting behind me in the backseat.

Our happy family of four are trapped like POW’s. I can smell the skin on my legs burning. Then, I am numb. No, more like frozen. Gradually, my brain begins to thaw.

I open my eyes and every one of us is on fire!

My baby, Tyler, is!

My seven-year-old, Ryan, is!

My husband, Ron, is!

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And it feels like we’re all melting. Both children are trapped in their car seats. Can a person be on fire and frozen at the same time?

This is only the beginning of the worst days and years of my life.

dawn

(See you Thursday for part 2)

Encouragement · wounded healer · wounded Mother

The best day of my life

My dream was not to have children.

Even when I was a little girl, I didn’t play “House.”  I didn’t dream about being somebody’s Mommy. Carrying a baby gets in the way of climbing trees, and my goal was a tree a day. I climbed in the daytime and read under the covers at night.

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I didn’t play with girls and I didn’t chase boys. No dolls, no football, which left me up a tree (literally), but I liked the company I was keeping. I liked being by myself.

So this isn’t going to be the usual story about a girlie-girl raised by her parents. If anybody raised me I raised me.

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The ‘best day of my life’ might have been the day I discovered I liked myself as I was, and that I could do for myself. In other words, I was born a person in my own right. That was one fine day when I figured that out.

Or,

the ‘best day of my life’ might have been when I left home at nineteen, rode the bus to Port Authority in the City of New York. Imagine, a teenager moving to Manhattan and becoming a Playboy bunny.

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By now you’ve noticed that I cannot be categorized, or corraled.

All I knew was that a Playboy bunny wasn’t like any other girl, so I qualified. BTW, if there was a way to set up a bunny reunion tonight, you could go all around the room, asking the other girls about me:

  1. They won’t remember me, or,
  2. I wasn’t like anyone else wearing a tail.

The single ‘best day of my life’ was when my first child was born when I became Ryans Mommy!

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Ryan

 

dawn

(Okay… Next time we meet: “The worst day of my life!”)

Family travel

Be Prepared!

Bosnia-Herzegovina, as part of Yugoslavia, helped found the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1922.    “Budi spreman!”, they cry —  their version of Be Prepared!

Family sign CroatiaAll over the world, scouts are shouting their version of the motto.  Personally, I prefer the Armenian translation:    Always Prepared, Elevate Yourself and Others with You.   

Tyler Eagle Scout

The Hirn men, all scouts, understand the importance of ‘being prepare.’  And, thanks to the scout leaders, have also learned the importance of “elevating yourself and others with you.”

Always Prepared is my motto, or my delusion, I don’t know which.  The strongest motto sets you in the right direction, but doesn’t necessarily secure your safety.   Our world trip took us into areas we had never been, without the benefit of cell phone technology, daily weather forecasts, fresh water, meds and transportation.  We did our homework before we left. And though we were ready with bottled water, paper, homeschool materials, and a few meds, we could not anticipate everything.  We understood before we left-Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Syria- were not places we would be going.  In 1992, Ron and I dared not step foot in the Balkan because of the vicious Yugoslavian war.    But it was safe enough when we returned with the kids.  What a blessing the Balkan was to us each!

Ron overlkng orange roofs, Old Town Dubrovnik Croatia

Some signs are promising:                                                Others, not so much!

We are bracing ourselves for a second US hurricane hit in a month. Harvey left unprecedented damage in Texas, and now Irma is on the warpath.  Nobody in her path can Be Prepared alone. It takes a team of friends, neighbors, weather forecasters, and public service announcements.  But regardless of the warnings, unless you are wise enough to take direction, you may find yourself in the middle of a 10 ft. storm surge.  And no amount of bottled water or canned food at that point is going to help you.

Be Prepared.  Better yet, stay Always Prepared listening to those around you, accepting offers of those out of state who beg you to come away from the storm’s path.   You know who you are!

Stay safe!  Be wise.  And Be Prepared.

Dawn