“Heather, Ryan’s here. He is crying. He sees you crying and it makes him so sad”.

For someone floundering with spirituality and faith, it is a tenuous connection to my son that I am desperate for. To believe wholeheartedly that there exists something beyond right now. That if I can just quiet my mind, my doubts, my reasoning, faith will follow.

But those words, given to me by the well intentioned only taught me lessons.

In my journey of strength and endurance, this was my most important instruction in the beginning.

If Ryan could truly see me and my tears only created unimaginable suffering to him, then I must steel myself to be stronger. Oh, I believe he would understand if I faltered from time to time. I also think that when closure finally comes, he will know that tears are the natural progression of grief.

But as his mother, I never want to cause unnecessary pain to my children. If it is in my power to spare this, I reserve the right to do so.

Still…. some things take my breath away.

Flipping through the photo album, my fingers open exactly to this page. There sits my son. I can hear his voice, in my head, as real and true to life.“Mom…. I’m waiting.”

And the tears come. The grief feels like a tumultuous storm that threatens to rip me away from this shaky shore. Untethered and drifting. This I cannot do.


It is not time.

Because the only other lesson that I have burned in me is that my son needs me.

I will endure.

Until there is nothing but dust and dirt, I will continue to search for Ryan.

“There is no teacher more discriminating or transforming than loss.”~ Pat Conroy