Saturday, August 27, 2011

Night on the Town

Yesterday Jared and I buzzed down to Kansas City in order to pick up Jared's long awaited anniversary-birthday-Christmas present. Keep posted on that.

Last night we hung out down at the Plaza and ate out on the second story patio of this building. Not the best food, but so comfortable and breezy. Worth it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


If we would have been asked what our worst fear was, the worst thing that could possibly happen, the one thing that we could never recover from, we would have answered without hesitation. Losing Ryann.

Now that the unimaginable has happened, we're left trying to right ourselves. Just last night Jared and I were talking about our feelings of loss and fear for the future. There are two very specific, very different outlooks that we each have. A part of us now knows how quickly things can be taken away. Even though we've lost Ryann, we still have so many more things that we're thankful to have and it's scary thinking of how easily we could lose them as well. Thoughts of crashing on the way to work, finding out about a disease, a fire burning our house, or even silly little things like breaking our computer. Losing a pregnancy. Losing each other. Or losing another child. All the fears make it difficult to live, to move, to breathe.

Another part seems to think that now that we've hit something so awful, we must be past the worst. Surely we've used up our portion of horror. Even though I know that this thought has no truth to it, that's not the way things work, I can always feel the thought sitting in the back of my mind. And then I remember how false that security is and the fear surges back in.

Although I hate the fear, it does somehow has a bit of comfort in it. Comfort in reminding me that I still care. That I'm not numb. That even though I could, I haven't lost everything.

When we moved to NE at the beginning of the summer, I was worried about how well Jared would handle the heat. Jared has never been good in the heat and generally tends to be fairly miserable in it. In preparing to come here I would frequently tell him that the trick is to just give in to the heat. Don't fight it, let it soak in, enjoy it. Jared has found that this little trick really does make the heat seem not quite so ferocious and occasionaly, even enjoyable.

So far I've found this to be the same way with the grief. Pushing it away only makes it worse, holding it close is smothering. Relaxing and letting it do what it will has been the best thing I could do. Sometimes it washes over me and I feel like I'm about to drown, but afterwards I'm always left refreshed, if somewhat exhausted. Most of the time it's simply present, a small thorn to make me remember. And really that's not even all that bad, because the absolute worst thing that could happen now would be to bury the pain and the memory of Ryann along with it.

We miss Ryann and we're scared to step forward. It hurts moving on without her. Knowing that every day that passes is one more day that separates us from her. But I choose to believe that there is more joy and love in our future. And Ryann will be a part of that.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Are You Ready for the Art-o-mat?

Jared and I recently visited the local arthouse theater, and even though the movie was great and we will be visiting again for the films, snacks, and comfy seats, the main reason I will return may have more to do with this nifty vending machine.

Apologies on the sideways video. Still awesome.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sharing the Pain

I have wonderful friends. I've always known this, but it became even more apparent in the days and weeks after losing Ryann.

Jared and I felt lost. So completely alone and anchorless and stunned. It felt as though everything around us was vague and unimportant and we were trapped in an untouchable, inescapable nightmare. It was unreal and painful and so easy to feel strangely seperate and isolated. Some days it still is.

As I've said before, having others reaching out saved us. Hearing and feeling people greiving with us was a balm. Several of my friends also have blogs and have written about losing Ryann from their own perspectives. I read each of these over and over and over and am  somehow soothed every time. And now I want to share them with you.

Me, My Life, and I - One of my dear Mommy-Friends, whose daughter was Ryann's best friend.

Life-Love-Everything - Ryann's beloved sitter.
Facing the Unimaginable

Beth and Jake's Family - Another dear Mommy-Friend
A Heavy Heart

Travels with Jon and Kate - College friends who on occasion helped Jared care for Ryann in class.

Genius on Occasion
A Sweet, Sweet Child

Sweet Little Gals
A Beautiful Life

At Home with Millie and Sam
No More Goodbyes

KelliBlogs: The World Through My Eyes

Sunday, August 14, 2011

First Wheeled Contraption

My Dad is a daredevil. Early in his life it became apparent that he had an unnatural attraction to wheels. According to family members, when he was still a toddler he was already fascinated by how things worked and wheeled contraptions. Over the course of his life he has owned and played with a mind-boggling number of cars, motorcycles, and bicycles.

This love of bicycles, along with his daredevil tendency, has led to a multitude of ER visits, hospital stays, scars, broken bones, and sleepless nights. It has also led to numerous medals, track records, and scoutings. He ultimately chose to pursue a career elsewhere, in part due to two particular little girls.

Understandably, he could not wait for the opportunity to introduce the next generation to his love of wheels. However, due to Ryann's own daredevil tendencies, Jared and I chose to put some pretty strict limitations on just how that could happen.

Just before Ryann's first birthday, we received a large box in the mail. My parents were busting to see Ryann open it. As soon as Jared got home from work, we called them up on Skype and pulled out the box. Inside was a giraffe. On wheels. Ryann got a tricycle for her first birthday.

Dad was so excited to finally see Ryann ride her new toy, but it was not to be. Although Ryann occasionally rode her giraffe, her favorite mode of travel was to run it around the house backwards. And to stand on the seat and clap.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Daddy's Little Chair

This little rocking chair was one of Ryann's favorite toys. Although she would occasionally use it herself, it was usually reserved for use as Dolly's highchair.

The chair's original owner was a wee little Jared.

The Last Bedtime Stories

Ryann was an avid reader and would regularly attempt (usually successfully) to delay bedtime by asking for book after book after book. We usually left one or two in her crib in case she woke up with an itch to read during the night. These are the books we read to her when we put her to bed for the last time, we have yet to take them out of her crib. 

In case you're wondering, the Wolf's lunch is carrots. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Unexpected Treasure

Jared and I recently finished backing up our two decrepit computers. We've been meaning to do this for some time, but as those with children know, extra project have a way of sitting for a while.

One day, after everything was completely backed up, I sat down to look through some pictures. I was completely floored by the number of pictures that I had no memory of taking, had never posted online, and haven't seen since they were shot. I was overjoyed. I spent a good hour sitting on the bed alternately laughing and crying.

I miss my girl so much, there's no way for me to even come close to expressing it. There's a part of me that will never be healthy and whole again. But going through these pictures reminded me again of so many great times that we had. Of the heart-swelling love that we had the privilege of feeling every single day.

I hurt because of what I had, which was wonderful.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Tonight I treated myself to some Thai soup and curry. Of course I then followed it up with a bowl of frozen yogurt and fruit. What did you expect?!

Let There Be Light!

We've been desperately needing a good lamp to read by in the evenings, our living room has no overhead light. Today I finally gave in and had the luck of finding this stunner.

Bath Companions

Ryann was so excited about having a tub in our new place. Up until we moved, we had only had a shower, which she also loved, but it really couldn't compare with a tub. Every time I hop in the shower, this is what I see sitting in the corner.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ivanna Cone

Absolutely delicious. All made in house. And really, Thai Ginger Peanut ice cream?! Amazing.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Word of Comfort

It's hard to know what to say. I know that it has been awkward for everyone who knows us. People want to say something, they want to acknowledge our pain, but they're scared of bringing a flood of memories that may hurt us.

Stop worrying. We can imagine how hard it is to know what to say and we appreciate it when people attempt it anyway.

In the weeks after Ryann's death we received a barrage of cards. We read and saved every one of them. Now and then we'll pull out the box and sift through them. Even though there are so many sweet and caring sentiments inside, the biggest thing that we take away is simply the fact that they were sent. That we are not alone in our loss.

One of the most painful things that commonly happens now is that people simply talk to me as if Ryann never existed. I understand why they do this and honestly I wouldn't be surprised if I did the exact same thing if I were in their shoes. It's hard to know what to say. But by not acknowledging that we had this amazing little girl, it feels like she's slowly being erased, which is one of our biggest fears. We do everything we can to keep her memory clear and vibrant and alive.

Some of my favorite cards or notes have been ones that share a specific memory of Ryann. Sometimes these memories are ones that we didn't even know existed until we read them a few weeks ago. Memories of Ryann playing at the farmers' market. Of me rolling her past a friend's house to Jared's class every day. These have been especially sweet, adding little snippets and other dimensions to our own memories.

The day Ryann died, both Jared and I received a Facebook message from my sister's husband, who himself experienced a horrific and sudden family loss recently. That message has continued to buoy me in the aftermath. The message simply conveyed that there is nothing to say, that this is awful, and that he hurt for us. And I knew it was true.

There are no good words to say in situations like this. There is no magic sentence that can be written down if you wrack your brain hard enough. But there is comfort in a reaching hand. In knowing that there are people who remember and cry and hurt with us.

Drawing at the Farmers' Market

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Conroy's Bakery, a local treasure. I especially love the little apartment on top. Can you imagine how good it must smell?

Collegeview in Lincoln, NE


This is Mei.

Mei is my dear sister's babe and is named after me.

When I was a kid, I always thought that it would be the coolest thing ever to be named after someone. There were heriones in the books that I read who were named after famous women. Friends I had who were named for family members. And I wanted that too. I also wished that my name was Amy. Or Dawn. (Apparently I wasn't all that imaginative.)

Sometime around my twelfth birthday it finally dawned on me that my great-grandmother's name had been Damie. I had known this for a long time and somehow I had never put two and two together. My name was Damie. My great-grandmother's name was Damie. I'm probably named for her! Major blonde moment/childhood.

Damie's daughter's name was Serena. Ryann's middle name was Serena. My Dad's middle name is Wesley, the same as all first-born sons for generations. And now there's little Mei.

I have a baby cousin who was born with Down's Syndrome. She is an amazing little girl and has surprised us time and again with her energy and great motor skills. The one thing that she has had a tough time with is talking. She talks all the time, but she can be difficult to understand. Often, when people have a name that's a bit too tricky for her to say clearly, she'll create one of her own. Mine is May. Jared's is Honey.

And now there's Mei.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Oceanside Eating

Great company. Delicious food. Summer deck. Salty breeze. Sandy clothes.

At Moonstruck in Asbury Park, NJ


There is always a proper way to do things. The right way. The expected way. Couples who lose children are supposed to grieve for months or even years before they have more children. That’s what people expect. When people don’t follow the norms, they are judged and talked about and their lives are planned out correctly around dinner tables everywhere.

Usually, Jared and I don’t care. Usually it doesn’t bother us. We got engaged after four months. We married before either of us had graduated. I gave my senior recital when I was three months pregnant. We took a year long break after we did graduate to work stressless jobs and relax. We never had a decent car. We ate at gourmet restaurants. We took trips on the spur of the moment. We took Ryann with us everywhere, and I mean everywhere – to class, to concerts, on planes, trains, and automobiles.

And we didn’t care what people thought. We loved our life and new that we were doing it right.

The one thing that got under our skin was people assuming that Ryann was an accident baby. It was a natural thing for people to assume, and I don’t really blame them for assuming it. Jared and I were both in school and had only been married for six months when we got pregnant, who in their right mind does that on purpose?! We do. And for some reason it really bothered us that people thought that we just made the best of a bad situation when in reality, we had purposefully created the most amazing life we could have possibly imagined.

And that brings us to the present. We’re supposed to wait and grieve and mourn before we even begin to think about having other children. We don’t plan on doing that. And we know that when people start thinking that it’s just another blow that our little family will have to deal with, or that we’re trying to replace Ryann or fill a void, we know that we will be livid. How could anyone possibly imagine that we have any hope of replacing Ryann? And how is it a bad thing to fill a void, a child-shaped void, when we were planning on having more children before we even lost one?

Do not assume to know what is happening in others’ lives. What may be the worst mistake or the heaviest burden for one person may be the most anticipated event for someone else.

We know that there will be excruciatingly hard times that we will go through when we have another one. Wounds that Ryann’s death caused that we won’t encounter until we go down that road again. But for us, it’s a worse thought to live as a quiet, childless family simply because it’s the proper way of things, than add to our family and simply expect the pain to come along with the blinding love.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Orange Rising

It's been way too long since we've made it out to the shore, so yesterday we finally remedied that. The sun and surf and sand were all amazing and fun. The friends were great. The snacks were delicious.

And the most important aspect did not disappoint, the people watching was truly awe inspiring. 


Ryann was a crazy bookworm. Somehow we had never taken her in to a library with any Children's department to speak of, since we've always been pretty well stocked at home. Ryann's last Friday, Jared finally got around to making a library outing.


PB and J

Downward Dog

This was always Ryann's preferred method of sleeping.