Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Morning Past

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles will be miles away
Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Friday, December 23, 2011


One of Jared's favorite snacks - coffee and ice cream sandwiches featuring whatever type of cookie we may have on hand. The sandwiches pictured below make use of a few homeless cranberry-orange and pistachio-mango cookies. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011


Today I read the autopsy report. I don’t know if any of you have ever read one. They’re written from the point of view of the pathologist performing the autopsy. They start from the point of receiving the body in the bag. What color the bag is. The tags and numbers affixed. Any observations of the body. Color. Abrasions. Bruising. A note of every needle mark from the IVs. Rigor mortis present. Incisions. Fluid. Weighing bits and pieces that were a warm, giggling, clever child just two days before. Cardiac arrest. Unfixed bowels. Hemorrhage in the lung.

Although I often choke up watching videos of Ryann, she’s not always the object that tears at my heart. Often it’s the voices behind the camera. The innocent, clueless, content parents. I want to scream at them, warn them of what’s coming. Let them have a chance to brace for impact. Prepare themselves. When I watch a video I find myself calculating how many days it was before she died. How many days they had left together. How many more hours to hold on to. But they don’t know. I feel panicked for them. It’s a horror movie where they can’t hear the music that precedes the turn and all you want to do is shake them.

One of the most helpful things I learned as a pianist was to keep going. The temptation after a memory slip or stumble is to play heavier, think about the mistake, and tense up. It’s natural. But it doesn’t help and only causes more stumbles, sometimes a complete halt. Instead it’s better to force yourself to keep moving, don’t look back, loosen up. Take a deep breath, slow your heart, settle into the music. If you prepared with quality practice, the performance is the time to trust in it. Trust that you know what to do. Trust your fingers. A flaw can destroy the portion that follows and dim the memory of what preceded, or it can enrich the piece by reminding the listeners that the performer is human and make the beauty even more precious.

That’s the mantra I keep repeating. Remember Ryann, but don’t settle down into a rut of grief, don’t get stuck in looking back. Remember, be happy. Move forward, stay light. Trust that the pain will lessen, the memory will stay. Enjoy innocent happiness even though I know how quickly it can change. Trust that there’s more to reach for and remember everything I had. The landscape is much different than I expected, the journey has not been smooth, but I trust that the whole will be beautiful. I wish it hadn’t happened, but it has. I refuse to be destroyed by this and instead it will be a forever reminder to love, laugh, live wholly and fully and regretlessly. Life is amazing, see it for what it is.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Relic of the Wobble Walker

As stated before, Ryann was an early walker. People who didn't know her well would frequently assume that she wasn't very coordinated, due to the fact that she was always falling down. As they got to know her they would quickly realize that rather than these falls being from a lack of coordination, they instead occured because of her own overconfidence and daring. She never walked the wobbly straight line that first walkers usually perfect, instead she decided it was time to conquer cornering. She wasn't content with strolling through the grass, she would take off at top speed over the lawn and tumble in a divot.

This video was taken when she somewhere between nine and ten months old, immediately following one of her nightly piano recitals. She had just started walking when she was nine months and was still extremely wobbly, but she refused to go back to hands and knees and spent her time perfecting her newfound skill.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Birthday Card

My parents sent Ryann a singing birthday card for her first birthday. That card quickly became one of her favorite toys and she spent countless hours roaming the house while singing, dancing, and babbling to her card. Since she played with it so often and usually quite roughly, the tension mechanism in the spine got to be a bit glitchy and sometimes wouldn't play just by opening the card. This would usually mean a worried Ryann running to us with the card outstretched. I don't know what we would have done if that card would have actually broken.

Ryann was usually a side-to-side dancer, a method which included wild swinging arms, much like a chimpanzee. In this video you will see her demonstrate the infrequently used up-and-down technique, Kayla's preferred style at that time. Ryann's about 15 months old in this video.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Winter Wonderland

Winter has hit the Midwest. Saturday brought our first true blue snowstorm and it's not going anywhere in the near future. The high for today is 30 degrees. We're frozen in and getting practice skating around on the icy roads.

The Union College Clocktower

This snow reminded both Jared and I of last winter and Ryann's first real interaction with snow. At first she was a bit unsure. It was cold. It was slippery. It was confusing.


But as she got used to it and learned that it could be fun, she would regularly beg us to let her outside to play. We would usually bundle up and rush outside to play for a few minutes before tumbling back inside to warm up and dry off. However, this morning she had ideas of her own. She disappeared into her room and came out carrying boots, socks, and a sweater. She demanded to be dressed and let outside. With her giraffe of course. We had to acquiesce.

Ryann's about 13 months in the first two videos and about 14 months in the second.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Face

A week before Ryann died she started making the most amazing face. It all began when she was pouting about not getting her wished for lunch, chips or some such un-lunch appropriate food. She squeezed her chin down to her chest, frowned her eyebrows down tight over her eyes, and glared up at me. But then she realized how silly she was being and grinned. With the rest of her face still in place. It was truly a creepy little face. Axe murderer style. I laughed so hard that she immediately added it to her repertoire of gags-to-pull-for-laughs and even did it on command.

'Jared, watch this.'

'Ryann, make The Face!'


Sadly the only video/picture I have of this amazing 'The Face' is in a video of her lounging in her baby carseat. Since this means she was reclining, the whole scowling upwards effect was a bit lost. But the eyebrows are still there.

Jared and I have been working our way through all of the back episodes of Parks and Recreation.

So. Much. Fun.

The other night in the middle of an episode we both jumped up gasping and then collapsed into maniacal laughter.

It was THE FACE!

s3ep2 GOLD
Just imagine THIS completely self-satisfied grin . . .

VIDEO: 'Parks and Recreation's' Ron Swanson and Meat Products, A Love Story
with THESE crazy eyebrows.

On Ron, this look commonly occurs in conjunction with some meaty experience. You can ignore that. Just bask in the amazingly creepy combo of scowl and grin.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Glitter Surprise

Yesterday morning I had this adorable package sitting next to my glasses when I woke up. Jared takes the Christmas season seriously and begins the gifts and surprises early. I'm not complaining.

Morning Face

This is what Jared and I wake up to if we dare to sleep past 6am. I think he's taken it upon himself to fill Ryann's early-morning-alarm role until the next munchkin can take up the torch.