One month. It's been one month since our world came crashing down around us and we began our vigil at the cross of Christ.
To learn to embrace the suffering and turn it to some use has been, at times, a nearly impossible task for me. I miss my Ryan so badly it is a physical pain that just will not go away. A stabbing knife in my chest that often makes it hard to catch my breath.
To sit at the foot of the cross in the real way that Dave and I have this past month, it is necessary to surrender to God and to just trust that His plan is for our ultimate salvation. I confess to having my moments of bewilderment/anger at why God called Ryan home but I pray through that and ask Ryan to pray for me. I know that Ryan is happy in heaven, that he is doing good there. There have been several little intercessions he has accomplished for his mom and dad and I'm told others have had little prayer requests granted. I am so comforted by the knowledge that he is home with Our Lady, helping his family and friends.
I still want him home with me. That is me, my fallen, broken nature. To be aware of his joy and yet want him here. I can't help it. I don't think I ever will be able to feel differently.
Still we chug along here, life still happens. Babies need feeding and changing, toddlers require care, older kids need to do school and go to music and soccer and other places. I am sometimes annoyed that the world hasn't stopped, frozen in time because my son died, but then I see that going to dance and soccer is good for the kids and visiting with family heals me.
So the grief crashes over us in waves. Mind numbingly, over-powering waves and then we gasp and stick our heads up and catch our breath. We see the world around us and the love being bestowed on us and we know it is good.
Sitting at the foot of the cross gives others the opportunity to minister. We have been so cared for and generously provided for in the last month. I still receive a delicious hot dinner every evening at 5:00 pm. I We spent this last weekend in a beautiful New England resort owned by my cousins, being catered to as if we really deserved such treatment. The dearest friend in the world and her husband and children still take care of so many details of daily living for us so that we no longer have to think. The generosity of our parish family, community and homeschool group have been unimaginable. Thank you all dear people.
This community too, this blogging world with is so "real" in spite of it's "unrealness" The cards, letters, donations, emails, gifts and prayers have overwhelmed us in their love. Thank you all so much.
I have almost 1,000 thank you notes to write. Yes 1,000. Between the wakes and the funeral and the giving that followed almost 1,000 people expressed their gratitude for Ryan's life and love for our family.
If you know me, you know how long that it is going to take to get that done. If you don't know me, let me tell you it's going to be a while.
I want to assure everyone that this blog is not going to become a constant outpouring of grief. I won't be able to keep it out entirely but I still want this to be a happy place that records what we do here and how we do it. I still will rant politically over at CatholicVote.org and I still intend to keep up with other writing commitments. Soon.
For today, the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, let me assure you that the suffering we embrace does in fact unite us to Christ. While I think I have felt every emotion going in the last month the one that prevails is unity to Christ. A comforted, loved feeling. Knowing that my Father in heaven has embraced my family and I and is holding us close is a warmth I can't describe. To witness and experience the Body of Christ in the real, powerful and practical way that we have is evidence of the suffering doing good. It is evidence that God is in His heaven, that my son is there too and he is caring for Dave and I.
The cross will be triumphant, we shall all be united again.
Until then I can't wait to hug my boy.
Michele Q. says
A beautiful post Mary Ellen. As always you continue to be in our prayers as we hold you (all of you) in our hearts. Love you.
Tina D. says
I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but this is quite possibly one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful things I’ve ever read. Evidence that Jesus is showering his love down on you as you sit at the foot of his cross. You and your family continue to be in my daily rosary prayers. God bless.
I agree with Tina. It was heartbreakingly beautiful.
Much to to you and your family, Mary Ellen.
Paula in MN says
Agreed. Achingly beautiful. Loving and praying for all of you.
Oh, Mary Ellen. This brought me to tears. Thank you so much for this. Not only do I continue to pray for your family, but also for mine: That when we face adversity in this life, it will lead us here, to the foot of the Cross, wherein all our hope resides. This is one of the most beautiful and painful reflections I have ever read. Thank you for having the grace to share your faith amid your deep suffering.
Feisty Irish Wench says
Grace isn’t easy to carry, but you seem to be pulling it off well. While my situation is not heart-rending like yours, my parish family has embraced my household in love and generosity that can never be matched. I’ve seen these same people pull together and lift up others in prayer, works, kindness and mercy and never expect to receive a single thing in return.
They live by the readings we had this Sunday.
I found your blog through a link at the end of your article “Modesty Matters” on http://www.catholicexchange.com. I just wanted to offer you my sincere condolences-I read your blog and it really touched my heart. I will be praying for your family and for your son.
Thinking of you all and praying especially today. Much love, Nissa
God’s peace be with you and your family.
Kim H. says
Oh Mary Ellen, what a beautiful, honest post.
I heard of Ryan’s death through Maryan VW’s blog. My family and I have been praying for you and your family — and Ryan.
Under Him —
Donna Marie says
You write so beautifully…I am thinking and praying for you and your family very often. I wish I could do more. God bless you, dear lady!
You are SO amazingly beautiful! Prayers for you all at the foot of the cross. Thank you so much for your grace and beauty. May God and Our Lady grant you the grace to continue on each day 🙂 Much love,
I’m continuuing to pray for you all!
Thank you so much for sharing your faith with us. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
I haven’t wanted to bug you (functioning can be a challenge in itself), but wanted to tell you that we, too, ask St. Ryan Barrett for his intercession on a regular basis. If I had to guess, I’d say that he has the favor of God.
(((love & prayers)))
Mary Ellen, thank you for sharing these thoughts with us. Your family is daily lifted up in our thoughts and prayers. What a beautiful and grace filled testament to love, suffering and the mind of God.
We continue to stand, united with you and Dave at the foot of the Cross.
Prayers continue for you, dear. Beautiful post.
Maryan VW says
Prayers for you and your family tomorrow on Our Lady of Sorrows, Mary Ellen. Beautiful post.
Kristen Laurence says
This is so beautiful, Mary Ellen. None of us have forgotten – in fact I was just watching your beautiful video tribute again for the umpteenth time (noticing details I’d missed, like the braces making his smile so handsome over time). I also pray to and for him. His and all of your names are in our book of prayer now, and will remain there forever. Wishing you continued grace and consolation, Mary Ellen.
mary ellen, i am…almost speechlesss, absolulty beautiful tribute to ryan, the realness of what our faith teaches us, and the way you embrass your cross is nothing but a grace. you are blessed and ryan is deffinately working miracals. there is not a day that i am not praying and thinking of all of you. my love always, oxxo angela
Kate Wicker says
What a beautiful post, Mary Ellen. Today on the Feast of Seven Sorrows, may you find peace in the knowledge that Our Blessed Mother is standing a the foot of your heavy, heavy cross with you. Hail Mary, full of grace…
Peace and prayers…
Oh, so beautiful. Heartrendingly, painfully beautiful are words poured from a grieving, yet trusting heart. God bless and keep you all, dear Barret family. May the Good God heal your hearts, bind up your wounds and comfort you as you await that sweet hug from your precious boy. Tears and prayers for you…
I have been holding you and your family in prayer. I lost my sister when she was 17 years old. I was 30 at the time and already a mother. I remember the feelings you shared as well as my mother saying very similar things about life going on.
I will continue to keep your family in prayer.
Theresa Coughlin says
Oh MaryEllen. Please share your whole heart always and don’t feel that you should be anyone else. We need YOU…the whole of YOU. Whatever that is it will cause us all to feel united with you and Ryan and heaven and also help to direct our prayers for you and your family. You stand uniquely alone at the foot of this cross and yet you are surrounded by so many who want to be close to you and your cross and help to ease your pain and our own. It is the cycle of LIFE giving waters and whatever we can do to whitness to LIFE we will. We love you and are grateful you allow us to come close and hug you. God bless you and grant you His peace now and always.
Mary Ellen, this is not a path we chose, but a path God chose and we are clinging to His Mother right now at the Foot of the Cross. Mary Ellen, I feel such a tug towards you and a need to send you my love and share in those smiles and tears that come with this heavy cross. God is so close to you right now. May He continue to lift you and hold you in His arms. Let me continue to offer up my pain of this cross so that yours may be lighter.
Mary Ellen, you and your family continue to be in our hearts and our prayers. Please write as you NEED to…we are here to listen and love you as you inspire us with your reflections of everyday life and that includes what is truly on your heart. I loved Ryan, too, even though I’ve never meet you or your family.
Blessings and Prayers and Hugs!
Karen Edmisten says
Oh, Mary Ellen … oh, such grace.
Thank you for sharing your suffering with us, Mary Ellen. It is in a way like Our Lady’s Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth – an act of charity, a gift to your friends. By your sharing, we are involved and brought closer to He who loves you always.
Mary Ellen, this was so sad to read but your faith is incredible to witness. I know I can’t make this any easier for you but you have been and continue to be in our prayers, the prayers of my friends and extended family as well. Love and hugs, Jenn
Just tears….and prayers for you all.
Dear Mary Ellen,
How beuatifully you write Thank you for sharing.
How strong you are to share with us. Me I am sure I would be still a complete wreck. I admire your courage and love and faith. Please know I still pray for you and your family and pray that the love of God and for your family will bring you all through this.
I can’t even imagine your grief and sadness.
God Bless you all
Valerie Martin says
MaryEllen, Thank you for your witness of faith, your realness that allows others to be real, and your love for your children. Don’t stop sharing, it will be healing and help for others too. I know that feeling of being angry that the world goes on(when my Dad was killed in a car accident) I think of you everyday and continue to pray for you all. Love ya, Valerie
Reading this post is like reading my own thoughts from 2 years ago. My heart and prayers are with you each and every day.
Oh, you dear, dear woman. You are all in my prayers.
So glad to hear that the Lord continues to bless you and keep you, even in the midst of such pain. Praying for you.
Kathryn Mulderink says
You and all those you love have been in our prayers in a special way during these difficult weeks. You may remember that my own niece/goddaughter was killed in an accident just before Christmas (if it would be helpful, you can read the blog entries here: http://kathryntherese.typepad.com/exhaling/aimee-lorang ) Sometimes, it helps to share others’ sorrow and see how God walked with them as well. And He walked with us every painful step of the way. You will continue to receive my best prayers, poor as they are. Peace and grace.
I’m all teary eyed reading your post. I think of your family daily, and you are in my prayers.
Mary Ellen, Thank you for sharing. My heart aches for the grief you are experiencing.
You and your family continue to be in our prayers.
Continuing to pray for you.
Alicia Raplee says
You don’t really know me but I miss seeing Ryan at mass. It was a joy for me to watch him sing and say the prayers and be so joyful! I gave him a thumbs up one day after mass and he bowed to me so beautifully. I will never forget him and I pray for you all.
“I still want him home with me. That is me, my fallen, broken nature”.
Jesus wept over his friend Lazarus,with His divine,perfect nature. Our hearts must surely do the same over our children.May Mary surround you and your family with her mantle of protection during this time.
Kathleen in Rochester says
my name is kathleen, I happenend to google catholic homeschooling today, looking into it for my 2 children. and I came across this blog. and I started reading, and I am overcome. we dont know each other, but i can only say as I sit here, crying and praying for you and your family, that my heart and my prayers are with you, and will continue to be. may God bless you all
First, let me say this is a beautiful post and I am so sorry to hear about your son. I have prayed for your family often in the past couple of months. I am a college friend of MaryAlice (I write at Building Cathedrals).
I apologize that his comment is so late, but as for the Thank You notes you want to write, when my daughter passed away (back in Nov. of 2002), I wrote hundreds of thank you notes on the one year anniversary of her death. I found myself grieving very heavily in the month leading up to the anniversary of her death (and the month after), and I thought it was a nice way to honor her and remember the wonderful ways others helped us in our time of grief.
I write this not to say you should do the same thing, but only to share the way I approached the thank you notes. It took the pressure off of me in the months after her death, and so many people were again reminded of her life one year later–when they finally received their thank you!
I continue to pray for your family. Losing a child is the greatest pain I have ever known. May God give you his grace and peace.
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