Sunday, November 27, 2011


“All five horizons revolved around his soul, as the earth to the sun.  Now the air I tasted and breathed has taken a turn…”
Recently, I’ve been looking in the mirror and not entirely recognizing the person looking back at me.  Outwardly, her face is thinner and she looks older.  Her eyes seem dull and there’s a lack of glow that would only be missed by the people who know her best.  To acquaintances, I imagine I look about the same, but to myself, I look like a different person.  I wonder if others have noticed.  I worry about these changes and question what I should be doing to combat or reverse them.  For months I have blogged about acceptance and my struggle to grab hold of my new life.  A change has occurred in the sense that I now feel comfortable with my level of acceptance.  To speak frankly, I know Ryan is dead.  I choose to use this raw word because it best describes the finality of the situation.  He’s not coming back to finish his job as my husband or to begin his role as Marley’s daddy.  And this is where the changes begin.
          On October 9, 2010 I was a wife, half of a relationship and part of an entity.  On October 10 I fell into the wrenching role of grieving widow.  For months I wore this title like the Jewish star of David, sewn onto the outside of everything I wore.  My grief led the way as I meagerly followed behind.  Today my role has shifted yet again.  I am now a single mother, appearing independent, but craving the comforts of codependency.  It took me 28 years to recognize the person I was and as Ryan’s wife, I was content with my understandings.  Now, after only a few months as Marley’s single mother, I’m struggling to distinguish myself again.  I’m watching each of my friends turn 30 and bask in the comfort of knowing who they are and what they want in life.  Their transition made as simply as blowing out the candles on their birthday cakes.  This thought makes me sad as the recent changes in my life took the chance of a simple and happy transition away from me.
          My life has changed; a future once clearly mapped out is now a blank slate.  There are a few islands floating in this sea of uncertainty however, such as my dream of having a complete family.  I still see myself in the rambling old house, creaky floors and painted cupboards.  I see children in pajamas and a husband, a father, making breakfast.  I feel another person in my bed, hear our whispers and crave our laughter.  I’ve accepted that this person cannot be Ryan, although I would be lying if I said I didn’t occasionally insert him into the fantasy.  It’s unfair and tragic that I can now only dream of this life because not too long ago, I had everything I just described and I was incredibly content in the knowledge of my own happiness.  This thought reminds me that I must be careful because a person could easily get lost in her past, overwhelmed and suffocated by her what ifs.  Consequently, I know the only option for me is to move forward, look to the positive and find happiness where I can.  It’s a struggle everyday to choose this thorny path because its direction is so uncertain and the many obstacles are bound to make traveling slow and difficult.  Regardless of the challenges, I’ve made a conscious decision to move forward because standing still, or worse yet, walking backwards will bring me no closer to the future I desire, a future where I can begin to recognize the person looking back at me in the mirror. 
          I wonder what it will take to look into my eyes again.  What do I need to fill the void that I feel inside my heart?  Will I continue to grow stronger and feel happier?  Will I get that crazy mixed up feeling of excitement back?  That feeling I was so used to, but now can barely remember?  Will life overflow with happiness again and if it will, when?  When will this happen for me?  What do I need to do?  I realize these are questions only time can answer, but I can’t help but wish for a crystal ball, a sign, anything to reassure me that good things are coming, traveling with companionship, assurance and comfort.  I’ve learned firsthand that times can heal wounds, but I wonder…can it also fill voids?

Friday, October 7, 2011

One Year Later

Below is a raw essay I wrote late one evening after a long and quiet night at home.  I paid no attention to the flow of my words or the structure of my writing.   I simply wrote exactly what was on my mind at the time.  At first I wasn’t going to publish it, but after some thought, decided it paints an accurate picture of where my mind will still occasionally go and where my spirit will sometimes wallow.  Especially now, nearing the anniversary of Ryan's death, I think it’s important to accept that these moments still come and will probably continue to visit me, maybe forever…

Where do I even begin?  Life is…different.  Life used to be so easy, it really was.  I was taken care of.  Ry was here to make sure I was looked after.  He did everything for me.  He fixed what was broken, fed and cared for me.  He promised me a future where I really had nothing to worry about.  I remember driving home from work one day thinking that all I needed in life was Ryan.  I didn’t care how much money we made, where we lived, who we were friends with or how our lives turned out – I just wanted Ry.  I remember how much I looked forward to coming home to him.  How I couldn’t wait to get dressed up for him.  He made me feel so alive, so sexy.  He had a way of looking at me that made me walk with a bounce in me step, my head held high.  I bought clothes because I thought that he would like them.  I did everything for him.  He was my everything.  My favorite things in life revolved around Ryan.  There was never any judging, we were partners in crime!  Who cared if we drank too much wine at dinner, who cared that we had spent too much money, who cared that we made decisions that may not have been the best?   We had each other and that’s really all that mattered. 
I find it hard to believe that he is gone and I still flash back to that night.  I remember everything as if it were yesterday.  I remember Travis coming over, ordering meat lovers pizza.  He took charge and in a way, made the situation seem worse than I had thought it was.  He wanted to go to the hospital, see what we could find out.  This seemed excessive to me.  Why do we need to go anywhere?  Shouldn’t we wait at home?  I was sure he’d show up.  I remember calling the hospital.  I can feel the couch under me, smell my living room, see the lights of Wauwatosa Avenue.  I remember thinking that the nurse on the phone sounded strange.  I remember being put on hold.  Paul Simon was on the radio-how is that possible?  I remember thinking that “Slip Sliding Away” was a strange song to be hearing, more than a coincidence.  I never thought he was dead.  They knew nothing on the phone, or so they said.  It was time to go, Travis was ready.  I needed to do one last thing.  I ran upstairs to get my shoes or something, no, it was to close the bedrooms doors so that Brady wouldn’t ruin the pillows.  There was someone at the door.  Oh good, it was the police, I wondered what took them so long.  Oh no, Blotter is jumping all over them.  I apologized, felt a little embarrassed.  Oh, they’re asking me to sit down – wait, there’s two now, there was only one before…this can’t be good.  I wonder what they found out.  “I’m sorry miss, but he passed away.”  A look of sympathy in their eyes.  No.  No, no, no, no, no.  I am screaming.  I am on the floor.  No.  no, no, no, no no.  No.  Wait, they must be joking.  You’re joking right?  No.  Travis is picking me off the floor.  More screaming.  Travis is setting me in the big chair.  Still screaming.  Ryan’s dead?  Do they know I’m pregnant?  What?  No.  I can’t breathe.  A police officer is rubbing my back.  Travis is on the phone with my mom.  “You need to get down here NOW.”  I’m still screaming.  I can hear someone ask Travis to identify the body.  I think they are showing him on a cell phone.  There’s whispering, questions.  They are asking me questions and telling me nothing.  Do they know I’m pregnant?  I don’t want to be pregnant.  I can’t do this alone.  I'm so scared. 
The night went on from there and continued for a very long time.  One day that changed everything and I’m ready to be done.  I don’t want this day to continue.  I want a new day, a bright day.  I want happiness and fun.   I want to take vacations with someone I can cause trouble with.  I want to go out to dinner and drink too much wine.  I want to feel safe and loved, worshiped and taken care of.  I deserve these things and want to find them again.  I don’t want to be judged or watched in everything I do. I just want to be me.  I can barely remember Ryan’s Kristin, but would give anything to be that person again.  I can’t, it’s not possible.  I need to be a different Kristin, no longer Ryan’s.  That fucking sucks.  It’s bullshit.  And there, I said it and it’s true.  I’m allowed to say it because this is my life and it is indeed fucking bullshit that someone like Ryan is no longer here.

And an essay I wrote today....
      I know you’ve all been watching and waiting, wanting to hear how I’m feeling, wondering if I’ll be able to get through this weekend without melting down.  There have been so many feelings and emotions running through me this week, I don’t even know where to begin.  I do know that I have a lot to say and am just going to open the faucet and let it pour out.  I apologize if this entry is, as Ry would say, discombobulated, but if it is, it will adequately reflect my current state of mind.
      My emotions have been running hot and cold lately and I’ve been struggling to make sense of the new and strange feelings I’m encountering.  I’m not having bad days as much as I’m having bad moments.  The change in the season has brought about feelings inside of me that I don’t entirely understand.  Some days I’ll be wrapped in sadness because the weather feels like it did those days immediately following Ryan’s death.  All of a sudden, stagnant memories come alive and flash through my mind.  I remember sitting on the couch listening to this strange sound, wondering what it was and where it was coming from.  After a while, I realized the sound was coming from me.  Every few minutes my body would gasp, as if it had forgotten and was just remembering that I was alone.  I remember making a comment about the sound and my dad telling me I’d been making it for days.  I also remember taking a walk with my family, my parents and my brother, around my block and through the village.  It had been the first time I had been outside without Ryan.  Not the first time without his presence, but the first time outside in a world where he didn’t exist.  I remember looking around and feeling surprised that everything could look the same, but feel so different.
      I believe it may have something to do with post traumatic stress, but this week, for the first time, I’ve had memories run through my mind that I hadn’t been able to remember before.  Suddenly, I can remember the last week of Ryan’s life as if it were yesterday – I remember everything.

Sunday.   Exactly one week before he died, we went out to lunch at the Chancery.  I was cold so he let me wear his Packer hoodie.  He made a joke about how he hoped, when I was 8-9 months pregnant, the hoodie would actually fit.  Then we planned out the pictures we’d take of our bellies, side by side.  Man,  that was going to be funny.  There was never a thought in my mind that it wouldn’t actually happen.  During lunch we watched the Packer game.  Ry drank beer, and assured me a few sips wouldn’t hurt anybody.  Later he drove all over town trying to find a baby store that was open because he knew that’s what I wanted to do.
Monday.   I called him from work and told him I was feeling a little nauseous.  In less than an hour he had showed up with boxes of crackers and soda water.  He also help hang a bulletin board behind my desk, which is still there today.  Who would have thought that would be the last time he helped me in my classroom?  Later that night we went out for dinner at PF Cheng’s.  Ry had a whisky and Coke, I had a small glass of red wine.  It was very romantic and we talked about how we wanted to take our baby to Ireland in the summer.  Ryan was excited to carry him or her in the baby Bjorn as we toured the country.
Tuesday.  This was a monumental day.  We had both taken off of work because it was my first doctor’s appointment and Ry wanted to be there.  He wanted to be there for all of my doctor’s appointments, no matter how insignificant they were.  I remember getting to the hospital and stopping for lattes at the coffee cart.  I remember meeting the Midwife and how much Ryan loved her.  They talked shop for so long I remember thinking, “Wait a minute, isn’t this supposed to be about me?”  She later said to my doctor that she had never connected with a couple the way she did with us.  I remember Ryan asking her to please assure me that a little bit of wine was okay during a pregnancy.  I also remember being on the table, legs in stirrups, being asked to spread my legs just a little further and Ryan saying, “Come on, Kris, whaddaya scared of?”
Wednesday.   I had a bad night at Grad school.  I came home crying, crawled into Ry’s lap and he comforted me like only he could.  (see post:  My Forever).  Wednesday was also the last night we spent together in our bed.  He held me tight and whispered in my ear how lucky he was and how much he loved me.  We slept like this almost every night.
Thursday.  In the morning he took my picture.  He said he couldn’t believe how beautiful I looked and wanted to capture the moment.  I used the photo as my Facebook profile pic.  It’s the last picture I have of myself before everything changed.  I look so different.

Friday.  In the afternoon I took a long jog.  I came home right as Ryan was pulling out of the driveway, on his way to work.  He got out of the car, gave me a hug and told me I was glowing.

Saturday. The last day of his life.  He came home from work and detailed my car inside and out.  It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny.  I was cleaning the house and barley spoke to him until lunch.  He had gone to a hot dog place on North Ave.  We ate Chicago style dogs and Root Beers on the back porch.  He had stopped at a bunch of rummage sales and had bought tons of silly stuff like a six foot tall cat climber.  We sat in the sun, talked, dreamed, loved each other.  He was excited to go to the hot dog festival the place was throwing in a few weeks.  This was the last time we’d sit down and eat together, the last time I’d laugh at his jokes, the last time we’d talk about our baby together.  What would I have done if somehow, I’d have known he was going to die?  After hot dogs I showered and he went to sleep.  I was heading to the mall and he had to work.  Before I left we had what would end up to be our last moment together.  He was lying in our bed, both dogs next to him and at least one cat.  I told him I had planned on spending mad amounts of money and like always, he said I deserved it and to have fun.  OH, and buy him something!  I climbed into bed with him for a bit, snuggled and loved him.  I got up and kissed him goodbye.  Told him I missed him already.  Have a good night at work, can’t wait to see you tomorrow.  Then I left.  That was the last time I saw my husband…ever.
      I called him that night, from the mall.  I had bought him jeans at Banana Republic.  I remember the sales lady telling me they were a final sale.  I said that was fine, no worries.  Ry had been a 36/32 since I met him.  What if somehow I would have known that those were the jeans I’d end up sending to the funeral home? 
      I called him from the mall, told him about his new jeans.  I told him I loved him and really missed him.  He missed me too, couldn’t wait to see me tomorrow.  This was the last time I spoke with my husband; the last time I told him I loved him.  I thought I missed him then; I would have never been able to imagine how much I miss him now.

      And the rest is history.  I never saw Ryan again.  So here I sit one year later, remembering.  I'm not sure how this weekend is going to play out or what it will feel like to wake up on October 10.  I do know that I plan on being strong, holding myself together like I have been doing for 12 months now.  I plan on kissing my baby and hugging my friends.  I plan on taking a moment to be thankful for the blessings I have, including being lucky enough to experience one true great love.  I plan on praying quietly just in case he can hear me and making sure he knows, no matter what path my life takes, he will forever be loved and remembered by me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Thank You

To The Liz Logelin Foundation:

          My Name is Kristin Davis and I am 29 years old.  I am a mother, teacher, runner, traveler, reader and as of October 10, 2010, I am a widow.  For months following the sudden death of my husband, Ryan I identified myself as only a widow.  I had not only lost my husband on that tragic day, but also my self – my humor, my hope, my smile, my dreams, my life.  Through the heavy haze of grief, I could only see a future of sadness.  Not even the fact that I was expecting our first baby could penetrate the loneliness and despair I was feeling.  Life as I knew it was over.  I was going through the motions of life in a complete daze.  I watched my body swell with life, a life that Ryan and I had created together and still, all I could think about was the loss my unborn daughter experienced, a loss she wasn’t yet aware of, but a loss that would affect her for her entire life.  She would never meet her father, never hold his hand, never feel his kisses, hear his voice, experience his humor or ride on his shoulders.  Her life, I feared, would never feel complete, would always have this loss shadowing her true happiness.  Months later however, her birth set into action a small change.
          When I looked into my daughter’s eyes for the first time, I saw my husband.  Her birth proved that he existed, he was here and he mattered.  She looked at me and it was as if we shared a secret language.  Her eyes said, “I know Mom, I love him too”.  For the first time in months, I began to feel my life coming back.  I now had a purpose again, I was a mother.  I began to see my future take shape.  I would take care of this child, give her everything she needed and show her the world.  I would be a mother and I would be a widow and this seemed enough.  To my surprise, life continued to change after a chance meeting with another widow, a widower in fact who was also a parent!
          I met Matt Logelin at a book signing that I almost didn’t attend.  My daughter, Marley was having a hard day, screaming, crying, fussing and as often happened, my emotions were reflecting hers.  I remembered thinking this life of mine was too difficult and questioning how I’d ever manage on my own.  Thankfully I pulled myself up, drove to the signing and met Matt.  Here was this man who lost his wife just as suddenly and tragically as I had lost my husband.  His person was gone and he was surviving, thriving in fact as a bestselling author and from what I could tell, a fantastic father.  I told him my story and he shared his resources with me including information on The Liz Logelin Foundation and Camp Widow.  I think he could see the pain in my eyes and feel my loss as only someone who has experienced such tragedy can.  This is when life really started to change.
          Thanks to the Liz Logelin Foundation I was able to attend the 2011 Camp Widow Conference in San Diego, California.  It was there that I began to feel parts of myself return.  I met other widows and widowers who defined themselves in many ways.  I met artists, parents, doctors, athletes and comedians.  These people had lost just like I had, but were still moving forward and still living.  From that moment on I began to see myself for who I truly was – a mother, teacher, runner, traveler, reader and yes, a widow.  I will always be a widow.  I will always carry the pain and grief that accompanies a loss such as mine, but thanks to Matt, the Foundation and all of the wonderful people I met at Camp Widow, I now realize that I am so much more.  Thank you for helping me find myself again.  I will forever be grateful for the good that you do and the good that you brought to my life, a life that is now defined by more than just widowhood. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Sunday Evening

          I’m lonely.  The hours between six and eleven pm can be some of the longest, quietist hours of my day.  This is the time when my street settles down and families retreat indoors to share dinner.  This is the time when a husband and wife should be cooking dinner, sharing stories and putting their babies to bed.  I do these things alone.  This evening I quietly gave Marley a bath, put her pajamas on, fed, snuggled and sang her to sleep.  I cleaned up a bit, poured a bowl of cereal and sat alone at my kitchen table.   I try so hard, fight everyday in fact, to not let my heart drowned in thoughts of what might have been.  Tonight I gave in, allowed myself to remember.  I remembered late last summer, sitting on the front porch with Ry, drinking wine and talking about nothing and at the same time, everything.  I miss so badly having a person to share my nothings with.  This small nuance of marriage is what I miss the most.  I didn’t ask for a single life, yet here I am.  I loved being married in every way and still cannot believe I sit here today alone, single and sad.  Missing the life I had, remembering the person I shared everything with and wondering what next…

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Walk Good

    I realize that this blog is a small voice heard by only a select few, but I yearn for my message to be spread further.  If I could scream it from the rooftops, I would:  Live the life you love and love the life you live.  I look at you and wonder how you can be sad.  I’m not a narcissist, I realize that although devistating, my loss does not trump other tragedies, nor has it stopped the world from turning.  I know that you are allowed to be sad and that regardless of how trivial the matter, life will sometimes get you down.  I just need you to know that life is short, too short to spend your time wishing away the life you are leading, the life that you are lucky to have.  If I could shake you I would.  Look around!  Are you lucky enough to have a spouse to come home to?  Are your kids healthy and loved?  Does your house have a roof?  Is there food on your table?  Life is good and we are lucky to have it.  We can choose to spend our days wishing for things that might have been or thinking of reasons why life isn't fair.  We can choose to do this.  We can also choose to look around us with eyes wide open.  Choose to see the sunshine and light that illuminates our lives.  We are given one chance on this earth, one chance to make a life for ourselves that we can enjoy.  We are also given the power of choice and although things happen, sometimes terrible, heart wrenching things that we cannot control, we can always control our choices.  I choose to be happy.  This isn’t always the easiest choice as I often feel the dark cloud of loss and loneliness creeping into my soul, but I fight to see the light and I choose to walk good.  I hope you choose to walk with me.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Little Darling of Mine

I would be happy to watch paint dry as long as Marley was in my arms.  She makes me happy in the purest sense of the word.  She grounds me to a life of purpose and is the light at the end of my tunnel.  What happened to me was terrible.  Losing my person, Marley’s father, was the worst thing imaginable.  I can remember crying, sobs thrashing through my body and hearing my mother begging my father to do something, anything to make me stop.  It was at that point where I thought my life would never be happy again.  Truth be told, I didn’t even want to be pregnant.  I just wanted it all to go away – everything.  All I wanted was Ryan.
Now I have my Marley and what a team we make.  I love pushing her through the mall, even when she cries.  I love when people stop us to gush over how adorable she is.  It’s me and her against the world and even though it will never be totally complete without Ryan, life feels settled and to be honest, it feels complete.  Marley completes me in a way I never thought possible.  She is my everything.  Being a mother is the greatest accomplishment of my life.  Those of you who are, know, and those of you who aren’t, will never know until you know.  Today I am happy to say…I feel lucky. Today I feel lucky and I feel happy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Sound of Silence

"My eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light that split the night and touched the sound of silence." -Paul Simon

I heard his voice tonight. 

After ten months, I heard his voice for the first time.  It was a simple voice message sent to a friend at 12:15 am the morning that he died.  "Don't listen to it tonight" was the advice given to me.  Yeah right.  I didn't cry, I didn't yell,, I didn't shout.  Instead I sat very quietly, as if making a sound would make his noise go away.  I listened to this message countless times, letting the sound permeate my mind and my soul.  I even rested the phone on my chest, thinking the vibration would bring him closer.  I'm okay.  I feel quiet and reflective.  The pain doesn't asphyxiate me anymore, but does lay heavy on my chest.  I wish I could breath freely, but irrationally, I feel it's wrong to completely open my lungs.  I need to find a way to breath free, need to keep working forward.  I'm glad I heard his voice today - a gentle reminder of what was and what is.

Simply stated, I miss him tonight and every minute of every day.  I didn't need to hear his voice to know this...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Secrets to Burden

My mind is polluted with stories and images that I’d like to share, but am afraid will scare you.  It’s difficult managing the burden of these thoughts alone, but it is mine to hold.  I’m a master at storing these stories in the far reaches of my mind, but they often push their way to the front and show themselves without mercy.  The moment the police told me my husband was dead is as much a part of me as anything else, yet I hesitate to offer this secret to anyone.  It can be very lonely working to keep this all inside, but I hesitate to share because it’s not like me to bring you down.  I’m used to making people smile and these stories, these images and these thoughts will not make you smile.  Each morning I wake up feeling stronger than the next.  My life is beginning to take shape and I’m able to appreciate the small and happy nuances of the everyday again.  This does not mean however, that my mind is clear of grief or that I don’t want to talk about it.  In some ways it’s validating to share my struggle with you as it allows you to see me for who I now am – a person who has survived.  So don’t be afraid to ask, to listen and to cry as I open my heart to you and show you what I’ve endeared.  Don’t be afraid of making me sad or of dredging up bad memories.  These memories are with me always, a constant companion in a life I’m rebuilding from the ground up.   Every question will come with an answer and bring you closer to my reality while at the same time alleviating small bits of the burden I carry to keep these moments to myself.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Single Life

I never gave the notion of being a single mother too much thought, even after I knew it was to be my inevitable future.  Living this lifestyle and gaining experiences has brought me to a few recent conclusions.  Being a single mother is a full time job, but so is being any kind of mother.  My day in its entirely revolves around taking care of Marley, but show me a mother who lives any other way.  It’s not being a single mother that I find difficult, it’s being single and it’s living alone. 
A few nights ago I was rocking Marley and watching the neighborhood through my picture window.  I wanted so badly to be quietly talking with my husband.  Maybe we would be sharing stories of our daughter, our day or our future.  Maybe we would have been watching television and laughing together.  Living alone is quiet.  I find myself sitting alone and missing the times when I’d be waiting for my husband to come home.  Alone time was treasured, but are you really alone when you’re waiting for someone to return?   
The point of marriage I think, is to never be alone – codependent by choice, dependent on the noise of marriage, the laughter, the conversation and even the arguments.  I miss this noise and look forward to a time when Marley can contribute more.  I imagine she’ll have Ryan’s humor and my tendency to exaggerate.  I’ll welcome her stories, fact or fiction because they’ll break up the quiet routine of living single.  In one aspect, I am very lucky – I have Marley.  It’s a gift left to me that promises I’ll never truly be alone again.

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Person

“Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened.”  -Dr. Seuss
It’s nearly impossible to escape the fireworks on Independence Day weekend.  You can try to hide, but unless you rid yourself of all your senses, you’re likely to see their glow, hear their bang or feel their vibration.  This weekend was hard and I missed Ryan a lot.  Similar to experiencing the fireworks, each of my senses contributed to my feeling of loss.  It wasn’t just my husband that I lost on October 10, I lost my person.  I lost the person I told my secrets to, the person I shared my frustrations with.  I lost the person who fed me, built me closets and painted my house.  I lost my friend, my drinking buddy, my entertainment.  Ryan was my person.  He kissed the back of my neck and held me tight at night.  He told me I was beautiful and meant it.  Ryan was the person I traveled with, went out to dinner with, played poker with and drank too much at concerts with.  Ryan was the person who sat next to me on an airplane.  He was the person who I came home to at night, who made me dinner, who watched TV with me…
Ryan was there when I pierced my belly button.
He was there when my car was stolen.
Ryan was there the first time I saw the ocean.
And every time after that.
Ryan was there the day Blotter arrived.
He was there for Brady, Benny and Bugs as well.
He was there when I graduated college.
He was there to take my picture the day I interviewed for my job.
And to answer the phone the day it was offered to me.
Ryan was there the day we got lost on the river.
There to build every single campfire.
Ryan was there to say, “I do” at our wedding.
He was there to buy and sell our first house.
There to buy our second.
Ryan was there when Paul Simon winked at me.
He was there when I started teaching at UWM.
Ryan was there to help make Marley.
And there when my body started to change.
He was there for my first doctor’s appointment.
Ryan was there for my first craving.
There to say, “I love you”.
To say, “I miss you”.

This person, my person, is gone and I can’t help but feel like he took a huge part of who I was with him.  Initially, I fought this notion, fought the prospect of rebuilding my life.  For many months all I could see was the past and I refused to believe that the person I was becoming was in anyway different than the person I once was.  I now see clearly what I couldn’t accept before – I am different and it’s okay.  It’s okay because this new person is a survivor.  She’s still able to smile at life and see the good around her.  She’s beginning to feel grounded in her surroundings and feels calm a great deal of the time.  This person is also tragically lonely, but lucky enough to be surrounded by many who love her deeply.  But I am different because I lost my person.  I am different, but it’s okay.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Anniversary

Yesterday marked the sixth anniversary of the happist day of my life.  Love you, Ry.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ryan's Wife

I miss being Ryan’s wife.  I miss the attention he would shower on me, the compliments and the adoration.  A memory showed itself today as I was running down the parkway that allowed me to reminisce on what a safe and wonderful place being Ryan’s wife truly was.  I remembered running down the same parkway in early September when Ryan unexpectedly pulled up in the PT Cruiser with Blotter and Brady, all three of their heads hanging out the window, one looking sillier than the next.  “Hey Sexy, jog here often?” was his opening line.  After a little more sass, his true intentions were shown.  Turns out, instead of cooking the delicious and healthy meal I had expected, he had decided we should go out for dinner.  Of course, this idea sounded fabulous to me.   So what if it was a Tuesday, I had to work early the next morning and oh, weren’t we supposed to be saving money?  He was too cute to resist, driving my car and hanging out with the dogs.  After I agreed, he waved goodbye and watched as I ran ahead.  Slowly, he pulled up beside me yet again.  “What is it this time?” I asked with mock exasperation.  “Damn you look good!  How’d I get such a hot wife?” was his reply. 
I miss being Ryan’s wife.  I miss the confidence that his love presented.  Today I also thought back to the many times in Jamaica when he would stay on the beach to play dominos with a local while I’d go back to the room to shower and change for dinner.  Regardless of who he’d be playing, upon my arrival, I’d always be greeted with a similar response:  “Hey ‘mon, THAT’S your wife?” in which Ryan would reply, “Yeah, told you she was good looking…”
He loved me, he adored me and I miss him.  I miss being Ryan’s wife.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Marley Ryan

She looks just like Ryan.  I stare down on her sleeping face and I see my husband.  She is proof that he existed, he was here, and he made a difference.
Marley Ryan Davis was born May 7, 2011 at 2:35 pm.  She weighed 6 pounds, 5 ounces, was 20 inches long and came out holding her breath,  blue as the ocean.  After a few seconds of coaxing, she locked eyes with me and took her first breath.  When the doctor placed her on my chest, she continued to gaze into my eyes with a look that said, “I know Mama, I love him too”.
Now a month has gone by, five weeks to be exact.  Marley weighs 9 pounds, 10 ounces, is 22 inches long and has no problem using her lungs to full capacity.  Her eyes are deep blue and give the sense that behind them lays an old soul, one filled with knowledge, experience and mischief.
She smiles in her sleep and I can’t help imagining it’s because her daddy is visiting her dreams, whispering in her ear everything that he’s not here to teach her.  “Take care of your mom.  Smile and she’ll give you anything you want.”  “Don’t let him kiss you, he drinks out of the toilet.”  “Don’t cry.”  “Walk good.”
Marley and I are a team.  Neither of us knows what we’re doing, but we’re in this together and will figure it out one day at a time.  Ryan was supposed to be the good parent, the one with the patients and the one with the answers.  It was always my understanding that dads knew everything.  Because he is gone, it is now my job to supply the answers to the questions I know and make up the ones that I don’t.  This baby would have had the greatest father in the world, but won’t ever meet him.   The last thing I’m concerned with is spoiling her.  She wants to be held all day so I hold her.  She wants to sleep on my chest so I let her.  I will give her what she needs always; will be there to comfort, to hold and to listen.  Marley doesn’t have her daddy, but she does have my love and my memories.  I plan on showing her the world and teaching her everything I know while at the same time, sharing stories of her father. 
“Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you’ve got to do is call and I’ll be there, yes I will.”  -Carol King

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Smile with the Rising Sun

“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created spring.”  ~Bern Williams
A little over a month ago I woke up to a clear day.  The sun was shining, the air was warm, and I could see clearly the day ahead of me.  Spring was here, the days were longer and as the sun melted the snow, it also began to clear the fog that had settled in my head.  I knew something had changed when I caught myself making a joke during yoga.  Something that used to come so naturally took me by complete surprise.  Such a small moment that went unnoticed by everyone but me, was a huge turning point in my healing process.   It was like walking outside in early April and seeing the first signs of a tulip sprouting out of the frozen earth. 
Winter can be relentless and often leaves its victims feeling like spring will never come, the ground forever frozen and inhospitable to life.  Like grief, winter’s darkest days can make you forget what warmth the sun promises to bring.  My mind and body have been wrapped tightly in a womb of fog making even the simplest of tasks feel monumental and too often impossible.  The last clear memories I have took place over six months ago in a time when I still knew who I was – a time when Ryan was as much a part of my past, present and future as I myself was.  Once he was gone, I was gone.  My friends, family, students and colleagues could all see me, but I wasn’t really there and only those who know me the best could see the emptiness in my eyes.  These are the same people who first noticed the clarity begin. 
It only takes a few warm days for the tulips to sprout.  Suddenly little green buds fill gardens, pots and ditches.  They can go unnoticed by many, but those who have been waiting the longest are rewarded with a feeling of anticipation.  What’s even more impressive is that the frost can come back, wrap its bitter hands around the struggling life and try to choke it.  Amazingly, tulips are strong enough to fight the frost off.  They might lose their luster for a moment, but by mid afternoon, after just a little bit of warmth, they’re right back to growing strong and healthy.  Just a few more clear warm days and these tulips will begin to show their true splendor.  Soon the ground will be filled with vibrant colors reminding us that no matter how harsh a winter, life prevails and rewards us with beauty, warmth and light.
Spring is an incredible time of year, based in hope, sprinkled in disappointment and sealed with promise.  The love of my life is gone and I’ve accepted that he’s never coming back.  The man I’ve had a crush on for years is no longer here to take care of me, spoil me or love me.  Life has changed, but like the rays of sun to a tulip, acceptance has begun to warm my heart.  The promise of Marley’s arrival has helped fight off grief’s bitter returns and I’ve begun to show my colors once again.  The frost has come and gone and I have survived proving that no matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.

Monday, March 21, 2011

You Make me Smile

I was looking through pictures from a road trip Ry and I took to Galena this summer.  Strange how time can feel parallel, like it just happened, but also as if it were a million years ago.  I came across a snapshot of Ryan, lighting a cigarette.  I started wondering why I took such a picture when I noticed the GIGANTIC lighter.  I quickly remembered the small moment between us…

  After hours of driving, Ryan had pulled off the street to admire a beautiful landscape indigenous only to the Driftless Area.  He decided it was so special we had better toast our surroundings with cans of Miller Lite.  He quickly disappeared behind the car and after digging around the back, appeared with two cold beers and his ever present pack of cigarettes.  After some grumbling about the smoking and listening to, "Awh Krissy, we're on vacation..." I watched as he bowed his body to block the wind and continued to light his cigarette with the biggest most ridiculous lighter I had ever seen!  This small act sent me into a fit of giggles which of course, was his plan all along.  Ryan would do anything to make me laugh and I'm certain I will never meet another person who will work so hard for a smile.  How lucky I am to have been loved by someone so incredibly dedicated to making me happy.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Fear is My only Courage

“It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.”
I dreamt last night that I was taking an impossible test that I hadn’t a single answer to.  This test held a great amount of importance and I was being watched by a large audience of my peers.  As if the unattainable answers weren’t daunting enough, there was a dark and menacing shadow, visible only to my eyes, stealing my pencils and blocking my every move.  This test is my life, the shadow my grief and the audience is all of you, watching and waiting for me to pull through.
I’ve been feeling pressure lately from those I love most to become bright and shiny.  They don’t mean to press, they just want so badly for me to be happy again.  I get that, but not being one who is used to disappointing people, knowing that I cannot deliver this wish makes me feel like a failure.  Turning my brights on takes tremendous energy and lately I’ve been too exhausted to even keep a dim light shinning.  I’ve often asked how long a person is supposed to grieve and of course, there is no answer other than you grieve as long as you need to.  Consequently, I’m beginning to accept that it is my time to be sad and this feeling will persist.  In accepting this, I am moving forward. 
For months I’ve been dreaming of Ryan and in these dreams he often rejects me.  For anyone who knew the ins and outs of our relationship, they know that this notion is ludicrous.  It’s been suggested that this step away from reality actually represents my refusal to accept the fact that this experience has and will change me.  Ryan rejecting me is actually myself rejecting the changes that have been forced upon me, the changes that I’ve been exhausting my energy to fight.  Maybe it’s time to come to terms with this change, begin to sort through the nuances of my new life.  It’s been gently suggested to me that I may never feel as happy as I did with Ryan again.  I will be happy, but never to the extent that I once experienced.  This I cannot accept.  I can work to wrap my mind around change, but I refuse to recognize the loss of happiness.  Even in my darkest hours, which unfortunately have begun to come more often, I am able to see through the haze of sadness to a time of happiness.  I will smile again, I will laugh and laugh and laugh and I will light up a room.  I know I am moving forward because I no longer need to ask when this will happen because although I know that answer is not today or tomorrow, I do know that the day will come.  So for now, I will be sad, I will work through these changes, and remember that my fear is my only courage and so, I will push on through and find myself again.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dear Ryan,

I’m crying as I write this, trying to see through a cover of tears.  I’m not concerned with the flow of my words or the picture they paint.  I just need to talk to you.  I’m racked with emotions and need to crawl into the warm embrace of your lap.  I need your arms wrapped tightly around me.  I need your reassuring voice in my ear.  I need you.
I needed you this afternoon.  I’m pregnant and need to be taken care of.  I was getting stomach cramps at the gym and they scared me.  Their company didn’t last long and left me frightened and alone.  Isolated in a room full of people who look at me and think everything is just fine.  They see me as an endearing pregnant woman, trying to stay in shape, working out before going home to her loving husband.  Little do they know I’m there to keep my sanity and that I go home to a house quiet and full of grief.
I need you Ry and can’t feel you anywhere.  I miss your laugh, infectious and strong.  I miss our life so full of laughter.  I wonder how many times we laughed each day.  Living without you has taken the laughter away and without it, I feel empty.  How am I going to do this without you?  Who will make me laugh?  Who will take care of me?  No one is here to tell me I’m beautiful, Ry.  I keep swelling and no one is here to admire my shape, talk for the little person inside of me.  I need you, love you and miss you.  It hurts so bad, Ry…

Sunday, February 20, 2011

To Watch you Shine, to Watch you Grow

I am at an utter loss and can no longer control the pain that I feel.  Images have been blinking through my mind, pictures no one should ever have to imagine.  I see Ryan lying in a casket.  I see his code being called, the team lifting his lifeless body onto a gurney as someone yells “clear”.  Like so many other aspects of my life, these images control themselves and I can do nothing to alter or seize them.  I don’t know the cause, but can assume, now that some time has passed, that my brain is beginning the sickening task of processing this heartbreak.  It’s time for my subconscious to grab hold of all that’s happened and begin to organize the facts, images and feelings that are along for the ride.  Unfortunately, the process has proven to be gut wrenching and wholly exhausting.  In the end, I can only hope for closure, but for now, as I work through the final tasks associated with this tragedy, I can declare that things seem far worse than they’ve ever been.
I wrote the check for his funeral last week.  I sat in the kitchen writing out a check for my husband’s funeral.  I signed it and nestled it inside the envelope, right next to the itemized bill the funeral home sent.  Done, finished, over.  The pain of this task was unbearable and sent me into hysterics.  As with so much else, it was an offensive reminder that this really is happening to me.  One would think after four long months, I would be able to come to terms with the staggering fact that this indeed is happing to me.  Yet there are still times when the realization that Ryan is never coming back hits me like a head on collision.   I look at pictures, snap shots of him looking so alive, smiling back at me, warm and real.  I wish I could say these pictures give me comfort, but currently, it’s the opposite of that.  I look at them and immediately feel warm tears rolling down my cheeks.  He was just here!  Before I know it, I’m on the floor, clutching my stomach as if my insides are about to fall out.  How can something hurt this bad?  How can someone be here one minute, so big and full of life, as much a part of my life as I myself am and then just be gone?  I kissed him goodbye, called him from the mall to tell him I bought him jeans and that I missed him, loved him.  I woke up in the morning elated to see him, ready to drag him to the baby stores regardless of how tired he was, not that he would have ever complained.  But he didn’t come home, he was gone.  He is gone.

Ryan will never hold his child; he never even felt her move.  He’ll never see his wife swell with life, something he had looked so forward to.  He won’t play volleyball this summer or pout about being the worst on the team.  Ryan won’t take another trip to Negril even though I promised him we’d go every year.  He won’t design another Moose Nuts logo or hold another tournament.  He won’t take that trip to Ireland or experience Amsterdam.  Ryan won’t be the proud daddy with his baby girl slung to his chest; he won’t be the dotting husband who spoils his wife.  Ryan will never take in another stray or wear another offensive t-shirt.  Never again will he take too long to finish a project, knock a hole in my wall or short out an oven.  He’ll never fall asleep scratching a lottery ticket or find himself immobilized by sunburned feet.  Ryan won’t be here for Starbucks walks, he won’t be here for warm breakfasts at One Way or late dinners at Cafe Hollander.  Ryan won’t be here to hold my hand during delivery or to hold his baby girl tight.  He’ll never get to tell her all the wonderful things he feels about her, never make her feel the way he made me feel:  special, admired, worshiped.
“I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you'll always know
As long as one and one is two
There could never be a father
Who loved his daughter more than I love you…”

Monday, February 14, 2011


“The String of reason, the splash of tears.  Love emerges and then it disappears”   -Paul Simon
 At this time last year, Ryan and I were sitting at a romantic dinner, bottle of wine chilling, candles casting light across an otherwise dark room.  As was our way, we'd been at the restaurant for hours enjoying each other's company.  I excused myself for a minute and upon my return, found a small leather bound book waiting for me, a book of baby names.
Inside was handwritten in a script unique only to him:
      Happy Valentine’s Day, 2010.  I want you to know how much I love you so I got you this because you love books so much.  This book is a symbol of my whole hearted intention to create a family and spend the rest of our lives flourishing together.  Maybe you can find a name to attach to our future. 
               Sincerely, your best friend and love, Ry   xoxoxoxo”
And tonight?  Tonight I sit and wonder where he can be.  How can he not be here?  I stare at pictures of him looking so happy and handsome and I just don’t understand where he is.  There’s a special spot in the middle of his chest where my head fits just so.  A security blanket lost and longed for.  If I could just nestle my head there, whisper in his ear how I am feeling, I know he’d have the right words, but where is he?  He’s not here.