Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I am compelled......

Well friends....not as good of rest tonight as last night.  My eyes popped open much earlier than yesterday, my mind instantly alert.  The word "compelled" is crowding my mind this morning as I sit on my bathroom floor, leaning against the bathtub.  I sit here because there is nowhere else to go with my crowded thoughts.  My house is filled with people "compelled" to come and celebrate Ryan's life.  This is a wonderful and glorious problem to have.  So I do not mind the space I find myself in on this 2nd morning after my beautiful Ryan's death.

Those big eyes looking at you from your computer are those of my son who always compelled others to live life large, without restraint and with passion.  From day one, at 9 lbs, 15 oz to the day he died at 6'1 he had the ability to light up a room and make you know he was there.  We always called him Huckleberry Finn because he had the ability to get people to do things they never thought they would or wanted to do.  And his spirit was similar as well, not mean or manipulative....just carefree and fun, with a little bit of stinker and a twinkle in his eyes as he loved to push the limits.  He continually kicked down the walls of conformity and ask the hard questions of, "Why"?  As a mom who grew up in a pretty solid box, being his mom was challenging and freeing all at the same time.

So now we find ourselves figuring out how to celebrate this unique child's life.  What would Ryan want us to do? 

 Today, or I guess yesterday, we spent the day determining how to bury our baby.  Yes, that is a brutal sentence to write.  But it is where we find ourselves and have no other choice but to take a step and move forward and do the things required of us.  As we sat at the funeral home being asked whether we wanted a plastic or cement vault to put the casket in and what kind of casket would we like and at the graveyard picking just the right plot I just want to yell, "THIS IS STUPID!!!"  The words did actually come out of my mouth...I just didn't yell them.  My wonderful husband made the hard choices and I just walked numbly next to him. I just kept asking myself, "Why do we have to do this? He is already with Jesus."  But as Ryan learned over and over, there are many things we have to do regardless of reason, just because we live in this society.  I know Ryan sees that wherever possible Mom and Dad have tried to kick out the walls of conformity when planning his life and death celebration and make sure all of our decisions in this regard have meaning.  That is what he was about, making life have meaning.  And that is why others were compelled to him.

In Ryan's death, people are still compelled by him.  He has friends coming in from all over.  I have been amazed at the friends who were supposed to leave, but are staying.  Friends who were gone, but coming.  I keep getting calls from friends and family saying, "We just have to be there."  This blesses my heart so greatly and I receive more glimpses of the impact of his life, and his death. As you know, I've been asking God for these.  In truth, they haven't been really that hard to find.  Just spend a little time on my Face Book and you can see for yourself. Or, go to the FB group RIP Ryan Thomas Wahl and you will see pictures and read posts that reflect a life of one who compelled others to live life large, ask "Why?", live with passion and allow your life to have meaning.

Ryan thought a life without Christ and without a touch of uniqueness, was a waste.   He didn't believe that walking in God's spirit should look "normal".  It should be unique and fresh and ALIVE!  So in his death, what greater gift it would be than to know that others are living a more unique, fresh and active life in Christ.  Let's let Ryan's death compel us to dance through life, not mourn.  I know he is dancing already. He is dancing this dance for us right now.


  1. You're posts are a testimony to God's strength and faithfulness given to us during the hard times. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Gail - This is one of my favorite songs and I'm sure your son is singing it loudly and dancing all around God's wonderful kingdom. You are right: there are people both near and far, those close to you and those people you haven't thought about in years, that are praying for and thinking of you and your family. We are blessed to be able to share this journey with you.

    Sarah (Koch) Decorah & Family
    Waunakee, WI

  3. Face to face......with Jesus.....

  4. Gail - thanks for sharing these memories with courage and grace. Thanks for "Dancing with all your might" for our Savior!

    Mark & Nancy

  5. And when the days get really hard, remember that Ryan would want you to LIVE, to put your feet on the floor and LIVE life large, to celebrate life everyday like he did. I know that days will come that you will struggle, but always reach back and remember he lives in you and that he would want you to live it large. Praying for you all as you process , celebrating the mountains Ryan is climbing in heaven. Love, Tresa

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  7. Hi Gail - You don't know me. I am the daughter-in-law of Donna (Ovington) Rieb, a high school classmate of yours. I married Donna's son, her oldest child.

    I have a son, my first child. He is almost 5 months old now. I started reading your blog today and my heart started hurting. Reading things like, "Today, or I guess yesterday, we spent the day determining how to bury our baby. Yes, that is a brutal sentence to write." brings tears to my eyes and...it hurts. I cannot imagine what you are going through, but your strength to start this blog and express your thoughts/feelings/emotions/fears/strengths is absolutely incredible.

    My husband grew up in a household that went to church regularly. He and I have gone to church with friends and family on occasion, but we do not attend regularly by choice. He's simply "not ready". Even so, we say a prayer before we eat dinner each night. So - tonight, after we sit down for dinner, I will tell him your story and ask that you and your family are added to our nightly pre-meal prayer.

    I will squeeze my son a little tighter tonight when I hug him as I put him down to bed.

    Thank you.

  8. Hi Gail, my name is Petra Verhoeven-Jordan and I just read your blog. We lost our 12 year son Gian-Luc in a tragic accident last August. I am so glad to see you are writing a blog, which has helped me although I did not start until recently. Writing down my thoughts has helped me. You are probably still in a fog and as much as I want to say I know what you are going through, I don't, and no one knows but you. I am so glad that you are getting strength and support from your believe, I don't have that and as much as I try, I have not gotten to the point. I hope in the future I will be able to become as faithful as you and I wish you all the strength and all the "weakness" to remember your boy and laugh and cry and feel ok to cry as much as you feel like. I do it every day and although our life will never be the same, having had the time with our boy and all the wonderful memories we created together is something I am thankful for and want to think about all the time. Of course the selfish person in me only wants him back and I feel so sorry for myself because I lost my boy. I wake up every morning of every day having to remind myself that he is gone and won't walk through the house anymore with his big smile on his face, but I try to know that he is happy and peaceful where he is and remind myself that he only wants me to smile every day and not cry all the time.
    Thanks for your blog, I have a feeling it will help me find ways to let God in my life.

  9. Gail, I could barely read this due to the tears welling up in my eyes. Your words are so familiar to my heart and I ache with you. I wrote on your other post about how I lost my fiance in Afghanistan 2 years ago, and that even though I have not lost a child I do know some of the pain you are going through. Both of us were stricken with unexpected news and no answers to our questions. Both of us desperately want our loved one's death to be used my God for a purpose that we can SEE. It's one thing to know that God can turn good out of things, but it's another to actually have the blessing of seeing how He is using the life and death of the person you love so dearly. My specific prayer for you is the same prayer that so many friends and family prayed for me when I lost Tyler. I pray that you will have the blessing to actually see lives transformed and come to Christ purely because of God using your son's passing to speak to their hearts. You raised an incredible son that had/has a heart for the Lord. God will honor that now and for eternity. My Tyler had the same heart and I still see ways that his life story and death are ministering to people I don't even know. I too started a blog out of my loss and experiences after; and I pray that God will continue to bring people into both your and my path that will be touched by our stories and the passion of which our loved ones lived their lives for Christ. You are a strong woman of God and even in your deep pain you are ministering to people that you don't even know. You are continuing your son's legacy with strength, dignity, and faith. Blessings over you and your family.