Monday, April 22, 2013

On rocking chairs and twilight.

Tonight I watched the sunset.  I had put Colton to bed, and since it was finally one of the first warm days we have had all spring, I sat out in a rocking chair on my back porch and watched the orange sun wane down below the horizon, and I listened to the matching rocking chair next to me as it swayed gently in the breeze, noticeably and painfully empty.

I sat for a long time and as the sun sank deeper, it began to get harder and harder to see my surroundings.  I strained my eyes to see Colton's swingset, and I could barely make out the outline of our Australian Shepherd as he paced the lawn, still searching for his beloved master even after two weeks have already passed.  Even familiar surroundings were difficult to decipher and navigate in the scant twilight.

Since my best friend died, life has felt like it's literally in a twilight zone - not just because of how strange everything feels, but because twilight is dim and gloomy and it feels like it will be eons until the world is bright again.  So it feels without Ryan.  Was it really just two months ago that we went out for his birthday and traipsed through a furniture store, bouncing on mattresses and drawing the ire of the store clerk?  Were we really laughing, imagining how we would decorate our new home together?  Was it really just two years ago (and some odd days) that we were making plans for when we were going to have our second child and planning the birthday bash for our firstborn's first birthday?  Only two years ago.

How did I get here?

Where am I going?

In this dark, dimly lit period of my life, I have but one hope:

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."
Romans 8:18 - NIV, emphasis added

While I sit rocking on a porch, contemplating the darkness that has suddenly enveloped my life in the short span of two months - okay, well, two years - I pause to think of what my best friend is doing.  What he's seeing.  Who he's talking to.  Imagining his grin as he gets to worship in wild, unadulterated adoration of the Savior that he clung to.  And as much as I hurt, and as much as I ache for the Ryan that I had, I can't help but be happy that he is where he is.  Whole.  Free.  And I feel a twinge of jealousy and longing for the same glory.

Eventually it got completely pitch black as I was outside and I was completely blinded to what was in front of me.  But I do know this: darkness does not last forever.  I know, somewhere down this painful road, that there is joy ahead, in the morning.  And direction.  Guidance.  Purpose.  Meaning.  I do not know what that looks like, and I don't know when it's coming.  All I know to do right now is to sit patiently, rock, and wait upon the One who loves me - and feels every single ache right along with me as I sit in silent darkness.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Memorial service remarks


Sometime this week the video of the memorial service will be uploaded.  It was a long service (somewhere between an hour and a half to two hours), so it's taking some time to digitize and upload.  It should be done sometime after Wednesday.

In the meantime, here is the text of the remarks that I made about Ryan at the memorial service and what it meant to Ryan to live in high definition - and what it means for the rest of us that are left behind.  I have been asked by a few people to upload this.

"Living in High Definition"

Good morning.  It is amazing to me to look out over this crowd of people and be once again reminded of the impact that my husband had on a number of people.  While the pain that I and my families have felt this week has been suffocating, we have been blessed beyond measure of the response that we have had from around the world, hearing of how Ryan has impacted people – not just in the last two years, but for 27 years.  Ryan’s passion for the Lord, his love for his family, and his desire to do things that made a difference for the Kingdom of God are all of the things that we admire about him and what draws us to this place today. Whether he was a family member, a friend, a coworker, a former teammate, a classmate, a counselor, or even just a guy whose blog we read and admired – Ryan has impacted all of us not just because of the smile, his laugh, his sense of humor, or his practical jokes – but because of the brilliant light of hope that he reflected through Jesus Christ.

One of the things that I think we all admired about Ryan was the fact that despite his response to his cancer diagnosis was extraordinary, he was in fact a very ordinary person in real life.  I was married to him for almost seven years and dated him for four and a half years prior to that.  I can readily attest to the fact that Ryan had faults.  As a matter of fact, many of you may not know that Ryan had a criminal record.  Yes.  He was convicted of a misdemeanor three years ago.  After we bought our house in Claybanks Township, we had a devious horse that kept coming up with ways to break our fence and bust herself and our other horse loose, and they always headed towards the freeway that was just a mile from our house.  Deuce and Riata got loose three times in one month, and Ryan frantically kept trying to repair the electric fence that they had broken.  After the third time they got loose, the state police caught the two horses on the entrance ramp to the freeway.  As Ryan zoomed up in his green pickup truck to retrieve the horses, the very unimpressed state police officer gave him a citation for – wait for it - livestock at large.  We did not have any idea that someone could be cited for such a thing!  Ryan tried very hard to fight the citation, but he ended up pleading no contest to a misdemeanor and was fined.  Although Ryan didn’t think it was so funny at the time, we had many good laughs imagining him having to declare his misdemeanor of “livestock at large” on a future employment application.

So despite his criminal record, I had the immense honor and privilege of marrying and being the best friend of this incredible person.  Many people have asked me for the past two years whether or not Ryan really meant what he said on our blog and at his speaking engagements and if he was different at home.  To answer that succinctly, absolutely not.  While Ryan did struggle with the thought of leaving the rest of us behind – especially Colton and I - I never heard him complain about his illness, and he never once complained of how this whole situation was terribly unfair.  Of course he was human, but his faith and his response never wavered throughout 24 months of heavy treatment, rollercoaster scans, and ultimately the blow that we received at the end of his long hospitalization and in his final days as he realized that he was close to death.  Ryan was a person that was truly graced by God with the determination to praise his Savior no matter the circumstances that were thrown his direction.  And he had the confidence and the burning desire to share this praise with the world at large, so that other people might also be impacted by Jesus Christ.

So what makes a young man, with his whole life ahead of him, be able to respond this way?  I want to turn your attention to the passage on the inside of the program, from 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  You see, one of the most remarkable characteristics about my husband was what he chose to fixate upon.  He did not fixate upon cancer.  He chose to fix his eyes on what was unseen, on things of eternal value.  His ultimate hope was not just to be healed of cancer, but rather no matter what happened to him, his hope remained completely rooted in the salvation that he had through Christ Jesus.  And because of that hope, he did not lose heart.  Though outwardly his human body wasted away, each and every day he was renewed by his hope in the Lord.  In that passage, Paul talks about “light and momentary troubles”.  This is said by Paul – the Apostle Paul – the man who was beaten, shipwrecked, and imprisoned.  Ryan also considered his troubles to be light and momentary – the radiation, the countless rounds of chemo, the side effects from medication, the loss of physical strength.  However, both Paul and Ryan considered that their present sufferings were not worth comparing to the glory that would be revealed in them.

And that, my friends, is the very essence of what Living in High Definition is all about.  Eternal perspective.  I would like to share some of Ryan’s very own words from a blog that he wrote in March of 2012.

"Some days this cancer and the future feel overwhelming. I may very well have a lot of pain and suffering in my future. I may have the loss of dreams and goals and hopes. Continuing to work at being obedient and living our faith out is hard, very hard at times. Yes as bad as all this feels - what must Glory be like? If it makes this hell that we are going through seem "light and momentary" - what must eternity be like! Chew a moment on what could possibly make shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonments, poverty, sickness, and more seem "light and momentary". How does that not motivate us to do everything we can to honor God?

That is Living in High Definition. To see every situation and circumstance through an eternal perspective. Fixing our eyes on what is unseen, what is eternal! I can relate to Paul's feeling a death sentence, but I'm also starting to understand the incredible future that is called Heaven. It doesn't just give me peace, it drives me to serve Him more and more."

Ryan chose to see life in high definition.  To trust God.  To obey Him.  To honor his family and to choose not to stress about things that were temporary.  It was not always an easy decision to have eternal perspective or to be obedient.  But time and time again, Ryan and I said aloud to each other – to live in high definition is ultimately a choice.  It’s a choice that sometimes has to be made even several times a day.  But all it is, is a choice.  And when trials come, as they so often do, a person that lives life in high definition is going to be able to stand tall, as Ryan did, and handle trials with grace and dignity, knowing that Scripture promises us in Romans 5 that “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

I know my husband very well.  I know that he would be so touched by the fact that so many of his friends and family and supporters came here today to remember him and to support his wife and his family members.  He would laugh at our jokes, and he would add several of his own, and some of those jokes would probably border on inappropriate.  But he would also ask these questions: What do you believe?  Why do you believe it?  And if you have faith, what are you going to do with it?  Are you going to use your faith to impact the world, or are you going to hide it under a rock?  And when circumstances happen: does your faith define your circumstances or do your circumstances define your faith?  He would want every single person here to know that it is possible to live life in high definition.  It first takes faith in Jesus Christ.  And then it takes total surrender to God’s purposes for your life.  Life will not always be easy – it wasn’t for Ryan.  But Ryan finished his short life well, and I imagine that as he entered heaven and kneeled before the throne, his Heavenly Father touched his beautiful dark hair and looked into his warm brown eyes, and said, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Welcome home.”

I miss him more than I ever could have imagined.  My husband, my best friend, my son’s father, our inspiration, cowboy, comic relief, brother, son, grandson, nephew, friend.  He has truly left a legacy so deep and so wide that the world will remember him for years to come, and even more importantly – Colton will keep learning the rich spiritual lessons that Ryan so bravely taught in the midst of his illness.  Ryan will have left more of a legacy in his short life than many people do in a full life.  Although I ache for the profound loss that my son and I will acutely feel for years, I do rejoice today in knowing that my best friend is safe in the loving arms of Jesus, where he will remain for eternity – and because I have the same hope that he had, I will once again see him before long.

Until we meet again, cowboy.  I love you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Links to online tributes to Ryan

This week, the outpouring of love and the number of words that has been written about Ryan has been mind-boggling.  Emails, text messages, comments, guestbook entries, Facebook messages, tweets, and other communications have been flooding in.  For me, it has been a blessing to see the difference that Ryan has made in his life, and how his legacy will continue into the future.  It's comforting to know that Colton will be surrounded by thousands of people that will tell him of the unique, profound impact on their own lives because of his daddy.

To that end, a few other bloggers have taken the time this week to write about what Ryan meant to them - and the words are powerful.  Thank you, Bill, Tyler, Abby, and Gramps - these words are a treasure to me and a salve to my heart.

From Bill McKendry - "Do All the Good You Can. While You Can."

From Tyler Nall - "Lessons Learned from an Amazing Client"

From Abby Banfield - "The Guy I Knew: Remembering Ryan"

From Kermit "Gramps Peanut" Hainley - "What is a Poor Man Going to Give His Son"

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Living Life in High Definition

Last night I found the link to this video of Ryan from December 2010, four months before he was diagnosed with cancer.  In the video, he recounts a story from the previous day in which I had nearly been in a car accident.  He also begins to define what living in high definition meant to him.

Ryan's message of trusting God, appreciating what really matters, and living a life intentionally for the sake of the kingdom of Christ - that message began when he was small, continued to be refined when he got older, and was burnished when he was diagnosed with cancer.  This video brings me joy because I was reminded that Ryan was not only someone special when he had cancer - he was uniquely formed by God to be a mouthpiece for His glory from the very beginning.  Cancer just gave him a megaphone with which to shout God's praises.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Obituary, letters to Colton, and pictures.

Hello friends, I wanted to let you know that the service times have been posted online, in Ryan's obituary:

The other thing that I wanted to ask of you: I would like to collect letters that are addressed to Colton that tell him about who his daddy was.  Ryan was many things to many people: an inspiration, a blessing, comic relief, maybe even an occasional pain in the neck!  As Colton grows, I would love to be able to share your stories and memories with him.  I am asking that people send these letters to Colton one of three ways:

1.) Email the letter to the email address below.
2.) Send the letter in the mail to: Colton Prudhomme, c/o Grace Adventures, 2100 N Ridge Rd, Mears, MI 49436.
3.) Bring the letter to one of the services.

This will be such a valuable thing for our son to have.  I thank you in advance for helping us.

The last thing I would like to ask for is pictures of Ryan.  If you have any pictures of Ryan from his childhood or adulthood, please email them to the other email address listed below.  It would be best to have these in before Thursday morning, so that we could possibly incorporate them into a slideshow.

Thank you.

I am so grateful for the outpouring of love the last 36 hours from our friends, family, and blog readers.  We as a family are so amazed at the far-reaching impact that Ryan had in his 27 years.  He packed a lot of meaning into his short life, and God graced him with an amazing message to bring to encourage people.  I already miss him so much, but God has already so clearly given us peace and comfort in the midst of our deep sorrow.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Ryan Scott Prudhomme, Feb. 21, 1986 - Apr. 8, 2013

At 12:01 a.m. this morning, I had the incredible honor of holding my best friend's hand as he slipped from his earthly home into the waiting arms of Jesus. While this tremendous loss brings our hearts wrenching pain, we also are buoyed by God's grace and His truth, and the assurance that our dear Ryan had of heaven.

It was an immense privilege to walk this journey alongside my husband and my hero. He has taught me so much about courage, faith, perseverance, love, hope, and contentment and I am deeply thankful to God for granting me the years that I had with him. So, so thankful.

I am also grateful for your continuous prayers and still covet them for our family, especially for Ryan's beloved son, Colton. We have a long road ahead of us, but we will walk that road with the unshakable hope and peace of Christ.

Well done, good and faithful servant.

"No guilt in life,
No fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry
To final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny."

As details about services become finalized, we will release details later today or tomorrow.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

My promise to my dying husband

Your smile.

Anytime I think of you, the first thing I see in my mind’s eye is your megawatt smile. Your friendliness, your openness, and your sense of humor, all amplified and highlighted by your toothy, crooked grin.

That grin caught my eye over a decade ago, and ultimately captured my heart. From the first days of our relationship when we were just a couple of love-struck high school students, to the moment you saw me walking down the aisle, to the moment I saw you first lay eyes on your son, to the moment now when I enter your hospital room—your smile melts my heart, Ryan. You still dazzle me.

Life with you has been easy because it has been clear from the start that God uniquely wired us to be together. You challenge me, you sharpen me, you inspire me, and you make me a better person. Your unwavering commitment to the Lord makes my own relationship with Him much richer and more intentional because I have you to look to as an example of what it means to live a life sold out for Christ. Even through the last two years, as we have walked the road of your terminal cancer diagnosis together, life has remained colorful and sweet because our God is gracious to me, and you are one of the three biggest gifts I've received from Him. Salvation and our son are the other two.

On May 13, 2006, I saw your huge smile as I made my way down a short aisle to marry you. And on that day, you and I made a lot of promises to each other. "...from this day forward, I will devote myself to you and our family, second only to God / I commit to loving you, as much during difficult times as well as times of happiness / in victories as well as defeats / All these things I promise to you.

When I look back, so much has happened in almost seven years and I have realized that it’s time to restate exactly what I promise to you. Life has happened. And as we stare down this monster with hands clasped together and the Lord firmly entrenched behind us, I want to leave no doubt that you know these things.

Ryan Scott Prudhomme, I promise to you that I will cherish your memory as long as I live. Your character, your integrity, your heart for the Lord, and your unshakable faith in Him are all reasons that I, along with many others, will continue to regard you as a most extraordinary person. I admire you more than you could imagine.

Ryan, I promise to you that your son will know you as he grows. Any creative way that I can devise to ensure that he grows up feeling close to you—I plan to do it. Any person that can tell him about your jokes, your idiosyncrasies, your personality traits—I will ensure those people have an avenue to tell your son about his beloved daddy. Regardless of whether you get to parent him for two or twenty or seventy years, I pledge to you my commitment to raise him to know his dad.

I promise to you I will not despair, I will not be broken, and I will somehow, someday, some way again feel joy and peace. During the last two years, I know your first thoughts are usually of me—not of yourself—and you have been far more worried about me and Colton. Your love for me has never been more evident and has helped gird me through some very difficult times. I could never have done this without your faithful prayer and your encouragement, but I’m entering into a new phase where I won’t have the luxury of your nearness. Despite that, I know deep down that I am a person that can shoulder anything, as long as the Lord stands behind me. And He will. I will, with His grace, stand tall and will endure whatever tomorrow brings.  Don't you worry.

My last promise, Ryan, is not a new one—and it’s not a promise to you. It’s a promise to my Lord and Savior. I promise that my trust in the Lord will not be broken, bent, tarnished, punctured, pushed, nor shaken. I have no idea what He is orchestrating. I may not ever know until I am able to question Him in person someday. But I know the character of the One who alone knows the number of our days, He who knew you from the time before you were born and still, to this day, holds you and I in a tight, secure grip. His goodness and his mercy have been the constancy that we have so sorely needed during the last two rollercoaster years.

My darling, I love you more than I could ever have guessed that I would have loved you when you first flashed that unforgettable smile at me in the crowded hallway of our small high school. You are more than just my husband: you’re my best friend, my closest confidant, my sparring partner, my teacher, and my hero. When I close my eyes and think of you, I will always remember the sweet happiness of being perfectly matched to a person that pushed me to be a greater version of my own self.

And I’ll never forget the beautiful smile on your face.

Which always will bring one to my own.


I wrote this letter to Ryan while he was hospitalized at CTCA in March.  After he read it, he strongly encouraged me to release it on our blog when I felt that it was the appropriate time.  We both pray that it is effective in bringing encouragement to those that read this blog.

Photo Credit: Yeoman Photography, Big Rapids, MI

Thursday, April 4, 2013

...Yet not my will, but Yours be done.

Luke 22:42
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

The prayer of our hearts for two years:  Father, please.  Please.  PLEASE!  Take this cup from us.  Heal Ryan.  Please restore him to health.  Please give us normalcy again.  Please do not let him go from this earth too soon.

But Lord, we do trust you.  We know Your character, and we know Your truth.  We stand on that knowledge, and that knowledge coupled with Your enveloping grace, are the only cards we have to play.  So Lord, we ask that Your will would be done, because we trust that even though it doesn't make sense on this side of eternity, somehow these plans are meant to prosper us (and to further Your kingdom, more importantly) and not to harm us.

I imagine that as Jesus prayed that prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, that he was probably feeling a lot like we are right now.  Dreading what lay ahead.  But yet also peacefully resigned to the will of the Lord.

You see, friends, we have been grappling with our own future this week, much the same way that Jesus grappled with his.  My blog post last Monday was almost triumphant in nature.  That was the tone of the day.  Things were looking up.  We were going to get out of the hospital.  Bleeding had stopped.  Our oncologist was starting to talk about the possibility of doing more treatments in the future.  We were ecstatic.

And then the bleeding started again.  In earnest.

And our doctor, full of compassion and concern, told us last Tuesday the words that we have so dreaded hearing.  We are out of options.  We have done everything that we can do to save Ryan's life.  It was now time to go home and enjoy what time we have left.  And that time is probably better measured in days and weeks than in months.

We have always wanted to keep this community, you, our support network, as up to date as possible, but facing what seems to be approaching has been difficult.  We needed time to process. I do hope you'll understand why we haven't been forthcoming with this news - it has ripped our hearts to shreds and we have struggled with how and when to tell all of you. I know that this post is going to be a tremendous letdown for literally thousands of people, and I so wish that I had better news to bring.

Thank you for the grace, love, and support you have shown our family for now over two years. Please pray with us for courage, comfort and peace right now. We continue to place our hope in the Lord, and we always will.

We love you.