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