Another thought that keeps coming to my head is the fact that God could see this in my future. I can imagine Him hurting for me, and the rest of my family. What we would have to suffer when it finally came time. Him hoping that at some point the future would change. That Ryane would become set on a different path. A path of life. She would not make the stupid mistake that would end her life. But just in case, God preparing me. I know that if Ryane had passed away four years ago there would be no way I could come back from it. I was not strong enough in my faith. I was completely dependent on her in everything I did. The past three years have prepared me. Never would I have thought this is was what I was being prepared for, but I can see parts of the path. My path to independence. My path to my faith.
Ryane did not make life easy for me my senior year. She did what she wanted, and I was left to fend for myself a lot of the time after years of solidarity. She forced me to join the tennis team by myself my junior year. I made a new friend group. She helped me run for Executive Board president, and helped me win. Allowing me to succeed in a leadership position on my own. We were on homecoming court together; her as 2nd attendant, me as 3rd. Then, she kind of went “crazy.” Sneaking out to see her boyfriend. Got in trouble with the police for the first time. Suffered with a secret eating disorder for awhile. And then, the summer of different as well. I was forced to go to certain grad parties alone, because she was “busy”. When it was time for me to go off to Purdue in August, the week before she decided to go spend the week in Indiana with my cousins. She left me to pack alone, and I was so anxious to leave the comfort of my family for the unfamiliar that I remember reading the first three Harry Potter books to escape!!
But honestly, I believe she was hurting as well. Hurt that I was going off to somewhere exciting, while she was forced to go to the community college back at home. She was there to drop me off. Made sure before she left that she set me up with people to eat dinner with, and then she was on her way, as was I. The first few days of college were a struggle because there were no programs yet, no classes, but after that I began to meet people. Some who were just temporary friends as I found my way, others who have still stuck around.
I owe everything I have to Ryane. She made me the strong person I am today. Someone who is Nelson at all times. Proud of my awkwardness, because Ryane always pointed it out in a positive light. She was someone who even though she was lost, helped other’s find their way. Over those next two years of college, I became very independent . When I came back from my freshman year at Purdue, we instantly clicked back into our twin-ness. The only difference was I was opened to her new world. That summer I went and lived in Ryane’s world. And it was a blast! The people were so interesting and fun! I did things I never would have done on my own. It was such a bright summer with her. Going from hangouts to family events to work at Cooper’s Hawk. She made my summer, as did the friends she surrounded me with.
Then, I started my sophomore year at Purdue. I had been in a relationship that I feel brought me down as a person. I thought with the start of the school year it would get better. When it didn’t, I ended it. The next week my grandma passed away. I missed a week of school to be with my family. Because of this my grades suffered severely. My faith was nonexistent, and I was feeling the lack of it. I decided to restart. I got as involved as possible in my parish at Purdue, St. Thomas Aquinas. I made new friends. Became a Communications Intern at St. Tom’s. And invited Ryane onto the life changing retreat here at Purdue called Boiler Awakening. I knew she too had been ignoring/suffering in her faith. I also know that she thrives in retreat mode as we probably have gone on over 10 retreats together.
She came to Purdue for the first time since my freshman year for this retreat. I was hardly able to see her during it all due to the staff I was on, but I knew she was living it up. I know that after the retreat she quit smoking, which was a huge step for her. I saw her change from the distance of Purdue. She got straight A’s the next two semesters. She started to get her life on track. It was a blessing to be able to get her on the retreat. Ryane’s problem had always been that she would go on retreat, be hyped for everything that was said, and she would forget everything that was talked about. She would continue with the pressures around her. I watched this happen every time, but I thought this time was different.
St. Tom’s helped me to reestablish my faith to where it is today. Through staffing retreats and working here, I have been able to refocus my life. Then, this summer I worked as a Totus Tuus teacher, which is something Ryane and I had always talked about doing. She unfortunately already had a job for the summer, so I ventured off alone again. I came back even stronger, in who I am and in my faith. I had answers. I realized more of my gifts. It made me stronger. Totus Tuus world is a magical place, and it helped me become confident in my faith. I gave witness talks every week for six weeks about my personal struggles. The power of Reconciliation. The power of being a Catholic woman. The power of prayer. And it helped and healed me.
Prayer became a conversation as it had been always. But instead of having to put in effort, it was just natural. The thoughts in my heads became prayers. I feel like that’s why I have managed so well with Ryane’s passing. I talk to her everyday, in my thoughts/prayers. I feel and see her in everything. In the breeze of a beautiful day. Heck this crazy warm fall is probably her doing. I can hear her in my head when I get into a fight with my boyfriend or my family saying, “Hey Nelson it’s not a big deal. Let it go.” I saw her everywhere in Florida at the resort. Her never getting out of the water, because she loved swimming so much. Her playing with Connor and his endless games. Getting along with everyone so easily. Her wearing three different swimsuits a day because she had so many with matching sunglasses. Her radiant smile.
She was beautiful. In so many ways. I see her on the most beautiful days. I see her on my worst, hugging me telling me it would be okay. I still call her an idiot or annoying sometimes. I love her just the same. The real struggle is not seeing her. But she’s right here. I can feel her. She is just waiting for you to notice her! And she is so obvious about it because she loves being the center of attention. So allow her to be.
**Sorry this passage is so long! The words just kept coming. My thanksgiving break was amazing in Florida with my family. Thank you for all the prayers, and please keep it up. Love you all.
2 thoughts on “The Unseen Path”
Nelson..your beautiful witness to your faith is so inspiring…thanks you for sharing your sister with us
Love and prayers always, Nelson!