Exactly 1 week ago, almost to the minute, I was on the phone with my sister Debbie in Rockaway Park – New York, as Hurricane Sandy was ravaging our beautiful little beach community that she still lived in. She lived in the cutest little bungalow, 1/2 block from the beach. (#1 on the map below is her house)
We finally convinced her to leave her one story home, the news was telling everyone it was going to be very dangerous, and there was a mandatory evacuation. Like most people who didn’t leave, she was sure it wouldn’t be anything big. She lived on 111th Street, and after much convincing finally went to stay at a friends apartment 1.5 blocks away on 112th St and the boulevard. (#2 on the map above is where she was staying)
We were on the phone, and It was getting really wild, the ocean had come in full force, I was still begging her to leave, while she could, and she told me she couldn’t get out, the first floor was filling up with water. She was describing what was going on and it was terrifying for her, and for me, on the phone with her.
She then said, It was getting very bright outside, and went to the window to find out a huge fire 2 blocks away lighting up the sky. Now, it was getting really scary… really scary… . a fire and a house you can’t get out of!
Then she started telling me that “Ryan’s box” just passed her house… it travelled from her house 1.5 blocks away, to tell her he was there. She kept saying “he’s looking at me Denise… the box is on it’s side and he’s looking up at me, I see Ryan, he came to protect me.”
To be honest, I thought she was hysterical and possibly losing her mind. Her beautiful son Ryan, left our world 10 years ago, in a car accident.
I had no idea what she was talking about. I didn’t know about “Ryans box”, or how he could be looking at her, or how it left her house, or turned on it’s side so she could see him, and passed where she was staying, and she kept telling me, she knows she will be safe, he is there with her, and protecting her. Then we lost phone connection…. for the rest of the night!
I stayed up all night, hysterically watching the news. I couldn’t reach her, couldn’t reach her son Russell, or her daughter Rickie.. all the phones were down, all the electricity was out, and my family was on this little peninsula that was flooding and burning.
Watching the news all night, The fire was on 114th street, and was spreading out of control. The news said it spread 2 blocks, but didn’t say which direction. I knew she was on 112th St. They showed it on the news all night, but didn’t show the streets it began or ended on, they kept saying how it was spreading.
The only good news, was they said nobody was hurt, and they got everyone out safely. The fireman had to get to the fire in boats because there was over 4 feet of water filling the streets and the current was rough. The peninsula is very narrow right here, about 2 city blocks wide, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and Jamaica Bay on the other. (#4 in the photo below)
I didn’t hear from my sister until the next morning when she left and walked 1 mile in almost four feet of water to where her son Russell was staying with his family. When she called me, she kept talking about seeing Ryan, and “Ryans box”… and knowing she was protected. I still had no idea what she was talking about, and as long as she was OK, I didn’t care. I just thought she was in shock, or a mom missing her son, and perhaps because she felt death was near, needed to feel his presence. I didn’t care what it was, she was safe, and that was all that mattered!
She came to stay with me in NYC, and yesterday we went to her house in Rockaway. Seeing the devastation, seeing her home, I knew she wouldn’t have survived if she stayed there. The door had to be pried open, her house was filled with water… she showed me where “Ryan’s box” was… where she stayed during the hurricane, and then we walked over to where “Ryans Box” parked itself…. (#3 in the photo below)
The fire is #4 in the photo below.
There is no way to describe the love I was overcome with, seeing “Ryans Box”.
I saw Ryan, seeing the path Ryan took from her home, by where she was staying, and where he turned and parked. I understood what she meant when she said it was on it’s side so she could see him, and he could tell his mom he was protecting her, seeing where he turned into a driveway, between his mother on 112th and the fire on 114th, he really did protect her!
After “Ryan’s Box” passed her, he went another 1.5 blocks, turned into a driveway, went another 30 feet, turned rightside up again, and parked himself, between the fire and the house with his mother in it. (#3 in the photo above)
I felt embraced by the love of my beautiful nephew, and I knew he was there with her during the storm.
“Ryans Box, is something his father built for a memorial site for him. They will plant a tree in it across the street from the site of his accident. It is about 4x4x4 and I’m guessing a few hundred pounds, since I couldn’t move it yesterday. You can see from all the water damage, it took a pretty intense ride through the water, yet, the photos and his beautiful face, didn’t have any damage.
I wanted to share this story, because many people we love, are no longer with us… or are they always with us, and just let us know, when we need them most? I think they are…
You can see from the photo of my sisters house below, she would not have made it out of this storm, if she had stayed in the house. I don’t think she would have made it through the fires and floods, if Ryan hadn’t made his presence known!
With all the devastation Hurricane Sandy caused, feeling his love and presence so vividly, made me know everything really is ok, no matter what happens.
I hope you recognize when your loved ones are with you… even if it’s not this obvious.