Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 17, 2008

Clinton’s Eyes

Clinton RyanThis Christmas will be especially difficult for many families who have suffered the loss of a family member or who will not have an opportunity to be reunited with family members. Whether the absence is because of death, divorce, or distance — Christmas morning will be difficult. This past summer our family suffered the loss of my two-year old nephew. In the space of just a minute, Clinton Ryan innocently wandered off and accidentally drowned in a pond. I performed his funeral service, one of the most difficult things I have had to do over the past thirty years of ministry. In the midst of unimaginable pain, my niece Reecie and her family made the decision to donate Clinton’s organs so that others could be blessed. I asked Reecie for permission to share the letter she wrote to the recipient of Clinton’s eyes. Here is what she wrote to that family.

• • • • •

To whom it may concern:

The heading of this letter sounds so informal to such a special person that has been blessed with a special gift given by my precious baby boy. I wish I had a name to make this introduction a bit more personal. We share a very sensitive and intimate bond through the life of one sweet angel, my angel. He was able to give you sight and at the same time he gave you sight, my world became very dark. When the tragedy occurred on June 7th, 2008 my life was forever changed. My worst nightmare became reality and I was faced with the unthinkable and had to bury my two-year old son. He was active, beautiful, and very inquisitive. He loved the water and had no fear of it! He walked out of the house and straight for the pond. He loved to feed the ducks at the pond and was even more fascinated by the water. He fell into the pond and was unable to be revived. I have to believe that at the very moment that he fell in God swooped him up in his loving arms and carried him home.

My faith is very strong and that has been the only thing that has been able to give me a sense of comfort and eternal hope. I know that I will see my son again! God had a plan from the moment that Clint was conceived. He was on loan to me for just a little while and then God had a special purpose for him. I know that part of Clint’s purpose was to give you “The Gift of Sight.” I do believe that nothing happens just by sheer chance or by accident — it happens and through even the most tragic times someone else’s life is changed for the good. I know that my son has changed your life.

I am so grateful to the surgeon that so delicately was able to take the corneas from him and place them into your eyes and through the miracle of modern medicine you have restored vision. I pray that everyday that you wake up you take notice of all the beautiful things that God created — the beautiful sunrise, the fresh green grass, the gorgeous pallet of colors of wildflowers that line the fields and the stars that twinkle in the nighttime sky. More importantly, I hope that you take notice of all the smiles that pass you everyday by complete strangers and that you remember that this world is still full of good people. There are people out there that are even trying to make a difference through the legacy of one person’s life and through their own sorrow and just praying that it carries on through someone else’s.

I feel like a part of Clint is living in you now. He had the prettiest, most expressive eyes that you have ever seen. Maybe you will be able to look at life the way that Clint did and that was living everyday without regret, clean hearted, and full of life. My prayers are with you and your family! I miss my son more than anything in this whole world — I always say that it is the worst case of “I miss you.” It is healing to me to know that you live everyday with a piece of him. What a special piece too, the gift of sight!

I knew my baby was special from the moment I first laid eyes on him. He was going to make a difference and even though he lived only two short years, he sure has made a difference! He not only touched my life but now he continues to touch others. What a little hero! I was privileged to be his mother here on earth and I look forward to being reunited with the greatest little hero of all!

Please respond when you are ready and thank you so much for allowing me to share with you the legacy of my son! How proud I am to be called Clinton’s mom. Thank you, Lord for everyday that I shared with him.

Proud Mom of a little hero and angel,
Reecie

• • • • •

Reecie told me that every day is still tough. She misses her little boy so much that “it physically hurts inside.” Please pray for Reecie and for others who are experiencing similar pain this Christmas. Be sensitive to those who are hurting and lonely. Don’t underestimate the power of a warm embrace, a friendly smile, an encouraging word, a helping hand, a hand-written note, or a spontaneous act of kindness. Let God’s love touch others through you this Christmas. And, choose to be an organ and tissue donor. Each organ and tissue donor saves or improves the lives of as many as 50 people. Like Reecie and our family, many donor families say that knowing other lives have been saved helps them cope with their tragic loss.


Responses

  1. Thanks Omar. I am passing this link along to my dad and sisters as we lost Mother in September. It still hurts so much, especially now. But we know she is spending Christmas with Jesus.

    Thanks,
    Cynthia

  2. O-

    It is 9:25 on a Wednesday morning. I am sitting quietly at a local Retreat Center after a time of prayer, reflecting on this past year. As I read about Clinton this morning I wept. Maybe because I have seen my own kids run for the pond only to catch them in the nick of time. The pain of a losing a child can only be salved by the gentle Holy Spirit.

    I wept for my own loss. Honestly the year has been difficult in a number of ways. I think perhaps the greatest stomach punch this year came as my Mom died at the age of 59 on August 4. The emotions associated with that are really strange. Sometimes I feel like I am 8 years old inside a 35 year old body. Truly the holidays, though amazingly wonderful, are causing me to regurgitate the emotions I have stuffed deeply over the last few months. When I think of Christmas, I remember Mom, present and accounted for, serving Christmas Coffee Cake and excited to give good gifts to her family.

    God has been good to me through this and has given me some solid ways to make it through. Here’s one of them.

    In a weird way it helps me to take some of my Mom and “pay it forward.” Just like Reecie donated Clinton’s physical eyes so that another might physically see, I pray that I might “pay it forward” spiritually. My mom was all about sharing Christ with kids. First my brother and me and then any other kid she could get her hands on. It helps me to embrace that quality in my mom, and “pay it forward.” Why do I so desire to help parents lead their children spiritually. Two reasons: God called me to it and mom modeled it for me. In a weird way since my mom died, I have come to understand that legacy is more than what you leave behind. It is as just as much about you are “paying forward.”

    To all those hurting from loss this Holiday season. Look for ways to “pay it forward.” It is helping me, maybe it will help you as well.

  3. Cynthia…

    Thanks for your comment. I hope others will follow your lead and forward the link to this post to others who are hurting.

    Brian…

    Thanks for your insight and for pointing out that legacy is more than what we leave behind but is also what we pay forward. What a beautiful way to honor the life, influence, and memory of a loved one.

  4. Through the toughest time in my life….I still see that God is faithful. I have hope and know that Clint’s work here is still being done through things just like your post.

    I pray that it will continue to touch others. I know that he did not die a senseless death. My baby had a purpose and in his short 2 years he has already touched and helped more people than I have in my 35 years.

    I know we were chosen by God to go through this and even though I don’t fully understand….I do not question his motivation or reasons! I trust in him and know that good things are still to come!

    With much appreciation and love!

    Thank you again soooooo much!!!!!!!

    Reecie

  5. There is a song that keeps playing in my mind as if God is reminding me that everything has a reason. Casting Crowns sings: I Will Praise You In This Storm and there is a verse that says “…every tear I cry you hold in your hand. You never left my side and even though my heart is torn, I will praise you in this storm…” I will pass this along to share with others because this is a wonderful testimony of faith and a beautiful way to remember the life and legacy of your son.

  6. Omar,

    Thank you so much for sharing our special story of our lil’ Clint (my grandson, my angel)! It has been six months since our loss & it is still hard to believe he is gone but, we do have the wonderful reassurance that he is in Heaven with Jesus and we will see him again. It has been difficult for me in more ways than one~ I loss a precious grandchild and I have also watched Reecie suffer a loss unimaginable. A Mother’s natural instinct is to want to make things all better! I am so thankful for my Christian family and faith that has brought us this far. I am so proud of Reecie and the woman she is (with such a caring & compassionate heart)she wants to be able to help others that have experienced the same pain. I know through her gift of writing that she & Clint will continue to touch lives! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing CLINTON RYAN’S STORY! I know it was a Priceless gift to his Mommy.

    Love & Merry Christmas,
    Cindie

  7. When I read Reecie’s story, I wept too. The experience of losing a child seems more than anyone should have to bear. As a mother of two, it is a place I don’t allow my mind to wander for even a second. So, while reading reading Reecie’s words, I wept for her, for her loss, and her sorrow. At the same time, I wept in joy. Joy in knowing that MY God can do what is impossible — that He has sustained a mother that has lost her baby — what a truly wonderous God He is! Reecie’s faith has reminded me to worship my God, and to count every moment with my children as the blessing He intended it to be.

    Omar & Reecie, thank you for sharing your very personal story with us. God Bless you and your family. My prayers are with you.

    Blessings
    Stephanie

  8. Omar and Reecie,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for such a reminder for us all. We meet strangers everyday and we never know what they are going through or what life has just dealt. Thank you for shariing your sweet story and Reecie, you are correct. No life is in vain and your sweet boy did have a purpose. How awesome that you were able to “share” him with someone in that way. You are a hero, too.

    May God continue to bless you and your family.
    ~Brittney Fish
    http://www.thefishbowl.name

  9. Reecie,

    I am so sorry for your loss. There are not any words of comfort which can match the bandwidth of emotion which you have experienced (and will continue to experience) with this loss.

    What a wonderful gift extended to total strangers. May the kindness you offered during a gritty and rough time in your life, come back to you.

    Tammy Swofford, R.N.

  10. Reecie & Omar,

    Clinton was a ray of sunshine that will continue to shine through the recipient of his beautiful little eyes. What more could someone ask for but to receive the gift of vision. That is beautiful.

    Clinton is proof that God holds our plan. No person can put a number on life. We are all in a slow race to get home with Jesus. Baby Clinton raced past us all. Clinton’s work here was complete. Although sadness weighs heavy on the hearts of Clinton’s family and loved ones, it is forever peaceful knowing that he waits in complete perfection to be reunited with his loved ones.

    Macey and Madison were blessed to have had such a wonderful experience with a little brother to spoil and spat with. They adored him and my heart aches for their loss, as well as yours, Reecie.

    My prayer is that you all are forever surrounded in the peace of knowing that Clinton is in his perfect world with our God. Be still and feel Him surround you.

    Love and Prayers,
    Shana

  11. I find it heartwarming the way in which God works in our lives. This was forwarded to me in a random email because someone was so touched by its content. I open the link and see my dearest friend’s child looking back at me. What a beautifully, tragic story of the miracle of humanity! God truly moves in mysterious ways. Omar, thank you for sharing this story so eloquently and reminding us that blessings from Clint continue to rain down on us all.

    This is such a special family filled with so many talents and gifts. I don’t understand why things like this happen, but I appreciate the strength and faith this family has shown in the face of extreme tragedy and sadness. I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!

    Merry Christmas,

    Gwen

  12. Reecie and Omar,

    Although Clinton was my great nephew, I live over 400 miles away, and was not blessed to be able to know him and be with him like I had wished. However in the time I was with him, he shined like a bright star and his eyes were bright and loving and special.

    Reecie, you are such a wonderful niece and special young woman. You have taken this great tragedy and turned it into a precious ministry for our Lord. You are now able to help others who are suffering loss and feeling they have no where to turn.

    I have endured the pain of losing three special men in my life, my daddy and two wonderful husbands. In the past year and a half, I have cried some nights until dawn and then, walked around the house aimlessly and in a daze. Even in all my anguish, I have never experienced what you, Reecie, have in the past six months. To lose a child is the ultimate pain and as you have told me–“the worst kind of I miss you” that there is or ever could be.

    All of the writing and sharing that you are doing now will be a great blessing to you and to all who read your precious and loving story. May you always know that I love you and the girls so very much and that I keep you in my heart everyday.

    May God continue to be your strength,
    Aunt Marilyn

  13. Reecie, Clinton is looking down on us right now from Heaven. God Bless him and your family!

    ~My first christmas in heaven~

    I see the countless chrismas Trees around the
    world below, with tiny lights, like heavn`s stars
    reflecting on the snow, The sight is so spectacular
    please wipe away that tear, For I am spending
    christmas with jesus christ this year, I hear the
    many christams songs that people hold so dear
    but the sounds of music cant compare with the
    christmas choir up here, I have no words to tell
    you, the joy their voices bring, For it is beyond
    description, to hear the angels sing, I know how
    much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart,
    But i am not so far away, We really arent apart
    so be happy for me dear ones, you know i hold
    you dear and be glade Im spending chrismas, with
    Jesus this year.

    I send you each a memory, of my undying love,
    After all ‘LOVE’ is the gift, more precious than pure
    gold, it was always most important in the stories
    jesus told, please love and keep each other, as my
    father said to do, For I cant count the blessings
    or Love he has for each of you, SO have a merry
    christmas and wipe away that tear, remember
    Im spending christmas with jesus christ this year

  14. Keith…

    Beautiful poem. Thanks so much for adding it to the comments. The message is meaningful as we consider that this is Clinton’s first Christmas in heaven and reminds us that we grieve with hope.

    And, thanks to each of you who have posted such encouraging comments. Your words are a soothing balm.

    Blessings,
    Omar~

  15. As a precious little girl, Reecie, you and my daughter, Gwen, sat at the piano almost daily and composed your own little childish songs. One song in particular touched me deeply. The lyrics told about a mother’s true love toward her child. The two of you sang this song over and over. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine that the tragic ending you sang about in that little song was really a sort of foretelling of future events. In retrospect, I realize that God was preparing you then, even as a child, to face the terrible storms that life imposes. Clinton’s death was, and continues to be, just such a storm. But the generous donation of his eyes is not unlike God’s rainbow after the storm. You found an opportunity for good in this most tragic event. We all have the promise of eternal life, and know that we will be reunited with all those we love who have gone before us.

    Despite that knowledge, my heart still aches for you and your family. Clinton was well-loved, and his life had great meaning for all who knew him and, now even those who did not know him. Find your strength in God’s love and word, and know that you have a wealth of family and friends that care about you and your family. You remain in my prayers.

  16. Omar,

    I have opened my computer and see your email and opened to read it. Befor I see and read it was thinking is it could be dally regular post from Omar, but when I have been reading the post that, you have wrote about, 2 years old child your nephew, name was Clinton Ryan. Who is in the Heaven now.

    Just begin I reading your post.

    Honestly, I did not know when tear come out of my eyes! I am facing some times this circumstances in my church planting works, mostly, honestly I am saying, I do not know that what should I should say in this time ! Lord watching our emotions, when we loss our loved. He cans say right comfort words for us, when we are passing in these circumstances.

    Finally, I would like to say that, he is still a life, with the Lord, in Heaven. Thanks Brother Omar, for sharing with us such a story from your heart.

    Mortuza Biswas.
    Dhaka.
    Bangladesh.

  17. Clinton was a very happy, loving and special boy especially to me because one minute I was going to be his step Dad and the next I was trying desperately to revive him. I truely hurt for Reecie so badly. I love her with all my heart . I have had to watch the two women I love the most in my life experience the loss of a son. As a 14 year old boy we lost my brother in an offshore accident and as I watched my Mother endure her loss I felt helpless at times but soon realized that only time heals. My world was upside down when I had to watch the love of my life travel that same road. As gut wrenching as it was and still is we manage to pull together and stay close to God and through our faith we are finding the path to cope with this great loss. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that baby Clinton is watching over us now and knows how much he is missed and loved. We love him and miss him greatly. May God bless each and everyone who has lost but please never lose your faith and walk as closely in His sons footsteps as possible. God Bless and Merry Christmas!

  18. There are gifts and then there are gifts and you may not know how many people you touch this Christmas but I was one and my prayer is for your strength when you need it and my hope is for you to find more love in this world as I believe you are a giver and blessing be to you when you are still with him and feel his arms around you


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