Friday, July 15, 2011

My Friend, My Mentor, My Son

I sit here alone in our quiet house, my kids off playing with cousins and my wife out doing some last minute preparations for this weekend and my thoughts are consumed by my son, Dylan. What a truly amazing kid he was. He was so thoughtful and kind to others. He always wanted to make sure everyone was included and not left out of anything or felt bad. He went out of his way to say 'hi' to people as they came into the room and truly loved everyone, in fact I can't remember him ever speaking ill of anyone (even the bullies at school that would tease and pick on him). This week has been the hardest, by far, of my life and I laugh when I look back and think of times when I 'thought' I was having it hard like going to school or struggling on my mission. Those challenges pale in comparison to what we have faced this week. Watching Dylan decline so rapidly over the last four months was the single most trying thing as a father I could have possibly witnessed. Knowing I could physically do nothing to take away his pain or suffering literally broke my heart and often my spirit. We fasted and prayed and gave him blessings to try and ease his pain and to ask for a miracle and yet that miracle never came (at least not in the form we wanted). I had to stand by and watch his 9 year old body deteriorate before my eyes and all the modern medicines and alternative treatments we tried couldn't stop that ugly tumor wrapped inside his brain stem. How I wished I could reach inside and rip that wicked growth out of him or transplant it into my own brain stem as I would have gladly and willingly gave my life for his. But that was not my course in life. Mine is to remain behind and shepherd my other children through this life. Dylan's was to come to Earth, gain a body and fulfill his earthly mission and return home to his Heavenly Father having done all that was asked of him albeit after a very short time. And while I will miss him terribly every day for the rest of my life and would literally do anything to have him back with me as a healthy boy, I can draw strength from the knowledge that there is a plan for all of us that is bigger than we can imagine. There is a work for us all to do and while we are bound with earthly perspective, we cannot fully comprehend what that work fully entails and often the way seems impassable and strewn with thick branches and thorns. I know that when we are able to look back on this earthy experience but do so with an eternal perspective, all things will become clear and the size and scope of our mission will be brought into focus and we will be amazed and what we accomplished and how many 'coincidences' shaped our paths and how often our father truly intervened when we felt lost or hopeless.
Many People have asked why God would let this happen. Why couldn't he, the omnipotent ruler of the Universe, reach down his hand and take it away? The very simple answer is: He could but he won't. And the reason being is, if he did he would forfeit the very plan that we chose to be apart of. If he intervened at every difficult or painful crossroad and spared us every moment of grief and pain in this life, then we would not learn to walk by faith. We would have no need of the atonement because all our painful decisions and paths would be protected and chosen by our Father in Heaven and our free agency would be rendered useless. We MUST pass through the trials of life to gain experience and wisdom and learn true Christlike love for our fellow man and render selfless service to those around us. This is our purpose on Earth; to love and serve one another and to bear each others' burdens and obey our God's commandments and prove ourselves herewith to see whichever way we should go. I am so proud and honored to be Dylan's dad and he has taught me more in the last four months about being good and faithfully enduring to the end than I have learned in the previous 36 years of my life. He is an amazing example of the pure love of Christ and the charity that is required of us. He gained so much pleasure in doing good for others and constantly worried about those that were going through their own trials (unfortunately too many of them were also affected by cancer). He loved life, he loved to laugh and make jokes and do stand up routines for people (he was pretty good at Brian Reagan). He genuinely cared for people and did more to affect people's lives in his 9 years on earth than I probably will be able to in the remainder of my time here. So many people have sent their concerns and condolences and a common theme in their messages is how much Dylan has changed their lives and how they want to do better because of him. You cannot imagine how proud this makes me as a father! My son having that much positive influence on the world is more gratifying that any other accomplishment I can think of. I can truly and honestly say that Dylan left this world better than he found it and not everyone can say that. His memory will live on in the works and lives of those left behind. My hope is for that memory to never fade, that we may always remember him and his life and his example and that in a year from now, when the pain subsides and the freshness of this experience is gone, that we all don't go back to 'the way things were'. I hope his example stands as a beacon for us all to strive to do better, to be better, to love better, to live better.
I will never feel fully worthy of having Dylan as my son but I feel privileged to have been chosen. We will forever be linked by the earthly bond and the heart of a father has truly been turned to the children. He taught me more than I ever taught him and I will forever be grateful to him for that. He has set the standard now that I must live up to and strive to become more like him. He will forever be my inspiration and guidance through this world. He truly and simply is my friend, my mentor and I'm so proud to call him my son!
I cannot thank you all enough for the heartfelt wishes of hope and support and pray God will bless you all for your acts of kindness on our behalf and pour his love and spirit upon you all!

Ryan-the Dad


  1. Ryan,

    I am amazed by your faith, strength, and spirit. You were chosen to be his father because of those wonderful qualities. Dylan and your other children are very lucky to have you as a father and Mandy as their mother. I will forever be amazed by both of you and what caring wonderful people and parents you are. My love, thoughts, and prayers are with you and your family.

  2. Dylan and your family taught me to love more & truly believe in Heavenly Father's plan. My testimony was strengthened by your faith. Thank you for sharing this experience with us.

    Wendy Pippin (a friend of chelsea).

  3. Shaw family,
    What a blessing it is to me that you shared your experiences and feelings through this blog. Your faith and strength has built my testimony. You have touched so many lives and made everyone who knows you better people. Thank you for your Christlike examples. I pray each day that your family will have comfort and peace. I love you.

  4. We love your family and are so impressed and humbled by your faith and perspective!

  5. I am so amazed by your faith and strength! Thank you for sharing your feelings! It has strengthened my faith. May our Heavenly Father be with you during this very trying time.

  6. My heart goes out to you and your family for the loss of your sweet baby. Was in your neighborhood this afternoon and saw all the balloons and streamers. It was breathtaking. You are all in my prayers.

  7. Shaw Family, We don't know each other but I found out about your son Dylan through Sadie Huish's Mom's blog. I am so sorry for your loss. It must hurt terribly. I hope you will be blessed with calmness and comfort over the next few days and weeks and months. I'm so very sorry.

  8. Ryan what an amazing tribute to your son! You have an amazing testimony. What a wonderful father you are. Tons of thoughts and prayers for strength for your family! We love you all!

  9. Ryan,
    I have always admired you and Mandy, and now even more so. I admire your strength and courage as you face one of the most difficult times imaginable. I admire your outlook, and your testimony that continues to be unshaken. It's no wonder Dylan was such a special little boy. He had great parents to teach him in those ways. I love you guys, and will continue to have you in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. I saw your blog address on Tiffany Huish's FB a few days ago and was saddened to hear about your son. I've tried to keep up with so many blogs of other children affected by DIPG. My son, Oliver, was diagnosed in December of 2009 at the age of 8. He turned 10 this last Monday. A birthday we never thought we would see. I wish I could say that I have kept my faith or that my faith has increased during this journey. I've struggled immensely with my testimony the last 19 months following his diagnosis. I was baptized in 1997, when I was 18 and am still the only member in my family. My husband and I were sealed in the St. Louis Temple in 2000 and have 4 kids. I want badly to be able to get that strong testimony back, especially during this difficult journey. I've been reading this blog and see so many similarities in Oliver and Dylan. I loved seeing his interview you guys posted. My heart sinks whenever I hear of another child diagnosed and another child passing. Please know that you are in our thoughts.

    Stacy Palmer
    Waterloo, Iowa

  11. Ryan,
    I have been at a complete loss of words. We were in Legoland when we heard the news, and I made it a point that we would enjoy every minute with Tomas, in honor of Dylan. Our hearts are completely broken for you and your family. We enjoyed meeting you at your fundraiser and I wish more than anything, we could have met under better circumstances. Thank you for words. Thank you for sharing your strength and faith which is truly inspirational to me. A friend of mine gave me the following devotional from Charles Spurgeon, and it has been something that gives me eternal perspective throughout our year and a half battle with DIPG. I hope it brings you and your family comfort. Please know you are in our prayers everyday and even though we just met, I am here for you whenever you want to talk,801-635-4420.

    Charles Spurgeon's Evening Devotional, March 22

    “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.”
    John 17:24

    "O death! why dost thou touch the tree beneath whose spreading branches weariness hath rest? Why dost thou snatch away the excellent of the earth, in whom is all our delight? If thou must use thine axe, use it upon the trees which yield no fruit; thou mightest be thanked then. But why wilt thou fell the goodly cedars of Lebanon? O stay thine axe, and spare the righteous. But no, it must not be; death smites the goodliest of our friends; the most generous, the most prayerful, the most holy, the most devoted must die. And why? It is through Jesus’ prevailing prayer—“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” It is that which bears them on eagle’s wings to heaven. Every time a believer mounts from this earth to paradise, it is an answer to Christ’s prayer. A good old divine remarks, “Many times Jesus and his people pull against one another in prayer. You bend your knee in prayer and say ‘Father, I will that thy saints be with me where I am;’ Christ says, ‘Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.’” Thus the disciple is at cross-purposes with his Lord. The soul cannot be in both places: the beloved one cannot be with Christ and with you too. Now, which pleader shall win the day? If you had your choice; if the King should step from his throne, and say, “Here are two supplicants praying in opposition to one another, which shall be answered?” Oh! I am sure, though it were agony, you would start from your feet, and say, “Jesus, not my will, but thine be done.” You would give up your prayer for your loved one’s life, if you could realize the thoughts that Christ is praying in the opposite direction—“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” Lord, thou shalt have them. By faith we let them go."

    Greg Hollenbach

  12. on behalf of all children in the state of Tlaxcala we thank you for the gifts you sent us and it's nice for us to be part of you, and with all my heart we pray to God that your health improves.