Our First Miracle

October 1 – 10
Florence, Italy

Where it all began…

At this point in our travels, we have found our way to Florence, the central city of the province of Tuscany and the heart and soul of the Italian Renaissance.  We have retraced our steps here again, nearly five years and eleven months following the birth of our first child, Oliver, whose fifth birthday, incidentally, was this past August (wink). For a person with six years of sobriety now, it is safe to say that I do not believe in coincidences, and the fact that Emy almost did not get on the plane from NYC to Milan due to my drinking is one of life’s little miracles. 

Let’s turn back the clock to November 2006, as I believe you need to have a little background to truly appreciate how special today really was. Nearly six years ago, I was traveling on a business trip through Europe. Although I did not know it yet at the time, while I was still working in finance I was emotionally and spiritually bankrupt and was dangerously close to striking my rock bottom which was several years in the making. I was in London and Paris before Emy had planned to meet me in Italy, and I was bingeing all day and night for the first few days of my trip. In Paris, I was so out of my mind on anti-anxiety medication and alcohol that I called Emy late one evening while riding in a cab in Paris and had her attempt to communicate in French (a language she did not speak) to the driver in order to help get me back to my hotel. The next morning, Emy told me that she no longer planned to meet me Italy and that our relationship was essentially off.

Through much coercion (I begged her, I swore to her I would not drink at all while we were on our trip together and I believe I even promised her a new leather bag just to make sure she got on the plane), Emy showed up in Milan a few days later and we took a train to Florence.  Unfortunately, I did not keep my promise and I did continue to drink which led Emy to contact my sister, Rose, in California, whom she had never spoken to before.  As I later learned, it was on the steps of Piazza Vecchio that Rose, Emy and my parents decided that, if there was to be any hope for my recovery, they needed to intervene and get me help.

Despite my antics and the fact that I was fifty pounds over-weight and had such a bloated face that it appeared as if I might be storing nuts for the winter, Emy and I miraculously managed to spend some ‘intimate’ time together and, as we found out later, this is where Ollie was conceived.  Of course none of this was planned, and with my drinking and the tumultuous nature of our relationship, it appeared that we might have been doomed from the start.  But all this was this was to change as in December 24th, 2006, a month after returning from Florence and before my knowledge of Emy’s pregnancy, God intervened, and I had my last drink or mind-altering substance of any kind.


Truffle love

During our trip to Florence six years ago, we found a paninoteca that served little truffle sandwiches.  Today, we found that same restaurant and enjoyed a lovely lunch with our two children. The entire time, Emy and I just smiled and quietly reflected on just how far we had come since we last found ourselves in that same location. Our marriage, our love and our commitment to each other has truly been a gift as there were many times that we could have just walked away.

After lunch, we walked along the Arno and found the hotel where we had stayed at six years ago.  As we were standing in the nearby piazza, a peace and serenity overcame me, and the smiles on Ollie and Kendley’s faces filled me with a tremendous amount of gratitude. At one point, however, Oliver asked me to explain to him just how two people make a baby, and I believe that I finally told him “that Mommy and I gave each other a really strong high five”.

For me, today was a tangible reminder of the gifts that I have been given. While I no longer work in finance, stay in fancy hotels, make much money, or have a limitless expense account, I have been given something worth far more: the freedom and clarity of mind to live life on life’s terms. When I used to drink, I never had a choice, as the outcome was always the same. Today, I have a life beyond my wildest dreams as I am no longer a prisoner to alcohol and truly I have been given the gift of a second chance.

For me, traveling is not about the destination, but about the time we get to spend with each other. Florence is not about the Renaissance nor Michelangelo nor Brunelleschi. It is about a blond haired, blue-eyed little boy who skips when he walks; rarely if ever listens when you want him to; who has endless amounts of energy; whose presence can light up a room; and whose love fills our family with an endless amount of joy.

Ollie is the gift and the spirit of our entire family. He is the one who makes us go and who has brought us all together. Every time I look at an inspiring painting or an amazing dome or something society will immortalize forever, I always look at Emy and smile and I tell her “the true work of art is by our side.”

Ollie, thank you for being the gift that keeps on giving and for being the ‘happiest mistake’ that your Mother and I have ever made. Thank you for your spirit, your smile, your affection, and for just being you. You were our first miracle and you are the heart and soul of our family.



  1. Ryan, thank you so much for sharing. This brought tears to my eyes. God has brought you so far and blessed you so much. Give our love to Emily and children.

    1. Evie,

      Thank you for the kind message. You made our whole day.

      Emy and I feel very blessed and we could not be more thankful for what we have and what we are building together.

      We miss you and Jan very much. Please wish him, Rhonda, Terri and Randy our best.

      With Much Love,

      Ryan and Emy

  2. Dear Ryan (and Emily),
    Thank you for sharing your story. There is no one free of tales of personal darkness, but to understand and celebrate your courage in the steady turnaround you forged together is at once vastly inspiring and profoundly intimate. You are now moving in the light of your own making – together. What a pilgrimage to return to Florence as the family you have become! We all savor your blessings and your miracle/s, both one and two!
    Love always,
    Aunt Celia
    PS A call out to Rose! xo

    1. Dear Celia,

      Thank you for your touching comment.

      Each day is a gift and Emy and I are thoroughly enjoying our time / life together.

      Please wish Don our best.

      We love you and think of you both often.


      Ryan, Emy, Ollie and Kendley

      and yes, Rose was instrumental in getting me to where I am today; she was in NY and put me on the plane to rehab, she let me stay with her at her house for 2 months during the early part of my recovery

      i am very grateful to her for all that she has done for me

  3. Hi Ryan–I’m not sure if you remember me, but I certainly remember you from years gone by. The Young’s told me of your travels…and directed me to your blog. Reading this entry brought tears to my eyes…what a beautiful story of redemption and reconciliation you have to share. Truly, beauty has come from the ashes! I am so proud of you for the hurdles you have overcome and I’m thrilled for your new life. You have a lovely, precious family and I wish you nothing but the best blessings God has to offer.–Charla (Speelman) Liedahl

    1. Charla,

      Thank you for your kind message.

      I definitely remember you (it has been way too long).

      Let’s definitely stay in touch going forward.

      I wish you only the best.



  4. Ryan and Emily,

    Thanks so much for sharing your story! Since my mom sent me the link to your website, I can’t stop reading!!! Your story is soooo interesting and inspiring. Dax and I have a 4 month old now, and I keep thinking to myself, “could I do what they are doing?”

    I love your story of recovery and redemption and how your family has come together and grown through your diligence to deal with your disease. In the last year I have taken myself though the 12 steps of OA (overeaters anonymous) and am now a sponsor. It is an amazing journey… and I loved hearing how much your life has changed. Awesome.

    Would love to hear from you and look forward to more posts about your beautiful family.


    Terri Jordan

    1. Terry,

      It is wonderful to hear from you and congratulations on your 4 month old.

      Anyone could do what we are doing, it just might be what they want or choose to do.

      Emy and I could not be happier as we love to travel and to spend this time together.

      We feel blessed everyday that we get to watch Ollie and Kendley grow, learn and experience all that life has to offer together.

      Please wish Dax our best.

      We miss you and would love to stay in touch going forward.



  5. Hi Ryan n Emily, great to have met you and your wonderful children!
    Your story has really touched my heart, continue your travel with lots
    joy n love, God bless! Karen

    1. Karen,

      It was great to have met you as well and thank you for your lovely comment.

      Emy and I feel very blessed.

      Have a wonderful evening.


      Ryan and Emily

    2. Karen…one more thing…we apologize our kids were so CRAZY the other day at SMN. I hope we didn’t force you to run home and take an advil like we did! 😉

  6. That was as good as our weekly coffee. Thank you for Ollie and a reminder of everything we are blessed with. Good thing I don’t cry, only sometimes.

    1. Adam,

      Thank you my friend.

      I sure miss those coffees. Hopefully, we can share a dopio espresso sooner rather than later.

      My serenity is directly correlated to my spiritual condition and one important thing I have to always remind myself is all that I have to be grateful for.

      It is impossible to be grateful and to live in fear at the same time and as a CRAZY alcoholic, my mind can start obsessing over the smallest things.

      You are a great friend and I miss you dearly.



  7. Dear Ryan,
    Your post is so beautiful. You have taught the whole family to be grateful for everything we have from God every day. I’m so glad Emily didn’t listen to us and headed off to Italy to rescue you, or we wouldn’t have been blessed with Ollie. He is certainly a blessing as is little Kendley. Children are God’s greatest blessing. Hint. Hint.
    Mom aka Grandma from Neticut

    1. Thank you Mom.

      It is 930am here in Florence (we are leaving to Lucca later this morning) and you made my whole day.

      Kendley and Ollie are wonderful blessings and as you know, I would love to add to the crazy Rauch clan, but we will just have to wait and see what happens.

      We miss you and love you very much.



  8. This is my favorite post…as you know Oliver is one of my favorite little people out of 2 🙂
    He is just the most special, loveable, inspirational child that was brought into my life. I adore him and wish I was still with all of you in Italy. It was a wonderful trip. Thanks for everything.


    1. Rose,

      Thank you for your message and for everything that you did to get me to where I am today.

      From putting me on the plane in NY to letting me stay at your place to two months to all of your love and prayers.

      Thank you for being such an amazing sister and friend.

      I love you very much.



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