by Paula Yocom
To Look Away Was Not Okay
I met the Diviney family about three years ago after I read about Ryan in a local newspaper. I joined Facebook specifically so I could learn more about him. In September, 2010, in response to a request of a Team Diviney member, I opened up my home to a group of ladies I had never met. I thought it was interesting that we could live in the Ashburn area all these years without our paths ever crossing. A few souls in the group knew Ryan. The rest of us only knew what we had read – that Ryan is an athlete, top student at WVU and all around American guy – the kind of young man any parent would be proud to call “son.” Now he and his family were thrust into a nightmare of catastrophic proportions. It was shocking and horrible, and we had to do something because to look away was not okay.
After we made our introductions, we prayed. We also cried, struggling to understand how something so despicable could happen to such a great person. There was anguish and anger about the perpetrators, but the conversation soon transitioned back to our admiration for Ryan and the Diviney family. We worried about whether the Divineys needed assistance with meals, lawn care, cleaning, supplies, finances. I didn’t know then about the wonderful neighbors and friends who had already been helping with these things. And I couldn’t have foreseen the numerous souls who would magically show up in the future to help at the exact time they were needed. In the coming days, I watched as the hand of God moved in a situation that was heartbreaking and yet uniquely inspiring. Little did I know then about the tenacity of the Diviney family, but I would quickly find out.
These Are Not Your Average People
In the beginning, our group felt uncertain as to how to best get involved. We knew from Ken’s blog posts that he has a razor sharp mind and doesn’t mince words, which was a little intimidating. We also knew he was doing the work of (at least) ten people, while his beautiful wife Sue held down a high level position with CNN. How does he do it? How does she do it? And what about Ryan’s sister, Kari? I saw pictures of a stunning brunette with a constant smile. I realized these are not your average people. They are extraordinarily strong and determined. And they have a love for each other that is palpable. Our group tried to figure out how to make contact to help. As it turns out, this happened during a prayer vigil in November of 2010 to mark one year since Ryan was attacked. The Divineys were exhausted, sad and struggling mightily to cope with the magnitude of what had happened. In spite of their great fatigue, they graciously allowed us into their home. That’s when I saw Ryan for the first time.
It was clear the house had been hurriedly fashioned into a rehabilitation space for Ryan. There were supplies neatly stacked everywhere. In what must have been an office, a large hospital bed stood in the middle of the room. Some of our group quietly moved to Ryan’s side. I saw a tall, exceptionally handsome young man lying silent and unmoving. His hands were in loose fists and his body was stiff. His eyes were in a fixed upward position. We held hands and prayed. People slowly left as the prayer vigil was winding down. A few of us didn’t want to leave so we stood there for as long as we thought we could get away with it. There are moments in life when you know you are supposed to do something – get involved, commit, stay in, hold on and don’t let go no matter what. I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt this.
Might Have Taken Down a Lesser Man
We walked over and said hello to Ken who looked like he had entered another realm of reality. And the fact was, he had – his old life was gone and it was replaced with a new, daunting reality that might have taken down a lesser man. We hugged Ken then headed for the door. While Ken might have been wondering when he could get some privacy back in his own home, we were wondering how we could get back in the door to see these remarkable people again. Though Ryan couldn’t move himself, he had managed to move our hearts in a profound way. We were about to embark on a journey with a family whose love and dedication to each other was immense. It would prove to be a humbling and life changing experience.
A Team Diviney member once wrote on Ken’s blog that we receive far more from Ryan than we give to him. Completely true. I realized that this experience with Ryan could be as close to a miracle as I might ever see. “A miracle in slow motion” as another Team Diviney member described Ryan. As for our little group, though we no longer have regular weekly meetings, the connection will always be there. All of us knew it would have been wrong to just turn and walk away. God help us if this were our son or daughter. In the weeks, months and years to come, we would see exactly what the “right stuff looks like.” It is a sight to behold.
Next Week: Part 2. Watching Ryan and Ken Diviney in Action