by Karen Tiplady.
RyansRally Comment: Karen and her family have been friends with the Diviney’s for some 15 years. They first met when Bryan, Karen’s husband, coached Ryan’s sister, Kari, in softball when she was just 7 years old. The relationship between the families blossomed throughout the years as Ryan and Kaitlyn (the Tiplady’s daughter) became close almost immediately. They seemed to always find themselves together amongst a close-knit group of friends as they grew together.
These friends of Kaitlyn and Ryan were all top-notch and fiercely loyal to one-another, sharing everything as a group; from Prom to simply grabbing a bite to eat at the local McDonalds. This group was always there when any of the others were playing sports, getting awards, or going through a tough time.
Ryan spent many evenings at the Tiplady’s house, that was a short walk around the corner. The Tiplady’s always treated him (and any other person who was in their home) with kindness and hospitality. Ryan loved them very much and was always so complimentary of the family. Ryan knew how to pick the cream-of-the-crop to associate. I know how much it meant to both Ryan and Karen to share a heartfelt hug the last time they said good-bye (as Ryan returned to college) before being attacked just a month later.
The nights Ryan spent in their basement, hanging out with only the best people, are far too many to remember. When Ryan was there, he was always safe and well treated. Any parent would be tickled to have their child at their house.
The Dreaded Call
We received a call from our daughter early on Saturday, November 7, 2009. She was crying. Ryan’s life was in peril. He had a head injury. He was getting ready to undergo surgery in a last-ditch effort to save his life. Already in her car on her way from Virginia Tech to WVU, she was determined to get to the side of her friend. My husband and I talked with her. We wanted to calm her for the long drive ahead of her, and we wanted her to be safe. We reminded her to watch her speed, and told her to pray.
It was in God’s hands.
After we got off the phone I started crying too. I also prayed. I prayed that God would guide the doctors who were working to save Ryan’s life. I prayed for Ryan, the Divineys and their extended family. I prayed for Ryan’s friends at college and his friends from home. I even prayed for the people who had done this, that they would come forward, that they would be remorseful, that they would do the right thing.
As fate would have it, our daughter was actually supposed to be at WVU with a group of their high school friends that weekend. She had to back out because she was involved in student government at Virginia Tech, and they were holding a retreat. In retrospect, it thankfully kept her safely in Blacksburg, far from the evil that unfolded in Morgantown. Oddly, as she drove toward Ryan she was driving away simultaneously from Austin’s sister who attended VT in Blacksburg at the time, likely unaware of the horror that had unfolded. Lives had changed in an instant.
Oh, how we so very much wish they had not.
Their high school group of friends was a tight bunch. They went to Morgantown and spent Ryan’s last night before TBI with him; our daughter missed it due to her commitment at VT. This fact is one that we all live with . . . if she had gone would it have possibly changed the chain of events leading to a different outcome, would she have been there, could she have calmed the situation, would they have even been there at that moment, might she herself have been injured – we will never know.
The possibilities are haunting.
As I understand it the group went to dinner and Ryan ate lightly, he didn’t want much. “Diviney,” as his friends often referred to him, was talking about wanting a Stromboli later from a convenience store that was close to his house. The wheels were already in motion for the fateful trip to the Dairy Mart that would take place later that night. But, for the time being they were having a grand time and that was everyone’s account – it had been great fun. Ryan’s pre-TBI self had fun one last night. Very small consolation, indeed.
Ryan’s End was Just the Beginning
The friends got tired; all of them went to spend the night at another friend’s place, except one, our daughter’s boyfriend, who thankfully was also tired. He had fallen asleep at Ryan’s, and did not go with Ryan and the two young men that accompanied him to the Dairy Mart. He, instead, remained safely asleep in Ryan’s apartment which was a blessing beyond imagination. He was shocked when he found out the news – we all were.
The other friend, the one whose apartment the rest of the friends went to – well, I firmly believe that she played a key role in God’s plan. Now let me be clear, I firmly believe that the attack on Ryan was not a part of God’s plan, but everything good that has surrounded the Diviney’s and everything positive that has resulted from this nightmare was put in place by God, Himself. The friend, well she was actually also a childhood friend.
Her family moved from Ashburn to Morgantown when she was a freshman or a sophomore. She had grown up in Ashburn and was so upset to be moving, but God saw differently. He knew she would be needed to support the Diviney’s for their stay at Ruby Memorial; He knew that she would provide a safe haven for their other friends on that horrific night. He knew that she would tirelessly hang up flyers to help find out information about what happened at the Dairy Mart . . . and that was just the beginning of what God had in store.
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