by J.R. Smith.
I’m 27 years old, and I’ve been following the Diviney blog for about 3 years now. I have felt for Ryan’s family, and have loved reading the incredibly articulate and gut-wrenching way that they have expressed their grief for Ryan over the years as birthdays and milestones that Ryan should have experienced (like his 21st birthday, his college graduation) come and go without Ryan being there. I have been impressed at how raw and emotionally naked the family have allowed themselves to be in order to pass on Ryan’s story and keep relevant.
I Understand Now.
On November 30th, I got news that gave me a greater insight into the struggles that Ryan’s loved ones deal with. I found out that my very good friend, Scott, died after sustaining extensive brain damage from an accident. His parents made the gut-wrenching decision to take him off life support, and Scott passed away the day after Thanksgiving. He was 27 years old, and he was a paper shy away from getting his Masters degree in counseling.
Scott was the closest thing I had ever had to a brother. We met each other 6 years ago at the University of Delaware, and clicked pretty instantly despite being opposites. I was a perky Delaware kid who wanted to experience college to the fullest and loved a good rager, while Scott was a cynical New Jersey boy who hated college and preferred hanging out in his dorm with his friends. I was eager to get people to like me, while Scott couldn’t have cared less what you thought about him. I loved to be nostalgic about things that happened last week, while Scott absolutely hated sentimental talk. In the end, we balanced each other in a way that was good for the both of us.
Scott was insanely intelligent, and I loved that we could talk over beers at Happy Hour at Deer Park Tavern or in his dorm about anyone and anything on our minds. He planned on being a counselor and helping people through depression, because of his own experience with it. Scott would listen to all of my anxieties and problems, and he had a way of listening that never failed to make me feel okay again. I grew to depend on him for moral support, and both of us had each other’s backs no matter what. Scott listened to me cry on the phone when my mother had a cancer scare, and I listened to him while he talked about his girlfriend troubles.
We both made the conscious effort to stay in touch after graduating in 2010, because I knew I wanted to keep that friendship for life. We’d never go more than a few months without talking on the phone or chatting online. During our last conversation, less than a week before his accident, Scott and I had talked about our plans and our life, same as usual. He was telling me about a girl he was interested in talking to when she got back home for Thanksgiving, and about his plans for his counseling career that would start after graduation this winter.
It’s All Gone Now.
All of that was wiped away. Scott was supposed to become a grey-haired, tough, grizzled counselor that teenagers loved because he got them. Scott was supposed to be the friend I’d sit with at Deer Park Tavern sometime in our 50’s, and I’d laugh as I reminded him about our crazy times in our 20’s. None of that will happen now- Scott will never be older than 27, he’ll never start his career, he’ll never get married or have a family, and all of the people that he was going to help won’t know him now.The pain has been intense. I find myself mourning not just the loss of Scott, but at the loss of what Scott could have, and the wonderful man that I believed he would have become. He had so many things to do, and not enough time to do them.
Scott’s death has given me even more of an appreciation of what the Divineys and Ryan’s loved ones go through. The grief for Ryan, the grief for who Ryan should have been, and the grief for the loss of the shared experiences that you expected to have with Ryan…I now understand with a much greater clarity than I did before all of this happened to me. Which makes me even more impressed that the Divineys have lived with this day in and day out for 4 years, and are willing to convey all of this to us on a daily basis.