For those who don’t follow Ryan on Facebook, you missed my post there on Saturday. Two huge things happened as the result of one event… My daughter, Kari graduated from West Virginia University and Ryan returned there for the first time since leaving in a medical airplane. The last time my family were all together in Morgantown was about a month before his attack. I seriously thought we would never be there together again.
We were. It was so bitter-sweet. It was beyond words how emotional it felt. I held it together… well… for the most part.
Ryan did well throughout the day. WVU treated our family so well. They set up a “Green Room” for us to take Ryan into before and after the ceremony, and even during it if had been needed. It was equipped with a live feed so we would not miss anything. Sure, it didn’t go 100% smoothly, but I expected some glitches along the way. The great news is that nothing overly complex happened. The little things that we did tended to happen without anyone probably even noticing. What can I say, Sue and I have become masters at not making a big deal out of stuff when in the presence of people. Honestly, we work “under the radar” very well.
We do this because we don’t want them to feel uncomfortable or anxious.
I’ll write more about the ceremony and the fun that followed it in a future post… and how wonderful it all turned out to be. For now, I simple want to acknowledge how deeply proud I am of my daughter. College is tough enough on its own, but she excelled through unimaginable adversity. She transcended every challenge… that most can not even imagine.
Her strength is inspiring. She is just so strong and determined. Through it all she faced criminal trials, civil proceedings, parole hearings, depositions, and so much more. Still, the one thing that I believe was the hardest she kept to herself. Namely, being where Ryan loved. Where he wanted her.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like! Walking past those places that reminded her of him… and what he lost… what she was denied. Those years-upon-years of walking to class right past the Diary Mart parking lot that essentially ended his life. Going to football games each autumn with the hospital that Ryan clung to life looming large in view from the student section. How hard was it for her to hear all the “Ryan Stories” that happened each time she went out with others. You know, hilarious and touching tales that were specific to the place Kari was at any given time. Again worth mentioning, walking by the place he was beaten.
Kari went to WVU because her brother had asked her to share the experience with him. He wanted her there. Kari honored his wishes even though it was probably the hardest thing to do.
For now I’ll not focus on that. Instead, let me share some pictures from the day.