For the most part, I really don’t know what to say about how I’m feeling. Even if I did, how is it possible for me to articulate?
I’ll try anyhow.
Before I do, the most important thing must be addressed first. Namely, you. You and all the others who are “Team Diviney”. Where would Ryan be without you? Throughout these five years, beginning that very night he was so brutally beaten, my family never felt alone. You gave so unselfishly and didn’t expect anything in return. No, it’s more than that, you demanded nothing in return. Oh, for all that’s good in this world, I wish I could express just what this has meant — and continues to mean — to me… my family… Ryan. Thank you for loving my boy. He is relevant because you don’t allow people to forget.
As for me? Well, I hurt… a lot. The despair feels like ever fiber in my body is in agony. How can something hurt so deeply? I can’t stand it but there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I miss my son so much. Each day it hurts more. Don’t believe those who will tell you that time heals all pains. No, it’s a lie! Time can make it worse, especially when it’s not on your side.
I’ll never come to terms with what happened to him. How could I, or anyone, ever accept it to one’s child? To be sucker-punched and kicked in the head for no good reason. Ryan was defenseless. He never knew what hit (and kicked) him… and likely never will. Ryan is no longer himself. That Ryan, a young man with a lifetime ahead was gone.
My son, as he once was, is no more.
He survived, but I use that term loosely. Yes, his body pulled through. Against ALL odds it didn’t quit on him, despite his brain being so severely and deeply injured. His essence did not survive. It died on November 7, 2009. Austin Vantrease and Jonathan May are the monsters that did it. Even if Ryan were to emerge, it’s assured that the person I loved so much will be absent. He will be entirely different. I love him just as much, but I grieve for what he is no longer.
Excuse Me as I Fall Apart
I couldn’t sleep last night and I wasn’t going to kid myself that I could. I watched television (NFL) until around 11:00 then poured myself a cup of coffee. I braced myself for the inevitable sadness that was already building.
The clock flipped to midnight. Just another new day, I told myself. Really, no different from the 1,825 times this happened since November 7, 2009… when we get right down to it. Merely a measure of the passage of time based upon the full rotation of the earth. You’d think I’d get use to this. Hell, it happens like clockwork, literally.
So, at midnight and then again at the same time he was attacked, I walked into Ryan’s room. Both times he was snuggled in and as comfortable as all get-out. By every appearance he seemed to be asleep. Perhaps he was. Perhaps not. There’s no way to tell with certainty. I can pretend he’s sleeping. I can pretend he’s dreaming. I can pretend he’ll wake up tomorrow and fulfill the life he deserved.
Still, there’s no pretending for long. Something is always there to remind me about that. You can bet on that.
I leaned over his bed and cupped his head in my arms. I allowed his soft breath to wash over my cheek then kissed his warm forehead. He left out a gentle moan that I wanted to believe was his way of communicating to me that he knew I was there. Sure, he might be doing this… but it’s more likely that he had secretions in the back of his throat and was reflexively clearing them. No matter, I suppose. I leaned my mouth to his ear and shared my promises (and secrets) with him.
The feel of his whiskers on my face makes me hug him harder. I never wanted to let go.
Please, hug me back is all I can ask him and I repeatedly whisper this in his ear. He offers no response. Not the slightest inkling.
The tears already began without my noticing until I tasted their saltiness. I push my face into his pillow in hopes that the nurse might not notice. It’s not that I’m ashamed of tearing up, mind you. I just don’t want her to feel uncomfortable or to feel like she must say something to me. It’s something I learned along the way when it comes to grieving… it requires manners and courtesy toward others.
Saying “I’m sorry” for breaking down in front of others is always misinterpreted. Did you realize this? They always think that I’m apologizing for crying when what I’m really doing is telling them I shouldn’t have put them in such an uncomfortable situation.
Today, when every emotion is pegged at the maximum and is pulling me to shreds, it is you that I will keep close to my heart. Those who brought their good against evil. Those who love in the face of hatred. Good souls who didn’t allow me to quit. People that pieced me back together when I shatter. Yes, it is you that will carry me through this day.
I couldn’t have made it this far — five years — without you. People warned me I could never keep up the pace and I’d be dead within five years, but they didn’t know about you. They didn’t know about me either. We share a resolve that is unmatched.
Again, thank you for allowing me to openly share my feelings and, at times, come to my defense against those monsters who meant further harm to my family.
Please don’t ever leave. Please.
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