Commentary & Opinion by Kari Diviney (Ryan Diviney’s younger sister)
I haven’t posted in a while. It’s something about the holidays that makes me, well, honestly… feel a lot of emptiness.
This might sound selfish and it is hard to admit, but going on Facebook (or any form of social media, for that matter) during the holiday season just makes me flat-out jealous. Jealous of all the pictures of families reunited. Jealous of the funny family photos. Jealous of all the new memories everyone gets to make with their loved ones.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that my friends and followers get to do this. I wish each nothing but true happiness. I just wish my family could do these things as well… the way we once did. Like I said, there is no other way of putting this without risking that I’m sounding totally selfish.
Every single holiday is tough. My parents and I put on smiles and make the celebrations as comfortable as we can for Ryan. We continue the same traditions and give Ryan every ounce of love he deserves. Because truthfully, we don’t know what year will be our last with him.
But I assure you, there is an emptiness that is always present. Although we are extremely blessed to still have Ryan alive, no matter what state he is in, it is so hard to look at him and not see what once was full of so much life and promise be completely absent. His life entirely robbed of him at the youthful age of 20 years old. All because two strangers didn’t like his viewpoint on the 2009 World Series.
Austin Vantrease and Jonathan May (who celebrates his birthday today) brutally attacked my brother on November 7th, 2009 because of what my brother thought of the World Series. It didn’t sit right with them. Austin Vantrease and Jonathan May attacked my defenseless brother that night. I will make sure that they will always be known as nothing less than terrifying, soulless, inhuman, criminals who, as far as I’m concerned, murdered my brother. Jonathan May was charged with Battery for sucker punching my brother and knocking him unconscious. Austin Vantrease was charged with Malicious Assault for kicking my unconscious brother in the head; which resulted in my brother, Ryan, never waking up. (They have both been released from prison and live in Newark, DE.)
I called it murder, but in my opinion, it is far worse.
Why I write today, in particular, is because I came across something that shook me so deep. I couldn’t sit around any longer. But I will get to that.
First I want to share why these past couple of months have been exceptionally hard on my family. If the holidays aren’t rough enough, Ryan and I lost our first grandparent. My mom’s dad, and Ryan and I’s grandpa, Albert Burick, lost his battle to cancer on December 7th, 2014. Why this pains me so incredibly deep is my grandpa will never get the chance to see if Ryan ever wakes up.
My grandpa died knowing he lost his grandson 5 years ago.
My grandpa was one of the strongest people I will ever be fortunate enough to have had in my life. He always put family first, and he made sure he got to see Ryan one last time on November 7th… just a month prior to his death. Even though he was terminally ill he made one last trip to Virginia to be here with my family on the anniversary of Ryan’s fateful night. My grandma, Helen Burick, told me that after that trip my grandfather finally let go.
Although losing a loved one is one of the hardest things we as humans can endure, what’s comparably harder is the goodbye… or, sometimes, not being able to say goodbye at all.
My mom received a phone call from my uncle on the afternoon of December 7th, telling her she needed to say her goodbyes to my grandpa. She ran out of her room bawling and handed me the phone and said “talk to your papa”. I knew, without her having to tell me, this was going to be the last time we ever spoke. Saying goodbye to one of the greatest men in my life was heartbreaking, but having to say goodbye to him for Ryan was the most agonizing part of it all. Ryan should have been able to say goodbye to our grandpa… and my grandpa should have been able to die knowing his loved ones were well and healthy. He should have been able to hear my brother one last time. You see, that was stolen from both Ryan and my grandfather.
What an eternal price to pay for them. Both did not deserve this fate.
So why write today? A follower sent me a picture of the Vantrease family that was posted on social media by Austin’s Father, Bob. All of them together, Austin included, wishing everyone a “Happy New Year” on Facebook. I cannot look at this picture without feeling physically sick. This picture causes me so much hurt, and I just couldn’t sit around any longer. I needed to write about it.
[View the photo on Bob Vantrease’s Facebook Page]
It disgusts me how insensitive and cruel this family behaves. All of them, to the core.
This family has screamed threatening and repulsive words at me and my father. They spat from the parking garage deck at the courthouse, even as we were escorted by Deputies. They started a hate site (that my dad brilliantly acquired right out from under them and now highlights those criminals, ChooseProgress.net). They lied about my brother on countless occasions. They tried to justify Austin Vantrease’s actions, when they should be punishing them.
Behavior like Austin Vantrease’s should not be acceptable or defended. Ever! I’m probably much like you that if my brother beat an innocent stranger into a coma within 40 seconds of knowing them, I would be embarrassed to call him family.
I would be horrified!
So, how dare they post this picture when they know my brother is locked in a permanent prison cell for a crime he did not commit! It’s, once again, a sign of how insanely insensitive they conduct themselves. Ryan’s body is there, but Ryan’s essence is not. How can they smile and support their malicious son? And most disturbing of all…
how can Austin Vantrease smile?
I guess I will never understand how one human being can take another’s life and go on with their existence as though nothing happened. I guess that must be what being a sociopath feels like.
Although I feel so much resentment, I am glad to know that Ryan Diviney is, and will always be, my big brother. I am proud to say that I am related to Ryan; and not to a monster like Austin Vantrease. Because no matter what Ryan’s fate might be… he will forever be innocent.
I know people might tell me I need to forgive because that is the only way anyone can move forward. But before you say this… it is not my job to forgive. It is Ryan’s. And until the day he can think or speak for himself… I will do nothing but speak what Ryan cannot and defend my big brother until the end. Because Ryan was a good soul. He was great brother. He will always be my hero.
I know he would do the same for me.
So please keep Ryan in your thoughts and prayers. Miracles happen everyday and I know Ryan is strong enough to keep fighting. Also please share this post. People need to know Austin Vantrease and Jonathan May’s names. And they need to know both these men are back on the streets.
We love you Team Diviney, and we love that we can be so open and honest with you all. Without the support you all give us, I don’t know how we would get through it.