What can I say on a day like this? Not a word could capture the heartbreak, despair, yearning, and anger. Besides, my thoughts a scattered and my emotions are not to be trusted.
We miss our son. Oh, how we miss him. Every day it feels like he died all over again. We live a life of limbo. It’s not fair for this to happen to such a fine, gentle young man.
I guess there’s really nothing more I can say about that.
2 years = 104 weeks = 730 days = 17,520 hours = 1,051,200 Minutes = 63,072,000 seconds. Yes, Austin Vantrease and Jonathan May (and their families) had over sixty-three million chances to do the right thing. Over sixty-three million times they failed. Really, why would we expect any more from failures… than failure? They destroyed lives and turned their backs on the damage they created. Just like the night they attacked my son, they are still hiding. Worse yet, they became aggressive. Looking for confrontations in a parking garage and creating and using social media.
After the sentencing hearing, I remember a big deal made of something I said to the court during my Victim Impact Statement. Something that was twisted and turned by the Vantrease supporters until it fit their insanely illogical logic. I was asked what I thought would be a fair punishment for the convicts. My response? I said, “give me two minutes alone in a room with them and a baseball bat and a promise they will leave in no worse condition than Ryan”. Is this a fair punishment? Yes, I would think it is. Two things about my statement: 1) I never said I wanted to do it, I was asked what would be fair. 2) it made the point that the court couldn’t satisfy a like-for-like restitution and the maximum is the only option.
I had a friend ask me if I had a rifle and came upon either of those two, would I open fire? I said I wouldn’t, content to leave it at that… until pressed. “No”, I said, “I wouldn’t shoot them with the rifle. I’d be more inclined to beat their brains in with it.” I could never do this, of course, but given the hypothetical circumstances the bludgeoning seems proper. Sadly, I need their miserable selves alive to face their carnage every single day with the hope of somehow taking responsibility.
It’s clear to me that these men are surrounded by anger, aggressiveness, enabling, and denial. I almost fell out my seat when I read a quote posted by Gale Vantrease (Austin’s mama). She said, and I quote, “My heart is broken because of what the media and the state of WV has put Austin through, and Monday [sentencing] was an unbelievable travesty… A fight is a fight is a fight. When you start a fight, or enter into one, there is always a chance you will get hurt….. that is why as parents we BEG our kids not to fight!” (Source: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Truth-About-Austin-Vantrease/ on 11/18/2010). Amazing! She blames everyone except her criminal son! What a leathery piece of work she is.
As I see it, Bob Vantrease, Gale’s bitch, is a full-fledged wimp. He must have cried like a pussy when she ripped his testicles from his scrotum. If anyone’s interested, they’re likely in Gale’s purse. She probably keeps them in a pill box.
The other Vantrease siblings are spitting images — personality-wise — of each parent. The son is aggressive… a classic example of Napoleon Complex (or, as most would understand, a “little shit”). Like his mother, I can see the anger and hate engrained in his face. The daughter takes after her dad, a passive-aggressive. Remember, she’s the one who thought it was a good idea to start a support website for her felon brother (and then couldn’t understand why people though this was just wrong). She proudly proclaims “Austin wouldn’t hurt a fly”. Well, I’m sure all flies are greatly relieved.
As for the May family, they seem like they just don’t give a rat’s ass of what becomes of their son and the mess he created. It surprised me just how comfortable and care-free they were in court. They were lounging there reading a newspaper. Any more relaxed and they would have been sleeping. I almost expected room service to come in with tea and crumpets. Do you need your pillow fluffed? Anyhow, I suspect this is a family in disarray. All signs point to it.
Yes, it feels good to just let my anger flow. Sure, I’ll no doubt be told to forgive, or that I’m my own enemy, or how the anger will eat away at me. Who knows, maybe this is true? But I am what I am (real and raw, so I hear). I’m good with how I’m coping. I’ve found a way to get by and doubt I will change… at least not any time soon.
Please know how much we rely on you to help us through. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful that you help carry the burden. Without you all, we would be in (greater) financial ruin. We would (and did) go days without eating. Ryan would not be in such great physical health, thanks to all you bought and do for him. You keep Ryan relevant… and healthy… and alive. This would be too much to do on our own.
Disclaimer: This article is my opinion… but I bet I’m 100% correct!
Dan Wurth says
If you kick an unconscious man in the head you deserve the worst because you are the worst. Scumbags!
Karen T says
We are still here and still praying. Bryan and I just got back from a vacation to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, which was actually in September. I can’t tell you how many times we thought of all of you, and the fact that a vacation for the Diviney’s is not a possibility. I remember your past posts where you acknowledged your last vacation and how you said to yourself that life seemed to good to be true – scary, because it is something that we all think but no one really imagines how quickly that things can change.
I also remember the phone call that we got from Kaitlyn on November 7th, 2009. The news was so very scary -head trauma and Ryan in surgery in a last ditch effort to save his life. She was already on her way to Morgantown. We started praying then and are still praying now. She was originally supposed to be with Ryan, Kurt, Adam, Becca, and Kyle that weekend, but Student Government at VT called a retreat that kept her safely in Blacksburg. Kurt was sleeping on Ryan’s couch and declined the walk to the Dairy Mart, while the others went over to Camille’s to spend the night.
They had fun earlier that night. They had gone to dinner and Ryan ate lightly if at all, mentioning that he had a hankering for a Stromboli. That was what he was going to the Dairy Mart for, to get the Stromboli.
What was done to Ryan is a travesty for Ryan most of all, but also for your family, his friends, and people that he never knew that have become such a help in this time of great need. Life can be odd like that. People come and go in our lives. God sends them when they are needed. Our family was lucky enough to know Ryan before TBI so we have real vibrant memories of Ryan. He packed a lot of life into the years that he had. For that I am thankful, because Ryan truly had fun and enjoyed life to the fullest up until November 7, 2009. I can picture his grin, his devilish eyes, and I miss him so very much.
I am sorry that this happened. You always were and remain good parents. Kari is a good sister. None of you deserve the hand that has been dealt.
We remain by your side and always keep you in our thoughts and prayers. Still here, still praying, not going anywhere, ever.
With heartfelt sadness for Ryan and faith in God and the people that He has sent to hold the Diviney’s up and to do His will, the Tiplady family sends you our love every day but on this day, especially.
With love, Karen
Jill in Morgantown says
Every day I drive by that Dairy Mart and think of Ryan. I can’t imagine what all of you endure every single second. We won’t ask you to change your way of thinking and coping. Even those of us who have never met you, love you and are praying for you. Wishing you a peaceful evening…SHSP
Sandy Martin says
Pam GrahamGeorge says
Ken, Sue…I am still here with you. Though I read your blog just about every day, I have been reluctant to post comments like I used to do fairly often. And you know…I don’t know why that is. But I draw comfort knowing that I lift Ryan and your family up in prayer every day and twice on Sundays — while at church. Prayer is powerful, and that’s something I know that I can definitely do to help your family. I cried when I read this today — the anniversary of Ryan’s senseless attack. I feel your pain, and I am so sorry. I do draw strength, just as you do, from all the love and support that continues to pour in every single day for Ryan and your family. It is heart warming, encouraging. And on days where there is so little good news reported in the media anymore, it is refreshing to know that there is still good people all around us, with empathy, compassion, and the ability to share it with others in need. May God continue to bless you and those who choose to fight the good fight each and every day — hoping and praying for a miracle. Hugs for each of you.
Ken, This may sound weird but, I love this post, parts of it made me laugh. Your descriptions of these boys and their families are always so dead on! You have every right to be ANGRY, keep the anger flowing outward into these posts. Hoping for several today.
John Maletta says
Ken, please know that you and your family are genuinely loved by so many good people. Peace to you, my friend.
We are thinking of you all today. I too remember that morning – being called outside by the neighbors with the heartbreaking news. You’ve endured two years of pure hell that no one can imagine and I am so sorry that there is nothing we can do to make that go away. May you find some peace today, Ken.
Have you thought about doing some speaking in the community – to high school or middle school kids about bullying, violence and consequences? Sharing with them how life can change in a second because of one bad decision? I think this would be very therapeutic for you and I know you could make a difference in so many lives.
Gail Doyle says
Ken, So glad you posted today, we can never know how you truly feel inside ,but have had glimpses into your heart and mind and again can only imagine your hurt,loss pain and sadness. Evil can’t be forgiven or looked at any other way .As you’ve said if Ryan wants to forgive is up to him He will make that decision in time. For today and always here for you Ryan,Sue and Kari..Don’t ever forget SHSP. NGA. Love and peace to you all. Love Gail
Natalie Polzin says
Thank you for your continued transparancy in your posts. Not a day goes by that I don’t stop and pray for Ryan, Kari, Sue and yourself.
First, thank you for posting on this day of heart wrenching memories. I didn’t really expect to see anything, but the fact that you made yourself write is a sign of how much you care about the rest of us — even in the midst of your deep sorrow. Thank you for recognizing we need the connection, as we struggle with our sadness too.
Maybe in another time and place the Van Trease and May families will acknowledge and take *full* responsibility for atomic bombing your lives. I don’t believe they are so simple that they don’t recognize the moral obligation they have to Ryan and your family. Though they have managed to hide in denial and rationalization for two years, the truth will someday catch up with them, and it won’t be pretty.
We are here for you. I know you know that, but I think it’s important for you and your family to hear those words regularly. We treasure Ryan and we love your family. The sun doesn’t rise nor set without someone praying for and thinking about the Divineys.
I keep thinking about these lyrics:
One of these days letters are gonna fall
From the sky telling us all to go free
But until that day I’ll find a way
To let everybody know that you’re coming back
You’re coming back for me
Keep holding onto the love, it’s the only thing that matters.
Gail Doyle says
Paula you always know what to write to comfort Glad you are my friend too Ken ,Ryan,Sue and Kari will get through this with all our prayers and caring Love
Rick McCullough says
Ken, I just read your blog for the day and I realize this is not you favorite day of the year. I too have got the middle of the night phone call. Thankfully, it wasn’t my son but my sister-in-law’s son who was in an accident and received TBJ. Over the past 10 years I’ve watched first hand what’s involved in taking care of someone with TBJ. Its awe inspiring to watch Patty take care of her son just a I’m sure it would be if I could observe you everyday taking of Ryan. My utmost respect to Patty ,yourself and anyone else who’s in this brutal situation. The bottom line…today is a difficult day for you and for me, its my birthday. My wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I told her don’t worry about it. I can’t think of anything I want so how could I expect her to think of anythin. Well, after reading you post today I thought of a present and you can be the one to give it to me. Sometime today, if only for a minute, try to push the hate,resentment and bitterness aside. Think of something that puts a smile on your face, if only for second. Think of something humorous. You have to good a sense of humor not to remember a funny story that makes you grin. Think of your wife and daughter and some of the happy times I’m sure you’ve experienced with them and when your done grinning or feeling good, even if its only for a minute say “here’s you present Rick”. That’s what I want for my birthday. I can’t expect you to forget what terrible memories Nov. 7th brings but if you could push them aside for moment, I want you to feel the goodness and decency of the majority of people around you. If you can do this every Nov 7th for the rest of my remaining years I thank you in advance because that will be the greatest birthday present I could ever receive. I hope this will put just a little light in your darkest day of the year. Keep posting, its good for all of us. Rick
Happy birthday, Rick — Ken still knows how to laugh and keep us all laughing too!
ken, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family today as well as everyday. I thank you for your updates and sharing your thoughts and feelings with us all. I have to say your a better person then I am, i think if it were me i would have went after those waste of space creatures (couldnt think of a word to describe them) and anyone who has the nerve to support them or try to brush off what they did to your family. how dare they uggg
I hope you find strength to make it through this day and the next and the next and so on. Never give up hope. It has been almost 9 years since my daughter suffered an anoxic brain injury as a result of medical malpractice, so I empathize with you and your family.
It seems that to me that life goes on but it is so not what we envisioned for our children. Like you, I have a daughter who is healthy and in college. And like you, I am torn between doing and enjoying things I should be doing with her but hesitant to leave my Kerri.
I never understood why some people literally ‘disappear’ when a member of their immediate family needs around-the-clock-care. Or how I took for granted all of those weekends I could sleep in. I feel for you when hours roll into days into weeks into months. I know what that feels like.
The men (if you want to call them that) that hurt your son (and Sue, Kari, and you as well) have no soul, much like the doctors and nurses that ignored my daughters requests to help her breathe and refused to intubate her (a $7 piece of plastic) telling her she was 20 and blond and a drama queen. So I don’t blame you for feeling the way you do. I see it as you do. All I can say is we went through the gun thoughts the same as you. You are not alone. Although my husband wanted a few minutes and his bare hands with those docs and nurses so they could know the feeling of what it was like to slowly suffocate. I still relive all of this even after 8 years and 10 months. It never goes away.
I wish you a day of peace with your son and family. I’m not telling you to get over it and move on because I haven’t. I live it as well and I hope that you are able to get through this day and the ones that follow. Peace.
Our hearts and prayers go out to you and your precious Kerri. Thank you for sharing your story and encouragement, Karen. May God bless you and your family as well as the Divineys.
Pittsburgh Here says
While none of us can put ourselves in your place, I’ll just bet it felt like a huge weight was lifted when you submitted this post…and rightfully so. I agree that when (not if) you feel more posts like this are needed, then type away! We’re here to read what you have to say; our support is unyielding.
Oh, and Ryan relevant? Always and forever!!!
Thinking of all of you today and every day!
” A fight is a fight is a fight. When you start a fight, or enter into one, there is always a chance you will get hurt….. that is why as parents we BEG our kids not to fight!” What?!?!?! I don’t remember ever having to BEG my kids not to fight. They were taught other ways to work things out. I do remember hearing the phrase “Fight fair” though, and that was NOT the case the night Ryan met up with that group……and THAT’S not fair at all!
When I read your blog about getting “the call,” another new realization came upon me. As you were doing a “normal” trip planning, excited about your trip, you found out your beautiful boy was in the hospital, and even worse, you did not know the horror that awaited you for the next two years. Forgiving someone takes time and everyone is different. I think for now you should focus on what you have been doing….loving your son, your wife and your daughter. We’ll help hold you up while you do this. Lots of love for you all. We are all still here.
My love, thoughts and prayers are with you today and always. Looking forward to hearing of better days ahead, recovery is sometimes slower than we’d like, but because of you, Sue and Kari, he has the best chance possible.
Good for you. It needs to be said. What was done was not only a crime to Ryan but to you and Sue and Kari as well. I can’t say it enough. These things need to be gotten out. Those who love you all can’t imagine living the nightmare you’ve been given by total strangers. I said to you in the beginning of this travesty, you’re a better person than I am. I would’ve taken things into my own hands and dealt with my consequence later.
Your kids are your very living, breathing flesh and blood. As a parent I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to take some pain off of my children and onto myself. But I couldn’t. They say true love is watching a loved one in pain and not being to do anything about it. You and Sue and Kari have watched enough.
I am not a violent person by nature, but there is nothing that gets me going more than for someone to hurt my child. All of Heaven needs to hold me back. Ken, I’m very proud of you. You are one class act, and the epitome of restraint, something the attackers obviously were never taught. Because of how you have carried yourself and have chosen to totally surrender your life to the needs of your son over these last two years, I believe Ryan is coming back. I just do. But let the point be made that he shouldn’t have to be ‘coming back.’ He should be at WVU having the time of his life with his awesome sister, Kari. We can’t ever forget where Ryan would have been if these idiots had any sense of decency.
I’m proud of you, Ken. Your anger as you call it only speaks to the tip of the iceberg on how heinous this crime has been. Not only the attack itself, but the continual inhuman denial of the family. You choose to focus on Ryan and his healing. But these facts are incontrovertible. I know you gotta get through this day, as we all do, with you, but I’m so glad that you are not holding this in. It’s not yours to hold. The May Vantrease families are fully responsible for their actions, and that’s where it belongs. Period.
I can’t say it enough, Ken. Good for you.
Reading, crying, angry, praying, and asking why. This verse from an old gospel song that my elderly grandmother used to sing to me suddenly fills my mind:
By and by, when the morning comes,
When the Saints of God are gathered home,
We will tell the story how we’ve overcome,
And we’ll understand it better by and by.
We will never understand some of the events that occur until that great day when our Lord gathers us to Him, and we tell Him how we’ve overcome the trials of our life on earth with Him beside us. The love of God will see us through anything; He will never fail us. I am now in my “sunset years,” and I know this is true. Praying for you and your family, knowing that God is with you in your grief. Always praying for Ryan’s continual recovery with much hope, faith and love.
Debb Brooks says
Ken, you have every right to feel this way, how else should a parent feel when it is about their child? Forgiveness, the “high road”, and any other suggestions is always easier for someone else to say. Post your feelings all day if you need too, we will be listening and praying for your family’s recovery!