Last week my daughter, Kari, celebrated her twenty-first birthday. A landmark anniversary ,for sure. She spent her birthday eve (and midnight when she became legal) in Morgantown, WV, home of West Virginia University where she attends, surrounded by friends. She came home on her birthday to be with her family. We celebrated it with her and prepared her favorite meal… taco pizza. Afterwards, we sat out on the patio and made s’mores.
Still, that entire day I just couldn’t shake the sadness and anger. I’m certain it was exaggerated with Ryan’s eye surgery looming the next day, but I just couldn’t push Ryan’s twenty-first birthday from my mind. It was spent in a rehabilitation hospital in West Orange, NJ. It was a bright and beautiful day, exactly like the day he was born (although the night of his birth was havoc as a Hurricane Hugo stalled over northern Virginia). I wrote about that night in a past post, Ryan Eve. It’s good reading, if I say so myself.
There was no fanfare, just somber celebration. We sang “Happy Birthday” to him. In the evening we set-up a Skype call with Kari who, at the time, was a first-semester freshman at WVU. There wasn’t much more we could do. His friends were away at school, were he should have been. The was no cake. No lighted candles. No fun presents. His day was spent in therapy sessions.
His birthday was just days before his discharge. Sue and I spent the day on the phone arranging for his transport and arrival home. It was endless conversations with doctors, insurance, med-flight, ambulance services, case managers, and medical equipment and supply companies.
He was robbed of yet another rite of passage. He surely has no memory of that day. It was wiped clean on November 9, 2009. Since that night it’s like a phonographic needle skipping on an old vinyl record. Nothing being played. Nothing being recorded. His attackers, who likely prefer the headbanger or gangsta’ genre, put a gash so deep that the stylus just can’t find the groove play on. Stuck.
The music stopped. His life’s symphony, a masterpiece that was in the making, is silenced.
Lastly, I urge everyone who hasn’t to read Austin Vantrease Parole: We Must Take Sides. I wrote this just last week. Not only is it the most read post ever, but the message is important.
Ann H Tearle says
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KARI. You’re the best daughter, sister, friend anyone in this world could have. Your parents and Ryan love you beyond all measure. SHSP NGA Love you and your family and am praying for you all daily until forever. Annie
Will Nier says
Kari, Happy Birthday.
Will Nier says
Ken. Ryan’s symphony is still playing. It is not silenced, It is just playing a tune that our ear’s cannot hear but our eye’s can fully understand.
My prayer’s continue for Ryan and his family.
Carla Cushman Liberty via Facebook says
We will never lose faith or hope for Ryan. Putting our trust in the Lord, who is the great physician. We stand with you, Diviney family!
Gail Doyle says
Ken, Like Rita said,Ryan still has a “song to sing” and we will never give up faith ,hope or love for Ryan, Thanks,Rita! And we will all be here when Ryan sings his song. Thinking of you all and that you have a calm day. A hug for Ryan ((((((())))))
Those unremorseful cretins can’t steal our love for Ryan, nor can they sully his reputation (though I know they have tried!!) — they can’t affect Team Diviney’s strength, nor can they rob us of our hope. For all that they have malevolently stolen from Ryan, they have ruined within themselves. After all, who can respect people who behave like monsters, show no remorse, casually stand by while watching another fight for his life, and then take pride in the horrible injuries they caused? Ugh. That’s my idea of a failure — losers.
Ryan is not and never will be a failure; he is a fighter and a person who has the respect, admiration and love of many. He has more intelligence, kindness, courage and fortitude in his pinky toe than those freaks have combined.
For self respect, perseverence, dignity, strength, bravery and tenacity, Ryan is the man, hands down.
For immorality, violence, self loathing, destructiveness, and sociopathic behavior, the crown of ugliness falls to AVT and his clan of uncaring, unremorseful miscreants.
Ryan deserves every good thing we can give to him, and we will do our best to see to that.
He deserves his chance to make it back through the destruction AVT and his band of merry hoodlums caused.
And because of you and Sue, he’s getting it. Don’t let them rob you of hope and faith, Ken. Keep holding onto the love like you do; it’s the one saving grace that keeps our hearts in the light.
Hoping you and Ryan have a good day, and just know we are here thinking about you and not giving up — never have and never will.
Love & prayers always
Happy Birthday Kari!! Many Many More. Watch out this year Morgantown, Kari is 21……
That’s some beautiful (and heartbreaking) writing, to be sure. But if Ryan were to read it, he’d probably say, “Dad, it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.” And I believe that Ryan still has a beautiful song to sing too, because his attackers failed to take away his indomitable spirit. Team Diviney is never giving up faith, hope or love for Ryan. We love you all and lift you up in prayer always.