by Karen Tiplady
We knew him, the Ryan that was – a boy still, really, blossoming into a young man. We loved him; he was so charming and charismatic, hilarious, a smile that would light up a room. Yes, that was our Ryan, the neighborhood boy that rode the bus with our daughter, hid in our basement closet, snuck in by our daughter and her neighborhood friend. Innocent teen stuff, if they had just asked we would have let him in. It was more fun that way we suppose – the thought makes us smile.
We loved Ryan, he was one of our neighborhood kids, one of our own. And . . . he still is one of our own. We still love him, but it is different now – so very different. The last time I saw him before TBI, I actually called him back for a hug. It was the end of the summer 2009. They were all dwindling back out of town, back to college. I said, “Hey, Ryan, when are you heading back, will I see you again?” He said, “No, Mrs. T, I’m headed back.” With that, I gave him a hug, wished him a good semester, looked him in the eye, and told him to make his parents proud. It was the last hug I ever gave him where I would get a hug back, our last conversation.
The kids often called him simply “Diviney.” It represented Ryan himself and the stuff his charm could help him get away with. During high school and his freshman year of college, we would often observe his close friends sitting around recounting a story, shaking their heads and muttering “Diviney.” It really meant only “Diviney” could pull whatever that was off in his classic “Diviney” style. That would also make us smile.
It is the same charm that our friend Ken exhibits; those that follow this blog know Ken’s charm. Knowing the two of them, Ryan and Ken, we know that Sue had her hands full, even before. She was good for them; she still is. And, Kari, she is a very good girl. She was always a good sport; all of the Divineys are good sports.
Ryan’s story is one of the great heartaches of our lives. My family members and I are privileged. We knew Ryan before. Ken has made a point over time about no one speaking for Ryan, because no one knows for sure what Ryan would say. I agree with that. But we do feel blessed because our family had a special bond with Ryan before TBI. Perhaps it also makes it more painful.
We had so much fun with that young man . . . homecomings, proms, sporting events, parties, camping trips. He was so full of promise. We don’t ever speak for Ryan, but we do feel blessed and uniquely poised with insight into Ryan . . . he was fun, athletic and charming. He went home late at night and chatted with his Mom. He was absolutely hilarious . . . he was special and exceptionally gifted in that way. We all have them, those people that stand out in our lives as some of the funniest people that you have ever met . . . and, to us, that, was “Diviney.”
We knew the Divineys before, and we still know them. But, now we actually know the Divineys better than before. One could never have known the full strength and resolve of the Diviney family before TBI. With that, I will call this guest post to an end. It will be our privilege to share some thoughts on this blog with a series of contributions that will not only honor the Ryan that we knew before TBI but also will honor the young man that he is now, still much loved, just different than before. I think Ken said it best when we first visited the family at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. “This is not a situation that we asked for but it is the hand that we have been dealt. We will not forsake Ryan.”
Don’t miss next week’s Guest Post: Ryan and the Self-Proclaimed “Weird” Kid.