By Emily Clift
He Made Friends with Strangers
There are certain people in life that have the capability to fill up any room, be the life of the party, be the person that provides the laughter and comic relief. This would be our Diviney. The guys want to be him; the girls are intrigued by him. He’s the guy who many of us met on the 7th floor of Brooke Tower and shared our first year and a half of college with at WVU. He always conjured up these “brilliant” ideas that not everyone agreed with, but somehow we were talked into believing how ingenious they were. He could win just about any friendly argument with his meticulous train of thought and precise execution of statements.He made friends with perfect strangers. He thought that if you did not choose Apple products that you should seriously reevaluate your life decisions (he was kidding..kind of). Diviney was an avid sports fan, the keeper of his sister, and a person you were lucky to call a friend. He was a guy of many traits, it is nearly impossible to argue otherwise.
Unfortunately, Diviney was also forced to play another role; a role that no person should ever have to endure: victim. Victim to an extremely senseless and malicious assault. This could have taken anyone else from our world, but not him. He is a fighter. He is the force that holds everyone else together, but is anyone really surprised by this? I’m not. He will fight this and so will we. Besides, what other choice do we really have?
We must rally.
That’s not to say that we are not in pain. Time has not been kind enough to take away the constant heartache of missing someone so pertinent in our lives. This giant void, that cannot and will not be filled. I believe that we would not fight back this hard if the pain had not taken hold of our hearts. Despite this pain, my friends’ continue to possess a type of super-hero strength and versatility that still sometimes surprises me. However, I should not be surprised anymore because it is shown time after time again. It truly is hard not to look in awe of such amazing people. Such amazing people who were kids really, that were forced to meet the harsh reality of how unfair life truly is.
There was no road map or “how-to’s” to maneuver the unfair hand we were dealt. Life is cruel, unjust, and shows no bias. Ryan is living proof of just that. All I know is that I would not want anyone else in my corner, but them; to help fight battles or to take on the next devastation that can be explained in no other way than coming straight from hell. Yes, my brave friends and I will continue fighting against the unthinkable because Diviney and his family are doing just that and so much more. We will continue to remember and honor him because he deserves nothing less. We will all do this because in the face of adversity comes forth the strength and will to carry on.
I often find myself replaying my last conversation with Diviney. It was at the Halloween party that he, Derris, Brian and Jon (all housemates) decided to throw on October 31st, 2009. Of course there were many people in attendance, like I said Diviney knew no strangers. Most we knew, some we didn’t. All were welcome. Duke, considered the Locust Avenue poster dog, was donning a basketball jersey his size. Everyone else looked beyond ridiculous.
As the night was coming to a close I decided to try and convince Diviney (again) that we were becoming best friends (a joke because Hannah Ellis had already “forced” him to be. Although it undoubtedly did not take much effort on her end, he adored her). He half-heartedly agreed with me while enjoying the humor in it and some of us said our goodbyes, promised to see each other the following weekend. Then everyone stayed even longer. Who likes for a party to end anyway? Since I was to be in North Carolina the following weekend, my goodbyes were extra long.
That’s the last time I saw Diviney as I knew him.
The next time I saw him was at Ruby Memorial hospital in the ICU, barely hanging on to his life. He was attached to so many wires and tubes that you could barely see him. Little did I know that this was the way I would continue to see him for years to come; bed-ridden, unconscious. No glint of the ornery in his eyes, no sideway smirk that promised mischief or his familiar, distinctive laugh. He was stripped of these small gestures. These small gestures that show our most genuine emotions in such special, yet ordinary moments. That shows our personality, Ryan’s personality. In one horrible moment the world became deprived of his presence, such a strong one at that.
It is hard to mask my anger, to see that “silver lining.” My viewpoint is that of a family that had to rally around their son and brother in a time of inconceivable agony because the decisions were no longer Ryan’s to make. My viewpoint is of those closely affected by TBI’s because I had seen its repercussions first hand when my mother had her own. My viewpoint is of those people, an extremely large amount of people (family, friends, strangers), who have had their hearts broken by this incomprehensible story. But overall, my viewpoint is that of Diviney. He is the one who is not able to have control of his future, his life. Until he is ready and able to wake up, he will continue to be a 19-year-old sophomore in college. He did not get the opportunity to make many more unforgettable memories with family and friends that love him. He did not get to walk across the stage at WVU, grinning and with his parents so proud, to claim his diploma. He did not get to fumble through interviews for grad school or his first “big boy” job. He did not have the chance to grab onto these milestones and the many more to come that most of us take for granted. Yes, I am still angry for my friend, for his family, and for all of those who were lucky enough to be a part of his life. But anger will not fix this. So we will remember. We will honor. We will do. We will fight for justice. And Ryan will live on in our lives and those of others until he is ready and able to re-claim his own life.
We are still here. We will forever be here. Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer.
Ann H Tearle says
Beautiful post, Emily. Thank you so very much for writing about Ryan and your time with him him at WVU. It is ALWAYS great to learn more about our Ryan. God bless Ryan, and the whole Diviney Team. SHSP NGA. Love, Annie
Ryan does live on and we pray to God daily for his continued recovery. I enjoyed the article; especially because it is written so well with organized paragraphs. It’s a good way for those relatively new to Ryan’s site to know so much more about how good a person he is. Very nice for of his friends, who know him best, to write about him which helps keep him relevant. Great job and thanks again for such a well written post. God Bless Ryan and his family.
Wonderful, honest article. Thank you for sharing.
Rhonda Morin says
Not yet dear Mountaineer, NOT YET! He has not done those things YET, he WILL. There has to be a silver lining in this, perhaps only for his father to make life easier for those who have TBI’s in the future. Perhaps only that his father will make THE protocol in how to handle these injuries. Your dear Diviney is still in there, he is still living and I firmly believe he will read these words and cry like the rest of us and tell you that Hannah is his best friend but you can be his secret best friend. 🙂 WVU!
Perfectly stated, Rhonda!!!
Ann H Tearle says
Rhonda! Great response:)
Carla Liberty says
Emily, what a powerful, powerful post. Excellent. Somehow I think Ryan would want you and Hannah to share that best friend spot. Bless you!!!
Natalie Polzin says
Wow, thanks Emily. Thanks for sharing what Ryan’s college life looked like.
Emily, your post is beautiful. I can see why you and Ryan are friends. Thank you so very much for this writing – I am sure I will be reading it many times over. I love reading about Ryan and I really appreciate you taking the time to capture his personality so well. Thank you for continuing to be a part of his life and for still believing in him. You’re right, he is definitely showing the world he is not one to give up. I have high hopes for him. And it does my soul good to know friends like you are on his team. God bless you, Emily, and thank you again for this post!!!
The raw emotion you shared regarding your friend, Ryan, is perfectly balanced in this article.
Even though I’ve never met Ryan, I know how special he is by the good friends he has! Keeping
all of you in our prayers!
Gail Doyle says
Thank you for writing your story .It really touched my heart.
And for us who know Ryan now, just love hearing more about
the kind ,fun loving and caring person he is. Thanks again.
You are truly a friend
Wow!!! Fantastic article!! Very well written too!! Thanks for sharing it.
Jaimi Dean Franus via Facebook says
Love the guest posts!