Lately, when time allows, I’ve been consolidating all our digital photographs and backing them up to the cloud. I’ve made my way back to 2009. Prior to this, the images are on discs and on some hard drives (from retired computers). They go all the way back to year 2001, and maybe even a few years earlier. Before that time everything was developed on film.
Here’s the thing… I’m having a real problem with even wanting to continue. I’m not sure I can, if truth be shared. I know it will tear me apart to see those pictures and videos from the good times. Those days when life was good and Ryan was…. well… Ryan. I’ve never had the courage to even try.
I don’t need to even guess what it might do to me. I had Sue show me what happens when we take a stroll down Memory Lane. She did this once, late at night, and that was enough. It was in late-2010 and I want to share this with you.
I was with Ryan (when we had his room in the main-level office) and Sue went upstairs to our bedroom to do something or another. She was gone for longer than I expected. I secretly hoped that she had fallen asleep on the bed. Our bed. The king-sized comfort that we have not been in together since four o’clock on the devastating morning of November 7, 2009. The instant we lost a decent night’s sleep, intimacy, and so much more.
Then I heard her from the upstairs. Foolishly, I thought she might be laughing.
Oh, how I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I heard our bedroom door open. Before I could even see her I knew she was in tears. It was the sound of what I can only describe as a “heaving cry”. The type where it is so bad that it takes everything to get a breath and the only way to do this is to almost gulp the air in. I could see her legs shaking underneath the full-length blue-printed night-gown. Each step she took down to the next step was entirely too purposeful. You know how I mean? Like she had to think about where her foot was and that it was surely planted before taking the next.
I practically launched myself to help her. But in that weird way, like when you’re involved in the an automobile crash, slowly — almost frame by frame— her full body came into view as I closed the distance. I simply can’t recall her ever looking any more sad in her life (although I’ve seen her equally as sad… more times than I care to remember). It reminded me of how she looked when they told us Ryan would not likely live more than seventy-two hours.
She went directly to Ryan, who was in his bed for the night. She held him so tightly that I was watching to make sure he could breathe. She wailed. Yes, she actually wailed. It reminds me of another time that I once wrote about, Her Turn to Cry: I want the Old Ryan Back.
She was inconsolable all night and much of the next day. I could tell it affected her for weeks, perhaps months, later. I’m sure she feels it to this very day. It was an epic mistake to do what she did, and she knew it. She was upstairs watching some old slide shows and videos (that we previously converted from VHS to digital) on our bedroom’s DVD player. I sometimes wonder just how long she watched these before she broke down?
I don’t know how she could have done it. I can’t even think about it, let alone watch. Sure, I know exactly what’s on those DVDs… they joy of every Christmas mornings, each passing birthdays, summer vacations, endless ballgames, first days’ of school, homecomings and proms, and any other moment that had even the tiniest bit of significance. Those images in time that demanded to be captured so that we could, one day, break them out with Ryan (and Kari) with his children to watch in joyous remembrance.
Now, they are but reminders of a different time. A different life. Sue clearly showed that there is no joy in reliving this. No, now it is… what was. What could have been. What is. It’s only heartache, longing, and despair that runs so deep that it is at the most basic level of my existence.
How else could every cell in my body scream with such hopeless agony?
Paula Dundas Hamrick says
Still praying for you and your family Ken. Bless Sue’s heart. God be with each one of you. Hold the prayer shawl tight against your chest and let the tears flow. God hears and sees every tear that falls.
Karyn Mandracchia Ahern via Facebook says
Praying for you all daily <3 <3
We pray for God to continue helping Ryan and your family. God Bless you.
Vickie DeFreese Whitworth via Facebook says
Your blog is heart wrenching and beautiful. I will continue to follow it and keep Ryan revelent. Your family has touched me greatly. Many thanks to RTG for making so many of us aware of your precious family!
I had a very close friend in college who died at age 27 the day after Thanksgiving. I only took one picture of him- I didn’t have a camera for most of college, and most of the time we hung out, it was a dark bar or dark dorm room. But the picture I did take of him…it was the spring of 2010. We were seniors, and he was 23. We were seated outside on the front porch of a bunch of rowhomes, and a raging day party was going on. There was just this moment- where he’s looking pensive- and I took a photo of him. It captured exactly how I saw him as a person, and if that was the only photo I’d every take of him, I’m glad that it was that photo.
I thought it was something that I’d bust out and show his bored teenaged son when I’d stop by and visit him and his family in our 50’s, but I was wrong. Still, I’m glad to have it, and something about looking at the photo soothes me, even though it’s also painful.
So heartbreaking on so many levels. Always thinking of you.
Diana Wiger says
I’m crying with you…just can’t find the word…
Mehrnoosh Abbasi says
Thank you for your post. Stay strong. ❤️
Dianne Hess via Facebook says
I can’t imagine what you are going through. It makes me realize every moment is special with my kids. I think about you guys a lot. Prayers for your family.
Donna Z. says
There are no words except that I pray for you all.
David Chagnon says
As I read your post, it really killed me emotionally, as I think of my only child who managed to grow to adulthood, and thought about all the things you’re missing out on (at least so far), not going to mention them, cause I don’t wish to bum you out further. It is so hard to hold on, praying for progress, trying to practice patience (not one of my strong suits). Praying for your family!
KM Jones via Facebook says
I think it would be way too raw for me, too, to watch. Just going though it is painful. But good that you are saving, as your feelings about viewing them may change some day. Thinking of you.
Gail Doyle says
No words can take away any of the pain you ,Sue and Kari are going through,
but what Carla said ,we’re here for you all. Always here .NGA, and waiting for Ryan
to get better and better each day!
Jean Dolan says
Every time I read your heartfelt posts I just want to take away all your pain but I know this is not possible. Please don’t let this take away all your joy, if you do these awful people who did this will have won totally. You still have a beautiful daughter and you do have Ryan, just in a different way. I know the caregiving you do has to be exhausting, both physically and mentally, my prayers are for you and your family is that you are able to find joy in your love for each other and not let this destroy you. I wish I could just wrap my arms around all of you and make your world right again. With much much love and big big hugs for all of you.
Our hearts break for you, Sue and Kari every day of Ryan’s cruel journey. Even though it’s too painful to relive the memories of your family’s good ol’ days through pictures and videos, I hope you can find the strength some days to reminisce with Ryan. He’s listening.. I pray that one day he will smile and tell you that he remembers too. We love you, Divineys — stay strong!!
Carla Liberty says
Your post today was soul-crushing. Absolutely, undeniably, soul-crushing.
We will always stand with you, Ken, Sue, Kari, and Ryan. We are #DivineyStrong
Tim Ernandes says
As always I am deeply moved by your words, for I understand your feelings better than I ever would have wanted to.
This reminds me of all the well-intentioned folks who feel the need to offer advice about something that they cannot possibly understand. “You’ll feel better when you remember the good times,” they often say.
The truth is that if it weren’t for those good times, we would have nothing to make us feel the awful pain of losing that prior life. I have many reminders of my late son that are kept all around me, because I want to keep his memory alive.
But like you and Sue, I can’t look at pictures and videos and his handwriting without bringing all of the pain to the surface. I sometimes look at his empty chair at our kitchen table, or the flag on our mantel, or the car that we restored together, and just lose my composure.
You are always in my thoughts and prayers. May God send you His grace and peace through those who love you.
Deb H. says
God bless you, Tim. I am so sorry for the loss of your son. Your words here are profound and I am sure they were not easy for you to write. Blessings to you and your family.
Melissa Burns says
I know your situation is different from mine, but I lost my 22 yr old son in 2010. Someone told us that day to get rid of all his stuff and put away his pictures. Well I said no way. I put up more pictures. We made collages of his life. We watch his videos all the time. He was my boy and I will never forget him and I don’t want anyone else too either. He had 2 kids. but since his wife has remarried she doesn’t let us see them anymore. so it has been like losing 3 family members.I always hear that there is a purpose for everything.I haven’t figured out what ours is yet. Yours may be in the words that you write, or the strong parental love that keeps you pushing forward. You never know when things you do or say can help other people. When you may encourage someone else to push on. I do not know what prognosis your son has or what his future holds.But I do know Who holds our future.
Prayers of strength and Faith to you and yours,
Grey Hubler via Facebook says
I find myself waiting for the next article, and the next one, more and more these days.
Jo Hobbs via Facebook says
Sometimes that’s all we have–precious snapshots and memories.
The pain of your loss and monumental pain is in these words.
Hi Ken, your post was really hard to read today; it tears at my soul. Looking back at happy pictures from prior to Ryan’s attack would crush me too. It’s been over four years, and the feelings are as sorrowful and raw as they were that horrible night.
Sometimes I shut my eyes and scream into the universe, “WHY?!” What I know is that there really is a constant battle afoot between what is right and wrong, good and evil. We must embrace the right and the good, lest the wrong and the evil conquer our spirits and take us down.
This is why we are surrounding you and your family with our love, prayers, encouragement and support. Ryan is a very valuable person to us. He inspires, motivates and teaches us every day about what it means to stay strong and never give up.
Your family does the same — through the darkness and tears, you still have the glory of love. As we have seen, there are many in the world who do not understand the first thing about what it means to be good – not perfect in all things, but good in one’s heart and soul. All they know is self serving and narcissistic feelings and behavior. God help them and God help us.
You love Ryan and Kari and they love you back. Hold onto that, embrace it, drink it in like healing water.
We’re here for you all.
Sending prayers of encouragement and healing, renewed hope and peace.
Deb H. says
Paula – You have such a gift with words…. This entry is truly no exception. God continue to bless you and thank you for taking the time to post.
Your words are so powerful, and your descriptions so finely detailed, that I can visualize your wife in that exact moment in time. No one can ever say they understand what you’re going through, but many can say they have felt loss and heartache before, and it’s a feeling unlike any other. Someone once said to me after I lost my mother, “If you could talk to your mother, do you think she would say “I want you to cry and be miserable every.single.day for the rest of your life, just to prove you love me”?” To that I answered “no, she would never want that” and I realized in that moment, that I must celebrate the 56 years she lived, and not focus on the moment I had to say good bye. While Ryan was robbed of many more great years, he had some amazing years worth celebrating! Cherish those photos and videos and continue to make new memories with Ryan! Sending peace and strength your way!
Wendy Augustine says
Can’t even imagine.
Teddy Heather Goddard via Facebook says
What an adorale baby he was!
michelle mor says
I keep Ryan and your family in my prayers everyday…my brother suffered a TBI when he was 18…we are 16 years apart and I have been his caregiver ever since… it has been 8 years and he is not able to walk and has a G tube…memories of the way he used to be are very painful… I will keep your family in my prayers<3
Heather (Teddy) says
I have not been able to watch my brother on old tapes, and he left us 14 yrs ago. I’m not sure why, I think maybe it’s because it will make me hurt that much more and long for our old life back which will and can never be. I don’t know where you find the time to do ANYTHING else besides taking care of OUR Ryan 🙂 Ken, I truly do have faith that one day you WILL break out those old tapes and moments in time, to show Ryan and Kari and their families. Don’t ever give up that hope, Ken….Without hope, what do we have to hold onto? You are an earth angel in every sense of the word and you are AMAZING-we all love you dearly. Give Ryan a kiss from all of us who follow and you better remember how damn incredible you are, my friend. NEVER forget it.
Crying with you and for you. Ken, Sue & Kari you are truly the strongest and most loving family. I only wish this had not happened to your Ryan. He deserved so much more and so do you.
Tina COleman says
I am so sorry for this horrible thing that took your son’s normal life away from him and your family! I understand, i lost my 24 year old sister 19 years ago after 19 days in ICU, and then 11 years ago i lost my 18 year old daughter in a car accident, to this day i packed their pictures away and have never taken them out!!! I can not go down that road, for like your wife it could put and end to me! I am not sure that this is right for you, but i would say that for me the only way i could continue forward is to do exactly what your wife is doing now and it is not to go back and reflect on those times. I remember as child hearing people say times heals all wounds, i say time only serves to give you strength to go on. For it does not change what happened, nothing can fix that! But i will prayer for all of you to have the energy and power beyond what is normal to carry on this uphill road you will journey forever. And we are here if ever you need to reach out for the energy to go on!