One bright spot in my — and my wife’s — life since Ryan was attacked is my daughter, Kari. It was so hard not seeing her nearly as often as we’d liked over the past four years, with her away at college and the circumstance we faced here at home. Sure, she came home as often as possible (probably more than she really should have) and Sue and I made it to WVU during the semester, but she has such a vibrant energy that surrounds her. I can actually feel it when she walks in a room! I need her in my life to the point of selfishness.
I miss her every second she’s not with me.
I so miss the opportunity to watch her develop into an adult… as it should have been. For her, it happened in an instant. I remember the day so much that it hurts. It was — you guessed it — November 7, 2009… the day Ryan’s existence was beaten out of him. She didn’t blink an eye even when it happened in a blink of an eye.
In a heartbeat, she found her place in this world. A world that she must have seen all the color instantly drained.
She was an adult just like that.
Her college days existed under a dark haze that she knew was all around her, but seldom allowed it to dim her glow on those around her. She shined even when the storm of despair closed in. You know what she was?
She was strong.
She was enduring.
She was unselfish.
I simply can not imagine what it must have been like for her. To see her brother, beaten so mercilessly, with the life gone from his eyes. To have her parents look to her for her wisdom on life-and-death decisions. To slip under our arms and hold us up when our knees buckled. To spend nights alone in our home that once was filled with joy, but was rendered silent. All those hours she sat right beside me through the trials and parole hearings. To cope with anxiety that few, especially at her age, ever could.
No, the struggles are not over. Not even close. I no longer worry each time her life goes through a major change because she is undoubtedly the strongest person I know. The thing is, it just tears me apart that I can’t ever return to her in what she has given to me. She looks out and loves me (and my wife) like no one else.
Through it all she kept herself pointed in the right direction.
Yet, here I am again, constrained as she begins evolving into the next phase of her life… her career. I’m beyond delighted that she wants to live nearby, here in the D.C. area. Perhaps it can make up for lost time? Perhaps. While it is true that she leaves college in a strong position (Major in Public Relations, Minor in Business, and a member of the Honor Society), what she doesn’t know is that any employer would be damned glad to have her on their team. She has demonstrated loyalty, tenacity, intelligence, emotion, and drive that most people simply will never experience, let alone be tested for all the world to see. I take that back… she has transcended and excelled!
Funny how there is no place on her (Linked In) resume for such life-lessons… at least in the context she learned them.
I remember sitting and chatting with her during her Sophomore year at WVU. Like any dad, I was merely trying to get a sense of her post-graduation plans. The first thing she said to me has stuck firmly because I see her wisdom in the simplicity and the ability to see things from a perspective most don’t. What was it?
“College shows you what you’re not good at in life”.
Then she went on to tell me, “I don’t know what I want” but made it clear that, whatever it is, “it must be for a good cause. A place where she can take her morals to work and come home with them each night”. It is just now that she is beginning to see what might be available to her come this autumn as she begins her job search.
I suppose, since that night we spoke over two years ago, that she still hasn’t figure that out entirely, but she is honing in. Still, true to my daughter, she is pointed in the right direction and this is how I know. Instead of graduating and entering the work force, or traveling, or spending it as her last summer vacation, she did something that is just sooooooo her. Something that I am 100% certain would make Ryan — ever-demanding of her excellence — burst with pride.
She is only doing volunteer work!
When she told me this is what she wanted (and sincerely asked if she could rely on our support a tad longer), well, I was bursting with pride too! Truth is, she could do this her whole life and I’d be squarely behind her rooting her on! It means so much to me that her head and heart are in the right place… to have the Diviney name helping others for a change!
Which bring me to you.
I’m not disillusioned that I guided her down this path. Kari learned this from watching you… the loving, caring, giving people who graciously took our namesake, “Team Diviney”. Like I’ve said so many times before, thank you for everything you do for Ryan but please excuse me for not recognizing what was there all along…
Your remarkable influence on my daughter.