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.
Carla Liberty says
What a remarkable young lady she is. A wonderful daughter, sister, and friend. My admiration runs deep when I see her drive and her fortitude. And I simply adore her beautiful spirit. God Bless You, sweet, sweet Kari!
michaela hartley says
You already in stilled those qualities in her. She just showed you how much she truly learn from you and your wife!!♡ Still praying for a miracle! !
Wonderful post Ken. Kari is a smart girl and will do well in life. She has a strong loving family for support and encouragement. Congrats to her on her graduation and on the grades she achieved. I wish her all the best as she begins her job search for a rewarding and successful career.
Elaine Murray-Applebaum via Facebook says
Omg what a great tribute to ur daughter and u can feel the love u have just by reading this. I hope she finds her place in life. God bless u and ur whole family. Nice to see a male write such a beautiful letter .
PK Miller says
Some people rise to the occasion when tragedy happens. Obviously, Kari has. She more than rose to the occasion. She has qualities that any employer would kill for. She is a credit to you & your wife, Ken. Be proud of yourselves. You must have done something right to have raised such wonderful children. Good luck to Kari & God bless all of you.
Alison Angus-Barry via Facebook says
Wow! What a wonderful family. Truly wonderful and inspiring. Thank you and good luck to Kari:-)))
Jennifer paynter says
Just made me cry, Ken! I so wish I had a father like you. Mine was and still is crap! Did unthinkable things to me and my brother growing up…Kari is lucky to have you just as you feel you are so lucky to have her. You and Sue and Ryan made her the person she is today. Pat yourself on the back Ken. Every little girl needs a daddy like you.
Bonnie Tyrrell says
Awesome, Kari. What a wonderful young woman, daughter, sister, and friend you are to all those around you and way beyond. I know Ryan is just as proud of you as he could be and I pray that one day he will say those words to you, along with a BIG BEAR HUG! God bless you and your family.
One of the best posts ever. I dare say watching her parent’s response to an unimaginable tragedy set her course. Looking forward to her next steps. Once again you have me in years – in a good way. xxx
Jo Hobbs via Facebook says
We have been touched by Kari as well. A daughter, sister and friend to be proud of and thankful for. Think of her so much. <3
Missy Ratliff via Facebook says
Lovely post, Ken.
Good for Kari, it is very hard to decide where we put our time. One small volunteer job I do is a pet visitation to an elderly assisted living nearby. My neighbor takes her dog to a rehab facility. Who knows what doors and networks will open up for her with a volunteer position or positions. Good luck to Kari in finding her volunteer niche may it lead to bigger and better opportunities and great inner satisfaction.
Debra Johnston says
Good Morning, and thank you for sharing your and Sue’s devotion and love of your family and your children. I am glad that Kari has decided to go in this direction in her life. I too, have a cousin that was injured in a car accident one driveway from his grandmothers home. He too was young, fresh out of the Marines, and in this accident was TBI. His brother helped, watched, cried, for days as we had vigil at the hospital. Days turned into month, months turn into years . His brother works in the hospital where his lifeless body hung on forever it seems and works in that unit. Sometimes we need a cause, causes brings out the best in everybody to do the right thing. With everything looking bleak on the worst days, we know Kari is helping someone as we are helping Ryan. , my cousin and his brother, hanging in there, and my beautiful daughter Alyse, that is an oncology nurse and the countless hands she hold before some passes over, and you Ken and Sue showing us the tirelessly effort that you extend to Ryan 24/7, these are the people that I need in my life.
Paula Yocom via Facebook says
What a sweet, kind, beautiful young lady. It is a privilege to know Kari!!!
Kari is the whole package — strong, smart, funny, perceptive, fun, creative, kind, caring and yes beautiful too. She has dealt with so much in her young years yet can still smile and find the joy in life. She has been blessed with the unconditional love and support of you and Sue, which is really where she developed the foundation for her desire to help others.
Neither Kari nor anyone else could have ever predicted the gut wrenching nightmare she would have to face. But this is the life altering part here — Kari didn’t fall, rather, as you said Ken, she transcended, and that, my friend, is something many people who have dealt with tragedy cannot do. This tells me something about Kari — basically, she can do anything she sets her mind to. I am so proud of her — I’ve only gotten to know Kari in the past few years and I am so very proud of her. I marvel at her strength, I really do. I look at her and I think, wow, she has blossomed into this tenacious young woman who can see deeper into life than many of her peers and yet be joyful and sparkly even in the darkest of moments.
I am so happy to hear Kari will be sticking around the DC area. It will be wonderful for you and Sue to be able to spend more time with Kari, and also, this is a great area for all kinds of opportunities including interesting volunteering/intern positions. I often hear negative references being made about the Millennials, but, I don’t see it — especially when I hear about them wanting to volunteer their time as Kari seeks to do. The need for this is so great, and yes any organization will be delighted to have someone of Kari’s caliber desiring to work with them.
I’m grateful to God for Kari!!! She is like the flowers that magically bloom in the garden when you didn’t expect any to be there, or the sun that breaks through the gray clouds and mysteriously shines ten times brighter than usual. Angels do walk the earth, Ken.
Sending you love, hope, prayers and thanks to God for sweet, brave, remarkable Kari <3
Rita Caporicci Hoop via Facebook says
Oh, and have Kari check out SCI Direct in Falls Church. Karen interned for this small company — direct marketing for non-profits.
alison foley says
awe-struck as usual….you are truly remarkable, inspiring people each and every one of you. Congratulations to all of you for who you all continue to evolve to be under the most difficult of circumstances mixed with sadness, anger, etc, etc, etc and consistently move forward with such grace, humility and love. Thank you for continuing to share and inspire
Pat Dyer via Facebook says
You are an awesome family and a great inspiration for all of us.
gail doyle says
A beautiful young woman ! May Kari have much happiness and success
in life ,and she sure has wonderful examples to follow
Rita Caporicci Hoop via Facebook says
Diviney Love, Diviney Strong, Diviney Proud!
Kelly Thorpe via Facebook says
Such an amazing young woman!
Kathy Diviney Wilkinson says
Very well put Ken! Thank you for so willingly sharing your families life on your blog. Kari has had some great examples ahead of her. I am certainly proud to be a Diviney :).
Jennifer M Malone via Facebook says
I am in tears and smile. Thank you for sharing all you stories. Kari is an example to all. Your family is blessed and despite of Ryan situation you all are very lucky. Always sending you prayers!