[Over the past year I’ve been struggling emotionally. Truthfully, I still am. Probably my worst at this very moment. The hurts flows in faster than it can be drained away. Anyhow, enough said on that. Please know how much I thank you for coming back after my absence. Above all, I hope it didn’t cost Ryan supporters. That is something I couldn’t get past. Now, let’s see if I can find my voice again… which, as you recall, involves a fair degree of juvenile humor.]
I sat cross-legged, dressed in full-camouflage, atop a mountain ridge in the eastern part of West Virginia. The morning sun was just breaking the horizon when I found cover behind fallen trees. I could see for miles as the grassy slope touched the woods at a cliff. In no time I made myself comfortable with my 12-gauge shotgun across my lap and Goldfish crackers in my mouth.
I told people that I was going turkey hunting, which was true, but that wasn’t the whole story.
Mostly, I wanted to get away. To separate from my existence for just a few hours. To be by myself and give myself a mental break. A respite from emotional battle. Even though Ryan is doing well (physically), the guilt of turning over his care always pokes at me.
You can see that hunting was secondary and I knew it. As I walked out the door I spoke aloud, “Hello Guilt, my old friend”.
That’s not to say that I wouldn’t have bagged a (Thanksgiving) turkey if one had came into view. None did, so fear not Vegans.
It didn’t take long before I completely forgot I was hunting. Instead, I got mesmerized by the stunning beauty of the fall foliage and the serenity of the woods. My mind slipped from (my) reality, just as I had hoped. Well, except for keeping my wits on-guard against a coyote or bobcat sneaking up on me.
As Ryan can well attest, you never know when you might cross paths with a predator. They’re mean son’s-a-bitches! Yes, that was a not-so-veiled reference to Ryan’s attackers; Austin Issac Vantrease and Jonathan Matthew May, bitches not withstanding.
It’s intriguing what a guy thinks about when left alone. Well, maybe it’s only for what I think about? I actually contemplated (without any resolution, I might add) the universe, existence, time-travel, spirituality, and mortality! No joking, I did. Now, don’t go thinking that I was getting all Plato or Aristotle on you, because I’m sure I gave equal amount of thought to boobs.
Okay, probably more.
Definitely more, actually.
I probably should get back on topic before I have to answer for myself. So…
One thing I did frequently, as a boy and then as younger man, was to wonder what was happening with those people in the remote houses that I could see from various vantage points. I’m sure I can’t be the only one to look down from a night-time flight or along an early-morning drive and think about the life those people live… can I?
Then, to imagine myself in that place and wonder how differently my life might have been.
Well, I did just that sort of thinking on that sun-soaked day.
I felt immense sadness at first, knowing that when people look at my house they must feel the heartache pulsating out and see the agony emanating like a beacon.
If, had I made just one different decision — of so many — throughout my life, how it would almost certainly be less painful. Let’s just say that it absolutely couldn’t be worse.
Then I came to this realization: Boobs are awesome. Kidding! I used my juvenile humor there just for giggles (since it’s more of a “discovery” made by the heterosexual, adolescent male).
Seriously. I would never trade my pain for all the people who touched my life. Sure, this degree of angst hurts… a lot. Yet, even in this colossal tragedy through savage brutality, I’ve met the purest… kindest… loving… giving individuals.
Which further made me wonder (getting back to the universe), did I make some agreement prior to my existence to keep my family, friends, and you despite the hurt? Given what I know now, this I would have done. It became abundantly evident to me that I missed writing and hearing back from you.
Then I thought of boobs…
- Attack Anniversary: November 7, 2009 (6 Years), just 9 days away. Please remember Ryan that weekend by using this photo (to the right) as FB Profile Picture.
- Ryan’s Wish List is continually updated.
ann h tearle says
You, Team Diviney, are ALWAYS on my mind – whether you have written or not. I was hoping you would again pick up your writing….but, no pressure – and here you are! Love having you back! SHSP NGA. Annie
Kathryn Beggs Howlett via Facebook says
I’ve never personally met you, and although you have been quiet posting, I always hear you, and Ryan, and your family speaking. In my heart.
Lori Girolami says
Nice to have you back! I’m sure we were all worried by your silence! And just so you know, although it seems there are no major milestones left on your agenda… no trials, court dates or petitions… we all still care about you, Ryan, and your family and Ryan will always be remembered 🙂
I’ve been checking your Facebook page periodically….I missed hearing from you & hearing updates about Ryan & your family <3 Nice to hear from you…great story & awesome pictures! XoXoXo
Nadine Blaschak-Brown via Facebook says
No, Ken, you aren’t the only one. To wonder about the lives of those who live in far off houses, I’ve had my moments. I hope I understand. If not, my apologies for diving in a little too far into the deep this morning. Bear with me for a moment.
A favored poet, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote a poem in which he pondered over sounds emanating from other homes. Your post made me go re-read The Vast Night; here’s an excerpt:
“Often I gazed at you in wonder…and knew the inconsolable origins of all tears…And spread across solemn distances, your smile entered my heart.”
A heartfelt welcome back, Ken…especially so, given your life of ongoing, trauma-causing pain. I’m so sorry for that. I hope you will continue on the path of self care. Keep going.
Hmmm, well…You still possess your unique and evocative blend of heart-wrenching and heart-warming eloquence. Since it’s abundantly clear he’s adored, may your 13 year old self continue to have a voice and come out to play often! Always.
Glad to hear you are back. We missed you.
So happy to see your post. It’s great that you were able to take some time to unwind and refresh, if only for a while. The beauty of the mountains in the fall is second to none, and the warm, vibrant colors nourish the soul. You know that we are always, always praying for Ryan and your family. Still here, still praying, not going anywhere!
Carla & family
Ps: Crabcakes soon?
Alison Angus-Barry via Facebook says
Good to read your posts as always:))) I like the juvenile humor:)))
Gail Doyle via Facebook says
Always good to hear from you Ken
Ann H Tearle via Facebook says
But, i like your juvie humor. Beautiful pic, Ken:)
Cheryl London says
You give me hope. I find your blog well written and inspiring.
Welcome back not only to writing your Blog, but from your trip! WV is so beautiful and breathtaking, I will never understand why it gets such a bad rap in the press. John Denver said it all in his song.
Ryan is on our minds every day, we will never forget him, your family or your fight. Just as equally we will never forget Jon May or Austin Vantrease or their friends who stood by and watched. Yes, I remember the last names of the kids who did nothing, so when I hear the names around the Delaware/Eastern Shore I recognize them.
This time of year is so beautiful! I hope you are all able to get outside and watch the fall season, I love this time of year. I love watching the leaves fall, its as if its is snowing or raining leaves in our yard on some days. I love hearing the leaves fall, that may sound odd, but we are in the woods and you hear them when there are so many coming down.
How are your Redskins doing? I am not following the football season this year like I usually do. My Ravens are on skid row and the New England Patriots have the balls inflated just right this year so they have not had any losses… go figure. Shady Brady and Bill BillaCheat will probably go all the way this year. But we always have our Mountaineers to follow! Go WVU!
Have a good weekend!
It’s safe to say you deserve whatever moments of peace you can find. You’ve done an outstanding job and continue to– wishing you strength as always.
Emily Monteer Morrow via Facebook says
Glad you are back!
Jen Lovelace says
Dear Ken, Sue, Kari and Ry,
I do not know how you have managed for 6 years without any respite. God holds a special place in heaven for your family! The pictures are serene and beautiful! Ryan remains front and center in our heart!
Karen Whited Barnette via Facebook says
Thoughts of Ryan and the family.
Susan Boyer Newberry via Facebook says
Nice to hear from you! Been thinking about Ryan and all of you.
Beth Ildaria Broder via Facebook says
Glad you’re back!! Keeping you, Ryan and your family constantly in my thoughts and prayers!!!
So nice to hear from you Ken! I missed hearing from you and reading the posts every morning. Always thinking about Ryan and your family. Hope to come stop by when I am home for Thanksgiving. Maybe I’ll even bring one of your favorite lasagna’s :).
Oh Ken, we’ve missed you too.. Rest assured that we will always be here for your family.
And you haven’t seen mountains until you’ve been out west to the Grand Tetons, which is French for — you guessed it — big ones!
You all crack me up! Sunday night and still laughing!
I’m glad to see your update!! In my thoughts & prayers constantly!!
I noticed your respite from writing but that did not effect in any way my goal to keep Ryan relevant. I think of him often and am glad to hear you gave yourself a deserving break. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.
Carole Schlumberger via Facebook says
I have truly missed hearing from you. Best wishes to you all.
Glad to see you are back. I think of all of you often!
Amanda Heaton Karki via Facebook says
I’m glad Ryan is doing well! It is good to hear from you again:)
Natalie P. says
Ken – I have not stopped praying for Ryan and your family. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. It has such great impact in the lives of those that read your posts. Please know that you guys are never far from the forefront of the thoughts of Joe, Andrew and I.
Jo Hobbs via Facebook says
I love your humor!
Carole Schroeder via Facebook says
I love this post. And for the record, I think of Ryan every single day.
Karen T. says
Welcome back to the blog, Ken. Bryan and I are happy that you are branching out to give yourself a break from time to time. Even though I can’t speak for Ryan, I suspect he likes that you are giving yourself permission to step away to enjoy snippets of normalcy, including the mountains. That said, mountains can look an awful lot like boobs.
. . . and, I have proof. We had au pairs for our girls when they were growing up. Our first, Fríðbjørg (pronounced frew-e-buuurgh) is from the Faroe islands, and her name is Faroese. Bryan’s Uncle Walt (aka exceedingly charming dirty old man) visited while she was here. She introduced herself, as Fríðbjørg, which precipitated the typical response that she often got, which was “What? Free beer.” She replied back saying, “No, in my language my name means beautiful mountains.” To which he instantly replied “I’ll say!” We all laughed (he was quite the witty charmer, after all), and back then, it way actually still okay to have a sense of humor.
Every time we think of that exchange it still brings a smile to our faces, so, do me a favor the next time you stand at the top of that mountain: Enjoy the view of mountains . . . I mean tatas akimbo.
Candy Allen Bauer via Facebook says
I have wondered about Ryan these last several months, and hoped that all was as well as it could be, and that your absence on the blog wasn’t because of something else. I cannot even begin to imagine the turmoil that you and your family go through each day as you care for Ryan, and as you bear witness to the prison that those monsters inflicted upon him six years ago. You are all in my thoughts and prayers- every single Sunday during mass, when we say our prayers and are called to add “the intentions that we hold in the silence of our hearts”, you and Ryan are at the top of my list. Stay strong, and know that you are doing all that you can- and maybe more- to ease Ryan’s burden.
We’ve missed you.
Jacqueline Reda Pontarelli via Facebook says
So glad your back !!!!
Diane Petty Sohn via Facebook says
Thinking of you all everyday!
I have so missed your writings, so much so in fact, I went checking for the page just two days ago to make sure I hadn’t missed getting regular updates. Ryan hasn’t been forgotten – how could he ever be – and it’s good to hear that he is doing well. I hope that this time away has been of help to you and that you will begin again to share your life with us. Thank you for coming back!!!
Rhonda Morin says
We have missed you indeed. I kept thinking I wasn’t getting updates for some reason but I would check and nothing had been updated. Been worried about you all and hoping Ryan is still doing amazingly well. Keep us posted even if for your silly wit.
Jean Dolan via Facebook says
Hugs to all! That’s all I can give, hope it’s enough.
Grey Hubler says
Great article buddy, loved it. Everyone needs a little time off, even the Eagles took 14 years off, haha.
Janelle Wilks Davenport via Facebook says
Yall are always in my heart and thoughts!!! I love and miss yall so much!!!
Gail Doyle says
Have never stopped thinking of Ryan or your family. Always there with you all in spirit. Pray for you everyday
I’m glad you had a chance to get away and reflect. The pictures are beautiful. Don’t ever stop thinking about boobs. 😉
Caitlin Bennett says
Ken, it is so good to hear from you again. During your (well-deserved) break, I constantly wondered how you, your family, and Ryan were doing. Even over in the UK, I tell people about the amazing things you and your family have done for Ryan. I make sure he is never forgotten. Know that I am just one of many who will always have your back and will be a shoulder for you when you need it.
Been waiting for this! Stalking you since the wee hours! Worth it, too! You are always on my mind–all of you!
My heart goes out to you. My son is a graduate of WVU. He also has a TBI. The daily struggles are hard but ambiguous grief is the worst. Prayers for you and your family.
Tim Ernandes says
Ken, if anyone is entitled to take a mental health break from daily stress it is you. I never stop thinking about you and your family, and I pray regularly for you and for Ryan. God bless you.
John Maletta says
I love how you let us inside your mind to share your entire experience with us. I marvel at the good people that have migrated to your family in the past few years. The epic generosity and kindness. The love and thoughtfulness and yes, even the humor. Buddy, we got this! We’ll always have your back!
P.S. I always think of boobs too. How can you not? 🙂
Boys! Boobs are all you EVER think about! Well, thank God for that! Lol
Thank you for the updates….think of you guys often! XOXOXOXO Hang in there my friend 🙂