Life is tragically beautiful.
A year has gone by in a blink of an eye and yet so much has happened in the 365 days that have crept by. A year of contrast. The stark polarity of devastation and grace. A year where growth was painful yet expectedly necessary.
Ryan, if you could stand beside us today, these are the things I think you would know.
He would have been mortified by all the attention placed on the dinosaur. After all, it was something he loved as a child. Not even a T-Rex or velociraptor but rather a pleasant, gentle, plant eating long necked dinosaur. Not exactly a young man’s ideal representation. But I think it is fitting. Dinosaurs lived a million years ago and yet we still remember them. That too, will be your legacy, Ryan.
Ryan never loved the spotlight unless it was scoring a goal, a touchdown or a try. Those are concrete accomplishments. But I like to believe that wherever he is now, the ego has gone and he can appreciate what this year has brought.
I think he would be amazed by the coming together of so many communities. The caring of a collective group of people that have embraced kindness because he inspires them. Thousands of people have heard Ryan’s story, volunteered, shared and paid it forward. Random acts of kindness, no longer random but deliberate because of him.
Our son would have been surprised yet honored by how many people have been impacted by his life. So many of us find ourselves different, better because of this tragedy. How such a quiet and at most times, introspective young man could create such a noise. A noise that has travelled the world to the most unlikely places. A noise that has helped others as they navigate through their own tragedies.
Ryan would have felt such grief. To look upon the faces of his friends, his sisters and his loved ones and see their suffering. To know that he has altered the compass by which they have charted their lives. But he would also be so proud of all of you. You are brave, you are strong and you will continue to do amazing things.
But there is also joy. Standing before us, I see the faces of those, once strangers that have now become cherished loved ones.
Life is a balance of joy and sorrow. It is in the embracing of both, however messy, however beautiful that makes up the human experience.
Ryan, wherever you are, on this night almost a year later, I want you to know how so very much you are loved, how much you matter and how you will never, ever be forgotten.