Today has been a sad day – A very sad day. If you have visited my Facebook page, then you would know that I lost a dear, dear friend a few weeks ago. And so young, so very young…The day began with receiving a text from a lady who was going to do the cleaning at one of the properties except she had got called away to hospital. So I had to try and find someone else in a hurry. After the normal hurry around in the house of the MiB, we rushed off to our darling friend’s house to drop off the lovely, excited little ones for a very long and greatly anticipated play date while Tloml and I went off to the long awaited and slightly dreaded funeral.
On the drive there, I said to Tloml that I thought all the tears in me had gone as the shock had now worn off but of course… that was so not the case. The moment I got dropped off at the gates while Tloml went to park the car and I saw people all in black, I remembered why I was there and I could feel the tears welling up again.
I met this young lad when I was 17, new to the country, a bit of an outcast that did not feel a part of the ‘in’ crowd. I had started to visit a church called the Jesus Army (JA) – a branch called the ‘Anchorage’. It was a home where christian people had chosen to live together, share all their belongings and grow as a family together. At that stage in my life, I needed a family and Ryan had been a ten year old, one of the people who had made me feel right at home in this place. I still remember meeting him for the first time. For his age, he was not shy and I just remember the feeling that he gave – one of welcome and he was interested in me. This little boy…
I got to know him well enough in the coming years as we were both members of this church and he was a drummer and I was into music too, so we did stuff together from time to time. In the JA, there is such a feeling of family that we became family. I remember him threatening to pull off my weave – Thankfully he never did 🙂 (That would have been unforgivable; There is something too sacred about a girl and her hair :-D). He was playful, he was fun to be around. He had such a soft heart and he tended to look after everyone as much as he could regardless of his youth.
I remember him coming to my house on a Tuesday for a Bible Study I was doing with the young ones living with me. That was the last time he came to that 🙂 and I remember so many little bits about him as he grew up and became a man. He became a Dad and was determined to be a great Dad as he had grown up with a ‘not so present’ Dad. He did not want that for his son so this resulted in him moving to London to be near him.
I had been out of the picture when it came to the JA since summer 2005 but recently we have been more in touch with the ‘Anchorage’ as the people there have always been a part of our hearts. I had spent time with Ryan’s Mum and she would always talk with great love of the antics her son was getting up to. I looked forward to meeting up with him again and then…
Tloml sent me an IM message saying Ryan was dead and for a few minutes, I thought it must be some kind of a joke because there was just no way that vibrant Ryan had been taken from us so soon! Alas No, Tloml confirmed that it was in fact true. I called up the ‘Anchorage’ immediately to figure out what on earth was going on and they too confirmed it was true and all I could say was ‘I can’t believe this!’ It just seemed surreal.Ryan dancing at my wedding 🙂
Anyway, I do not want to drag you all down into grief but I want to celebrate this friend of mine, I want to celebrate his life. Yes, we are all sad and it is all sudden and no, he was not a saint. But the thing that struck all of us at the thanksgiving today, was the fact that everyone that paid tribute to him had exactly the same things to say about him.
I know lots of people who appear different to different people, they put a different hat on depending on who they are with. I am sometimes guilty of that. But not Ryan. He was unashamed to be who he was even if it was not perfect. He would just tell you what was going on, just the way it was. You knew right where you stood with Ryan. But more than that, he was a loving guy, with a very tender heart. He really saw people. He saw me – a lonely, out-of-place, 17 year old and lots of other people spoke of being really seen by him. He would stop and put a hand on his co-worker’s shoulder and check if they were alright.
He was congruent. His outside and his inside matched. It was not always perfect but it was honest.
Ryan was a great man and Thankfully, I have hope that I will see him again or else it would seem more unbearable. It is still pretty hard to have let him go so soon – His Mum’s only child. It is NEVER time to bury one’s own child.
Ryan! We miss you!