I am not a writer by any means, but I want to write about someone that will forever hold a huge piece in my heart. This is not for sympathy, and I hate that I even have to point that out, but with the world we live in today, with all the unnecessary hate, it is needed. Ryan has been on my heart lately, and I just want to tell this story. :) So I guess I'll start with when Ryan came into my life. I was four. FOUR. Ryan was my sister's boyfriend. I was her little sister. He never treated me like it though, and really, I can't tell you that I really knew that's who he was. Any time Amanda (my sister) was there, Ryan was there. He wasn't just my sister's boyfriend, he was my brother. That's it, plain and simple. He could've easily blown my family off at family things, because really who wants to talk to a four year old, but he didn't. Growing up I watched Ryan help my dad around the house, he played on my swing set with me, and him and my mom would stay up and have conversations after everyone else had gone to bed. To say my family adored him would be an understatement. He was exceptional. Ryan went everywhere with us. EVERYWHERE. He was apart of our family. He was our family. Vacations, family functions, anywhere, he was there. He was in all the family photos. We teased him constantly about when he would propose to my sister and it was like seven years before he finally did.
Everyone is biased. With their boyfriend, with their mom, with their dog. Everyone's someone is “the best." Right? But no, not with Ryan. When I say Ryan was the best person I knew, I am not exaggerating. This is what makes all of this so dang hard. He was THE best. He didn't have a mean bone in his body. A smile that could light up any room, and the most contagious laugh. I hear it every day. I miss it. I think of all the times Ryan would crack up laughing at my mom, even when no one else would. I am not sure if he was trying to make her feel better or if he truly thought everything was funny, but his laugh made everyone laugh. It lit up any and every room. Everyone was a better person with him around. Ryan's story isn't something you can read and just feel. it's something you have to go through. I would not wish this upon my worst enemy.
After Amanda and Ryan had their first daughter, Claire, Ryan soon got cancer. I will never understand how the LAST person who deserved this nasty disease got it, but he did. When my time comes, that will be my first question. I'll never understand. Ryan will forever be my inspiration because he never once complained or asked why it had to be him when we all we're thinking it. He fought so freaking hard for these next two years, (and can I just say- how strong is my sister?). Fast forward to daughter number two- baby Cate. who came two weeks early. I am so glad she did. I believe to this day it was a God thing. Gosh, Ryan was such an amazing dad.
A month later was the last time I ever say Ryan. He had gotten to the point where he was too weak to really do anything besides lay on the couch. My parents and I were getting ready to leave their house in Kansas City and I went in to say goodbye to Ryan. Little did I know it would be the last time. I said "see ya later Ryan, love you" and then tried to fist bump him (because that's what we did). Instead of doing it back he sat up and said "I gotcha girl" and gave me a hug. If this doesn't tell you the kind of heart that guy had I don't know what does. It doesn't seem like much but he was SO sick and still wanted to give me a hug. Ryan was one of those once in a life time people. He was the light.
Two weeks later, my heart broke forever. Our hearts broke forever. You never think it'll happen to your family, until it does, and it did. It was May 9th, it was also my grandma Burr's birthday in heaven. What a great birthday present for her, right? My mom was in St. Louis at the hospital with my granddad who also had cancer, and my dad came home as I was pulling out of the drive way for school, and told me I needed to come inside.. and I just knew.
No one prepares you for this. My parents taught me everything I've ever needed to be prepared for in my 19 years of life, but not, not this. If you know my dad you know he comes off as this 6'2", loud, intimidating guy. In reality, he's a sensitive, teddy bear.. kinda.
No one prepares you for this kind of news. I knew it was coming, but I didn't want to hear it, so instead we just stood there in the drive way, hugging each other, and crying. No one prepares you for the day you have to watch your dad comfort your sister. Or the fact that your sister had to tell her daughter, even though she doesn't quite understand. There are so many things he is going to miss out on, and has missed out on, that he doesn't deserve to and I will never understand. Life is so short. You just never know. I wish he was here to watch his girls grow up especially. They are just as sweet as him and it makes my heart happy.
I think what made this situation better was all the support. The support Ryan's family got, my sister got, and what my family got. We had Ryan's celebration of life at Arrowhead, and it was packed. That place was full. My dad ended up telling his story of Ryan and I wish we had it recorded. This situation is the hardest situation my family has had to go through. 2018 was brutal to us and I can't imagine life getting much worse.
Thinking back on this year, I think of all the things Ryan had to miss out on. He should be here, but I know exactly where he is right now, pain free. They say Jesus takes the best ones first, and even though it's so hard to have faith through a time like this, that statement is true.Because I knew Ryan.
Ryan was my brother in a family full of girls. Always put everyone else first when he was sick. and he never made it about him, even though it was always in fact, about him. As long as I'm alive, I will keep him alive.. because it's never goodbye, always see you later. I know we will all see him later.
I hope he passed away knowing he will always be apart of our family, knowing he will see his girls again one day, and knowing that every person he met loved him with all their heart. 5.9.18, the hardest day of my life.
Ryan Owenby, forever ❤️