I met Ryan in Spring 1998 when he joined PSE. Although I have seen Ryan many times since college, I picked pictures of Ryan from our college years at NIU. They make me smile the most because that is the Ryan that I will always remember.
Somewhere in these last few days, I saw written that Ryan passed away with grace and dignity...and that is so true....and so Ryan. He was always little more quiet in larger groups, had a great smile that made you instantly feel comfortable, loved food more than many people I know, loved to laugh and tease, and most of all was one of the most loyal people you could meet. There is a wonderful angel watching over us now.
These are some of my favorite college memories of Ryan.
This is Ryan climbing a tree outside our apartment in May 1999...putting Megan's shoe in a tree. I'm not sure why...my only explaination is...we were in college. But this was Ryan's way of teasing...this is the fun side of Ryan.
This is Ryan and Jon, taken in Galena when somehow my friends managed to talk me into camping for a weekend in August 1999 before school started. Jon, Adina, Jill, Ryan, Megan and I had a great weekend together...still don't know how I got talked into camping!
This is Ryan...when I think of Ryan...this is how I picture him...a little serious looking, but smiling. Funny thing about that shirt is that one day, Ryan and I realized we both had that shirt and were both wearing it. I don't remember the exact situation, but it was probably something like it was about 11pm and I (a management major), was headed off to bed for the night and was wearing the shirt to sleep in and had strolled out to the kitchen to say good night. Ryan (an accounting major) was just coming over to our apartment to study with my roomie, Megan (another accounting major) and he was dressed in comfy clothes because they were usually up most of the night studying. I'm sure he had tbell (that's Ryan talk for Taco Bell and a name that I ALWAYS think of when driving by a tbell) in hand to gross out Megan, who didn't like tbell at all! And next, Ryan would start his teasing about how management majors could go to sleep and true, hard working accounting majors had to study hard to get their good grades. Always a joke between Ryan and I about how I had the easy major and he had the tough major...I secretly think he was jealous! :)Adina, Ryan and Will...May 2000...Adina and Ryan were toasting to a great time at NIU as this was our last party before graduation!
Spring 1998...PSE Bonding...a great experience to get to know the new members in PSE. And there's Ryan on a team with 4 girls.
For some reason this is one of my favorite pictures...in think it's from Spring 1999 and I know it's a E-Board picture. I was the President that semester and Ryan was the guy in charge of keeping the meetings in order (I can't remember his title). I NEVER had to worry about Ryan getting things done for his position on E-Board...they were just done...and he was probably off helping someone else with their responsibilities...and that was just how Ryan was.
Graduation from NIU...May 2000...this was a such a sad and happy day. Sad that we were leaving our friends and NIU for the real world and as hard as we worked to get there, we didn't want to be there...but happy to have accomplished so much while at NIU. Saying goodbye to Ryan was in a way similar to that...so very sad to say goodbye to him and something that you just don't want to do, but so proud of all he accomplished in life and so grateful that he wasn't in pain or suffering any longer and that he was finally at peace.
I have tried to make sense over the last few years and in these past few days about how such a wonderful person like Ryan, could have to had suffer so much and at such an early age. Although I don't understand why, I came to realize some lessons that Ryan has taught me. He fought a long and brave fight and he didn't back down or complain. This wasn't fair that he got cancer at age 26 but he just went with it. He was brave...more so than many people could EVER be. He also lived life to the fullest...I can't even begin to describe all the places he traveled to and things that he did before he found out about his cancer AND after. It never stopped him and that makes me so proud of him. He reminds me that I should ALWAYS live life to the fullest and to cherish every moment.
Parents have many hopes for their children. Parents of daughters hope and pray that their little girls find a guy like Ryan to date and marry because they know that their little girl will be taken care of. Parents of sons hope and pray that their little boys grow up to be like Ryan, respectful, friendly, loyal, brave and funny --- I know I hope my son grows up to be like Ryan.