Friday, September 7, 2012

Truly and Deeply Loved

"Hey! You're Ryan!" I squeal.

He stops and looks at me.  "Yes," he responds.

"I'm Jess," I say, reaching out to shake his hand.  "I read Meri's blog.  I'm so excited to meet you!"

"Thanks," he says with a smile.  His face is weary, and he looks exhausted.

"This is probably going to happen to you a lot this week.  There are a lot of people really excited to meet your family,"  I say.

He shakes his head, "Well, we'll see about that."

This was the scence when I met Ryan, his sister, and two of his sons in the hotel lobby at Friends For Life this summer.  It's a moment I know I will never forget.

Cancer claimed Ryan's life this past Sunday.  My heart has been heavy in my chest all week.  It aches for Meri and the boys, as well as the rest of their family.  I can't even imagine what they are going through right now.

Meri is one of my very favorite people in the entire world.  I met Meri on Juvenation, which was my first foray into the DOC.  Then I found her blog.  And then I started blogging.  Looking back through old posts, any time that I was struggling or having a bad day, there is a blog comment from Meri, ever the encourager.  Ever the cheerleader.

Meeting Meri, Ryan, and the boys was truly the highlight of FFL for me.  After running into Ryan in the lobby, I kept my eyes peeled for Meri.  The next day, I saw her.  We hugged each other and squealed.  Another moment I won't forget.

All week, I've been trying to figure out what I wanted to say.  So many others have written beautiful, moving posts about Meri and Ryan.  They are an inspiration to many, and dearly loved by us all.

When I first heard that Ryan had passed away, I was in shock.  And immediately, I was twelve years old again.  My childhood best friend lost her father when we were twelve.  He also had brain tumors, like Ryan.

The day he died, my friend came and spent that night at my house.  It was a long time ago, so I can't remember much about it.  I do remember that we played games.  We laughed, and we cried.  I remember wanting to do something to help, but knowing that there was no way to fix this.

Just being there with her was doing something.  Letting her know she wasn't alone, and that she was loved.

So Meri, M, J, B, and L, please know that you are not alone.  Know that you are truly and deeply loved by so many people.  And though we can't be physically present, we are with you in spirit always.

If you would like to help Meri and the boys in this time of need, there is a fundraising page set up to help with expenses.  Even just $1 will help.  If you can contribute, please, please do.


  1. This is so---I feel the love!

  2. everybody has such wonderful things to say. I wish we could all be there in one place to celebrate his life. Alas, we will be there in spirit.
    LOVELY write up. You had more ambition than me to introduce yourself. I simply watched from the sidelines.

  3. Just another reason why I love you, kiddo! Wish I'd had the honor of meeting Ryan. It still seems so unreal to me. I can't even begin to fathom what they are going through. Just so unfair!

  4. I love the fact that you were the go-between sharing my cell number with Meri. I wish we could all be in California today to celebrate and grieve with her.