This last week we had a busy week which led us home to Star Valley for the funeral of a good friend of ours from our home town. Ryan had been struggling with cancer for the last year, and at one point thought he had won the battle, only to have it reappear and take him home. We had been keeping up on his blog Team Ryan for the last year with what he had been going through thanks to his strong and supportive wife. He was only 30, Beau’s age, and left a wife and two young children. It is sad and yet after attending the funeral, you knew it was his time. He had accomplished what he needed to do in mortality. You also had completely peace knowing they had been sealed together in the temple and that an eternal family was their blessing after this life. It was an awesome funeral. The kind that every funeral should be like. Full of hope because of the Savior’s atonement and resurrection, great memories and tributes to his amazing life and the wonderful person that he was. We left wanting to be better so that we could be with him again and be where we knew he was.
I had been doing good keeping emotions at check, until I walked into the viewing. Seeing his parents, sisters and brother greet people as well as his wife just got me so choked up, wondering about the loss they must feel. I also saw a picture of Ryan as a little kid and all of the sudden the memories flooded back of growing up. Our families were really good friends. It seemed like every Sunday or weekend our families would end up together at one of our homes and we would spend hours entertaining each up coming up with circus acts, plays and games of cops and robbers and Annie. We would escape to the basement getting our acts and performances put together while the parents had their much needed adult time together with no interruptions from us children. Hours later we would call our parents down and have them be the audience while we showed off our latest baton twirling act, and award winning acting during the play “Sleeping Beauty.”
As we got older it started turning around to toilet papering each other’s homes during family reunions. One night while throwing the toilet paper we were scared to death when the garage door started opening at 2 am, and Gary pulled out on a late night call to the hospital. We’d still spent many evenings together as we were older, we’d just migrate up to listen the adults. I still love sitting and hearing Ryan’s dad, Gary, tell stories. We’d spend New Years Even together sometimes playing games. We also started the tradition of having a ‘journey meal’ on Christmas Eve together to remind us of their journey to Bethlehem and that special night of the Savior’s birth. We still do it now with my own children.
It circumstances like this that bring people together that you haven’t seen for years. You have the chance to remember times and moments when each of them touched your life forever. A time to reflect that the main reason you are who you are is because of a combination of all these people who have been a part of your earthly journey, teaching, sharing, laughing and sharing life together. It makes you realize how incredibly blessed you are to know such amazing people. Amazing people like Ryan and his family, people that made your life better. It’s makes you realize that everything isn’t about you. Because the only reason you are you… is because of them.
I pray for his wife Margie and her little children that they’ll have the spirit to be with them in the difficult days that lay ahead. It is sure to be a hard road sometimes. But the thought that stuck out the most to me in the funeral is:
“The only way to take the pain and sorrow out of death, is to take the love out of life.”
And that’s what I felt this weekend. Love. Love for Ryan. Love for his family, and a realization that when death does hit even closer to home for me, that it will be painful I’m sure. But that will be because I truly loved them in life, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.