A Deadly Mix.
By Sue, Ryan’s Mom.
THAT night is still vivid in my mind. THAT horrific night I will never forget. I was thinking that something bad happened in the neighborhood when I answered the door to two gentlemen in black uniforms at 4:30 am on 4/20/01, fifteen years ago. Never would I ever expect what happened THAT night.
My ex-husband (yes, statistics are correct with frequent divorce in this situation) was upstairs checking on our kids while I went down to the door. He already knew Ryan was not home. I invited them in and we sat down at our kitchen table. I remember that it was so hard for the sheriffs to say the words, so I did. “He is DEAD?!” My son is dead? No it can’t be! I just saw him six hours before in my kitchen with this pretty girl. I still have the newspaper advertisement that he doodled on from THAT night. My last physical piece of memory of my Ryan.
THAT morning I had to make the calls to family and friends. Ryan’s Dad couldn’t do it. Like I often couldn’t be around our guests and just wanted to be alone. Lots of them came to our home bearing gifts and food. Often I felt like I was in this tunnel and was trapped in my own body. I felt robotic in my motion and actions. Ryan would have wanted us to celebrate his life. I remember constantly thinking, what would Ryan want? I am doing that right now. Everything turned out good I guess? I will admit that I wish I could remember it all but I felt like I was in a twilight zone. I did not want to wear black at the funeral. I bought a powder blue suit. Ryan’s favorite color. He died at 12:45 am on Friday and did we have the funeral on Monday, first day back at school from Spring break? Greeting so many loved ones that Ryan touched during his entire 17 years was so surreal. Hearing what a wonderful young man we raised felt so good. It still does. I need that reassurance. First the funeral home with lots of family and friends. I guess thousands. I don’t know. I was just going through the motions. At the funeral I remember so many went up to the podium to speak. The bravest of all was Lindsay, Ryan’s only sister. She was 13.
I couldn’t let it go. This nurturing beat up Mom had to know all the details. I felt so lost. After all a piece of me was now gone. What happened THAT night? Days later I had to visit the site where Ryan left this earth. I found a piece of my afghan on the ground. I wish I had that afghan again to wrap around myself and feel his love. I needed to see my vehicle down the street at Heinrich collision. I kept saying to myself it couldn’t have happened. This is all a bad nightmare. He’s coming back to me. The only way I could recognize it was the blue paint still on the passenger front corner that was lodged into the ground protected by the flames. THAT night never went away especially being reminded when the Sheriffs came to our door investigating weeks later. After all they could arrest us. He was only 17.
Why Ryan? He was already home safe. DD had dropped him off. They all thought they had it planned out perfect. Little did they know what excessive intake of alcohol would do to their minds. He had left our home around 10:30 to Parma Town Park. Just around the corner from where we lived. He consumed 9 beers provided by a coworker at Latta Long Pond Wegmans where Ryan worked, and bottle of Gatorade mixed with Absolute provided by Ryan’s friend’s sister of age in such a short time. Most of his friends were not aware of the amount he drank. He was dropped off home around an hour later. How do I know? Because he instantly got on the computer and said the words “i’m so in love with you, i don’t care how much i’ve had to drink, i still love you so much!!!!! Don’t deny kissing me, that was GREAT, don’t deny it” to this pretty girl at 11:42pm. Note that he could type at that time. He was not connecting with his friends and THAT girl so he chose to leave his safe zone.
He took my keys, my cell, left his shoes at the island, and drove off in my Ford Taurus. How did I know he didn’t wear his shoes? I counted all his shoes in his room. We lived Southeast of Village of Hilton on Peck Rd. He drove all the way up 259 to her home on Huffer Rd. Ryan’s friends tell me they tried to take the keys away from him. After driving around, upset I guess, he traveled back up 259. He was trying to reach her on my cell and she didn’t answer. I know this because I looked at my cell bill. Remember I needed to know all the details. I am thinking he threw my cell down and maybe tried to reach it? He veered off the road, hit a rock wall at the end of the driveway at 175 North Avenue, flew 80 ft in the air, and spun around landed southbound imbedded the right front fender into the ground of 171 North Ave’s front yard. Ryan ejected and was found next to my car engulfed in flames. His body was so charred they wouldn’t let us go to the Medical Examiner’s office. All we had was his burnt wallet and it is how they identified him along with dental records.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my Ryan. I put my clothes on and I am reminded how he had to iron his. I spray my hair and I’m reminded how long it took for him to get ready in the morning and how much hair gel he put in his hair to have it look perfect. I sweep the floor and I am reminded how he sprayed pledge on the floor and slid across the floor with his socks on. My life will never be the same. That feeling of emptiness will always be there. Feels sometimes like my world is crashing down on me. Words said to me can drive a stake through my heart. It punches me in the gut. When someone asks you “Do you have any children”, tightness in your chest and stomach occur when I say I had a son.
Why, Ryan, did you leave me so early in your life? Why did God welcome you into the gates of heaven so soon? A parent never expects their child to die before them. When I hear a parent say that they are afraid of harm to their children, like a bear protecting their cubs, I punish myself that I didn’t feel that same fear. I say to myself maybe this is why God chose to take you away from me so soon. You can’t help punish and blame yourself for your child’s poor choices in life.
I will always say to Ryan why did you binge drink? Why did you think you were invincible? My take home message to anyone is you could have it all planned out and feel safe, but when alcohol takes over, you have no control. Who wins? Not you! The Alcohol does. GOD does. I am not afraid to die because I yearn for that embrace every day. I miss you Ryan. Why did you have to go? ♥