This is what I know with certainty about my son Ryan. His smile was infectious and his big beautiful brown eyes drew in perfect strangers. With a golden heart, and sensitive personality he was always willing to help someone in need. Ryan loved soccer and snowboarding and was great at both. He was fearless and passionate.
But, Ryan lived with a challenge that none of us could fully understand. And as I look back, Ryan always struggled with this part of his life. I can recall him telling me he just didn’t feel right in his own body.
As days turned into years of self-medicating on alcohol, pills, and heroin, Ryan’s struggle became a family struggle. There were countless rehabilitation programs and half-way houses, and of course our hopes and prayers for a full recovery were not realized. Yet through Ryan’s struggles with addiction, we told him we loved him every day. And he knew that.
On October 8, 2013, I spoke with Ryan and made him a promise that I would do whatever I could. He was hooked up to a ventilator in a drug induced coma. I promised to speak to as many people as possible, to be there and support others’ whose lives were impacted by the disease of addiction. With a bullet lodged in his head at the hands of his drug dealer, Ryan’s body died three days later.
I made a promise to myself that Ryan will not be forgotten. His life will continue to have purpose.
On this Father’s Day, I urge those who walk the path I do to remember what a blessing our children are still. Have faith that although gone, they are not forgotten. Have faith that the wave of heartache that we feel is an outpouring of love. They live in our hearts forever.
Together we can, in the name of our children, end the stigma and end the devastation that the disease of addiction causes. Together we are Shatterproof.
Happy Father’s Day.