|Ryan Kitchens 12/04 - 02/13|
My heart is heavy for Ryan’s family, his parents and siblings. Despite good-intentions and genuine kindness, no words will quieten the screaming pain they are feeling. If you didn’t know, Ryan only lived about 2 miles or so from us, although we did not know them and only met once at St. Jude where they were both patients. Eli was beginning treatment as Ryan was finishing up his. They had the same cancer, same age, same birth month (and oddly, each has three siblings). The boys played briefly twice, once on the Wii in the lobby of Target House, and once outside with Hot Wheels and sidewalk chalk. After meeting at St. Jude, Jasmine and I, though not much more than good acquaintances, are joined by a horrific, evil bond. We have communicated sporadically over the last 8 or 9 months via Facebook mostly, and pretty much always late at night, and I visited her house to deliver food recently. As mothers facing this threat to our children, I have the greatest respect for her strength and fight. I pray that those qualities stay with her as she and her family emerge from this walk through the valley with Ryan. And, please, don’t mention it to Eli. He doesn’t know, and hasn’t known that Ryan wasn’t doing well. I wasn’t sure if it would scare him or discourage him because it does me. So, unless he asks, I don’t tell. I wanted to do something special in memory of Ryan from “Friends of Eli.” Because my daddy was such a library fanatic, Vic and I usually always donate to the library at our kids’ school kind of as a continual homage to him. The school buys a book and marks it in “Memory of” the person and sends a nice card to the family. So, I thought I would put a twist to that tradition, and offer to collect money to be donated to the University of Alabama Libraries in Ryan’s name. If you followed him even a little, you know how huge the Bama interest was for him, and we bought the brick at St. Jude for him back in November, so this just seemed to really be perfect. The page to donate is at gofundme.com and the link is on the homepage. No amount is too small, because I know we are drowning in good causes these days and you just can’t give to everything every time, I can’t either no matter how badly I want to. But, if you can and want to, I’m going to set a nice, neat goal of $20 from 100 people, and I hope we blow that out, but I will be tickled to get that for him. Private message me if you would rather just send me a check. I know that most of you don’t know me at all, so it seems like it would be weird to send money to someone you don’t know –it would be weird for me. But, hopefully, if you have been following Eli, I have presented a trustworthy, Christian example. I will do my best to prepare a card with the names of all who gave toward this effort to send to Jasmine and Ryan’s daddy, Chris, and, if you can, make sure I have your name and address to provide to UA. I will put a deadline on this of February 19, that gives us two weeks. Please, pass this around to whomever you believe would be interested, and if you collect money from non-FB family that maybe you have been sharing Ryan with to send for this, just make sure I have their names and addresses, too. Thanks in advance for your effort. The visitation will be at 11:30 a.m. February 9 at McConnell Funeral Home, Athens, Alabama, followed by the funeral service, then a graveside. I am working on food organization for the family and guests, so if you would like to help with that, email me. I also learned today that Kyra, for whom we have been praying for quite a while, passed away today. She has been fighting for so incredibly long it seems like to me, so it is definitely and eternity for her family. I can’t remember her cancer, but it was rare. I did not know them; they had quite a following on FB. Please, add her family to your prayers. The picture I’m sharing tonight is of Ryan at the SEC championship game. Precious child safe in the arms.