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Too Soon Gone

David Ryan

David Ryan


I received some really bad news yesterday; my cousin David Ryan died in a freakish accident.  I will miss him terribly, more than I might have imagined.   I cried yesterday for the first time in a long time.

Ours was an unusual story in that neither of us knew that the other one existed until about twelve years ago, but in the last twelve years we had become very close.  With today's communication technology, we stayed in touch.  We traded emails very often; they may have been only been a few words, but we let one another know we were there.  We would talk by phone every month or so; I had talked with him only last week.  I had come to think of him in a way as the younger brother I never had and teased him about needing my brotherly advice in his life.  Although he lived about 2,000 miles from me, we actually saw one another fairly often.  When I would have long San Francisco overnights, we would occassionally get together for dinner.  I'm sure it was a hassle for him, but he would drive into San Francisco to see me.  We both loved golf and had played together a number of times over the years.  He gave me one of my golfing life's highlights when a couple of years ago he arranged for us to play Spyglass Hill, one of the courses in the Pebble Beach complex.  That is quite a memory for me.  I truly loved him like a brother.

David was a big bear of a man who could easily take over a room when he entered.  I was almost put off by his manner when I first met him because I thought he was a bit over the top; a little bit too much of the salesman, if you will.  But then I quickly discovered that he was all genuine.  That really was David.  He once said that his special talent was making everyone feel included.  I have to agree.  He was always reaching out to others; making them feel special.  He was a listener, a questioner, always interested in you, what you did, what you had to say, or what you thought about a topic.  This is a rare quality.  So many of us would far prefer to talk about ourselves, to tell you what we think rather than to get your opinion.  That simply was not David.  I hope that I will never forget that lesson from David.  His special talent was to make others feel special; that is not a bad way for one to be remembered.

Though I certainly did not need reminding, David's passing reaffirms the brevity and fragility of this life.  I am sure that the last thing on David's mind Friday night was that he might not see Saturday morning.  He had only recently lost his father, and he was simply going about the task of organizing his father's affairs.  How absurb to think that he might face a life or death situation in his parents' home, but he did.  The lesson for us, and it is an old one, is to never take our lives for granted.  Don't delay speaking that kind word you have been intending to speak; don't hesitate with the kind act you have been intending; and don't squander the opportunity to be who you should be. And especially be careful that you do not get so wrapped up in planning for the future that you overlook living today.  The here and now is all we are ever guaranteed, and to my knowledge, David used it well.

Every life leaves a legacy.  Every life teaches a lesson.  Although David lived only 49 years, he lived all of his life.  He lived a big life, though it was not long by some standards.  He drew friends to him like ants to a picnic; there were no strangers in David's life, only friends he had yet to meet.  He had a rare gift.  He taught many lessons and left a wonderful legacy.  His children are blessed to have such a legacy from their father.  He will be greatly missed.


Fly/Drive Safely


10 February 2009

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