Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lady Grey Black Tea. [Ryan Alea]

I'm drinking Lady Grey this morning, because I did not have Earl Grey, nor Green Ginger tea--the two teas that my friend Ryan told me were her favorites (much to the chagrin of her British boyfriend.) This post is dedicated to her, and as I sit here drinking my Lady Grey tea, and eating my oatmeal like every other morning--I still cannot believe she's gone. There was the brightest light in Ryan, and it touched every person she can into contact with. I knew she had impacted my life, and figured she had impacted others as well, but I did not know to what great extent she did so until she was taken from us, and all that were able congregated to bid her farewell. She touched so many people--even those who had just met her were there, already having been enraptured by her amiable spirit and unable to forget her.
Ryan and I were good friends when we were in high school, we were on the YSST swim team together in Hickory. We were friends from the very beginning--the first day I joined the team in my awkward fifteeth year, there she was, bouncing and dancing beside me in a joyful and rambunctious spirit that rarely ceased. For a whole summer during those years, we were inseparable, along with our friend Kelsey as well. We not only swam together, but also were life guards together at the same pool. She was the reason I came out of my shell as early as I did in high school--not to mention the reason I got into trouble so many times. She was michevious, but I loved her for it. When we went to college, she to UNCW and I to Montreat, we lost touch for a while. We still spoke to each other online now and then, or if I was down in Wilmington at the beach we would try to get together, but it wasn't like we were before. Over the couple years in college, we both grew up and matured, and we finally reconnected a few months ago when I found her blog, discovered her knack for writing, and we began a correspondance through our blogs, and on FB as well. I began to remember all that we had in common, and how similar we were in humour and interests. We planned to get together soon, perhaps in the summer after she graduated, to properly catch up with each other, and also to have our significant others meet. We both thought that our boys would really enjoy each others' company--one being a soccer player with knee problems, and the other being a rugby player with knee problems.
Then last Saturday morning, all of our plans were halted when she hydroplaned in the dark morning rain, and left this world forever. I didn't find out until that evening, I had been at work all day and couldn't answer my phone. My friend, Kelsey, was the one who called me and broke the news to me. I made her say Ryan's whole name before I could accept what my mind already confirmed to be true. I sobbed for the first fifteen minutes, then went between emotionless shock and broken down weeping for the rest of the evening, and into Sunday as well.
Jeremy and I drove down to Shallotte, on the Carolina coast, on Monday to attend her viewing that night, and her funeral service the following morning. It was an open-casket viewing. I've never done something so hard in my life. I stood in front of her, just staring, waiting for the horrible dream to end and her to just wake up. She did not wake up, and it was not a dream. It was horrible reality. Ryan Alea Young was gone, and way too soon for anyone's comfort. I cannot understand how anyone who knew Ryan can believe that death is all there is. Ryan's was such a colorfully vibrant and brilliant spirit that something so simple as death could never quench it. She remains, though bodily gone, she remains--and that's why even though I stood not two feet from her body, looking at her lifeless face, I cannot think of her as gone, cannot make my mind and my heart accept her departure.
Though I do mourn the loss of memories not-yet-made, I do know that Ryan would not have it that way. She wouldn't want people crying over her, but remembering and taking joy in the memories that were made with her. It is our own loss; we, a little less full than before, regret her absence. But she, she now flies unfettered by these earthly bonds, and is in the presence of her Savior. I miss her terribly, but will try not to take any moment for granted, and live my life to the fullest, as she did. Take a page from Ryan's book: Life is like a wave, you can't change the way it breaks--just the way you ride it.
If you're interested in reading her blog, it is in my They Write Too section on the bottom right of my page. Hers is Life's Too Beautiful For a Single Sentence.

Missing a friend,



Amethyst said...

Darn you, Caitlin, you've made me cry--from the sadness you've made me share and from the joy that I'll never have, because I never had the chance to meet her.
Thank you for this poetic tribute.

Laura Rebecca said...

I want a very long, very real hug from you tomorrow morning, friend. It's rather non-negotiable.

Amethyst said...

hi. I was gonna post on your facebook, then I realized you're a faithful Lenter right now.

so, I want to say that after yesterday, I adore, literally ADORE, in an almost unhealthy manner, you and jeremy. It is almost too much joy for my poor little wrinkly heart to manage, but oh how i am blessed. thank you for your friendship.

Laura Rebecca said...

Oh, oh, I must second that. Yesterday made me so happy...even the table thing, slightly terrifying as it was. :)

Amethyst said...

ah! I forgot the table thing! That was amazing! Jeremy is teh c00lest guy evar!