Saturday, November 7, 2009
No little boy should lose his father.
Ryan was a single dad, raising his son Skyler since birth. He worked his butt off as a laborer, sometimes seven days a week, so Skyler wouldn't go without. He would come home after a long shift, and find his son with toys in hand, waiting to play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with his dad. They were two peas in a pod.
Ryan developed an abscessed tooth. A phobic of dentists, he refused to go even though people begged him to. If he only knew how serious a tooth infection could be. He would have never let a fear of needles and pain take him away from his son. He didn't know it could happen to him.
The infection went to his brain. It turned into meningitis, and he had a massive stroke. I received a call from my mother that Ryan was on life support. I canceled my class and went immediately to Mississippi, where I found Ryan in a coma with tubes and hoses coming out of his brain. It is an image that I will never, ever erase from my memory.
Ryan had chosen to estrange himself from my side of the family several years prior, so we had not seen each other in a long time and I don't think that he would have wanted me there. Tough luck, I told him. I held his hand and declared that he is the most stubborn person I've ever met. I picked on him and played with his toes, giving anything if he would wake up and cuss me out. I reminded him of when he used to spontaneously break into the song "Love Shack", which always made his sister and I double over in laughter. I demanded that he wake up and come back to his son. I prayed. I cried. I fussed. I told him that I loved him and that I'd give anything if things could have been different. I told him that I was so sorry that this happened to him.
He was removed from life support on November 7th.
The tragedy made the front page of the newspaper. Killed by a toothache. Dentists stepped forward and pleaded with the public to not be afraid of them. People everywhere made dental appointments because of Ryan's story. Twenty-nine is too young to die. Five is too young to lose a father.
Skyler is being raised by his grandmother (his mother left shortly after his birth), and he misses his daddy horribly. He lives in my town, but he doesn't know I exist. I see him at the baseball field and wish I could be there for him, but I'm not permitted to do so. Family feuds are senseless and cruel. They hurt so many people...sometimes for generations to come. Life is too short and fragile for such things, but it is far beyond my control. All I can do is pray for Skyler to be ok.
My heart is crushed for him. It's so unfair. No little boy should lose his father.