Note: This is a jumble. It is heavy and I wrote it at 2:30 a.m. Proceed with caution.
I usually like New Year celebrations. I don’t think we ever need a reason to start being healthier, nicer, more loving, more dedicated, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little motivation. A little push. My family has people over. There is wine and champagne and poppers and laughter and dancing to Paul Simon in our living room. There is happiness and hugging and hope for better things.
This New Year’s Eve, however, was a little different. My heart was heavy. Heavier than it’s been in a long, long time.
Rylan, the little warrior so many people had loved, had earned his wings.
I met Rylan and his wonderful family through Mizzou Dance Marathon. He was a Miracle Kid – a face to put with the cause. He loved his family and his Bible. He loved playing video games with friends. He loved helping around the house. He was a strong, curious child. He was a child.
I don’t really know what to say in this blog post. Nothing is processing correctly. I can’t spin whimsical metaphors or waxing anecdotes. There aren’t sufficient words to cope with a six-year-old dying. No child should ever have to fight for life like Rylan did. No family should ever have to endure what his did.
This is one of the most heartbreaking things to happen to the Dance Marathon family since we began raising money for the University Children’s Hospital. It is in these tough, dark moments that I see why Dance Marathon is important. We help fund therapy rooms, music therapy programs, tutors’ salaries. We are solely responsible for funding the NICU TeleHealth Loving Care Program, which allows parents to Skype into to see their children. We bring people together from far-flung corners of campus, Columbia and mid-Missouri to love and help and support one another. Students, parents, teachers, faculty, siblings, doctors, kids. It’s all for the kids, after all.
This is my hope: to inspire people to help Dance Marathon. To ask, in the most humble of ways, for the help of anyone who will listen. You can click here to donate to my fundraising page, all of which will contribute to helping kids like Rylan. If you would like more information about donating, please feel free to email me.
This is a new year, and there is new hope. I have to believe that there is hope.
Rest easy, Ry. We miss you, little buddy. We miss you so much.