Ryan will always be my little brother, a forever-young soul with the largest of hearts.As young kids, we got along really well. After early childhood, getting into teenage years, we didn't have the best relationship. We were a few years apart in age, so we generally had our separate lives. Somewhere around the time our dadbecamesick with cancer and passed away less than two years later, Ryan began experimenting with drugs to ease some of the pain he was carrying. He had trouble expressing himself verbally, and kept everything inside, right to the end. He tried pills once and destroyed his life piece by piece through the use of heroin. During his illness, our house was often filled with torment, arguments, fights and sadness. My mother and I were never mad at Ryan, but instead were angry and frustrated with the situation. Ryan passed away by accidental overdose in his bedroom, only ten days after his 24th birthday. Although our mother andI miss him dearly every day, his passing is certainly bittersweet. He was in intense physical, mental and emotional pain --both day and night. His body ached and he could not sleep; he took thousands of aspirins and night-time pills to ease these ailments. Ryan couldn't stand the person he had become, and found himself in such a seemingly deep hole that it seemed far too difficult to get out. We loved him tremendously and sometimes that made his guilt worse. On the day of his wake, through the tears, our mom and I were thankful, because his suffering was over. Ryan had found his peace, through the grace of God. I've mourned Ryan's loss daily for the past year (I write this memorial exactly one year from his passing). Today, with the help of my mom and loving family and friends, I am making strides to continue Ryan's life and the legacy of his kindness, warmth and constant willingness to help others (even when he could not find a way to help himself). We've started an annual "Ryan's Day of Service" at a Boston charity, Cradles to Crayons, where in the midst of Ryan's illness, he came with me several times and volunteered to help less fortunate children. We also have encouraged that financial donations should be made to The Salvation Army Adult (Drug) Rehabilitation Center in Saugus, MA, where Ryan was fortunate enough to spend six months in recovery. [At the program's graduation ceremony, the program director stated in front of several hundred guests that, although they made a practice of not choosing "favorites," Ryan was certainly a favorite of theirs]. We are also planning now to support our community's anti-drug coalitions in their outreach to middle schools and others, as well as support the garnering financial support in the state budget for the purposes of substance abuse education, prevention and treatment, especially related to teens and young adults. Every person comes into this world with a purpose, and Ryan's purpose was meant to be much larger than his own life. Ryan's legacy will help change the world in immense ways. Loving you always and forever --Your brother, mother, family and friends.
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