Category Archives: loss

Remembering Ryan Means

Song Lyric of the Day:

Oh good people’ve been here over ten thousand years / Everyone bright as shining sun / We’ve got no less days to sing God’s praise / From the time that we begun

Cat Power & Dirty Delta Blues / “Amazing Grace

On July 13, 2009, I wrote a post about the passing of 35-year-old Staff Sgt. Ryan Means. The story behind what led me to write about — and be so affected by — Ryan’s passing began with another blog post, one I wrote to commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/11. For it was in that post that I eulogized another young man, Adam Shelby White, who happened to be Ryan’s best friend. It seems only fitting that two of the posts that were so emotionally hard for me to write still resonate years later. Since my posts about Adam and Ryan, I’ve received comments from and exchanged e-mails with Adam’s father, Ryan’s niece, some of Adam’s friends, and, most recently, Ryan’s Aunt Ann and one of his brothers, Tommy. Thanks to the combined graciousness of Tommy and Ann, they’re allowing me to share the beautiful tribute video Tommy made for his brother to memorialize Ryan on Memorial Day 2010. The video begins with Ryan’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery on August 3, 2009. It ends with photos of Ryan with family, friends, and his Army unit, many showcasing his sense of humor (I’m particularly fond of the one with his daughter on the massage table). One of the most poignant photos is the next-to-last one, a black-and-white photo of a young Ryan holding a young Adam on his shoulders.

I knew before clicking on play that the video would be hard for me to watch. And I did cry for Ryan and his family all over again. But I like to think that maybe, in even the tiniest way, his family knows that I (and other strangers throughout the world) share their grief and they’re not alone in remembering this brave young man, husband, father, son, and brother, and that it helps them a little. I know it helps me.

Ryan Means Tribute Film from Tommy Means on Vimeo.

My eternal gratitude to the Means family for sharing their story with me, and for letting me share it with others.

Please stop by the site for Ryan’s daughters, The Sophie and Elizabeth Education Fund.

Visit the Ryan Patman Means Tribute Page on Facebook.
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Filed under grief, loss, personal, video

Supporting a Local Blogger

Song Lyric of the Day:

One of us is gonna be here / And one of us is gonna be running / Off alone into a great unknown

A Fine Frenzy / “Blow Away

As almost every Knoxville-area blogger (as well as many beyond our city limits) knows by now, one of our own suffered the worst loss on Monday night. Katie Allison Granju, Mamapundit blogger extraordinaire, lost her beautiful 18-year-old son, Henry, 37 days after he was first admitted to the hospital suffering from a massive drug overdose and severe, brutal beating.

I don’t know Katie personally, only through her writing. Having read her blogs (including her one at Babble) for the last two or three years, I feel like I have gotten to know her, though, which is why Henry’s death has been so hard for me to process. It’s why it’s taken me three days to be able to write about it without crying (and as it is, I’m failing at that).

For a while now I’ve enjoyed Katie’s stories about what it’s like to be a busy mom to four — with a fifth on the way — as well as her career trajectory as a social media/PR guru. Which is why it was so heartbreaking to read not only that Henry had been admitted to the hospital but the story behind his four-year history of drug abuse, which Katie finally decided to talk openly about. I — and I suspect many of her other readers — was shocked to read about Henry and the family’s struggles with his addiction. Through it all, though, so many of us in the online community were praying for Henry’s recovery as soon as Katie shared what had happened. And up until last Friday night, when she revealed that Henry had taken a turn for the worse and was in extremely critical condition, I, and everyone else praying for the family, had hope that the small improvements Henry had been making were in fact going to lead to his recovery, however long that might take. By the time she posted the simple and heartbreaking “H is struggling tonight” on Sunday night, I started to get a bad feeling about what the outcome might be. I began checking her site more often than I already had been (multiple times a day) and burst into tears upon reading the simple, devastating update on Monday night. My husband, who knew how upset I was about the story already, did his best to console me. I felt — and still feel — like I lost a loved one, all through the power of Katie’s writing.

I also feel a tremendous empathy for her since, like me, she’s pregnant. I can’t even begin to imagine she must be feeling right now, dealing with the worst grief a parent can experience while … I literally have no words for it. And every time I think of the baby girl she’s carrying and how she won’t get to know her big brother, as well as Henry’s three other siblings, I start crying all over again.

If there’s anything positive that will come out of Henry’s tragic and unnecessary death, it’s his legacy. His family — especially his mother — have shown a strength and grace throughout this whole ordeal that can only be described as inspiring. I hope Katie and her entire family know how loved they are and that they are constantly in my, and countless others’, thoughts. They will be for years to come.

RIP, Henry.

*Special shoutout to Shane Rhyne, Katie’s friend and colleague, for his efforts to get the word out about the foundation, donations for funeral arrangements, and other blogs sharing this story. Everyone should be blessed to have a friend who offers this kind of support when it’s most needed.

UPDATE: The Granju family has started what they hope will be a permanent, endowed fund (non-profit status) to help other families who need help affording drug and alcohol treatment for their children. And, per Katie’s blog, “Now Knoxville music legend Carl Snow has set up a wonderful way for people to donate to Henry’s Fund by offering $1 downloads of the GORGEOUS song he wrote about our boy. Just visit Carl’s site and all the details are there.”

Donations can also be made directly to:
The Henry Louis Granju Memorial Scholarship Fund

(Via administrator James Anderson)
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
2000 Meridian Blvd., Suite 290
Franklin, TN 37067

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Yum Yum

Song Lyric of the Day:

Now I’m calling back for you / I figured out I’m missing you / You’re nowhere to be found / Oh I’ve asked and looked around / Seems you found a better fish / I must confess I had a wish / To love you all along

Nil Lara / “Fighting for My Love

My youngest cat, Yum Yum, died this morning. He was only 10 years old and, hands down, the only pet I’ve ever had who was more like a baby than a pet. I’ll try to write more about him later, since I’m still really weepy at the moment. I can cry more freely at home later than I can in my cube here at work.


Filed under cat, loss

Victor Kinamon

Friday night, Rich, my family, and I attended the receiving of friends and funeral service for Mr. Kinamon. As I wrote the other day, our almost brother-in-law’s father passed away, sooner than we’d anticipated. We knew he was fighting the good fight, and we’d been looking forward to meeting him at his son, Kirk’s, wedding next month, but, sadly, that was not to be. Instead, we offered the little comfort we could in the way of emotional support when Kirk and his family needed it most. To that end, I also went to the interment service yesterday. An Air Force veteran, Mr. Kinamon received full military honors befitting his 13 years of service. I took my camera along, and asked if the family wanted me to take any photos. They said that they did, so I did my best to stay as inconspicuous as possible, capturing the most emotional moments, including when Kirk, in his full uniform (he’s an Army National Guard member) presented the folded flag to his mother. That almost ripped my heart out, but I managed to take a few photos through my tears. And, like everyone else at the service said, I was proud of how Kirk handled himself. More importantly, I know his father would be proud, too.

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Another Loss

Christmas Song Lyric of the Day:

Let loving hearts enthrone Him / Raise, raise the song on high

Sarah McLachlan / “What Child Is This? (Greensleeves)

The year that won’t end keeps on going. Our almost brother-in-law (the wedding is early January) lost his father last night. That’s all I have the energy to say at this point. Please pray for our family. Thanks.


Filed under family, grief, loss, personal