I apologize if this meanders a bit, and isn't beautifully written like other blogs have been recently. I've so many things to say, but have been having a hard time putting words together to express it.
I don't like death. Ok, sure, no one likes death, but I super don't like death. I wouldn't go to my own funeral if I could help it. At my great grandmother's funeral with whom I'd never shared words, I bawled. Same with my uncle who I didn't care much for. I went to a friend's father's wake to show my respects, then ducked out before the funeral started. I suppose it's not death itself that bothers me. Obviously we all die. It's just a thing that happens, right? It's the memories that really get me. It's the fact that the person no longer exists.
I've followed the Giantbomb crew since I was 16 years old, peaking snippets of video reviews and On the Spot when my computer teacher wasn't looking. I was there for blonde, soft-spoken-as-fuck-and-super-awkward-on-camera Ryan. I was there for that crazy knife show video Jeff talked about on the Bombcast. I was there, obviously, for Kane & Lynch and the eventual forming of Arrow Pointing Down and birth of Giantbomb. I've followed what these guys have done for nearly half my life and enjoyed every god damn minute of content they've put out over the years.
Jeff was right in what he said on the podcast. Someone does need to put out a book on how to grieve in a post-social media world. I've never met Ryan in my life. Never exchanged a single word, be it in person, over a red phone, or via customer support e-mails. I've only ever experienced his magic over the interwebs by way of Quick Looks, Endurance Runs, BLLSL's, PAX Panels, Bombcasts, or exclusive reveals of Buckner & Garcia's latest hot jams. Upon hearing of his passing, I was suddenly struck with feelings that genuinely confused me, and made me think about how the internet has changed how friendships and relationships can form. I, along with many others in this community, formed an odd, one-sided bond with Ryan and the crew. One we didn't even realize had formed until Monday. It felt like I had lost a close friend. Someone I'd spent many hours joking around with, hanging out, playing video games, and flushing objects down toilets that had no business being anywhere near a bathroom.
The site was still here, but a void had been formed. Giantbomb had lost it's face man. Upon telling my wife of the news (I had to show her a picture of Ryan, as she doesn't read the site at all, but generally can figure out who I'm talking about based on a description or picture), her response was simple, but profound.
"Oh, him? But he is Giantbomb!"
I'm still not sure what it was about hearing those words from her, someone to whom Giantbomb was just a site on which I spent way too much time, but it struck me with a sudden realization: the emptiness and sorrow I'd felt all day were ok. It wasn't weird or confusing. She was right. Sure, obviously Brad, Jeff, Vinny, Patrick, Alex, Alexis, Matt, Andy, and any others I'm missing are all a part of what makes this site as awesome as it is.
But Ryan was Giantbomb. He was the host of just about every show this site has put on over the years, but more than that, he was the main attraction. The spotlight was on him, and god damn if it didn't suit him. As the guys discussed on the podcast, he was just always on, clearly having the time of his life any time those cameras were rolling and some dumb game was on screen (NO NO NO! DON'T SHAKE THE BABY!).
In some ways, we've lost Giantbomb. I mean, sure, the site will continue on, and it'll continue to be great. But without Ryan there, Giantbomb as we knew it has passed on with him. Now we painfully transition into Giantbomb: The Second Age, where things aren't worse, and definitely not the same, but will never be better than the Age of Taswell. It'll be different.
Just before starting this blog, I was finishing up the recent Bombcast. As the crew thanked Ryan for everything he's done, and all the ways he's enriched their lives like no one else on this earth could do, hearing their voices begin to crack for the first time on the site since the announcement, for the first time since my uncle's funeral five or six years ago, I let my emotions tear down the icy walls around my heart (the same walls that kept this motherfucker's eyes dry throughout The Notebook) and cried like you only ever cry when you've lost someone close to you. Because Ryan deserves those tears. Because in this digital age, you can have friends who you've never met, damn it. Social "norms" be damned. Because Ryan was a friend to all of us.
We've all lost our friend.
It's ok to cry.