Like most of you reading this, I had a difficult week. The passing of a loved one makes it difficult to comprehend how life can go on without them. Never having the chance to meet that person is all the more confusing. Ryan was an inspiration and a testament for how life should be lived: Full and nothing less. I hope writing about my experience dealing with this loss may help others heal, including myself. Ryan would want that and this is for him.
I am a huge fan of Giant Bomb, and have been for many years now. I spend each week listening to the Bombcast, watching Quicklooks, peeking into Mailbags, and going to the various conventions alongside the Giant Bomb crew. Any frustrations fade each time I tune in. Giant Bomb is a digital stress ball or depending on the outcome of my day, a celebratory toast. Over time I started to realize that the reasons for visiting the site had less and less to do with my love of games and more about spending time with the crew. Their impact on me was helping in my own life's endeavors, while keeping me sane and reminding me to appreciate my surroundings more each day. When I heard the news of Patrick moving away, i knew I wanted to keep in touch with the crew. That's when I decided to become a member and I rushed to my computer to sign up. Hearing the sounds of the guys cheering for me felt validating as hell. "I'm in the family", I thought. That day was Sunday, July 7th.
The following morning was surreal and devastating. Like a lot of you, when I read the post of Ryan's passing, I thought it was a joke. I held my breath and went to other sites in hopes that there was some sort of detail I had missed that debunked the whole thing. It quickly became evident. Ryan was gone. At that point I put my head down and struggled to keep it together. The weight of the news continued to hold me down while I attempted to work. "I'm getting out of here", I decided. When I went to talk to my boss, I had full intentions of being stoic and collected. That is not what happened. I fell apart immediately. When asked what was wrong all I could mutter through my sobbing was "My friend died." He understood and let me leave to process. On the long drive home, questions like "Why does this mean so much to me?" and "How can I be so attached to a stranger?" flooded my mind. I needed understanding. When I got home and saw how the online gaming community was responding, clarity came to me. Ryan was undeniably genuine. Everyone knew it. He wasn't some actor or musician performing on stage. He was an open-hearted guy that wanted everyone to experience life alongside him. He always pulled others in and never pushed them away. That was evident to everyone who had the privilege of knowing him, up close or afar. He was teaching us how life is meant to be lived without himself or any of us realizing. For that I am eternally grateful.
During my first week of being an official member on the site, I am faced with an incredible opportunity. This aftermath has helped me realize how loving the gaming community can be. It's less about video games and more about all of us sharing our love of life together. Thank you Ryan for paving that path for us all.