As the latest Giant Bomb Community Endurance Run draws to a close, I'm reminded of Ryan, his life, death and how it affected me. You should understand, when my own grandmother died, I was sad-- but that's it. When Ryan passed, I cried like a baby. So did my wife. The fact of the matter was that we spend more time watching the Giant Bomb crew than just about anything else. Even though he never knew who I was, it was like losing a dear friend. In this, I am no different from anyone else here at Giant Bomb.
Here's where it gets different:
Early last year, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. When Ryan tweeted a picture of himself wired up to an EEG, it looked exactly the same as one I took of myself only a short while before during my own sleep study. When he talked about adjusting to a CPAP, I commiserated, because I was going through precisely the same thing at the same time.
When he died, I deliberately didn't try to find out how he died since the information wasn't forthcoming, and it didn't seem right to dig any deeper. So that was that. Ryan was gone, and any similarities between us were now rendered moot.
Fast forward a few months to last November. For no reason in particular, I decided that maybe it would be okay if I checked to see if anyone had spoken out about how Ryan passed and I found out that it was pretty well accepted that he died from some kind of complication from sleep apnea. The pattern of similarities now had a very scary twist.
A great many things hit me at once. I had just checked my weight, and I had topped 300 lbs for the first time in my life. I thought about Ryan's widow's tweets following his death, and thought of my own wife writing similar messages if I kept following in his footsteps. I thought of the pain that Ryan's family and friends expressed, and what their statements would sound like if Ryan's name were replaced with my own. All of a sudden, the threat of death caused by my weight and lifestyle became more chillingly real than it ever had before.
And so, I made a decision that day. I couldn't let a death so great as Ryan's go to waste. His death held a potentially life-saving lesson for me, and to ignore it would essentially involve me turning my back on someone who worked so hard to bring joy to my life and the life of all of us in the Giant Bomb family. It would be downright disrespectful. I couldn't let that happen.
So here we are, four more months down the line. I watch what I eat and count my calories carefully. I have a treadmill that I use no less than four times a week. I'm up to nearly 4 miles per workout, half running half walking. I've started strength training on days that I don't run, too. In short, I've lost nearly 30 pounds, and I'm aiming for more. And every time I turn on the treadmill, and every time I grab the weights, and every time I say no to seconds when I'm not hungry it's Ryan's face that I see. His memory (along with the support of my wonderful and beautiful wife) gives me the strength to do the things I never used to be able to. I've kept it up for 4 full months. I have a long way to go, but I've started down this path, and I never would have even gotten started without the lesson Ryan taught me.
Ryan, I dearly miss you and the joy you brought to the world around you, but I honor your death in working to make sure that the same thing doesn't happen to me and the people I love. As long as I keep going, I'm heading to a better, more stable place that I have been in years.
In a very real sense, you have saved my life.