This is Ryans story and it was written by his loving sister Farren Smith. We want you to read this and realize how very proud of Ryan that we are. We are proud of his strength and devotion to his family and friends. If you were counted as a friend you were lucky. We were all lucky to have known and loved him.
February 16, 1973 – September 30, 2005
From birth, Ryan was our lighthearted joy who brought a smile to everyone who knew him. Even as a shy little boy, Ryan’s quick wit and ability to make people laugh at themselves drew people to him. Although he was extremely bright, Ryan devoted himself more to bicycle racing than high school. He became a very successful BMX racer whose team toured all over the US, Mexico and England.
After graduation, Ryan stayed close to home, family and close friends by joining the family business, Gaston & Sheehan, Auctioneers. Here he became an accomplished auctioneer and appraiser. Ryan became well known for his fantastic taste and style, with a fabulous eye for fine jewelry.
In 1995, Ryan married his high school sweetheart, Lisa Lucas Rzepniewski. Although the marriage lasted a short time, Lisa remained one of his closest and dearest friends who always stood by him in difficult times. Ryan also adored Lisa’s daughters and treated them like the children he did not get to have. Throughout everything, Ryan maintained his kind, loving nature. He was known for crying at sad movies and stopping on the side of the highway to rescue animals.
In 1998 Ryan began his struggle with bipolar disorder, which manifested itself as addiction. As the years passed, Ryan went through several treatment programs for the addiction, but the bipolar disorder grew more intense. Doctors prescribed him mountains of medications, none of which alleviated the pain which grew daily inside him. While he lost this battle he won the war as Ryan died clean and sober.
Through everything, Ryan did not want his friends and family to worry about him. He hated causing us any pain. On the outside, he seemed to be the same happy person. The only tears he wanted us to cry were those of laughter- usually when he was making fun of us. However, on the inside the darkness of his disease completely consumed him. Ryan wore himself out trying to battle his own demons while shielding his family from sensing his despair.
We who love Ryan refuse to let his life be defined by his death. The following passage was given to us by some very dear friends from “the Healing of Sorrow,” by Norman Vincent Peale:
“Our friend died on his own battlefield. He was killed in action fighting a civil was. He fought against adversaries that were as real to him as his casket is to us. They were powerful adversaries. They took toll of his energies and endurance. They exhausted the last vestiges of his courage and strength. At last these adversaries overwhelmed him. And it appeared that he lost the war. But did he? I see a host of victories that he has won!
For one thing – he has won our admiration – because even if he lost the war, we give him credit for bravery on the battlefield. And we credit for the courage and pride and hope that he used as his weapons as long as he could. We shall remember him not for his death, but for the daily victories gained through his kindness and thoughtfulness, through his love for family and friends, for animals and books and music, for all things beautiful, lovely and honorable. We shall remember that he was victorious over overwhelming odds. We shall remember not the years we thought he had left, but the intensity with which he lived the years he had!
Only God knows what this child of His suffered in the silent skirmishes that took place in his soul. But our consolation is that God does know and understands!”