I learned on Wednesday of the death of my son. He wasn't my biological son since I don't have any of those. He was my spiritual child. Ryan was the type of kid that lit up the room when he entered. He was faithful in terms of mass attendance, even enduring the constant Iowa State Cyclone joke I told despite being a ardent Iowa Hawkeye. He had numerous health problems and died from one of them.
Ryan showed me what it means when they call me father. He often came into my office and unloaded problems onto my shoulders. School was hard and, even though he was not the type of person that gave up easily, he eventually had to go to a smaller school with more personalized attention. I helped him come to peace with that decision and mourned when he left to go across state, vowing that I would stay in touch. Now I mourn that he has left forever. I will miss him.
But, I have learned from him and I will remember him. Whenever I ask someone to hold my book at our 10:00 mass on Thursdays, I will think of how he used to do that. When I see someone walking towards me chewing gum in the student center, I will think of him. I will thank God that he put someone like Ryan into my life and let me be his father.