August 29, 2004
Delivered by his father
First, let me thank each of you who have spoken today about Ryan. Your heartfelt thoughts and reflections mean so much to Joyce and to me and to our family. And, also, let me thank each of you who have come from near and far to celebrate Ryan's shining light. Your presence here today means so very much to us.
I would like take a few moments to leave you with one last thought about Ryan -- what I believe Ryan's life really meant.
We all observed this multi-talented young man's ability to sing, to compose music, and to write hauntingly beautiful songs. We read from his work-in-progress novel about being a desk clerk, or listened as he enthusiastically read it to us. We reacted instinctively to his intense and quasi-religious paintings. At each contact, he made us wonder and marvel about "the world according to Ryan." At each contact, we basked in the glow of his raw charisma.
To the outside world, Ryan was alive and on fire with talent and promise. To those who knew him best and who loved him, we were always aware that his dark side was hiding just out of view.
But there was more, and to understand Ryan we must go deeper beneath the surface. On further examination and reflection, however, the answer suddenly becomes apparent.
The sum and substance of Ryan Licht Sang was that he was a Warrior of the first magnitude. Each day for Ryan for the last twenty years was a battle -- an unseen conflict of epic proportions. From the moment Ryan opened his eyes in the morning, he heard the clarion call to arms. Like a knight in shining armor in a constant battle with a fiery two-headed dragon, Ryan stepped up to the plate and gave it his all. His goals were admirable -- to make his way in life as a productive artist and to be a first rate citizen. His dark side, however, was like a volcano of molten lava ready to explode and wipe out the village below.
But Ryan came to each new day with courage -- such remarkable courage. Holding down the demons, pushing them back into their lairs, fighting with all his strength just to get past the deafening noise in his head. To the outside world, his ups and downs looked like creative eccentricity, to Ryan it was a battle for survival.
When Ryan was thirteen, he began writing songs -- one song after another. And when he was fourteen, he recorded a CD with his friend Kendall who also died when he was twenty-four. Let me read just four lines from one of his early songs:
The devils came out last night
And I'm surprised that I survived
And I'm gone but not forgotten
Death waits near the bottom.
Even at thirteen, Ryan, the Warrior, was under siege. And yet, throughout the battle, Ryan's magnificent courage shone through. He would not be defeated. He would charge at the enemy with all of his might, his head held high, his beliefs and values emblazoned on his shield.
So I want to leave you with just this thought -- as you remember Ryan, as you reflect on how Ryan touched your life -- know that his true legacy is one of a great and brave Warrior who cared so deeply and loved so deeply that, despite his many war wounds, he kept on trying to impart to each of us his shining spirit and zest for life. No matter how terrible the battle, no matter how horrible the struggle, the true Ryan was always there, reporting for duty day-after-day, even in the face of overwhelming odds -- ready to defend his honor, ready to stand up for those he loved. Although Ryan has left the building, his spirit -- the spirit of Ryan the Warrior -- will live on in each of us.