Remembering Ryan

I can’t say that I knew Ryan as well as some of his other friends. Our relationship was solely online, due to the fact that we met shortly after I had moved from Hawaii to Los Angeles last year. The twitter universe pulled us together somehow and suddenly he was this unmistakable presence in the rest of my online life. We interacted regularly and he quickly felt like an old friend. It saddens me greatly that I won’t be able to get to know him better now,  but the part of him he shared with me was something to be admired.

I found out about his tragic death late on Sunday night. People were posting cryptic messages on twitter and my facebook newsfeed became a memorial to him.  At first, I thought maybe he moved out-of-state or perhaps changed jobs. I refused to think the worst, but still scoured the internet for any scrap of information. I often follow Hawaii news, but with the time difference, one news story slipped through the cracks. After about an hour of feeling anxious and confused, the tweets started to mention him directly. A friend of mine DMed me to confirm the news and my heart just broke.  I went back and re-read everything with a heaviness that I still can’t shake.  How could it be that he was suddenly here and now suddenly gone?

Yesterday evening I was talking to my stepdad (who used to work at Kaiser Moanalua) about what had happened.  I didn’t realize he knew Ryan as well and I was reminded of just how far and wide his influence stretched.  It made me smile. My stepdad remembered him fondly, saying he was a very kind-hearted man. “He was quiet at first,” he added. “But a really funny guy.”  I remembered Ryan’s distinct sense of humor on twitter (something I greatly loved and identified with) and how he’d often respond to my own snarky jokes with the same sort of appreciation.

“He was a really hard worker,” he continued. “He always put in 110% at his job. His clients loved him. He was one of the most requested social workers there and it was easy to see why.”

On Twitter, there are different kinds of users. There are those who are just racking up followers for the popularity. They rarely interact with their followers, but just like how their page fills up. Ryan was the opposite. He was popular and loved online because he took the time to engage with people and get to know them.  If someone asked a question or needed input, Ryan was often the first to respond.  You could always rely on him if you needed help, a quality that extended to his personal and professional life as well.

When I came out via the It Gets Better Project last year, Ryan was one of the first to offer his support. Whenever I shared my progress with It Gets Better or posted my other creative work, he’d say how proud he was of me. I knew then what kind of amazing individual he was and I never took the compliment lightly. When he started tweeting about Live Strong in Philly, I made sure to support him in any way I could.  Even now, I will continue to contribute to Live Strong and will do it with him in mind every time.

His presence will be greatly missed online and in real life. Even after hearing the news, I kind of expected to see his tweets fill my page like they do on so many days.

Ryan, today I am sharply reminded of how much better the world was with you in it.

 

OTHER LINKS

  • Ryan Ozawa from HawaiiWeBlog wrote a really touching tribute about Ryan.  He has been updating this entry to include other blogs who have mentioned Ryan, upcoming tribute events,  and news. Keep checking back  there for more.
  • Gene Park from the Star Advertiser wrote a beautiful story about Ryan and his influence in social media. It nearly brought me to tears.

* * *

From Kimo:

Aloha all of Ryan’s friends and family. We are looking to have a presentation about Ryan this Saturday at the Mac user group festival and Annual membership meeting.We need some video and photos so please send them to me: kimos@me.com event: hmaus.org
Please come and enjoy the event and we hope to have a celebration of his participation with his blogs and helping HMAUS.

  • Kimo

    Aloha all of Ryan’s friends and family. We are looking to have a presentation about Ryan this Saturday at the Mac user group festival and Annual membership meeting.We need some video and photos so please send them to me: kimos@me.com event: hmaus.org
    Please come and enjoy the event and we hope to have a celebration of his participation with his blogs and helping HMAUS.

  • http://www.kristelyoneda.com kristel

    Hi Kimo,

    Thank you for the heads up. I’m going to include this comment with my entry so it’s accessible for everyone.