This page was set up to remember Ryan Todd, the son, the brother, the husband and father. Ryan was only 28 when his life ended. He was married to Teryn less than a year and he and Teryn had just celebrated the birth of their son, Daniel Everett Todd on December 30, 2004. Ryan had wanted the baby to be named after his father who had died in November and to whom he had been very close. Daniel was also named after Ryan’s grandfather, whose name was Everett (Daniel was born on the same day as Everett).
One of the first things our daughter,Teryn, said when she told us she had met someone was, “...and he’s a Christian.” His Uncle Greg said that Ryan was, that he was with Ryan when he asked Christ into his heart. Ryan may not have lived out his life in obedience to all the principals of Christianity, but who does. The beauty and the whole point of the Christian faith is that we can’t always hang onto God, but having accepted salvation and placing our life in God’s hand, He holds onto us. And God does not let go. We can find comfort in that God held onto Ryan and holds him now.
We knew Ryan through the good and the bad. And what we want to do is celebrate the good. We know the heart of Ryan was to be a man of character. We talked about this last summer. He told us that he loved our daughter very much. That he wanted to take care of her, of Riley, of the new baby. And he was sincere. When he and Teryn exchanged vows in our backyard before all of us, before Pastor Phil, Teryn’s grandpa, before God, Ryan meant it. And we want to honor the purity of that desire to love, be loved, and to do good. And so now is the time we simply need to focus on the positive. It is what Ryan would want—certainly what anybody would want.
Ryan spent the last 4 or 5 months of his life caring for his father, Dan, and spending time with him. Ryan’s dad lost his legs to a vascular disease, and Ryan insisted that his dad still get out and go places, and Ryan took him. However, Dan passed away in November. Jeanne, Ryan’s mom, said Ryan and Dan had a very special relationship. They were best friends. Greg said that no two people in this life made him laugh like the two of them.
Ryan was blessed in his little brother. When Justin comes to California, it is like the sun has finally arrived. Ryan was so proud and would talk about him. And yet Justin I am told spent most of his life looking up to his Big Brother. And his absolute love and devotion to Ryan is apparent even now, in his concern and care for Teryn and Daniel, taking a few minutes away from his own grief to play ball with Riley. Justin is the rock here. After receiving the devastating news, he flew out from Ohio immediately with Colin their friend, to take on as much as he could of this tragedy, putting aside his own pain for a while to care for his mom and help those around him. And we all love him for that, for his strength. Justin wrote a beautiful letter that was read at the memorial service. You can read it here: Justin’s letter to Ryan.
Ryan loved Riley. When Teryn was working, Ryan would cook Riley dinner. They would get ice cream, go swimming, fun stuff they only did when Teryn wasn’t with them. And if Teryn was cooking dinner, Ryan and Riley would pop their heads into the kitchen to say they were going out to the pool and run for it.
During this last Christmas holiday, Riley, Ryan, Jeanne, and Teryn all played Candyland. Ryan loved to torment Riley about who was winning the Candyland War. Every time they would pull a card they would taunt each other, holding up a double blue square card and going “Ha! In your face!” Riley loved it.
Recently, we were sort of coaching Riley to share something he remembers about Ryan. We asked about the laser tag game. When they were at a Target store not long ago, Ryan and Riley came running up to Teryn and Jeanne like six year olds, their eyes huge with excitement waving the laser tag box. Teryn and Jeanne said they didn’t know who was more excited about it. We asked Riley, “Do you remember playing laser tag with Ryan outside Greg’s house in the dark?” Riley smiled, nodded his head wisely and said, “Oh yeah. And he cheated!” and he went on to describe how Ryan stood behind the neighbor’s fence and used his 6'5" advantage to tag Riley with the laser. Riley figured since there was no mercy, all bets were off, and he could cover his laser target with his hand.
One of the things Ryan was excited about was becoming a part of this family. The day he married Teryn, he did. He was accepted unequivocally by Teryn’s brothers and sisters simply because Teryn loved him. It was that desire to love and be loved that had led him to carry an engagement ring mold around in his pocket, secretly showing it to his future mother-in-law and asking, “Do you think she’ll like it?”
Right after they were married, the family came into the house for a moment. He turned and threw his arms around Shelly and said; “Now you’re my mother-in-law!” Like that was a wonderful thing. Not the common reaction in acquiring a mother-in-law! But that was Ryan. He loved the idea. And he made us laugh. Ryan made many people laugh.
Shelly said this, “I would like to take a moment to say how much we admire our daughter. She held on to hope for Ryan. She loved him. She loved the person she knew. When Ryan was at a low point and so confused, he asked me to just tell him what Teryn wanted. I told him. “Oh Ryan. There’s just one thing she wants. For you guys to be a family. That is all she wants.” And Teryn fought for that. Staying in contact when Ryan was in Ohio. Answering his phone calls usually late at night or early in the morning, discussing everything from deer roasting, to the baby’s name, to the perks of living in Ohio. She insisted that he be with her for the baby’s birth. Holding on to the hope that Ryan could be the man she knew he could be. Ryan was very lucky. And he knew it. Recently, a note from Ryan to Teryn was found in a stack of paperwork. The note was a beautiful apology and a hearfelt expression of his love and his desire to be with her forever.”
Ryan had a very special relationship with so many people, with all the different members of his family. He had a close relationship with his grandmother. Jeanne said Ryan was the only one who could get her to go out. He would call up the stairs and say, “Come on Grandma. We’re going to town.” And she would get dressed and come downstairs saying, “I guess I’m going to town” because Ryan insisted. Ryan was notorious for his tall tales; he and Justin would torment their poor grandma on a regular basis with some made-up story.
He had a very special relationship with his aunts who are close in age to him. They grew up together and as Amy said, were more like brothers and sisters. They look like his sisters; the similarity is striking. And they loved him dearly. Amy, Carrie, and Gale flew out as soon as they heard of his death, to be with Jeanne and offer strength and support. And to mourn the loss of someone who was more than a nephew, but a friend to them.
He had a special relationship with his uncles. His uncle Greg was his best man. The two of them could talk for hours, brainstorming. Greg loved him like a brother or son, and he tried to do what was right by him because of that love. And Greg did. And even though he was grieving, Ryan’s uncle Wayne opened his home and held a vigil of support that was a bulwark of comfort to Greg, Jeanne, and Teryn. To all of us.
He had a very special relationship with his mom. A mom’s love is sometimes the only anchor that holds you when things get rough, and, even if it’s tough love, you know it is unconditional love, love that you never question. You just know it is there. Always. Jeanne was the anchor. And she held onto Ryan as tight as she could and never gave up hope. He was so blessed in his mother. And Ryan knew it, always speaking of her with respect and love to us.
Ryan’s family is a wonderful family. We sensed that before we met Jeanne and Dan. Ryan would talk about his family with pride, about his heritage, about Ohio winters and the secret intricacies of Greek soup and Mazza salad. The traditional New Years Pork and Sauerkraut. Followed by the traditional spaghetti and sauerkraut—a celebration of ethnic food in one pot I guess, that Ryan would prepare. He loved to cook. He just didn’t like to clean up the massive mess he made. But what cook does. Teryn said he would barbeque every night if he could. Biscuits and gravy are big in Ohio. Ryan and Dan were also big on gravy. She remembers the lamb gravy he made for breakfast one morning in Ohio. Any meat that was available could be made into gravy, as far as Ryan was concerned. Teryn remembers his attempt at baloney gravy. When Dan was out here it was their mission to find good biscuits and gravy. For everyone’s information, Norm’s and Ruby’s were their good “gravy spots”.
Ryan was such a big kid. Shelly said, “I will never, never forget Ryan’s face in the delivery room, when Daniel Everett was born. I looked over at Ryan and tears were streaming down his face; he was weeping with joy. I laughed and told him what a beautiful son he had. Ryan followed the baby over to the bassinette where they were cleaning him up, suctioning, and all that. Ryan put his arm around Jeanne, leaned into her ear and in a concerned voice said, “Oh, Mom. What’s wrong with his head?” Again, I laughed. We reassured him that it would look normal in a few minutes. Ryan had not really been prepared for the delivery room but he took it in stride and wouldn’t have missed it for the world. And we can be thankful that before Ryan was taken, he had the profound joy of experiencing the birth of his son.”
Teryn was still in the hospital on New Years Eve. Ryan and Jeanne had spent the day with Teryn, holding the baby. They went home that evening. But Ryan felt bad about leaving Teryn. So he went back. However, the hospital was locked up for the night. But Ryan found a way in (I think he snuck in through the emergency room). At the nurse’s station, he asked for a cot to be put in his wife’s room, so he could stay the night. And then he surprised Teryn by walking in at five minutes to midnight with a bottle of Sparkling Cider. And so, all 6 foot 5 inches of him spent a cramped, uncomfortable night on a tiny cot. The cot made a noise every time he moved, keeping both Ryan and Teryn awake. So Ryan held the baby for most of the night and hardly moved at all.
And if anybody else gets to hold Daniel Everett Todd besides his mother or a doting Nana, you are lucky. Enjoy the moment. And if you are holding that baby, you are holding the good and best part of Ryan Patrick Todd, a young man who was dynamic, charismatic, who loved conversation, people, loved life. And was very loved.
And that is what we can take to heart. We really hold children for such a short time and then they are off to Kindergarten, their first overnighter, camp, college, and their own life—or in some cases to a fate we don’t foresee. So we hold them as close and with as much love as we can because one day, inevitably, we will have to let them go.
We would like to extend our gratitude and love for the outpouring of sympathy, for the beautiful flowers, comforting cards, for all thoughtfulness, for the flood of friends and family who crowded into our home, for those who arranged for food and brought it, for co-workers willing to do anything to help. We are amazed at the thoughtful establishment of a fund by a group of college buddies; we are truly moved by the subsequent generous donations. It is difficult to express, except to say that in the face of something so wrong and bad as the circumstances of this tragedy, we are so comforted by the goodness and the kindness of people, and their desire to help.
Shelly said, “My last memory of Ryan is of him carrying Daniel in his little car seat through the pouring torrential rain with such care, and standing, dripping at the door, delivering him safely to our home. And I am going to hold on to that memory as symbolic somehow for Ryan’s last wish. That he was handing off the care of his three-week old son to all of us, the Todd’s and the Rather’s, people he loved and knew he could trust.”
To contact Teryn via email, click the link below.