It began in 2015, when I first got the hardest kind of news – that someone I had once been close with had, in fact, passed away. The first angel that left my world too young was named Dalton Bane.
How does one describe Dalton Bane? Dalton was one of the most kind, loving, genuine, ball of fun. He was in the same grade as I was and the same age as me…I could not understand how and why this happened. I first met Dalton at our mutual friend, Nadia Graham’s 16th birthday party, which was held at the Omni Hotel in Broomfield, Colorado. This was a huge deal, as a high schooler all you ever wanted was an excuse to do dumb things with your friends, with the assurance you had s place to sleep. I was very excited, except that I knew no one at this party, since Nadia had just transferred schools. I am awkward to get to know, but after a few shots of vodka, I can be petty friendly. Out of the 20 people that had attended the birthday party, Dalton was the first person to approach me and make. y time a little awkward. It did not take long for us to get stuck in the bathroom together – I believe that, after hanging out for 40 minutes in the bathroom, we tried to put on fake eyelashes onto each other. The rest of the night was so much simpler and fun with Dalton right by my side, entertaining and cheering me on. I did not see much of Dalton once I began attending school in Niwot, no longer was I in Broomfield.
Thank goodness, college graced us an opportunity to reunite once again. Dalton was still the fun, sassy, loving, and amazing human being ever. Nothing has changed since I had last seen him. We picked up our friendship where it ended, and spent a handful of nights doing silly things. His energy could light up an entire universe. Giving Dalton a hug is like giving LOVE a hug. Every hug was warmer than a warm welcome. Dalton’s outgoing nature was unmatched, and his ability to share love and kindness with strangers was moving. You can never be mad at Dalton, because his soul was so pure. His energy was so kind and inviting, it was truly intoxicating. He was such a powerful person, who radiated joy and innocence, yet I feel as though he had no idea how incredibly moving his presence was. One of. u favorite memories with Dalton was during the infamous Boulder Flood, and I believe we played lacrosse inside. Either Dalton or I broke a mirror doing this, and Dalton had to walk me back to my dorm room. Even when he was taking care of me, he made sure I was okay and put me to bed, then made friends with all my dorm hall mates. How someone can be so personable still baffles me!
Beyond his incredible personality and demeanor. Dalton was incredibly intelligent. I do not think people recognized how intelligent he was, and I can say that I am guilty of this. Dalton had the power to change the world and help so many souls, if only he was not taken from us so early.
What I hope he knows is that even with his short life, his existence alone brought so much life, happiness, and compassion to a world that sometimes can be dark, cruel, and unamusing.
Dalton is an angel among angels, still doing his due diligence to bring life, positivity and joy to people, uplifting thousands of other souls with his incredible spirit.
After Dalton passing, I experienced two more friends passing. Each one was on the first Monday of a new month, so the beginning of each month on Monday was rough. While I am not quite ready to speak about these deaths, to those beautiful souls, I miss you.
Some time passed and death had seemed to given me a break and a minute to breathe.
This was until yet another incredibly young, intelligent, authentic, empathetic, kind, graceful, and gangster young man, who went by the name of Ryder Johnson slipped through my fingers. Ryder J, as I called him, was one of my best friends, as I spent days on end hanging out with hiking, listening to Juicy J, doing reckless things, going on impromptu adventures, and smoking a Ryder J blunt (sorry, mom and dad!). Oh my goodness, where do I begin with Ryder. To begin, I was honored to be friends with him and did not deserve the kindness and compassion that he exuded.
The first time I met Ryder, it was August 2013 and it was a beginning of four inseparable years together. I miss him so much. I will never forget meeting him for the first time. Within 30 minutes of meeting me, he spoke to me some of the kindest words I have ever heard about myself. He claimed, “Aichan, you are one of the most amazing, awesome, hilarious people I have ever met. I hope you never are unhappy.” This, coming from one of the most selfless and generous people I have ever come across was so humbling. While Ryder J, my boy, had his faults and his ups-and-downs, just like anyone else and struggled with some backlash, I saw so much good in him. Ryder Johnson taught me so much – I still look up to him. He’s soul was just GOOD, and the endless lectures about how never to rip anyone off, be mean to people, and always give to others more than what they are expecting. And, by that, I meant to say that Ryder would lecture me about the importance of kindness and that doing others wrong is simply no way to live. It was incredible – he literally had no bone in his body, nor would his soul let him, ever not go above and beyond for a person. His nature to do good and always participate in the act of random acts of kindness was so natural and genuine. Ryder never had a bad intention in his heart, somehow, someway he just was not programmed to do that.
Ryder’s love for nature and hiking helped bond us very quickly, as we explored so many trails all over the Boulder County area. Our summers consisted of meeting up with Ryder and him hopping in his car, driving us to a random trail and enjoying nature.
Beyond that, no matter how bad he was struggling, he never broke his ability to be there for others. His mission on Eartb was to make others happy. No matter what went wrong, he always made time to ask people about their days and be there for others.
Ryder J’s intelligence and hard work-ethic was unmatched. I was able to truly get to know him, after four years straight of spending time with each other. Ryder had a lot of similar qualities that I have, so it made it very easy for us to bond and understand each other.
Similar to me, Ryder made some ridiculous decisions He loved to have fun! I am a dork and let’s say I was making some reckless decisions, and PARTY, if you know what I mean. Ryder had a similar attitude, as well. While our choices may not have appeared to be healthy, we never meant to inflict hurt, wanted to play super hard with our friends. share our goodies, etc. Of course, what we were partying with may not be in our best interest, however, we were both young and naive. These impulsive actions we would engage in were to truly have fun, but sometimes. for both of us, it would become a coping mechanism. He was truly great at asking his feelings and maintaining his loving composure, without letting on that we may have been struggling. We both loved to counteract our stressors with work and partying. No matter what the circumstance, or what happened, Ryder never judged me, always made sure I was okay, and laughed when I may have been too reckless, because he even knew I did not do it on purpose. He laughs at the fact that the minute I make the mistake of accidentally intaking too many substances, without thinking, he laughs and I sit in regret, which then makes him laugh even more.
Simply put, judgement was not one of Ryder’s skills. It seemed like all of Boulder County knew him, but everyone was always happy to see him. He always checked up on even people who were strangers, and wanted to go out of his way to make others comfortable, because he knew what it was like to feel uncomfortable.
This behavior got us both backlash, and while, it was painful and I was unable to look beyond the fact that my intentions were genuine. and that they were actually worrying others
However, the partying gets old for both of us, as we both loved puffing, puffing, and passing, over drinking, among other things. So, to mask out stress once again, we choose to engaging in rigorous working habits. While many people may not think I work hard, I love money (so did he) and it’s a great distraction. I also enjoy working hard and having a good schedule.
One of my favorite qualities of Ryder was his ability to be so giving. Essentially, Ryder never said “no” to anything. If you needed a ride, Ryder would drive to where you were and come to drive you back home. If you needed a bite to eat and you were broke, Ryder had you. Mi casa, to a certain extent, was his casa. When it came to sharing, Ryder did not know how know to share. He physically could not share and he never held this against you. In fact, he got joy from sharing and helping others.
This was a unique best friend to have around. Thank you so much, Ryder J for all the good times and the smiles.
“F**K SCHOOL NI**A. IMMA BE A DOPE DEALER.”
“THREE X***X THAT’S A MIND ERASER – ALL THE MONEY AND CARS. IMMA NEVER SLEEP ALONE.” (Thank you for introducing me to Berner, and teaching me that Berner created the strain Girl Scout Cookies)
“JUICY J CAN’T.”
Ryder J was what I would have called a humble hustler, with disco-ball tendencies. By disco-ball tendencies, I am referring to the life of a party. Oh, that Ryder had a smiled pasted on his face so wide all the time.
This kid was so nice that when one acquaintance stole about $300 worth of glasswear, on top of $500 worth of “smokeables,” he still had it in the heart to forgive him and smile at him.
Many would assume that because his family was financially stable that he would be far from humble, but he contradicted that completely.
Shh, do not tell. But, a Colorado governor’s son actually even stole merchandise from Ryder, which is exactly what Ryder was not. Not matter what kind of family you came from or what kind of wealth you came from, Ryder did not disregard you, degrade you, or not try to help you out. Another misconception – yes, he worked full-time, even off-season at Eldora Ski Resort, working on snow mobiles from 6am to 5pm. He worked even on the off-season. So, everything that he shared unlimitedly with others was using his own income.
No matter what his work ethic and motivation, as well as his character, radiated. He had so many interests and was so curious to carpé every diem that he sometimes found himself unable to just focus on one. When you have that many talents, HOW CAN YOU PICK ONE? You just want to be good at everything, or I at least do. One thing that Ryder excelled in was his ability to commit to executing his projects, or at least attempting them.
His disappearance occurred January 17, 2016. His disappearance really hurt me, because I was one of the last people to communicate to him before his disappearance and I had been the first person to file the police report on January 16, 2016.
There were many factors that played up leading to this event, and I often believe that if I had just followed through with this one request, this would have never happened.
Ryder J. went missing at Gross Reservoir, his favorite place in the world. In fact. a few months back we had just been drinking Smirnoff Ice’s at Gross Reservoir at night, trying to decide whether to camp or not. There was this other thing that we tried to hike around the entire reservoir, and we found a cliff jumping spot. I got scared, because Ryder’s more of a daredevil than me. He yelled me to just jump in the water and told me I would regret it if I didn’t. I did regret it.
The reason why this death took such a hit on me was how closely associated I was to his disappearance, though I did not commit the act, I just happened to have heard from a friend via text that Ryder was either dead or missing…Beyond that, there were other small details. After that text from my friend, I didn’t know what else to do other than to file a report, based on the text. That night he was supposed to meet my friend at Gross Reservoir, but he stopped answering his phone. I was speechless, as there was no conclusive answer. I did not even know if he was dead or missing, stating to a group of people, “I think my friend may be dead or missing.” However, the police were not responsive about my phone call, as I was missing his personal information, including his address and phone numbers.
His disappearance left everyone confused, lost and curious about what truly happened. The next day, my deepest nightmare. had been confirmed. The police, among others, searched everywhere and he was nowhere to be found. Many friends and acquaintances came up to me asking if I had heard anything, due to the nature of our friendship. I spent nights replaying what I had heard from the sources before the police were informed, wondering what could have gone wrong.
In my eyes, Ryder J. loved life too much to commit suicide, especially at his favorite place. I know this for a fact. Also, Ryder was one of the most on-time and accountable person ever – you never have any doubts with him.
The whole situation was ironic, as we all waited for his body to emerge in the reservoir, or on trails nearby. Nothing showed for months.
But, in June 2016, I made the decision to go to the police, after replaying the day and what happened that day. I contacted his mother and was picked up in a swat car, in the hopes that my minor information could give some insight. The entire time I was filmed on camera, while I was interviewed for a third-degree murder case. My interview lasted three hours and I did my best to try to provide as much information as possible. I even gave up my phone for evidence, seeing that I had been in contact with Ryder around that time.
After the interview, I knew that while my information was better than nothing it was not anything useful. I got to spend 30 minutes after with Cindy Johnson, post-interview. We spoke a lot, we cried a lot, and she thanked me for trying. I told her how much Ryder taught me and that I always knew he was a good kid. The hardest part, however, was when I told her that I believed he was dead, based on an intuition. Even though, deep down I wanted Ryder to be running around in Hawaii, doing water sports, or running around South America hiking his butt off. In that moment, we locked eyes, and somehow just through the look we shared, it was obvious to both of us that we have begun losing faith about the idea that Ryder was still out there. In that instance, we broke down in tears. It was painful, telling a mother his son is mostly likely dead is hard to say. She appreciated the honesty and embraced me with compliments that I did not deserve. She looked at me before she left the interview room and told me. “If you can’t be strong for yourself, do it for Ryder please.” I sat there and asked her, “why Ryder, but not me? I am not half the man he is.” She reminded me that he was her best friend, but I cannot think like that, because Ryder would want me to alive and happy.
And, she made sure to tell me, “I will not get closure until I know where he is, or where his body is.” I promised that I would do whatever I could do to make that happen.
In this instance, my whole world changed, as I was clinging onto faith that what I said would help and sat annoyed at myself for not saying anything sooner. No matter how many times Cindy thanked me for being the only one to come forward of his friends, I knew it was not as good of a friend that Ryder had been to me.
To say that Ryder’s death shook my world is an understatement, while I had experienced this before, this one really hurt me the most and changed me the most. I realized that it is important to take care of your friends – no matter how long you wait to end up calling the Boulder County Sherriff’s Office to provide information about a case that was closed, after failed search parties.
Finally, September 2017, Ryder, Cindy, Rick, and Taylor could all somewhat get some closure, as Ryder’s body has been found by a fisherman floating in the water. After a year and a half of no answers, no bodies, or no suspects, the only thing that came of the discovery was finally having an answer to the impossible question. His life was celebrated, as his father beautifully worded Ryder’s beautiful nature so perfectly.
I struggled to deal with my emotions. as one chapter of some of my trauma had come to a close.
In the Fall of 2016, however, I also encountered the news of losing another two beautiful, young souls. God bless, Trevor McConnell and Martin(i). These two beautiful souls passed around the same time unfortunately. While I was much closer with Trevor. as he was my neighbor for an entire year, and let’s just say I spent a lot of time at his house, avoiding school and pretending to be one of the boys.
Trevor, while he was controversial from time to time, had a heart of gold and a sense of humor that no one could match. His hilarious, yet chill nature was awesome, and he knew had to push my buttons without making me go crazy. He was a INCREDIBLE SOUL. Going to Trevor’s wake was heartbreaking, as I reminisced at all the days of the week I would spend at him and his roommates house. I loved Trevor because HE LOVED BUNNIES AND HE WAS A VARSITY RUM AND COKE DRINKER. He also reassured me that I was much smarter than I thought and had so much more faith in me than I think I even realized. Trevor, just like Dalton and Ryder, loved and cared for others to a fault. Their overwhelming effort to make others happy and be the energy of the party is truly a kind of person, you do not find very often. His patience to deal with me and make sure I was included in all the conversations, when all the other boys we’re ignoring me, did not go unnoticed. Thank you for being goofy, a light of happiness and a source of companionship, and living your life to your best of your ability. Thank you for also being the greatest neighbor ever and best roommate in the house! Most importantly, thank you the most for always getting up off the couch and opening the front door for me, because it was the hardest door to open ever. Wow, after all the hours and days you had to spend with me, I am even shocked that you were able to manage a smile and to crack some humor with me, because I am not the easiest person to handle. Your humility, your positivity, your stubborness, your humor, and your ability to forgive are some of your utmost and amazing qualities. It was an honor causing mischief with you and I wish I could have just one more chance to wild out with you.
Martin, or better known as Martini, the first time I met you was when you came all the way out from Tennessee to visit our mutual best friend Madison Demming. My, oh my, Martin what a joy it was to spend a weekend, plus a few days, hanging out with someone with such a caring, loving, genuine, yet silly energy about them. The time we spent lounging in Glenwood Springs, and in the hot pool, will never be forgotten. From the moment I met you, you made me feel comfortable, and by the end of our weekend at the hot springs, I had felt like I had known you a century. Your passing came as a shock to me, seeing that you had so much promise, love and good within you. It honestly was just shocking to hear – I would have never predicted that in a million years. You were one of the first hometown friends of my best friend that I had ever met and it was truly a pleasure. Thank you for laughing at my not-so-funny jokes, finding humor in my randomness and stupidity, and embracing me for who I was. I miss the Snapchats that you and Madison would send me over the Summer reminding me about how much you missed me and thought I was funny. Or, more like how my best friend was so beautiful and perfect. Your ability to love so gracefully and willingly, and invest your soul into someone was one of my favorite qualities about you. I would never trade our weekend together for anything. Martin, you even got in one of my infamous sleeping pictures, as I am unable to shut my eyes all the way shut, due to minor facial paralysis. But, hey, if you were able to get in one of those, that means that you made it into the clique. Thank you for being a true gentlemen and giving my best friend the treatment, love, friendship, and companionship that she always deserves. Your ability to see the great and the beautiful in all souls never ceases to amaze me.
Steve Jolly, a comrad and one of my many partners in crime during high school. Thank you, Steve Jolly, for your kindness, for your ability to make an entire room laugh, for your general excitement for life, and for allowing me to become great friends with you. From the nights with Abby Grey to puking on your shoes at Rowdytown I at the main entrance of the stairs, I truly loved the energy you put forth towards being a tremendous and loving person. You were kind, intelligent beyond your eyes, empathetic, understanding, patient, tolerant, and a genuine person. While our college years may have seperated us, the few times I saw you, it made me very happy to see you doing so well and still trying to be the best version of yourself. This was ironic, because you were already a great version of yourself. Your ability to let even strangers in with open arms and show them kindness was one of your most underrated skills. In addition to that, your humor was extremely underrated. Just so you know, Steve. You will always deny this, but I did beat you in beer pong on Saint Patrick’s Day senior year of high school, even though you keep denying it. It is okay, though.
On that note, thank you for attending some of the most ridiculous concerts with me, including Tyler, The Creator, Rowdytown I, etc. We had some very splendid times. I will also never forget that time my dog ate one of your brownies…..and, with that said, Mr. Jolly, YOU WILL BE MISSED, BUT YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.
For all my other beautiful angels that passed before my eyes, your existence, your soul, the gifts you brought into the world, your beauty, and your ability to spread love like wildfire will never be forgotten.
It is incredible how every day our society loses so many beautiful souls, young and old. No matter the age, their existence on this planet was so much more powerful, substantial, and beautiful than they could ever imagine. Their simple existence had the ability to impact and move so many people who ever encountered them.
Death is inevitable, but we never know when to expect it. Remember to cherish your loved ones and tell them you love them, because they might get run over or they might get shot.
Death is by no means a simple event to deal with. In fact, it is one of the hardest and one of the most difficult concepts to understand and wrap your head around. It almost seems unfair that the world is able to so quickly take away lives from our Earth. The worst and most confusing part is that death is forever. Once a person passes, they will never live to breathe another day. This is something that I often try to remind myself of, as I find myself not living my best life sometimes.
The death of the beautiful angels who came into my life, who are now watching over me and are probably laughing at my life and how ridiculous it is, caused a huge impact in my life and the way I view things. These deaths taught me a lot about how much I take for granted and how little time there truly is to dilly-dally, as they do not have the opportunity any longer to simply just live. It is complicated and it is frustrating, but on my darkest days, I remember that there is a reason why I am still here and I owe it not only to myself, but these souls that have passed, to make every waking moment of my life the best possible moment I can.
It is easy to forget how fragile a human life is and how quickly a life can be taken from this Earth, as it happens so often every day. With every death, there are people who are affected by the loss of a loved one, as tragedy continues to strike millions of individuals every day. It is not easy to find strength within the loss of a loved one, but it is worth it. Some days, I feel selfish living my life and having fun, as a result of losing so many loved ones so quickly and so unexpectedly.
Recently, death has been all up in my personal bubble space and I wish death would leave.
Some deaths are unexpected and others are expected, but there is truly no way to prepare for the death of someone in your life, or even an acquitance.
With that said, my grandmother, who resides in Japan, has death knocking on her window-sill, as she is suffering from heart failure. Her health has been deteriorating for years, however, this time the health problems only began getting increasingly worse. While I have heard for years that my grandmother was struggling with her health, this was the first time that I knew for sure that my grandmother’s time was coming to a close. While she may live in Japan, as a child, I spent a significant amount of time with her. I was and am still very close to my mother’s parents in Japan. I spent a lot of time in Japan as a child and would spend many summers there. I am very fortunate to have had her be so relevant in my life, despite being in totally different continents. Similar to my relationship with my grandmother, I am also very close to my grandfather on my mother’s side. He is awesome and one of the most charismatic people I know. Also, that guy can smoke a carton of cigarettes a day. While this is not something to brag about, his lungs are far from deteriorating. Oh man, those Japanese really do live long and are healthy.
This is not say that I have not faced the death of a family member. My dad’s mother passed away in high school, and while, she lived in Ethiopia, I still loved her. My relationship with her was not as strong as my relationship with my mother’s parents were. My grandfather on my father’s side passed away long before I was even born, so I had never gotten the chance to meet him. The death of my grandmother was horrifying, as I began thinking that one day I could be losing my own father. We may not have spent much time together, but the time we did spend together was beautiful. She had an energy and a laughter about her that made her hilarious, even though she was not trying to be funny. It still hurts to think about, as my father was very close to my grandmother. I was never able to visit my grandmother in Ethiopia, as I have never been to Ethiopia before. So, as a result, I did not get to create a extremely strong bond with my father’s parents. Nonetheless, I would have loved to meet my grandfather, as he seemed like the most hardworking, respectful, yet hilarious man that I have ever heard of. A cool fact about my dead grandfather is that he was good friends with Haile Selassie. They were such good friends that Haile Selassie even visited my grandfather in the hospital, as he was getting close to the end of his time.
It truly does not matter who passed away, or what happened. What truly matters is that these individuals are truly celebrated for the people they were to others and using their memory to carry on their profound existence, which may be an impossible feat to match, seeing that this is an outstanding group of angels watching over me.
For those suffering from death, or death-related matters, or if you are simply just struggling, do not hesistate to reach out to someone to share your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and to get some support. Always remember you have a friend in me – Please do not suffer in silence!
♥ Rest In Peace, you beautiful souls ♥ You deserve it ♥