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Memorial Service Talks
Posted by Becky August 17, 2009
Talk by Becky, Ryan's Mom

I have found that the best tool for dealing with grief is GRATITUDE,  And so, I have been doing a lot of blessing-counting lately.  And it has occurred to me that there is gratitude that has gone unexpressed for far too long.  I would like my daughter’s to stand.  I want to thank each of you, Tami, Melody, Suzanne, Wendy, and Marilee for carrying on like little women when you were so young and your mom and little brother were spending weeks and months away from home in hospitals.  I may have ignored your needs at times, and in my grief and concern for Ryan, failed to note yours.  And yet, I never sensed any resentment -- only support and love for your little brother, and for me.  You made many sacrifices I know, and I want you to know today I admire you and appreciate your sacrifices and that I love you dearly, never less than I have loved Ryan.  I am so  proud of you for the wonderful women you have come to be. 


And while my daughters and their father were doing double duty at home, I spent many hours learning and growing with Ryan.  We discussed everything from Ninja Turtles to Metallica, to life’s meaning.  For me it was a profound learning experience.


You see, Ryan didn’t get to grow up in that bubble of safety and protection that we like to give our children.  In his tender years, he faced more challenges, losses and painful and scary things than most people do in a lifetime.  What didn’t happen directly to him happened to children all around him.  Some of them died, and some of them suffered fates much worse than death.  The heartbreak and trauma that these experiences brought to me are hard to explain, and I found that my own faith began to be dismantled. I didn’t know how to explain to this innocent child why His loving Father would allow innocent children to suffer unspeakable things, when he had the power to heal them.  How could I teach him? How could I expect him to understand?  Of all the miracles I have seen through Ryan’s life, The greatest miracle is this. It was Ryan who taught me and answered my questions.


When he was 5 and in a very precarious state, he answered my tears with,

 “It’s okay mom.  If I die, Jesus said it will be alright.” 

When he was 14, he told me on the way to the hospital during an episode of kidney failure that I should not fret so much - that death comes to everyone, and whether his time was now or later, it would be okay.  

When he was 18 he was asked to speak at his Seminary Graduation.  In the last part of his talk he referred to the 2060 youth who were called to battle to protect the freedom of their people.  We know them as the army of Helaman or the 2000 Stripling warriers.  Miraculously, not one of these young men lost their lives in the fierce battle that followed.  This is the story we all know, but it was no surprise to me that Ryan would have been drawn to a part of the story we don’t often talk about. 


He quoted, “ out of 2060, 200 had fainted because of loss of blood.  Not one soul perished, but neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.  He concluded his talk that day with the following: 
As the spokesman for the graduating senior class, I testify that we will keep the faith.  Though we will suffer many wounds and afflictions in this life, and some of us may even faint from loss fo blood, we will not surrender.  We will be as the Army of Helaman and we will stay steadfast to the end.”


When he was 23, he made the choice to stop his life supporting medications and be removed from the transplant lists because he was ready to die and give his opportunity for a transplant to someone else who had not already had the gift of two transplants. 


He apologized for letting us down, knowing it was not what we wanted and that it would hurt terribly to lose him.  Of course his biggest concern was Sara. He advised her to live a full life, to find a good man (who was not sick) to share it with, and he asked that we take care of “his” Sara. 


Ryan used to ask me, “Mom, are you pride of me?”  and I want him to say to him now,

“Ryan, I am just so very pride of you.” 


I want to share with you a poem that I started them when Ryan was 5.  It was Ryan’s serenity, wisdom and very matter-of-fact faith that inspired new verses from time to time.  The last 4 lines were written this past week. I am excited to say that I have been able to enjoy brief moments of his influence and personality and that this last verse, especially, came by his inspiration. 


When He Stays His Hand


I once believed in God,

The God who heard my childhood prayers and kept watch over me,

And sent His angels forth to lead me out of jeopardy,

Who tenderly worked miracles

To halt the cruel unspeakables;

This God revered and trusted,

Where is He?

There was no grief, no senseless loss that He could not undo.

There was no question of His Hand in everything I knew,

And youthful hopes and dreams fulfilled

Proved circumstance was as he willed.

Oh, God, so kind and present,

Where are you?

How could I keep believing in a God who lingers by

Watching in deaf silence as suffering children cry?

I shed my innocence in search of meaning, truth, and peace,

But found no solace in a world of godless agonies.

And in my darkest moment, I looked to stars on high

Awaiting those unseen, except against the blackest sky –

A glimpse of Boundless Power brought hope, and begged me understand

That God is God because he loves enough to stay His hand.

And then I knew the God I left was never God at all,

But Servant of my own will, bound by human protocol.

Oh, forgive my wounded pride and calm my aching fears,

Let shallowness be swept away through trial, pain, and tears.

Oh, I believe in God!

My God of Love who shares my grief and knows my agony,

And yet in infinite respect, submits this world to me!

With willing heart, I humbly bow,

To every wound He must allow. 

Oh God of Man’s potential,

Stand by me!

His is the voice that calms when life is ruthless with despair,

His mercy stays the harvest while the grain grows with the tares.

This God I trust has trusted me;

He gave me life then set me free,

And with Divine Restraint, my yoke he shares.

So when I cry, “It isn’t fair!” or think to ask, “Why me?”

God, help me to remember there are stars I cannot see.

Refiner’s fire, burn and groan,

Until I kneel at His throne

In humble thanks

That He believed in me


Penned 1991-2009 by Rebecca Berg    ·   Inspired by Ryan Close  1985-2009


This talk was concluded with the audio-video slide presentation,

"I'll Remember You"  posted on this site.

However, a violent storm came through as the video began, taking out the power. 

The rain and wind continued through the remainder of the service.  We traveled in the rain to the burial site. 

After the dedication of the grave, the rain stopped and the sun came out.

It all seemed rather symbolic.

Posted by Becky August 17, 2009
Talk by Winona, Ryan's mother-in-law

Ryan and Winona (Noni) shared a very special and mutually admiring relationship.  Noni was quick to notice all of Ryan's admirable qualities, and even quicker to ignore what might need forgiving. She was always supportive.  When Ryan was about to be sent home from the hospital, she made their home available and prepared it meticulously, sterilizing, changing their food staples to the healthy stuff, decorating a beautiful room for Ryan and Sara, and calling the 9-1-1 service to register his situation.  As Ryan's mother, I could not be more grateful to Ryan for bringing this wonderful family into our lives.  We love them with all our hearts and are grateful that we are now all part of an eternal family through the sealing of Ryan and Sara.


In 2005, Ryan left California to come to Utah to attend college.  He also worked full time at Ross in Orem where he was a supervisor.  Sara worked in the stock room but didn't meet Ryan for some time.  When Ryan finished his semester they were put on the same shift.  They met and became instant friends. 


Ryan was visiting with Sara in the office one day when he was called to the service desk.  He quickly and nervously turned at the door to ask her to go to a John Hiatt concert.  Of course she said yes.  They've been together ever since. 


The first time Sara introduced me to Ryan I knew in an instant that he was the one for Sara.  I think I knew it before she did. 


Sara tells me they didn't really date.  They just went out to eat at all of Ryan's favorite places.  Mimi's Cafe was always at the top of the list. Sara chubbed up and Ryan amazingly got thinner.  They enjoyed BBQ's at Rich's home, movies at Pattie's and eating out some more. 


I think Ryan really stole Sara's heart by playing his guitar for her.  Playing music and singing was his passion, after Sara of course.  He would serenade her to Psycho Killer and Touch my Tooter.  (I'm not even going there.)  Just for Sara he learned to play 3 a.m. by Matchbox 20. 


In October 2006, he took Sara to Folsom to meet his mom and stepdad.  She fell in love with Becky and Dave and Grandma Ruth and Nick.  They went to Six Flgas Marine World and toured San Francisco.  Of course they ate at all of Ryan's favorite restaurants.


While staying at Becky's home, Ryan kept sneaking into Sara's room and sleeping by her side.  He got a good chastisement from his mother and was told he was being a very bad influence on Nick.  


It wasn't long before Ryan got down on one knee and propsoed to Sara in the stock room at Ross.  They were married December 8th, 2006 in Orem.  They were generously gifted an incredible honeymoon to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. 


Ryan and Sara amoved 8 times in 2 1/2 years.  One of their favorite places to live was next door to Ben and Suzanne.  They loved Noah and Janie, and Suzie's home cooked meals were the best.  They enjoyed their home ward where Bishop Olsen encouraged them to prepare to go to the temple.  I think it had something to do with Sunday cookie plates. 


Ryan and Sara were sealed for time and all eternity December 14, 2007 in the Mt. Timpanogas Temple.  Sara has expressed how grateful she and Ryan were that they had made that choice. 


Ryan and Sara love dogs.  They decided their dog Koda needed a little sister.  They welcomed Tink, a tiny funny looking Burssells Griffon into their family.  She was Ryan's baby.


She was described by Matt as looking like a wookie fetus  Rich's comment was the best though.  He said, "Is she supposed to look like that??"  Rich had a soft spot for Tink and would share Ritz crackers and Peanut butter with her.  Sara and Ryan loved and enjoyed her for about a year.  She died last December of an autoimmune disorder.  This was a great loss to them.


In November 2008, Ryan and Sara moved in with us at our new Orem home.  Ryan had planned to resume his education at UVU while Sara worked. 


We really enjoyed having them with us.  I've had fun watching movies and being introduced to The Soup, 30 Rock, and always Sunny in Philadelphia.


Ryan always enjoyed good food and loved cooking as well.  Especially anything with curry.


Ryan got great pleasure from music and loved singing and playing his guitars.  We have a downstairs room with what he called "great acousitics."  He had a great time singing and playing his guitar  - LOUD.  He recently worked on a piece he recorded with his friend Matt Grimshaw.  Ryan loved talking about guitars and anything to do with them, especially with his stepdad, Dave.


Ryan was a fun uncle -- he captured the hearts of al his nieces; he was their prince charming.  He taught Aubrey, Megan, and Hannah how to kiss. . Prunes, Plums, and Alfalfa.  His expert advice came from one of his young men leaders in Folsom.  Ryan also gave Aubrey this warning before her first date, "A back rub in the front room leads to a front rub in the back room."  Advice he got from Becky.  Ryan's PG13 sense of humor made him fit right in with our slightly irreverent family.  I don't think anyone can think of him wihtout recalling an entertaining moment. 


March 30th of this year, soon after moving to an apartment in West Jordan, Ryan was having severe flu-like symptoms and was admitted to the Uof U hospital for a week of testing and recovery.  At that time he was told that he ahd experienced a heart attack and was having problems with heart rejection.  Ryan was able to come home for a few days but then collapsed and was taken back to the hospital.  While there, he went into full cardiac arrest.  They were able to revive him. Kidney failure also became an issue. He was able to come back home for a few days, but had to return to the hospital because of the kidney problems. 


Ryan spent the next 4 weeks in the U of U hosptial.  He suffered another cardiac arrest and was once again revived.  After a lot of deliberation, the doctors put him on the transplant lists for both a heart and a kidney.  Over time, Ryan's condition was getting worse.  Survivial would require an assist heart pump if a transplant didn't come soon.  The risks of the pump surgery were huge.


In those last 4 weeks, Ruyan's suffering was so great.  Not once did I ever see him express self pity of any kind.  He treated the nurses and staff with humor and expressions of gratitude for everything they did. 


5 days before Ryan passed away, he made the most brave and courageous choice.  He asked to be removed from the transplant list.  He said that he had been blessed more times over and had been given new life twice with transplant hearts.   He felt that if his name was removed from the list, it might give someone else a chance at life.  Many family members were able to visit and express their love and goodbyes.  He was even able to have Koda visit him in the hospital.  Ryan passed away June 4th at 10:15 am surrounde by his wife and loved ones. 


In Ryan I have seen the true measure of a man.  He absolutely loved and adored Sara, and he loved and enjoyed his family.  He truly loved living and appreciated the gift of life that had been given to him twice.  At his request he was able to be a tissue donor that other lives may be blessed also. 


I've heard it quoted, "Behind every great man stands an amazed mother-in-law."  And I am truly amazed. 

Amazed that Heavenly 'Father would bless Sara with a wonderful and adoring husband. 

I'm amazed that it was my family who has been blessed by Ryan being a part of it. 

Above all, I'm amazed that our Heavenly Father provided a plan.  A way for us to continue the relationships with our loved ones throughout eternity.  I'm amazed that through the atoning sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that this is possible. 




Posted by Becky August 17, 2009
Talk By Ben Reynolds

Ben is married to Suzanne, Ryan's sister.  His talent at expressing tender emotion balanced with comic relief made his delivery exceptional.  His handome command of an audience coupled with his his love of Ryan and his desire to justly honor him provided an experience that all who attended will never forget, especially his family, who remains eternally grateful. 


Good aftenoon, Everyone.  First of all, I'm very honored to be speaking about Ryan today, and admittedly a little overwhelmed.  In the lead-up to and the brief aftermath of Ryan's passing, it's really been amazing to learn about so many people from his life, and the stories they have to tell about their time with him.  And just to look out over so many faces and know that he meant something to each of you, I can't help but feel a little inadequate.  There are so many great stories tob e told about his life -- some very touching, some funny, some probably inappropriate for this setting -- and I only know a fraction of them.  I wish I could tell them all, but to avoid tiring you, I'm going to squeeze in what I can, and I just hope that over these brief 45 minutes [laughter] I can do justice to his memory.  And while that's a challenging task, I will say that I've known Ryan for nine-and-a-half years, and over the last three or four years, I'd say we got to know each other pretty well (we even worked together as co-workers for about 8 months) and I understand that he and I did share the same razor-sharp wit, sophistication, and humility [laughter] that I hope  will enable me to properly honor him today. 


For everyone who knows Ryan, we know that he is someone who loves to find the humor in life, and we know that even in this time of grief, he would want us to laugh and share funny memories and most of all smile as we reflect on our time with him.  That's obviously easier said than done in this situation, but I'm going to do my best to meet those wishes and hopefully strike an appropriate balance between humor and propriety. 


I also intended to grow a beard for the occasion, but I had to shave after three days.  So itchy.  That's just one more thing about Ryan where I can say I don't know how he did it. 


Some of the words people used to describe Ryan included "interesting," "weird," "amazing,", "courageous," "goofty," "the best riend I ever had," and Becky's favorite, "enigmatic." In reviewing his life, I think we'll all see that these and so many other words captured who he was, but I think we should start by taking a look at the time in his life when he would have been called "CUTE."


Ryan James Close was born in Mission Hills, California on November 25, 1985, the youngest child and only son of Rich and Becky.  Rich was understandably very excited about finally having a boy.  Ryan's older sisters were also very excited and they delighted in dressing thier baby brother in girls' clothing.  In spite of that treatment, he was an overall happy, healthy little boy.  "Curious" was another word that could have been used to describe him.  He had lots of questions about lots of things, sometimes to the point where the only answer left was an exasperated, "just because." On a camping trip, Becky remembers counting his 100th question before they got to the showers at 8:30 am.   


Just a week after his 5th birthday, Ryan was suddenly hospitalized and his family was given the shocking news that his heart was failing.  The official diagnosis for his condition was viral cardiomyopathy, an inflammation of the heart brought on by an infection, although the doctors didn't know which virus caused his condition.  Initially, the medication Ryan was given improved his heart funciton enough that he was actually able to go home after two weeks in the hospital, but just ten days later, his condition went downhill again, and he was soon back in the hospital, where it quickly became evident that a heart transplant was his only hope.


Rich remembers frequently tellng Ryan how much he loved him when he first entered the hospital, to the point that Ryan grew tired of it and told him to stop saying it so much.  As a police office, Rich offered a coded alternative: Code Four Blue. Ryan said he liked Five and Red better, so they comprised and changed it to Code Nine Purple Blue.  The code was eventually amended to include Past Heaven Never Stop.  When Ryan's headstone is placedit will include the message C9PBPHNS, a family code for "I will always love you."


Miraculously, just over a month after entering the hospital, Ryan was blessed with the gift of a new heart from a 9-year old boy who passed away in Canada only hours before Ryan was put on the transplant list.  After a two-hour surgery, Ryan had a new heart and his future looked bright.


He hated the medications he had to take after surgery.  One of them was liquid potassium, an especially horrible beverage.  The doctors told him they gave him the liquid because he was too young for the pills.  He insisted he wasn't, so they brought him the two enormous pills to see.  He stuck them both in his mouth and swalled them dry.  They were the first pills he'd ever taken, so he didn't know about the water part.  But he never had to drink the liquid potassium again.  Remarkable determination for a 5-year-old boy.  Another example of his uncommon resolve was that by the time he was six, he'd convinced his doctors to perform his regular bipsies through his neck and not through his groin.


Ryan wanted it done through his neck becuase it would mean a 45 minute post-procedure stay rather than a four hour stay.  It wasn't done through the neck for children because of the requirement to sit perfectly still for the procedure (which could be up to an hour long.) Ryan had no problem with it.  And in case that's not impressive enough, a quick reminder of what a heart biopsy is:  an incision ins made in your neck and a thin tube is inserted into a vein or artery and fed all the way into your heart.  Then a special device with claws is fed through that tube into the heart to remove small pieces of tissue from the heart muscle.  Six years old, and his life involved figuring out how to minimize the discomfort-slash-boredom of regularly having small pieces of his heart tissue removed. 


I think we need to take a moment here for a randdom bit of Ryan's humor.  I'm actually going to read you a blog entry of his from March 2006:


"While I was walking to my car in the UVSC parking lot the other day, I noticed, about 10 feet in front of me, a very nice loking girls (at least form the back.)  She had perfect, thick blonde hair that went just past her shoulders, and the jeans she was wearing perfeclty accented her very splendid looking behind.
I decided that it may be in my best interest to speed my walking just a bit so that I could get in front of her and see if the view from the front was as good as the view from the back.  This leads me to the moral of my post:
If you have perfect blonde hair that flows just past your shoulders, sport a perfect little heiny, and you are male, do your fellow men a favor and DON'T WEAR GIRL PANTS."
Seriously, don't wear them.  They are not in the men's department for a good reason (this reason being that they are for women.)

In 1999, Ryan's 7th annual angiogram revealed a blocked artery . Son after it was learned that he had a form of rejection not treatable by the regular anti-rejection medications.  And he developed a rare blood disease, which made him extremely anemic.  Over 9 months time he had to receive many blood transfusions and then several infusions to eliminate some of the antibodies caused by the transfusions, and I'm ot even positive about what all that means, but good grief!  Oh, and he also had several small heart attacks during that time.  But eventually the blood disease was cured and he was ready to be placed on the transplant list again.  On December 4, 1999, at the age of fourteen, he received his second donor heart.


The steriods he had to take after that surgery had a devastating affect on his appearnace.  His skin developed striations from the upper torso and arms down to his mid-calves.  It caused weight gain and abnormal distribution of fat.  This was actually how he looked when I first met him in March of 2999 when his sister and I got engaged.  He was blown up like Martin Short in the movie "Pure Luck."  As a 14-YEAR OLD.   And it was amazing to see how well he dealt with that.  He didn't let it change who he was and he didn't let it stop him from leading a normal life.  At that age, of course, there were kids who taunted him and tried to put him down, but he wouldn't let them.  He had an amazing perspective, and fortunately, he was blessed with a lot of great friends who supported him. 


In time, he regained his normal shape and size, but the skin damage from the drugs was permanent. But in typical Ryan fashion, he found the humor in it, stretching his underarm skin to make people squeal.  He definitely showed me that trick a time or two.  And I believe he even used the stretchy skin test to confirm Sara's love for him.  Obviously, she decided he wasn't too gross for her. 


After the second transplant and until recently, Ryan experienced overall good health.  There were some issues here and there, and the usual day-to-day challenges that the rest of us can't understand, but his teenage years and transition to manhood were otherwise as normal as they could be.  He had a good group of friends in high school.  He graduated.  He went to college.  He went to a few other colleges.  He worked.  He met a girl and married her.  He kept getting funnier. 

Exhibit B:  A few selected responses from a survey he complted on his Facebook Page:


6,  What do you think of hot dogs?
"I think that they are mighty fine."
7.  Favorite Christmas movie:
8. What do you prefer to drink in themorning?
9.  Can you do push ups?
"Yes, though I prefer not doing push-ups.
11. Favorite hobby:
"I have blonde hair."
12.  Do you have A.D.D.
23.  Do you won slippers?
"I would if I owned a robe.  I don't own a robe so I do not own slippers.  I believe you need to reach the age of 38 before this outfit is required."
32. What's in your pocket right now?
"Pocket juice."
33. Last thing that made you laugh.
"MY response to 32.  I really am very arrogant.
35. Worst injury you've ever had as a child?
"I fell off a horse once.. I was fine, but I broke my sister's arm."
[The complete list of 44 questions and answers can be found on this site udner "Ryan's Blogs and Humor." ]


Ryan's life consisted of many invasive procedures.  Heart biopsies, angiograms, Xrays, EKG's, echocardiograms -- and hospital bills. These were routine parts of his life, along with over twenty daily dozes of various pills and medications.  Some of them prevented rejection, but most addressed the side affects while causing other side affects.  Ryan didn't really remember what life was like without these meds, but he never felt the way "good" feels to most of us. 


And the amazing thing to me is that Ryan wasn't a complainer.  Sure, he complained about what he considered stupid people or bad music -- by the way, he was an admitted music snob -- but he didn't complain about his body.  He was dealt a pretty unlucky hand when it came to his health, but he accepted his lot and didn't want to place his burden on others.  He handled it with impressive bravery.  If anything, he was guilty of apologizing too much for "inconveniencing" others with the needs of his broken body.   


I mentioned earlier some of the words people used ot describe Ryan.  To wrap things up, I think it's only fair to hear the words Ryan would use to describe himself.  From his About Me section on his myspace page, we read:


 "I have blonde hair, blue eyes, and white socks.  I am 6'1 when I stand straight, anywhere between 5'8 and 6'0 when I slouch, and 6'7 when standing straight on a 6" platform.  I've never cared for olives."


It's interesting to note that humor and pain are closely related.  The acts of crying and laughing produce very similar effects on the body -- they really put us in the moment, they help release tension, they ultimately relax us, and they're both very necessary for our well-being.  Research even shows how easily one leads to the other; tears to laughter and laughter to tears.  With that in mind, it's no wonder we're so inclined to cry as we say goodby to Ryan.  His abilty to make us laugh over the years was always setting us up for this moment. 


Ryan, it was a privilege to count you as a younger brother, and to be the older brother that you never even realized you wanted.  I will miss you coming to the house with Sara to watch recorded episodes of Scrubs or 30 Rock.  I'm sorry you didn't get to see the episode with Elvis Costello.  Strangely, I'll also miss you eating large portions of dinner so there wouldn't be enough left over for my lunch the next day.  I'll miss hearing you say to Sara, "Wife, we should get going," and then just sitting there for at least another 30 minutes before repeating that cycle a few times.  (He got that slow-leaving gene from you, Becky).  I think our whole family will miss your eardrum -shattering burps. 


You lived an admirable life.  You are an example to all of us.  You are loved and you will be missed until we meet again.






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