Rest in Peace, Ryan Rath

November. December. 2022. Two months of gut punches. Real, honest-to-goodness gut punches.

We got Covid in November. The flu in December. Moxie passed. The OBT became a moon shot.

Then Ryan died.


In every real way, we’re still dealing with the aftermath of many of these moments. These surprises. Still … a couple of temporary illnesses; we got better. I have a good job that allows me to afford a good house and to eat too much take-out and drive three cars, so the OBT is neither here nor there. I miss my dog; I will always miss my dog. He was fab. The best. (Don’t tell the others).

But, Ryan. Man, oh man. That kind of pain, sorrow, and emptiness doesn’t compartmentalize. It doesn’t heal. Time, of course, goes on. The distance between the moment you lose someone you truly admire and the moment you live in now becomes larger. The shock of the pain lessens. But the pain itself, that never goes away.

I met Ryan at a party (surprise, surprise) in 2012. A doctor’s party. I had barely met the doctor just a few months before, but he had known Ryan for some time. I remember standing in a circle of new faces introducing myself. I shook Ryan’s hand and moved on to the next person and Ryan suddenly stopped me…

“Wait,” he said, “Did you say Tom? Tom Cummings?!”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Oh, you’re funny as fuck!”

And so began a decade-long friendship. Seems Ryan had seen me comment on Dr Bedi’s Facebook wall over the last few months and had been laughing at my stuff. Bedi is the funniest and most inappropriate person I know – perhaps on the planet – so it was easy to cut loose where he was concerned. But Ryan and I, before the night was over, exchanged numbers. A couple of days later one of us text the other – I don’t remember who reached out first – with one word: “Beer?”

I don’t recall whether Tortilla Flats, Shameless, Brick’s, Casa Ramos, or Bleachers was our first beer together, but it began a long relationship of trying out establishments to satisfy one-word texts. And when the call went out (“Beer?”) it was unlikely either of us would say “Nah.” We both enjoyed the beers. We both enjoyed the venues. We both enjoyed the company.

Within a year our circle expanded. Probably because of his contagious laugh and matter-of-fact manner. Maybe because I was funny as fuck. I don’t know. But within a few years Ryan and I became Ryan and I and a cast of sometimes 30 others. The call went out, and whomsoever showed showed.

It is honest to say that there would be no group without Ryan. He connected us all. If, say, someone didn’t much like my outrageous nature, or someone else’s political tirades, or the tension between a couple in the group, it didn’t matter. Everyone loved Ryan. Ryan’s there, we’re there. We’re all there.

There would be no church without Ryan. There would be no pub crawls. I probably would have ended up a basket case without his counsel. My life this last decade would have been poorer – in every conceivable way – without Ryan.

I won’t share the details. But I will, for posterity, share that Ryan Rath – my dear, dear friend – passed away suddenly just days before Christmas in 2022. Against all reason. Against all sanity. Suddenly.

It isn’t fair.

I couldn’t write about it right away. I couldn’t really write about anything. In a season of struggle came the ultimate woe. I was, I am, devastated. I am not ready to say goodbye. I am not ready to look at the house across the street, the house that my friend – the legend – moved into inexplicably, and not know he is there.

Life has a way.

Life has a way of surprising us. It surprises us at times with joy and triumph, and at others with sorrow and tragedy. It isn’t simple. Life has a way of knocking us off a sure course or finding, for us, a new and entirely unexpected way.

Life surprised me with Ryan. For that I am forever grateful. Life surprised me when it took him away. Knocked me off course. In a way, a lot of the things I’ve found to be very important suddenly are not, and a lot of the things I found unimportant suddenly are. Life has a way of changing perspective.

I am not the person I was a decade ago. Part of that is a natural evolution but a lot of that is from the experiences I shared with Ryan and the perspectives he shared with me. About life. About everything.

I don’t believe in an afterlife but I did have a dream about one, shortly after he passed. I was journeying into the underworld, like some mythological warrior, hellbent on bringing back my lost friend from the clutches of death. I faced peril along the way, but determination saw me through. Finally, and not surprisingly, I found him in a bar in the underworld, having the time of his life, surrounded by others in the land of shades who adored him. Someone there – I don’t remember who but I remember that, in the dream, I knew them – said to me, “What we love in life is what we do forever after.”

I didn’t talk to Ryan down there, but I told this other person to tell him that I came to see him, that I love him, and that he is to keep the party going. I will join him again someday. Forever.

Life has a way of delivering catharsis when we need it. I will remember everything about that dream for the rest of my days.

Brother, you were the best I knew. Selfless to a fault. A heart of pure gold. A laugh for the ages.

Rest in peace, dear friend.

Rest in peace, Ryan Rath. 🍻

14 thoughts on “Rest in Peace, Ryan Rath

  1. So very sorry for the loss of your friend. He sounds like a wonderful man and I think you were lucky to have him in your life.
    Your dream? Absolutely beautiful, it gave me chills. I choose to believe it’s true… and know that he’ll be waiting for you with a cold one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. ❤️ It was a lot, and I don’t know how I could have made it through without the love and support of the people that loved dear Ryan. Truly blessed to have such a crowd!


  2. Tom, I am so, so very sorry. Years ago I learned that the saying “Time heals all wounds” isn’t really accurate–certainly not as accurate as “Time wounds all heels.” When we experience a loss it leaves us scarred. And scars aren’t necessarily bad things. They’re the signs of the terrible ordeals we’ve been through. Scars make us harder. Again that’s not always a bad thing. Being harder we can be better prepared for what’s to come, and what better gift can a friend give, even in passing, than helping to prepare us?
    Ryan sounds like a wonderful guy. I’m glad you knew him. I’m glad I got to know him a little bit through you. And he’s not the only one who thinks you’re funny as fuck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Christopher. Sorry I didn’t catch this until today, I guess I’ve been preoccupied. Ryan certainly did teach me so many things about life, love, and friendship, things that will never be forgotten. And nor will he. I vow that. ❤️


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