In Honour of Ryan Newton

The Dream, Korkrobite – 11:34pm

I sit outside our once-shared hotel room only an hour ago, reclining on a sun-lounger in the black night. Flicking through your Facebook profile, I see the standard group photos and silly, hatted poses; none of it reveal the true uniqueness of this person to me. In a tree somewhere overhead, a bird makes an almost clinical beeping sound every three-quarters of a second…

Spending an intense four days of friendship in this very beach resort only one month ago, I knew I had made a friend for life in Ryan. At first he had just been a distant acquaintance, but after crashing on his floor on the way through Kumasi, it was Korkrobite where I got to know Ryan well. Sharing a room in the vain hope that only one of us would be needing it that night, we got talking to everyone. Hopping from club to house party, we were the ultimate wing-men.

I have made endless plans to revisit people I have met here, 99% of which were never going to happen in the first place. With Ryan, though, our road trip was the most exciting prospect of them all; if I had to make at least one half-arsed plan work it had to be with someone I knew could half-arse it spectacularly. We would start in his native New York, he was my keen tour guide and first point of contact.

“He really loved you” his best friend said to me over the phone when the news broke. However bad I am feeling right now, I know his group in Kumasi are in another world of heartache. In all the drama of travelling and backpacking in foreign continents, it’s easy to forget that there are real people involved in all of this. That for everyone scripted in what I call ‘the most elaborate theatre in the world’ the show doesn’t always go on; we all meet our final curtain call. Today, Ryan met his, and it was far too soon. 

For one moment in time, we really were inseparable. When his flight home was delayed, and we had one more evening together in Accra, there wasn’t any better way to spend that time stretched out in a bar outside the airport and sharing a laugh with his fine company. It was an all too final farewell; it should have come sixty years from now after a life time of scandal and debauchery. It certainly felt like it would.

So now his tiny frame and broad grin return to the ground at his earthly parting on Saturday. When they close the book on another Ryan, who gave his life to malaria so that others could beat the odds of surviving in Africa. 

Good night mate, I hope I’ll see you on the other side one day. 

The last time I was with Ryan, Kotoka International Airport, Accra
The last time I was with Ryan,                           Kotoka International Airport, Accra
To honor Ryan through a gift to his fund, please visithttps://www.blair.edu/give-to-blair/makeagift.aspx . In the ‘Gift Information’ section, check ‘In memory of’ and in the box enter “Ryan Andrews Newton ’08”.

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