Bittersweet Goodbyes

As I spend the last, and 24th, night staying in the Duke “residence”, I have such mixed emotions. The walls of Ryley’s room once adorned with pictures and cards of prayer, well wishes and joy are now all taken down…put in a box ready for his room in Atlanta… his room looks so sterile and uninviting. The “living room” is now empty, the “fridge” is gone and “Hopperville” has been dismantled. New residents will fill the space soon and in fact a new family joins me, as I write this, waiting for their loved ones. Just as parents start packing up for their kids for college, we are packed and ready to go. So different than the past several weeks with all the family, friends, doctors and nurses that have visited and cared for Ryley on a daily basis.

I love this place…yet I hate we are in this place.

I love the tremendous care that the Duke clinical staff has provided to my boy. I want to thank each and everyone of you. You all hold a special place in the Hopper’s hearts…you ARE the Watchdogs of RyDog and we will never forget you! And I believe you won’t forget Ryley either. I hope he provided some humor, joy and hope in an otherwise thankless job.Your jobs are not easy, I am acutely aware of the sorrow you see each and every day and that you rarely get the opportunity to see and feel inspirational moments. I’m glad we have become an exception. I also want you to know the positive impact you have made on Ryley and always remember, what you do for patients minds is just as important as what you do for their body.

To Shawn F and to Ron S of, who did indeed give the wings for Ryley to fly to the Shepherd Center…I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you have done. God Bless you and your organization! I am so thankful for Teresa, Stephanie, Eugenie, Joe, Will, James and everyone else who has spent countless hours with us in “Hopperville” and all the other hours organizing and supporting our family.

And although I said goodbye to my neighbors on 8E tonight, I will continue to keep the White Family in my thoughts and pray that Candy and Kirk will walk out off 8E soon. I look forward to the cookout in the months to come!

I thank Triangle Volleyball Club for jumping into action and I pray for a wildly successful Rally4Ryley event…we will be there in spirit from ATL.

I thank Kim my wife…for stopping and giving me that hug nearly 25 years ago…without that embrace there never would have been a Will, a Ryley, a Colby and I can’t imagine life without the four of you…I love you all so much. We are ‪#‎HopperStrong‬!

And for you Conner…thanks are not enough for saving my boys life, without you son there is no story, no inspiration, no happy end. I know this has been tough on you son but know this…we love you, Ryley loves you and God loves you! Be at peace and know that Ryley is ready to take the next step of his journey thanks to you.
Long day ahead tomorrow…one of which I have been waiting weeks for. Ryley is resting well and his vitals are looking good…he is ready! I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us!

When what lies ahead is wonderful, and what lies behind was too, it’s okay to be sad…it’s okay to taste the bittersweet


I love you all! Good night and wish us Godspeed!