Thousands Pay Last Respects to 24-Year-Old Monroe Man
Forrest Ryan died way too young. But if the numbers that turned out to say goodbye to him is any testament to the man he was, then he lived his life the right way.
As I approached the Abriola Parkview Funeral Home in Monroe, CT, I could see the lights of police cars and police officers guiding mourners as they parked their cars, walked up to the funeral home and waited for hours to get inside. Unfortunately, like many of us, I have been to a lot of wakes but I have never seen anything like this. It was like something you see on the news or in a movie. Parking was orderly thanks to police but there were hundreds of cars. The line of grief stricken family and friends stretched endlessly down the funeral home steps and looped around way into the parking area.
Another thing that I have never witnessed before, a local pizzeria donated 40 pizzas and delivered them to those waiting. Hundreds of water bottles were also donated and handed out. Visiting hours were from 4:00 to 8:00 PM, but loved ones began arriving at 3:00 and the funeral home was open until after 11:00 PM receiving friends and family who wanted one last goodbye.
We waited in line for four hours among thousands of people who knew him. There were chants of "FORREST, FORREST," that broke out from time to time. At the main entrance to the funeral home, a Firetruck and Ambulance were parked in honor of this young man.
When we finally walked inside, there were pictures everywhere, all showing the wonderful, happy, loving life that Forrest Ryan lived. There were also two empty boxes of tissues sitting on a desk.
Inside the room, his casket was surrounded by flowers, and two Firefighters standing in honor at each side, as mourners went up to kneel and say a final prayer for him. At one point, two other firefighters walked up to the casket, and joined the honor guards in a salute to their friend.
Then, I saw his mother. She was drawing incredible comfort from each hug. It was then that my tears couldn't be held in any longer as they poured from my eyes. Her boyfriend, Kenny, told my husband and I that she was incredibly strong, the strongest woman he's ever known. He told us that earlier that day, they had gone to the site of the motorcycle accident which claimed her son's life. As they signed the memorial cross that friends had placed, they saw a woman with flowers in her hand waiting patiently. They asked her if she knew Forrest, and she said that she did not, but that she was with him when he died. That morning, she was in her garden, and felt she had to pick some flowers and bring them to the site. She told his mother that he did not suffer at all, which was a relief and did give them some comfort. As the woman placed her flowers at the memorial, they noticed that she was wearing an angel pin.
Maybe you don't believe in signs, but I do. What were the odds that the woman who was with him when he died would decide to pick some flowers and go to the site of the accident at the exact time his mother would be there while wearing an angel pin?
Forrest Ryan was buried this morning in St. John Cemetery in Monroe, CT. May you rest in God's peace, Forrest. You left a big hole in everyone's heart. Keep an eye on those you left behind, they're going to need you.