Ryan was born in October of 1987 with a Dandy Walker Cyst Variant in his brain. The very fact that Ryan was alive was a miracle in itself. He was additionally diagnosed as a non-ambulatory quadriplegic with numerous rare disorders, which included hydrocephaly, lissencephaly (smooth brain), & multiple brain seizures. The prognosis was grim and Ryan wasn’t expected to live very long.

“We lived in Winston-Salem when I was bitten by a tick during my third month of pregnancy and contracted Lyme’s Disease,” said Charlotte. She was soon to realize that she was not the only one that had been affected. “He was a beautiful baby boy with lots of hair and big brown eyes He appeared to be so normal, even escaping the notice of our physician. However, my cousin sensing something was not right, insisted we seek another physician’s opinion because Ryan’s eyes were not following finger movement.”

Ryan was almost 4 months old when it was determined that his life was going to be very different from most children. At best, his life was expected to be brief, yet Charlotte’s love for her son was without the condition that his life would be normal in the sense we perceive normal. Her love exceeded the parameters of conditions, the self-limiting restrictions that most of us place on “loving.”

Ryan’s condition made daily life extremely challenging and all family members who sacrificed many personal pleasures and needs to care for Ryan’s. His parent’s never had a single evening out together in more than 10 years. His sisters never experienced a family vacation. Both sacrificed a lot for their brother, affectionately called ‘Bubba’ and although neither got the attention from their parents that they deserved, never once did they complain. Charlotte stated, “Scarlett & Savannah are very kind and caring; they lovingly accept people who are different.”

Financial hardships have been abundant; electricity and water had been turned off at times. I met Charlotte in December of last year just days before she was evicted from a rental home in Tampa. At that time, Ryan was only 20 pounds! She moved to Ryan’s paternal grandmother’s home where he spent the final 4 months of his short life in a 12 X 12 room.

Not long after the move, Ryan’s condition worsened and he soon developed pneumonia. Although hospice had provided a hospital bed, most nights he was held and rocked to sleep by his mother in a large chair by his bed. Hospice nurse visits increased and they were amazed at Ryan’s will to live. “My son has the will of a thousand men!” Charlotte proudly exclaimed.

Ryan, requiring 24/7 attention, had by this time, emaciated to an unbelievable weight of only 14 pounds and was breathing with only one lung functioning. Yet, with his declining health, Charlotte continued to provide the devoted service to make her son as comfortable and loved as much as possible. And his sisters, Scarlett and Savannah were always nearby to add to the overflowing energy of love present in the room.

I spent a day with Charlotte to witness this remarkable woman’s grace and love. By removing my judgment, my criticism, my thoughts of how she should do this or that and just simply observe, it allowed me to witness the most inspirational and rewarding experience I have ever had. I watched her, although sleep deprived, continue to care for Ryan’s every need. There were the numerous small feedings, breathing treatments, diaper changes, administering of medication during his numerous seizures; then holding him, telling him he was loved so much and rocking him to sleep. I drove home that day completely filled with peace, knowing that life is beyond the precious- it is Divine! I realized that I have no complaints; I have no suffering, not if this love is present and working within me.

Ryan died peacefully late Friday night, April 25. While a torrential rain and severe lightening storm was taking place, Ryan took his final breath in the arms of his mother, Charlotte. That was the way she wanted it to be. “Ryan is finally free!” proclaimed Charlotte.

His short life spent in silence accomplished much. Ryan was a grand master, a teacher of profound thought. He taught those who were ready to learn. He taught a life lesson in love and gratitude. He taught pleasure in “simplicity” and living “in the moment.” Few men can say that their life accomplished what this young man has been capable of accomplishing.

I’m reminded of a quotation of 19th century author, James Allen. He wrote, “I looked around the world and saw that it was shadowed by sorrow and scorched by the fires of suffering. And I looked for the cause. I looked around but I could not find it. I looked in books, but I could not find it. I looked within, and found there both the cause and the self-made nature of the cause. I looked again, and deeper, and found the remedy. I found one Law, the Law of Love; one Life, the life of adjustment to that Law; one Truth, the truth of a conquered mind and a quiet obedient heart.”

Ryan taught this truth!

As a mother of five children, grandmother of two, I am compelled to bring this story to as many people as I can. To bring honor to Ryan’s life by inspiring others to really take a look at their life with grand awe and appreciation.

At a time our world is suffering, it is important to also examine the opportunities life presents to us where we can make a difference. Love is truly the only real energy that ends all suffering.

Lanis Loveday Chidel


  • The author's personal experience with Charlotte's family, as well as, her personal experience as a caregiver during her 28 year old daughter's life threatening illness, has allowed her to have a keen interest of caregivers.

    She is currently working on a book entitled "Mother's Can Perform Miracles" which I hope will raise awareness of the needs of the caregiver. It will feature heartwarming stories of real people in their desire to provide unconditional love and care for those in need.

    The "Mother" in the title will not necessarily refer to woman but represent the nurturing "mother" energy that we all are capable of expressing..male or female. It will also offer hope and encouragement to those that are new the life altering experience of becoming a loving caregiver.

    The author is an artist and Feng Shui designer. She conducts Personal Development Workshops in the Tampa Bay Area.

    Recently was selected to be Research Chairman for The Love Foundation, Inc a non-profit organizations that inspires to unconditionally love and develop higher awareness.