Funeral dirge. Hearts break so many times, it is impossible to keep track.  A tidal wave of memories, nearly too much to bear. Minds racing, reviewing the journey that was Duchenne and all of the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if only’ that remain. Ryan’s father, mother, sisters – raw and alone, returning to the home once overflowing with Ryan and now empty.

I met Howard Kaplan many years ago in Chicago. He is a tall, broad shouldered man and in the business of protection.  His company, IPC International, is a leader in providing protection to people and places.The first time I sat in his office, this gentle giant of a man talked about his son Ryan, diagnosed with Duchenne. Words about progression and prognosis, the dread of inevitable loss stuck in his throat accompanied by tears of immense sadness. Howard could offer no protection for Ryan, but was willing to do whatever he could to help. He rolled up his sleeves. He joined PPMD, joined the Board, served as Chairman, and continues to serve.

Ryan worked for his dad. Like father, like son. He too was a protector and initiated programs to create a culture of environmental responsibility within IPC International. Howard would talk about Ryan’s work with enormous pride, a loving smile and a tenderness that was palpable.

They had 25 wonderful years with Ryan and for 20 of those years, Duchenne was an unwelcome caller in the Kaplan home. For 25 years, they worked, played, traveled, celebrated, joked, teased, and loved, taking advantage of the time they would have together. 

The Kaplan family was well aware Ryan’s time was limited. In their hearts and minds, they had 25 years to prepare and like all of us who have loved and lost, there is no way to prepare, no way to imagine the excruciating pain and no easy way to walk into a home that radiated a young man no longer there or to navigate this new road, the road without Ryan.

And the only thing left for today is to be thankful, thankful for 25 years, thankful for this wonderful young man who taught us well, and whose love was boundless. And he was loved.

God bless.

Pat Furlong, Founding President, CEO
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