From time to time something happens in our everyday lives that just jars us to the core. Something that makes us stop, look at life and really reflect on what our purpose is. This was one of those weeks.
As many of you know I am a paramedic. I work 24hr shifts in Van Buren, Cass and Berrien Counties. On Wed 9-7-2016 I was working my normal shift. A call went out for Paw Paw Fire, Paw Paw QR and Van Buren EMS for a car vs semi truck on I-94. (Paw Paw is not my area) You have to understand that we get dispatched by the local counties with the best information that they have at the time. There wasn't many details, but it's just one of those calls that sounded really bad. We didn't hear many updates on the county radio after that, but a couple of our trucks were traveling back and forth to Kalamazoo and kept updating that the freeway was still closed eastbound. There could have been any number of reasons for having the road closed for an extended period of time from extensive cleanup of cargo, fire, number of cars involved, damage to the freeway or the worst case a very bad injury that has or might lead to a death. I really didn't think too much about the whole incident, but the delay in opening the road started to seem excessive. Fast forward to around 4pm. I got an email from Paramount Charter Academy notifying us of the death of Ryan Cramer. Former beloved teacher of my two middle kids and husband of a current teacher Krista who also taught my youngest son Nick for two years. That's when my mind joined the two incidents together. The sudden realization that the I-94 crash was Ryan hit me hard. It couldn't be. He was only 38. I had been listening to a few updates from the call and had no idea it was him.
We met Krista first when we came to Paramount Charter Academy. Our son Nick is special needs with cognitive and emotional impairments. We really needed to find a school and more importantly a teacher that he could connect to. To say we hit the jackpot with her would be an understatement. Krista provided the patience, understanding and most of all compassion that Nick needed to thrive in school. Because of his disabilities, Nick repeated the 1st grade and we were blessed to have Krista teach him for another year. Nate and Madi were lucky enough to have Ryan teach them once they got to 5th grade. Immediately I knew that Ryan was special. I really didn't grasp it until Madi got him as a teacher. She connected with him as a teacher, father type figure and a friend. I really think that he thought of Madi as an adopted daughter. Very down to earth, very caring and most of all very attentive to her. I would like to say that she was unique and that no other student got the same love and attention from Ryan, but that wouldn't be true. I noticed that most of his students felt the same way as Madi did. He quickly developed a reputation of being able to work with and turn around the most difficult students. I'm not just talking academically, but kids that were in danger of getting expelled from school because of their disruptive behavior.
I knew that Ryan had a good heart and that Krista and he were involved in their church. I didn't know to what extent and really didn't know his whole story and how he had given his life to Jesus. Ryan was one of the very best God gave to us. The more I learned about Ryan, the more I respected him. You're not forgotten and especially when it comes to my family, very privileged to have known you.