It had been years since I had seen or heard anything from Stevie Ryan, yet news of her death still shook me on Monday night.
The prevailing emotion since learning that Ryan hanged herself on Saturday has not been sadness, even though I have felt myself on the verge of tears a few times since first seeing reports Monday of Ryan’s suicide.
There’s no anger, which people understandably feel sometimes when someone they know either personally or through the prism of a public persona kills themselves.
I don’t even feel a profound sense of loss like I did when one of my favorite singers, Chris Cornell, died in May because, as I noted at the top, Ryan’s work had not been part of my weekly viewing and listening protocol for quite some time.
What I mostly felt upon learning that Ryan died was disbelief.
Then, after reading about Ryan’s final hours and the circumstances surrounding her decision to take her own life, I felt fear.
Watching “Stevie TV” was my only connection to Ryan, who initially gained a following through her YouTube videos.
I’ve never seen Ryan’s YouTube work and I didn’t follow her on social media, but those two seasons of “Stevie TV” on VH1 left an indelible impression on my comedic sensibilities. When I watched Ryan impersonate Justin Bieber or Kim Kardashian or Amy Winehouse, I was in awe of Ryan’s remarkable ability to inhabit each of those famous characters, and other less famous ones, like the girl who was addicted to twerking.
Several times while watching “Stevie TV” I would seriously consider if it was possible for me to laugh any harder at anything. Ryan, and her show, often left me gasping for air in between from-the-gut laughs.
This isn’t hyperbole. Watch that twerking addiction video and try not to laugh. It’s so perfectly and hilariously written, acted and filmed that I wonder why Ryan’s show didn’t become a huge hit.
However, just like that, “Stevie TV” ended after 14 episodes, and while it bummed me out, I didn’t go looking for more Stevie Ryan. Maybe I should have, or maybe those episodes of her show were all I needed and wanted.
Whatever the reason, I didn’t see, hear or think about Ryan much after “Stevie TV” went off the air in 2013.
On last Thursday’s episode of the “Mentally Ch(ill)” podcast she co-hosted with Kristen Carney, Ryan talked about the recent death of her grandfather and how she feared it would send her “into a deeper depression.
Two days after the release of the podcast, Ryan was dead.
It appears that Ryan and her grandfather had a similar relationship to the one I have with my grandma, and when I considered that, the fear crept into my brain. Damn near overwhelmed me in fact, and if I hadn’t been at work, I might have burst into frightened sobs.
Anybody who knows me knows that I love my grandma, who raised me from a baby, with all my heart and soul. She’s the only person I talk to every single day and for most of my life, she has been the anchor in my sometimes chaotic, roller coaster existence.
Despite repeated attempts to come to grips with the fact grandma, who is 87, will probably pass away before I do, I still cannot imagine living life without her. I know it’s possible. It just doesn’t seem probable. I’ve often thought that a world without my grandma is a world I don’t want to experience.
Stevie Ryan most likely felt the same way about her grandfather. I wish she could have coped with the man’s death, but you won’t hear me call her selfish for what she did, which seems to be a default response for a lot of people after somebody commits suicide.
Because of my relationship with grandma, I think I can understand why Ryan took her own life and I choose to empathize instead of criticize. Her depression combined with the death of someone she cared for deeply left her in a place where suicide seemed like the only way out.
I get it, and that eliminates the disbelief I initially felt about Ryan’s death.
It’s not only believable. To me, it’s understandable, and that might be the scariest part.