Greenback says goodbye: Love expressed for Ryan Seymour at Sunday service

By Mark Boxley

The pain was palpable, grief hung in the air like a sticky fog — but the reason that it hurt so much, the reason that the Greenback School gym was filled and overflowing Sunday, was because of love.

Love for 17-year-old Ryan Seymour, who died Friday morning after being injured in a serious accident on Calderwood Highway a week ago today. But it wasn’t just love for the young man that filled the room, it was also the love he gave to his family, his friends, his school and his community.

Mourners poured into the Greenback School gym in a constant flow starting at 1 p.m. For three hours, one at a time, people came to the school to pay their respects to Seymour; to hug each other and cry; to say goodbye; and to celebrate his life.

“Ryan had a servant’s heart,” Adam Brown said during the service. Losing Ryan so early in the young man’s life wasn’t fair, he said. “(But) God doesn’t promise us that life will be fair.”

Instead, God promises hope and the idea that someday Ryan will be reunited with the people who miss him most.

“So, our loss of Ryan is God and his kingdom’s gain,” Brown said, later adding that Seymour — who was a football player with a great deal of school spirit — was now at the “biggest and best pep rally.”

Brown’s wife, Abby noted during the service that it was something special to see so many people come together to remember Seymour.

“This is an amazing tribute to look around and see all the people one person touched,” she said.

Seymour was one of the “nicest and toughest kids” she had ever met. He was a “fighter up to the end of his life,” her husband Adam said.

Members of the Greenback football team — of which Seymour was a member, along with the three other teens injured in the wreck, Caleb Simpson, 16, Dale Starritt, 15, and Dyllan Roulette, 16 — wore their jerseys to the service Sunday. And others in the crowd could be seen wearing shirts and jerseys with Seymour’s number, 22, on them.

On the young man’s casket was a spray of orange flowers crowned with a polished Greenback football helmet. Songs were sung in his memory and to help ease the pain of Seymour’s passing, and along with the Browns, David Freeman, Seymour’s former pastor, talked about the 17-year-old’s affect on the people around him.

“Ryan was a special person,” Freeman said. “Ryan was a caregiver; his life was about other people.”

As the words of “Amazing Grace” echoed throughout the gymnasium — coming off the voices of everyone gathered Sunday — and as members of the football team somberly walked Seymour out of the room, Abby Brown’s words from earlier in the service seemed to reflect off of the gleaming helmet still perched atop his casket: “It’s not really a goodbye,” she said. “But a see you very soon.”