I know Bryan Byrge

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The last thing I saw before I shut my eyes the night before, a notification  that said “bbyrge liked your photo”. When I open my eyes in the morning my husband is on the phone. I hear, “Bryan was killed in an accident…Dad are you sure?” I look into my husbands eyes and find the answer there before it ever reaches his mouth. Faces flash through my mind. My sister. My nephews and niece. His mother. His father. His brother. Bryan. As the sun is rising many hearts are sinking.

Bryan Byrge on Bike 3

Why is it that the questions always come more quickly than the answers? Who, what, when, where, why and ALWAYS how? Who? Bryan Byrge and his friend John Coons. What? They were struck by a truck while riding their bikes…they’re both gone. When? Six’o clock this morning as they were cycling to work. Where? On Redwood Road in Lehi, Utah. Why…did this happen? I don’t know. How…is this possible? I don’t know!

My husband and I scramble to get to our loved ones. No matter how much our hearts hurt we can’t leave them in San Francisco, as broken as they are we hope the pieces can be of use in Utah. While flights are delayed hands are idle so we google his name. When articles end and questions are still unanswered, eyes wander to the comments for comfort. Only to find commotion.

Bryan Byrge Family

Do they know that two lives have come to an end, as they sound off in the comments and quickly hit send? I don’t know. As they bicker and banter about bikers and fault. Do they care that this is what the children will see when they google their dads? I don’t know. Do they know that while they are reading newspapers wives and mothers, fathers and children, brothers and others are writing obituaries? I don’t know. Do they know that there was supposed to be a third rider that day, who heard of the crash and panicked and prayed and delivered the news of the loss of two precious lives to two distraught wives? I don’t know.

Do they know that a father was on the runway when he heard the frantic cries of his only daughter who has already lost her mother and now has to deliver the news to her only daughter that she has lost her father? I don’t know. Do they know that fathers don’t live through Vietnam so that they can come home to bury their sons on American soil? I don’t know. Do they know what it’s like for children who sang, “I’m so glad when Daddy comes home”, but Daddy never does? I don’t know. Or a wife who wears her husbands shirts just to breathe his scent? Or a mother who lost her first born, the very one who made her a mother, and a brother, his best friend? I don’t know.

Bryan Byrge

And friends and family and neighbors who gather, who wonder what can I do? What can I say? Is there anything more I can do than just pray? Do they know about them? I don’t know. Do they know the last time that we told him that we love him? His loved ones are desperately trying to remember…maybe they know, but I don’t know if they do. What do these strangers making comments know? They know speculation. When they should know commiseration.  What do they know? They know nothing.

And what do I know? What if my nephews and niece ask me, why? I don’t know why, though I want to. What if they ask me, how? How will I ever survive, how long will it hurt, how long will I cry? I don’t know.

Bryan Byrge on Bike

When we don’t know sometimes the comfort is in what we know. So what do I know. I know that Bryan loved his family. I know because I heard him tell them regularly. I know that he thought his wife was HOT. I know because he said it often and I watched the children blush. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ was of the utmost importance in his life. I know because the last things I witnessed him do was baptize his daughter and ordain his youngest sons. I know God lives. I know Christ is our comforter. I know that families can be together forever.

Bryan Byrge loved the Lord, loved others and loved life. This I know.

In memory of my brother Bryan Byrge,

Sista Laurel [Zandra Vranes]

  • I am so very sorry for your loss. My heart is breaking along side you and was when I heard the news yesterday. Your relation and post has brought it even more to home. I mourn with you and especially with the wives and kiddos. I know God will somehow reconcile all of our pains…someday. This I know. God bless.

    • sistasinzion

      Thank you Alice for mourning with us.

  • Melissa

    I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with your family at this heartbreaking time. May the Lord pour out his Spirit upon you and wrap you in his arms.

    • sistasinzion

      Thank you Melissa for your prayers we’ve been blessed to feel the Spirit already and I hope we continue to feel it’s embrace as time goes on.

  • Karin Holt

    This is such an amazing tribute to such an incredible man. Bryan always had a smile on his face. Your tribute to Bryan is something his kids and Katie can be proud to read. It put the focus right where it should be, on Bryan and his friend. Sending my thoughts and prayers and tons of love to the Vranes and Byrge family. Love you Zandra

    • sistasinzion

      Thanks Karin, Bryan truly was a wonderful brother, father and husband. We appreciate your prayers.

  • Kerry

    I am so sorry for the tremendous loss for you and for all of Bryans family. I live very near the accident site and heard those early morning sirens. I nearly lost my husband in a horrific accident 15 years ago. Every time I hear that sound, I ache for someone’s family. Many prayers offered on your behalf. Hang in there.

    • sistasinzion

      Thank you for your prayers and thank you for feeling for our family. Accidents are so very hard.

  • Meagan G.

    Thank you Zandra for summing up so many of my thoughts from comments read on websites. Thank you for painting such an accurate and beautiful picture of Bryan. This tragedy has broken many hearts for he was greatly loved, admired and will be sorely missed. Those who made those terrible comments will never get the opportunity to know Bryan and how he was one of the greats. That in itself is a tragedy. Glad we had the opportunity and blessing to know and love him and have him in our lives.

    • sistasinzion

      So true Meagan all who knew Bryan feel so blessed to have known him. If commenters knew half of what these two men are to their families, friends and communities, I think they might be a little more cautious of their words.

  • Rob Watson

    I’m so sorry to hear he has passed. Bryan and I served in the mission together. We were never companions but I remember playing basketball with him on prep days. My love to all his family.

    • sistasinzion

      Bryan loved his mission in Guatemala and he LOVED basketball! Thank you for sharing your experience with him.

  • Heidi Day

    I cried through this whole post. So touching.
    Our love and prayers go out to the Vranes / Byrge family.

    • sistasinzion

      Thanks Heidi, you prayers are so much appreciated by our families. Hope your sweet family is well.

  • matt durfee

    I served with Bryan in my second area of the mission. Although he wasn’t my companion we went on many splits. I appreciate your words. He was a great guy. So loving and giving and just a big kid at heart. I loved every moment we got to hang out. My heart goes out to his family.

    • sistasinzion

      Big kid at heart is great way to describe Bryan! Thanks for sharing your experience with Bryan, he really did love serving the Lord in Guatemala.

  • Alesha

    Thank you, Zandra, for putting into words the emotions that are so hard to express, that so few understand. Your tribute is devastatingly accurate and beautifully written. Thank you for sharing the amazing, unending love that Bryan gave to so many.

    • sistasinzion

      Love your words Alesha “unending love”. That really was Bryan all who touched felt love without end.

  • Amy

    I am so sorry. What perfect words you have put together.

    • sistasinzion

      Thank you for your condolences Amy, I truly appreciate them.

  • Zandra, so sorry for your loose and you said it so well in your blog. There will always be unknowns about this tragedy in you and your family lives but the gospel is always there with comfort and reassurance that you will see your loved one again. That doesn’t make it easy but it does with time make it bearable. We love ya and are waiting for ya to show up in Henefer. All our love.

    • sistasinzion

      Thank you for all the Henefer love Susan. I am so grateful for the gospel at all times, but especially in times like these.

  • Alan

    Hi Zandra, forgive me for the length of this post, I just really wanted to share a few thoughts. I’ve never met you but you and your family have been in my thoughts and prayers the last 2 days, I am so, so sorry for your loss. We’ve never met and I wasn’t a close friend by any means but I knew Bryan from working with him many years ago and he was one of those few people you come across in life that you are just grateful for the blessing it was to have had the chance to meet him. It’s been several years since we worked together but I would run into him around town or at one of my sons football games and I was always met with a smile and kind words.

    I wanted to share one memory about Bryan that was very meaningful in my life and I think demonstrated the kind of person and father that he is. I am about the same age as Bryan and like Bryan also have four children. Ten years ago Bryan and I worked together and it was about this time of year, early March, that I found out that my wife was expecting twins. As a young father I remember the overwhelming feeling of fear that I had at the prospect of this monumental new responsibility of which I felt completely unprepared for. I wasn’t really comfortable talking to anyone about these feelings of unpreparedness that I was experiencing but I remember spending long periods of time on my knees asking God for the strength to deal with what lied ahead of me and still the fear seemed to increase during every waking moment in the days following the news.

    When Bryan found out a few days later that I was going to be having twins his face completely lit up, he took me aside and told me how lucky I was, how incredibly amazing it was to be the father of twins and how much I was going to absolutely love it. He spent time telling me how much he was enjoying his own twins, he told me how awesome it was when they would wake up in the morning and start talking to each other, how they interacted and the funny things they did. There was no doubt listening to him how much he loved being father and how much he loved his kids and his family and as he continued to talk to me about his own experience he literally became the answer to my prayers as my fear just evaporated seeing his genuine excitement for me.

    In the months that followed he continued to check in with me and continued to give me advice and encouragement. I’m sure he never had any idea how much that helped me at the time and I certainly regret having never told him but I will never forget him. The love he had for his own family was an example that many of us who had the chance to meet Bryan tried to emulate in our own lives. The world is clearly a better place having had Bryan in it and I’m sure he continues to be a force for good.

    • Randee & Company

      Our sincere love to the Vranes and Byrge families. You are all such beautiful and amazing families. May you be comforted in excess, and may you feel peace as it trickles in through the pain. Our deepest sympathies.

      • sistasinzion

        Thank you so much for your love and kindness. Our Vranes-Byrge bunch just loves our Randee & Company family.

    • sistasinzion

      Alan thank you so much for sharing this beautiful experience with Bryan. I had the blessing of reading it to his family and they felt so warmed by your words.

      • Alan

        Thank you for that reply and thank you for sharing with the family. Such an incredibly difficult trial for anyone to have to endure but know that there are quite literally thousands of people praying for this amazing family right now.

  • Aunt Diane

    Thank you so much for this beautiful piece you wrote! Our hearts are broken, but all 29 of our branch of the Vranes Family will be there next week. Love you all! Aunt Diane and Uncle Mark

    • sistasinzion

      Thank you Aunt Diane, we are so thankful for all our love and support from our family. See you soon.

  • Emily

    I wasn’t privileged to meet either of these men but from the sounds of it, they were very special to a lot of people and very good men. I can relate to the pain the families are feeling though. I lost my dad 7 years ago in may. He was hit by a car in canyon going from Brigham city to Logan. There’s really nothing I can say that will take pain away. My heart hurts for you. Sending prayers your way.

    • sistasinzion

      Emily thank you for sharing experience and sending prayers on our behalf. So appreciated.

  • sarah

    Thanks for a beautiful tribute. It is so nice to see people sharing what amazing men John and Bryan were. I had the privilege of knowing John with in my extended family. I will forever be grateful for the beautiful tributes that show these two men as the stalwart priesthood holders and amazing men of God. There is no better way for their kids to be strengthened than knowing that their fathers practiced what they taught them and were influential in so many lives. If you knew them send their kids a message by telling them what they meant to you!

    • sistasinzion

      I just met John’s beautiful family and I am praying for them. You are absolutely right, the best tribute we can give these wonderful men is to let their family members know how they touched our lives.

  • Shelley Browning North

    Thank you for your perspective on this tragedy. I am a high school friend of Bryan and just cried while reading your tribute to my own twins- I did not know we had that in common. His smile will forever be imprinted on the hearts of many. I lost a brother to an automobile tragedy nearly 20 years ago. I wish I could take away your family’s pain. Please know that you are in my prayers and I hope that you may all feel the comfort of our Heavenly Father and find peace in your wonderful memories of Bryan.

    • sistasinzion

      Shelley, I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for your thoughtful words and prayers. Bryan loved being the daddy of twins, he just thought two was twice the fun. God bless.

  • Kim

    Most of us don’t know you or your family, but please know that we suffer with you. As soon as I read the news, I was in tears for you and your family. There are those that cause commotion and like to create drama, but please know that the majority of people are sincerely praying for your family and for peace to be upon you. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss.

    • sistasinzion

      Thank you Kim, and you are so right the majority of people are kind and wonderful it is just those few nay sayers that can be a little loud.

  • Erin Rossel

    My husband worked with Bryan but I didn’t know him. But my heart goes out to your family. I lost my father when I was 8 and he was the same age as Bryan. So this hits very close to home for me and my heart breaks for his young family. My dad was able to baptize me as one of his last acts also. Though my heart still aches for him I am so grateful for His plan that I know I can be with my father again one day. Praying for all the fatherless (and motherless) each night. love.

    • sistasinzion

      Erin, thank you your words are so touching. My niece is 8 and I pray she’ll feel as you do one day. Thank you for the prayers for all those who are without their parents.

  • Donna

    I don’t know you or Bryan or anyone else that is of consequence. But I am the wife of a cyclist. Mother of six children. Last fall my husband was hit by a car as he was nearing the end of a 40 mile ride. So, what I do know is the fear of waiting, the total unreality of the “phone call”, the pain and frustration of the “what ifs”…what if he had just come home with me that day instead of riding? What if he had taken longer to fix his flat, or what if he hadn’t had a flat at all? We were lucky. He broke his neck, his ribs, the bones around his eye, and suffered some brain trauma. Miraculously, he lived and you would hardly know that he had been in accident. Except that the warming weather here in Michigan makes me break out in hives. His new bike is waiting in the garage, new helmet, new spandex…but I didn’t get to grow a new memory. And so my heart constricts as I think of his first ride out on the road. Your story has touched me deeply. My husband rode from Alpine to BYU every nice day we had when we lived in Utah. I am so sorry for your loss. And I am even more sorry that there is no way to take away the pain. Even with the answers we have about life and life after death, it just doesn’t take away the pain of the here and now. We will keep all of you in our prayers and close to our hearts.

    • sistasinzion

      Donna thank you for your condolences and for sharing your experience. I am so glad your husband is well. I have been hearing from many cyclers and their loved ones about how a tragedy like this makes them tense about riding again. We had to overcome that just the other day as members of our family decided to participate in a memorial ride. Thank for keeping us close to your heart.

  • Karen (Mahaffery) Cernazanu

    Dear Marie,
    I wish I could take away this whole thing! I am in shock, saddened, in tears. I have worried about my boys in combat, but riding to work! It just isn’t real. I am so, so sorry. Remember when our kids were little in Aurora! I miss you. I am praying for your entire family.
    May God give you all the peace and comfort you all need at this time.
    With all my love,
    Karen

    • sistasinzion

      Your words to Marie are so kind and beautiful.

  • Geraldine Walters

    When my daughter Cathy Hill called me the other morning to tell me one of her daughter Emily Wilcox’s best friend’s husband had been killed in that terrible accident my heart went out to all the families involved; Emily and Katie have been friends for ever so long and Rob was also so close to Bryan; they loved doing things with them. My son Ken rides his bike to work on that same road; during his break from work at Microsoft he runs and often runs to that area; he says he has heard of many bicycle accidents and they have not bothered him but this one was different; he felt compelled to go to the scene of the accident and so ran there from work, he stayed there a long time contemplating; not knowing that his wonderful niece was friends with the family. I lost my husband seven months ago and it is still very hard but we all had some time to say our goodbyes. May the Lord continue to bless all of the families. I know Emily and her friends will be singing at Bryan’s funeral and our daughter Cathy will be playing for them. Perhaps Emily can share some amazing books with Katie that has helped me so much. Sometimes I tell Heavenly Father “I never knew it would be so hard”, but then he comforts me even more! Love to all of you.

    • sistasinzion

      Geraldine, thank you for your prayers and thoughts. And I’m so sorry for your loss of your dear husband. Emily has been such a blessing at this time to Katie and all our family. She is a true friend.

  • Carrie Jacobs

    Oh Zandra….! You have a gift with words. All I think when I wake up now is, Katie Katie Katie. I think of all of you too and how in the world has your family made it through any of this.

    My goodness girl. It’s beyond reason in my own mind. The Bryan I knew was EXACT. The mistake was not theirs, but it’s probably not a debate that is mine to enter into. I can’t help but just be a little ticked at the media coverage and the ‘rider safety’ bit. There is no way those riders made a mistake.

    We know Bryan.

    My love to you, Zandra.

    • sistasinzion

      Thank Carrie. Yes, Bryan was a very experienced rider. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers for Katie and our families.

  • Jennifer

    As I read the comments in the paper a few days ago, I felt similar thoughts as to who would write words that may hurt the family of those involved in this horrible tragedy. I read your “response” through tears. I’m so sorry that your family has lost Bryan. I knew Bryan from when he started work at Qwest. I had the pleasure of working with him and Tom in their initial training. They could be like herding cats, the way they played off of each other and their history. They pranked me once by telling me to watch a “Hysterically Funny Family Movie” that I rushed right out and rented. Let’s just say it was funny, but definitely not a family film. They had quite the laugh on Monday morning when I told the story of renting it and putting it in to watch with my husband and kids…. Bryan was fairly recently married as I recall and totally enamored of his wife. He worked so hard to understand and be prepared for his new job, feeling the weight and pride of providing for his young family. I only worked with him for a few months, and then he moved on to a new manager. Whenever I saw him, he would smile that million-dollar smile and tell me about what was new with his wife and his growing family. He would also thank me for my help, which always made me feel good. Of course, he was going to be a success at anything he did, but he kindly always showed appreciation for anything I may have done to help prepare him for the work he did. A week or so ago I commented on a picture of he and Tom at a basketball game. I can’t believe the world has lost him. I don’t profess to be a friend of his, just someone who was blessed to know him for a moment in time. I am so sorry for his friends, because I know he was family to them. I’m heartbroken for you and the rest of his family, for I know your lives will never be the same. I wish you all peace and faith. Jennifer

    • sistasinzion

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience with Brian. He always talked fondly of the folks he worked with at Qwest. You your wish for us of peace and faith is so appreciated.

  • Your beautiful post brings tears to my eyes and pain to my heart as it brings me to the place I was on December 9, 2011. My younger brother David was killed in a car accident in the early morning hours on his way to work. He left behind a shattered wife and two young children. I remember those feelings you put into words so well.

    I could see the emergency lights responding to the accident from my home early Wednesday morning, and I carried a prayer in my heart all day for the families that would begin living their worst nightmare. I want to add my condolences and prayers for your families…and my testimony that some how, in his own way, the Savior will help each of you face each new day. There is healing ahead. much love, Laura

    • sistasinzion

      Laura, I am so sorry for the loss of your brother. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and especially your testimony, it was much needed.

  • Kathy Christensen

    Zandra, I have read your words several times since this was first shared on Facebook. My husband Jeff worked with Bryan at Dex a few years ago. They speant 3 months out of the year living together away in St George for work. This team of men they worked with were a unique pack of friends. In fact, they named thmselves “The Wolf Pack”. After they all went separate ways to different companies, they remained very close friends. Jeff would often come home and tell me about meeting with “the pack” for lunch. In fact Jeff’s biggest regret is he turned Bryan down for a lunch date on Monday, in order to study for a test, important then, meaningless now. I had the privilege of meeting Katie during those years they worked away from home and we talked about how hard it was. She shared how her and Bryan grew up together and came to fall in love. I have adored her from the day I met her. My husband left work Wednesday morning when he was delivered the devastating news. He picked me up absolutely shattered. It is the first time I have seen him trully grieve. They are the first thing we think about when we wake up and the last before bed. Bryan always made Jeff fee like a special friend, however, it is so obvious at his funeral he made everyone feel that way. What a special family. If our hearts hurt this bad, I cannot imagine the magnitude of you, his mother, father, nieces, nephews, brother, and mostly Katie and her children’s pain. I pray for them several times a day when I don’t even realize I am praying. Heavenly father has sincerely shown his tender mercies so many times this past week. I love your words and your family. They have made a imprint on so many lives. What a blessing our Heavenly Father gave the world. May you be comforted at this time.