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Drawing by ARACELY SANCHEZ

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    ARACELY SANCHEZ

    Ry and I met in sixth grade when we were put in a group together for a VEA puppet show. It was super odd and Ry played a whale but made dolphin noises instead. After that, we didn’t talk much besides occasionally helping with homework but somehow ended up hanging out a lot more and becoming great friends. 

    I think it’s funny that at that point we only knew each other from being forced in a group puppet show for VEA, and Ry asked if I could help with math and history, so I didn’t really think I would end up anything other than a tutor, but he ended up being the best friend I’ve ever had.

    Some of my favorite memories with Ry are of our sleepovers. We would build a fort, walk down to a few fast food places or CVS for snacks and ice cream, then watch the sunrise on the balcony. Most of the time we would go to the beach the next day, and once we accidentally stole a skee-ball from the pier ( i still have it :)) ).

    Ry meant a lot to me, more than I think I will ever be able to express. He’s the reason that I was able to start being comfortable with myself and unafraid to be myself. I truly cherished and appreciated every second I had with him, both in the moment and now, more than he ever knew. – ARA SANCHEZ

    Painting by Riley for Ara (front & back)

    MADELINE KNIGHT-WEBER

    I met Riley on the first day of high school, when he had poofy pink hair. For a while, I didn’t really hang out with him outside of school, but late first semester we got to know each other better and I think our friendship started from there.

    Riley took me to my first (and currently only) pride parade – even if it meant me getting nervous about it being my first time on a bus without my parents. Even if it meant me spacing out in the crowds because it was a lot to take in. He was just happy that we were doing it together.

    To me, Riley meant living. He meant having a good time, being loud, enjoying ourselves, love, camaraderie. He meant living all of life and taking in all it has to offer. – MADELINE  KNIGHT-WEBER

    Riley

    ALEX LONG

    Riley and I met in the first grade at Kester Elementary. We were both outcasts in school, which is probably why we got so close. I always admired that he stayed true to himself, even when everyone would judge him for it. One time at Scouts they told us we couldn’t come to picture day if we looked weird, so we quit. It was the last straw in years of being mistreated by the “normies”.

    Riley had a really strange sense of humor; a lot of times he’d say something really strange or gross but the absurdity of it was, it was hilarious!

    Riley was also incredibly creative. I remember we would make videos to be just like our favorite Youtubers, Dan and Phil, or we’d cosplay together. Every time I came over, his room looked different. We shared interests in the strange and dark things in life like horror and dead things and collecting things from nature.

    Now-a-days I try to be as authentic as I can, because that’s what he would’ve wanted. If you don’t live your life authentically, you become miserable. I know this from years of trying to fit in. But now I try to embrace it when people find me strange.  Riley told me to be myself.  I will always be grateful for that.”  –  ALEX LONG

    by Sadie Inatsuga

    DAYANA ALVAREZ

    I met Riley during middle school, we were both in VEA together so our classes were pretty much the same throughout the years. When it comes to Rye, we did a lot of things. We both enjoyed art, we’d draw all the time during Yearbook and make the pages colorful. We were practically the designers of the class. Our most memorable moments came from cosplay, Riley introduced me to the scene. Brought me to my first convention.

    We met so many friends, the cat ears we bought there were on our heads for a while back in school. Of course I can’t forget our beach trip, we rode on the waves, using one another as a bogey board. I laughed a lot when I was with them. With Riley and within the group we were pretty comfortable expressing ourselves, loud and not a care of who heard and what they thought in those moments. I owe a lot of my growth to Riley. Riley was an amazing friend. An amazing person. – DAYANA ALVAREZ

    Gabriel Castillo

    Riley was one of the most important people in my life during middle school. I had met him via some of my friends in 8th grade and at the time and we had an awkward start. I was more outgoing while he was more introverted and shy. Our interests, while somewhat similar at times, was very different. Yet, despite this, we managed to be very great friends. We’d always talk during lunch and after school, and hang out with each other for a good hour.

    I remember we’d always hang out at the back of the bungalows at our school and act like fools. One day we traded sweaters, I gave him a large orange one and he gave me his blue one. One day he handed me a poem that he had wrote, and unfortunately I have lost it. We had spent so much time together during that year that whenever I think of middle school I think of him.

    Unfortunately, we had lost contact a few months after graduation, and he had moved away to a new city and a different high school than mine. Regardless on how our friendship ended, I still cherish our time spent together. He was so sweet and kind to me, and while it’s been years since our last conversation, I’ve still had him on my mind to this day.

    JORDAN WILSON

    Drawing by JORDAN WILSON

    Me and Riley liked Kill la Kill, Steven Universe and Dragon Maid…or at least that’s all we got to watch together…. “ Their aesthetic was gore-ish but with like a cute bunny y’know, “massacre with cuteness.  – JORDAN WILSON

    ROGER GAWNE

    Riley and I met through mutual friends at school, both in the choir program and in GSA.  Riley was a very odd kid, in a great way. I could tell plenty of stories from when I knew him well and we were hanging out, but the briefest and most impactful may be from before we even formally met. I was walking to an event on campus before the school year even started, and I was wearing a pride t-shirt. Riley and I crossed paths, and he had a beetle crawling around on his face. He screamed at me “I LOVE YOUR SHIRT!! I’M GAY!!” with the biggest grin, and honestly, I couldn’t look away from the beetle, which somehow wasn’t scared by any of this.

    I thanked him and asked him about the bug, which he seemed completely unbothered by. As I recall he considered it a friend. Then he walked away.

    Riley was my friend and someone I did my best to look out for. We drifted apart in the last year of his life but I like to think he knew that I was always there if he needed me, no matter how long it had been. I was really hopeful to see the kind of person he’d grow up to be. –  ROGER GAWNE

    Dirk (“Shu”)

    It’s been almost a year since I met Riley. And though I may not have known Riley as long as everyone else, I still miss him and think about him every day.

    I still think about what could have been, what he would think about me today, considering how much I’ve changed. But if my friendship with Riley taught me anything, it would be to not dwell on the past, as much as it hurts to move on.

    Riley, you are in my heart always.  – “Shu”

    Jaqueline

    When I first met Rylie I stole a hat from him, but he stole my heart. He was one of the first people I had ever fallen in love with, and he was definitely the first to love me back. I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with him. – Jaqueline

    POEM from BROOKLYN WILLARD

    AARON GLEASON

    Love. I know George is there for you. You’re in my heart, forever. – Aaron G.

    GEORGE & RY

    DAVE KERSHNER

    A photograph of Riley communing with a seastar on the island she loved. Riley’s spirit will always be here on Lummi. – Dave K

    PHOTO of RY by DAVE KERSHNER

    DORA FOSTER

    I only had choir once with Riley, freshman year, and I never forgot him.  We were friends, if only school setting friends. He had the most comforting and warm energy, and I always felt so safe around him. Even with just one year of treble chorus together, in crowds I always seem to spot him.

    At a protest in June I rushed up to someone with the same curly blue hair he had, and said, “Hey!” They turned around and it wasn’t Riley, and I felt so lonely. Riley was a good human being, and there are so little truly good human beings. I miss him, and anyone who had ever met him would love him. I wish I could see him again. Thank you. –  DORA FOSTER

    LILY SAUNDERS

    OLIVIA LANDON

    Riley, even as I did not know you personally, just from many second accounts from friends I knew you were always such a light in people’s lives. Seeing you around school you were always kind to everyone. You had immense talent and artistic ability. Thank you for improving so many people’s lives and for being a positive source for others. Your presence will be missed but never forgotten. – OLIVIA LANDON

    ROXANN