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Posted at 12:24 PM ET, 12/ 3/2010

Postscript: Ken Diviney

By Paul Schwartzman

Ken Diviney's doorbell rang Thursday just after a lunch. The caller was a stranger, a woman who said she had read a story on the front page of Thursday's Washington Post about his son, Ryan, 21, who has been in a coma for a year. The woman said she had driven 45 minutes to pray for Ryan. Could she come in?

Diviney was tending to his son in the living room at that moment. He told his friend, who had answered the door, to turn her down -- politely. His son can't be around strangers, can't be exposed to even the slightest possibility of catching an infection.

"She could have been Typhoid Mary," Ken explained later.

The business executive who came with a $5,000 donation -- that was a different story. Ken let him into the house. He even let the guy see Ryan. When you're anticipating $500,000 in medical bills, you need to be flexible.

For the past year the Divineys have lived in relative obscurity, the case of their son being beaten near death by college students the subject of stories in local newspapers around Morgantown, W.Va., where the attack occurred. On Thursday, Ken and his wife, Sue, found themselves at the center of greater attention.

Two companies called offering to install Christmas decorations outside their Ashburn home. A TV network morning show was interested in coming to the house for an interview. More than 200 people joined the Facebook page the Divineys established for Ryan. Another 100 sent Ken a friend request.

Sue left early for her job at CNN, where she's the senior director of finance. Ken was at home, tending to Ryan, as usual, a bit worried that he came off as a "jerk" in the article, pleased that his son was the recipient of so much attention -- excited even -- but sorry and sad at the same time.

"I wish someone else was a source of inspiration," he said. "I'd rather live in a spider hole."

Prior to reading the article, Ken didn't know that his son had what his doctor described as a 10 to 20 percent chance of ever regaining consciousness. The doctor never had told the family that, Ken said. No one in the family ever asked the question.

Kari, his daughter, who is a freshman at West Virginia University, wrote Ken a text asking if he was more hopeful than the doctor.

"Absolutely," Ken wrote back.

"So sad," Kari wrote.

Ken bathed his son Thursday. He stretched Ryan's limbs and changed his catheter. He fed him through the tube attached to his stomach. He gave him his 50 medications. He brushed his teeth. The usual.

Wednesday night, he had a dream that Sue and he and Ryan were shopping for a new iPhone, and that Ryan was his usual healthy and bantering self. Let this not be sleep, Ken told himself as the scene unfolded. Let this be the way it is.

He awoke, weeping at first that Ryan was okay, then weeping more because he knows he is not.

By Paul Schwartzman  | December 3, 2010; 12:24 PM ET
Categories:  The Blowback  
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