Hope is the thing with feathers…


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19 Years of Friendship

I met Ryan by accident.  In normal circumstances we wouldn’t probably have been friends.  He was “not a nice boy” (as my family would remind me for the entirety of our friendship).  He was dating one of my friends when I was in 8th grade and he wanted to talk to some of her friends to get to know her better.  He called me.  I remember thinking that I would kill my friend for giving a “thug” my phone number.  He was in a gang.  He was a “bad influence”.  I didn’t hang out with bad influences.  There was something different about him though, and we forged a friendship that many people did not understand or approve of.  We dated briefly, beginning our “relationship” right before he was sent off to Utah to a camp to try to get him straightened out.  When he came back we decided pretty quickly that we were better off as friends.

Ryan has made a lot of bad choices, done things he’s not proud of.  He’s been in jail twice.  I have a stack of letters that he sent me, and he has one that I sent him.  Years of correspondence.  I once walked 14 miles (one way) to see him in jail.  It caused a major fight in my family.  I regret hurting my family, but the only thing I would’ve done differently is begged for a ride rather than putting myself at risk.

Ryan knows everything about me.  He’s the one person on the planet that I can call out for his bull without worrying.  I’m bad at confrontation, but I learned a long time ago that Ryan is the type of person who needs to be confronted or he’ll run over you.  He’s a strong personality.  I think I’m likely the only person who has ever told him off or stood up to him.  I’m certainly the only girl he’s ever wanted to be with that he hasn’t gotten his way.

It would be a lie to say that we didn’t have deeper feelings for one another.  It’s hard to share the things we have shared and not have something “more.” There has only been one time in all 19 years that we almost acted on that… but I made a different decision. I knew it would change something between us and I didn’t want to risk that.  Sometimes I think it was a good decision.  Sometimes I regret it.

He’s married now, to a great girl.  They have a beautiful daughter.  I’ve spent many nights talking to both his wife or his daughter, enjoying getting to know them even though I’ve never actually met them.  His wife Sarah is incredibly good for him and his daughter Maggie is amazing.

Very early this morning I woke up… I had a headache so bad it woke me up.  I glanced at my phone and saw that I had a voicemail from Ryan.  I hit play, thinking that whatever he had to say would likely cheer me up as I lay there waiting for my head to stop pounding.  I was shocked though, to hear him say that he thought we shouldn’t talk anymore.  There was more… reasons he thought/felt this way.  None of them matter, because none of them are him being honest about the situation.

It’s hard to explain how hurtful this is.  It’s hard because there’s no real way for me to put into words what this friendship was like. Having someone who you have stood by for 19 years, through everything (jail, divorce, jail, alcoholism…) leave you a voicemail basically ending your friendship?  There are no real words for that.

“But still it seems,
I always end up alone.
Is there something inside me
That I don’t see?
Is there something wrong here
with the way I love?” -Safetysuit

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