Man, this is gonna be a tough one but, I have to say goodbye now. We’ve been through so much together, so so much, and it’s hard for me to even think of you not being there by my side anymore, or to have you to call on if I need you, but the time has come and I have to move on.
As I look back on our time together, I remember our first meeting… I was standing in the driveway, watching those strange men fill that big truck with our belongings as we were getting ready to leave him. There was a brief period after that where I don’t remember very much, and then I recall you being there with me in my bedroom as I was lying on the floor, crying… it was shortly after my seventh birthday; thank you for that, for returning to me.
New friends, new schools, old friends, new rules… it all would’ve been so much harder had you not been there to protect me. 'Big Brothers', 'Uncle’s at Large', different programs and activities to help distract me from the void, and each one quitting on me long before I ever had the chance to walk away. But you helped me, you taught me how to give up on people first, how to protect my heart and not get hurt when they would inevitably walk away. You taught me how to not need anyone to make me feel anything. You taught me how to always look ahead and to not pay attention to the stands or the empty seat or the phone not ringing when they were supposed to be there, when they were supposed to let me know that I mattered, and you helped me learn to not care… thank you for that. You taught me how to keep my distance and only give up so much of myself, only let them know so much, only give them just enough, so that they could still walk away, but not take anything from me… thank you for that. And then when I moved back in with him, all alone, you really held me down… you made sure that anyone or anything in my way was gonna have a really tough time making me care. You taught me how to read his moods and figure out how the day was going to be depending on whether he was drinking or not. You showed me his hiding spots and made sure that I was prepared to face what was to come, even if it was just him ignoring me for a few days… thank you for that. In fact, I remember a time when everything started to hurt again and you tried to convince me to just become completely numb, and I did for a while, I did my best, but then I remember waking up one morning and not wanting to be alive, not wanting to be here, and that wasn’t like me, but the numbness had gotten so heavy it created this fog, and I just couldn’t take it, I, I just, I didn’t know what to do. So, slowly, I gave myself permission to feel again, just here and there, little by little, some laughs, but nothing too serious. And then later on, I remember the first time I gave up, even against your advice and my better judgement, I gave up a small piece of my heart… just enough to test the waters… but I couldn’t help it with her, I couldn’t stop myself, I couldn’t stop thinking about her, I was always trying to find ways to be near her, and even though you didn’t want it, I did, and I made sure that she saw me, I made sure that she knew who I was. And even now, looking back, I know that I loved her, but just enough to make sure that she questioned herself being with me, and I inevitably opened the door for her to walk away… thank you for saving me, and for never letting that happen again.
Through many moves, people, places and things, over the years, you’ve been the one consistent thing in my life, always there to call on, and even fast-forward to him dying, you were right there with me, watching him slip away, even after all of my effort, crying, begging and pleading for him to stay, and even cursing out God because we’d finally found a bit of light, a little understanding and some healing had occurred between him and I… and then he was gone; but you weren’t, no, you were right there with me, making sure that I didn’t break, become too vulnerable, or show too much pain. But you know what?...Fuck you!.. ‘cause then you left me stranded, just like everyone else had always done, just like he did after we left him when I was six, and then again on the floor after taking his last breath, and you left me high and dry, alone and lost in the dark. When I lost control of everything and fell apart, you were nowhere to be seen… where were you then, huh? Fuck you, you betrayed me! I gave you so much of me, I let you push people away and I never questioned any of it, I let you let me break my own heart before anyone else could even get close enough to try. Yeah, at first it worked, we worked well together, but then every time I ever really needed you, like to help save me from myself, to help me see over the walls you’d helped me build to keep everyone out, you were fucking gone, you abandoned me. Fuck you… you were never worthy of me.
I’ve been without you for a long time now, years, and I hear you knock every once in a while when life gets a little loud, when I’m let down by people or I put my heart on the line and no one’s listening, no one's there… but I do hear you, and you know what, I’ve been inside-out with my heart exposed for far longer than I ever could’ve imagined being capable of, on my own, and my dedication to shining a light on the darkness and giving hope to those in need of that little voice, that gentle reminder, that little voice that you work so hard to drown out for so many, it’s my love for that light that will prevail in this story.
I still lose people, I still have people give up on me, I have people who I’ve believed in not believe in me, but you know what, those simply aren’t my people for this leg of the journey… and I’m okay with that, because Love knows nothing of distance.
Life has a funny way of pairing us with different kinds of pain, and maybe I never should’ve accepted your help all those years ago, but when I look back at the pain and sadness that somehow saw itself in me, I can also see that every time you weren’t there, there was a light that was, a light that was just awaiting my smile. Since I was six years old, standing on that driveway, I’ve depended on you to protect me from the darkness, and never fully understanding that you were in fact shielding me from the light. And so, I do thank you for your darkness, for the shadows which you once had cast upon the pain, for that is what inevitably opened the door and gave me the courage to step into the light... and smile...
Goodbye, old friend.