One month ago I lost my best friend. Twelve months ago I had just married him.
This day one year ago was the best day of my life. And today, though not the worst… is also not what I had hoped it would be.
Whenever any brave individuals have asked me how I am doing (despite the terrifying threat of Ensure protein supplements), I’ve responded that I’m doing okay. Overall, I think that is true. The sadness ebbs and flows. Sometimes the waves crash against me so hard that I feel like I’m drowning, and I find myself physically gasping for air. But usually the pressure passes almost as quickly and suddenly as it came.
Since Ryan’s passing, I have vacillated quite alarmingly between wanting never to be alone and wanting nothing more than to be alone. I’ve kept myself busy over the past month so that I haven’t really been able to take time to truly process my loss. So as you might imagine, the thought of being alone today terrified me. Instead I spent all day charging through brunch with bright, sunny, hilarious friends laughing until my sides hurt. Then I went to Brooklyn (which, retrospectively, is when I probably should have realized something was wrong) to continue the distraction. But during dinner I began to withdraw into myself. I figured I was a bit tired, I figured I should head home and work on this post. But, naturally, my emotions caught up to me on the long train ride home. Generally, I hate crying in front of others because I am a hideous crier – Ryan’s nickname for me when I cried was actually “Turtle Face” (most of the time this was a term of endearment?) – and yet the majority of crying attacks I’ve had have been on the 6 train. I guess there’s a bit of anonymity in that, but still. All I wanted one year ago, full of hope, was a happy ending. I wanted kids, a house, family vacations with a happy, cancer-free family… but in actuality most of this last year was spent looking over my shoulder, anxious about what would come next, about when the other shoe would drop. I don't know if cancer helped us live our lives more fully or if it crippled us by whisking away the freedom of ignoring time. We were robbed of a future together, but I think it stole a little bit of the present, too.
There is a small part of me that feels fundamentally broken. I'm not sure how badly, yet, but I think (hope) I will be okay. There are small moments that make me feel a little less broken. When I'm laughing, I feel full again, if just for a moment. I know a lot of you have been trying to respect my space, and I really appreciate your efforts. Any messages of love and support you sent along to my friends were received by me very gratefully. I also appreciate those of you who reached out to me regardless. Loss is unfortunately not something unique to me, or you, or any single individual. I think most of us have experienced loss in some capacity, perhaps just not voiced as publicly as this. And there is a sense of community in that. Grief is not something that needs to be a lonely endeavor, though sometimes you (I) may want it to be.
This post was a bit disjointed, and I apologize for that. It was a little more stream of consciousness than I intended. I’m pretty sure I’m going to stop writing on this blog at this point. It started as a pet project for Ryan to keep the world informed on all of his opinions and shenanigans, but I don’t know how I feel about continuing to write here. It has been both a wonderful and slightly painful connection to Ryan, but the blog is titled “TheRyanWest.com” after all…
So, whether you knew Ryan, whether you know me, whether you have never met either of us but are thinking of us anyway… Thank you.
A wonderful and incredibly talented friend made the following video in tribute to Ryan, which I found to be quite moving and beautiful. And so, your moment of zen:
Take it with you, so you'll always have a way to look back... and remember me.