I didn't know he was in Milwaukee. Every year or so for the last ten years, I have googled him but nothing ever came up except the similiarly named professional football player. We had left on tough terms, and I was glad to have the distance both physically and emotionally, but I always wished him well. And I always thought that after some time, and some getting well, we'd be back in touch. We would cross paths, he would pick up the phone, I would reply to the last email. But time went on, and life went on and I was busy and he was not to be found. The last we saw each other was in France, the last communication I was in Portland and he was in Madison. His lack of online presence was not surprising, but it was always a disappointment to find nothing.
Yesterday, in a moment of bored googling, (we've all done it), I put his name in once again. To my shock, it was there. He died two weeks ago. In Milwaukee.
I'm sorry Ryan. I'm sorry I didn't reach out; that I didn't try harder to find you. You were a good friend to me many times when I really needed one. I hope you knew that when I pushed you out it was for your benefit. It was because I loved you and I knew that wasn't enough. I knew I couldn't help you enough and that I was a crutch that harmed you more than helped.
I had always held out hope that the day would come when you were well, and I was independent and we could laugh together again (sarcastically and with lovely obscure cinematic references).
If I had known we had both moved to Milwaukee, I would like to believe I would have called you, that I would have met your wife and bought your art and celebrated your happy life with you. I would have liked to freaked you out with a dirty diaper or two. I would have liked to have seen you well.
I didn't know you were here all the time. I didn't know.