We were like brothers, you and I. We played little league together out in that dead-end, redneck town that we grew up in. We got a little older and we shot Holy Hoops every Tuesday night at the Tabernacle, where they treated your mom like shit when it all went down. We stayed up nights at the gas station talking about every damn thing under the sun.
You went fishing with me at midnight down by the river, just because I needed to get out of my house for a while. Your little sister was with us, and her boyfriend too. it’s hard to believe that they have a kid now. And there was that one damn lamp that wouldn’t stop flickering.
And wasn’t I there for you every time that you needed a friend? Wasn’t I there for you when you broke up through a text message because she didn’t have the decency to say it to your face?
Wasn’t I there to cheer you on when you lost 30 pounds in a single month by eating healthy and walking 10 miles every day? Wasn’t I there to support you when the back seat of your truck was full of McDonalds wrappers and you had undone all the progress you had made?
Wasn’t I there when your youngest sister went bat-shit crazy and tried to gouge out your little sister’s eye? I maybe didn’t know what to say, or how to say it, but I was there for you.
And wasn’t I at the hospital after your dad had a heart attack while he was driving down the highway? It was you, me, your little sister, and your little sister’s friend who turned out not to be her friend. We stayed there for hours just praying that he’d make it through.
And when you were so scared of the idea of going to community college, because you thought you were too dumb and too worthless, wasn’t I there to tell you that you could do it? And you were so excited when you finished your first semester and you didn’t just pass, but you actually did well!
And then you got your new job, and you made your new friends, and you didn’t register for the next semester, and you wouldn’t even talk to me and tell me what was going on. But didn’t I keep trying to get through when you stopped answering my calls? And when you finally came clean about all the drugs to your mom, who was downstairs just happy to have her son back, you told me that every time you saw my name show up on your phone you knew that I hadn’t given up on you, but you couldn’t face talking to me because you knew that I wouldn’t approve. But I wasn’t even judging you! I just wanted to be there for you, like I always had been. Through whatever shit came your way.
You asked me to forgive you for shutting me out for so long. And I did. I forgave you without reservation. I was just so happy to have my friend back. But I’d be lying if I said that sometimes I wish I hadn’t. Sometimes I wish I had told you to go to hell. Sometimes I wish that I had said, ‘Fuck you. Get out of my damn life. You always pull this shit on me, and I always forgive you, but not anymore. I’m not going to be hurt by you another fucking time.’ But I didn’t say that, because that’s not what you’re supposed to say. And damn it, I wanted to forgive you because I wanted to believe that I could really get my friend back.
I don’t know where you are now. You moved to Kentucky for a while, and I talked to you once or twice. But then you moved around some more, and you got a new phone, and you didn’t bother giving me the new number. You didn’t even bother giving me a call.
I know you’re out there somewhere. I know that you’re with the girl who you were with when we met. You two were on again off again all through high school, dated other people in your late teens and early twenties, just to wind up with each other again, back where you both started. I hope she’s good for you. I hope you’re good for her.
I just wish we were still friends.