And I Owe It All To You – Remembering my friend, John Ruffing

Dear John,

It will be 12 years Saturday since you died. I’m frightened by how quickly the memorials to you are overwhelming the memories with you.

I guess that makes sense – we met when I was 15 years old and struggling to figure out all of the things. I was 37 when you died. That’s 22 years of friendship and then 12 years of mourning. One day, I’ll turn around and realize its been 22 years of mourning and my heart will break again.

I didn’t make it to Dairy Queen this fall to have our traditional Pumpkin Spice Blizzard. I’m going to try to see if the local store is still open tomorrow. You would probably roll your eyes when I say that I’m trying to give up dairy and go with coconut milk options. As I typed that sentence, I imagined your response and now I’m crying/smiling.

I haven’t forgotten you, John. You come to mind all of the time, not just remembrances but in moments when I think “What would John say?” about things you’ve never experienced – Instagram, Burmese food, and most of my blog. Did you ever read my blog – it was just 2 years old and you definitely hated politics. But you would have loved my getting a GLAAD award. I think. I hope?

I hate that you weren’t on Facebook long enough to leave trail of “Memories” on that social platform. What happened to your Facebook account? OMG, you would be a legend on that site – all of your dog lady friends.

I hate those final moments in the funeral home. That wasn’t you. When they creep unbidden into my mind, I think with fierce intensity about my final moments with your dogs. Never have I wished more for the ability to communicate with animals than that night when I couldn’t explain to them what had happened to you. They’ve joined you by now. I hope that helps all of you.

I hate these final moments in this post and each post I write to you. You aren’t reading them. It is just my own struggle to find peace with your death. And how could I? 12 years doesn’t make me less angry at the injustice of it all. I’m furious, John. This was our song in that quirky high school platonic bff relationship way. Right now, I feel like you have jumped off the stage and danced away from me and I try to believe you’ll turn around and dance your way back. Because I know that no one will ever love me like you did, my friend.

But that’s for me to figure out. I hope you are no longer hurting or sad or alone. I hope you’ve found peace and light and joy.

I think I might be closer than either of us ever hoped we’d get to that in our time on earth. And I really do owe that to you.

Love, Susie