Thank you for everything. I miss you. And goodbye.

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Woman mourning her lover

His name was Richard. Most of the girls flirted with him to some degree but for whatever reason, he took interest in me. We hung out several times right around the time I turned 18, and when I was 19 almost 20 he helped me through a messy breakup but never once put the moves on me.

He could have, to be fair, and I would have gone for it. But no, he was a true friend while I left my abusive ex. He was silly and flirtatious and mature about our weird friendship, he kept his distance and never pressed for anything, he made me feel good about myself without being creepy. He always sent smiley faces.

I flirted with him relentlessly for a few weeks, months, idk, which finally culminated in us messing around at his house. We didn’t have sex, but we were very intimate/affectionate and it was so nice to feel like someone was crazy about me. He had this stupid Snuggie, and that was the whole premise - I was missing out! I had to know how good a Snuggie could be. I told him I’d have to come see. And it was so funny, the whole thing, irreverent and weird as it could be, each of us with one arm in a Snuggie, giggling like mad, and then who knows. It was nice. I had a Snuggie, actually. I just didn’t tell him that until much later.

His friend, who directed the leadership program, definitely knew something was going on. Eventually, Richard and I met him and his girlfriend for beer pong, we had a great night. I remember it so clearly. So much of those years is a blur but I have a crystal clear memory of that night.

Eventually, we started to drift apart, but he was always there to fall back on. For a flirty coffee date or a makeout sesh or just being dumb and playing mini golf. God, I remember playing mini golf. Eventually, I met the man that is now my husband. I separated myself from Richard so as not to be tempted. Unfriended him on Facebook. And I am glad I did. I’m very happily married. But my confidence came back in the form of Richard’s easy smile, his compliments, his comfort, so in a way I have him to thank for this, a little bit.

My sister, who went through leadership with me, mentioned him offhand a few months ago, sadness evident. I asked her what she meant and she almost started crying at dinner. She told me he’d had some kind of problems with his liver, his liver failed. He died. He died. Richard is dead.

I can still hear his voice in my head. I can still picture that face, his voice, his stupid groaning laughter when I teased him for being older than me, my old counselor. His brow lifted, side-eyeing me at that stupid mini golf place the night my flirtations became obvious. Man, he was cute.

I never got to say goodbye. I separated myself so I wouldn’t be tempted to fall back to him because I knew I was serious about my husband long before we ever talked about marriage. I told myself that Richard was a fond memory, someone I could catch up within a few years when we’d both moved on in our lives, genuinely happy for each other. I pictured it in my head. I was excited about it. He was such a good person. A bit of a weirdo, but an excellent friend. I waited until the day we could say “best friend! long time no talk. How are things?!” And we could go on and reminisce in a distant sort of way and smile.

Instead, he spent months withering away, with the support of friends, while I remained blissfully unaware and missed my chance to say... thank you. And goodbye.

Thank you, “best friend”. I hope you’re in whatever afterlife watching wrestling and football and I hope there are awesome boobs for you to check out, like all the time, and great movies to watch and the softest snuggies you could ever imagine. Thank you for everything. I miss you. And goodbye.

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