Some of it you learn the hard way
Some of it you read on a page
Some of it comes from heartbreak
Most of it comes with age
And none of it ever comes easy
A bunch of it you maybe can’t use
I know I don’t prob’ly know what I think I do
(Eric Church Some of It)
I have wanted to share this story for awhile but I haven’t found the courage until today. I was driving back from my Great Aunt Emma’s funeral and I had a lot of big feelings in my heart and I heard the above song and I said, it’s time, it’s never going to be easy, but that’s life. It’s hard to feel like I can put one of my greatest regrets out there for everyone to know and judge. But I want to because I hope someone can take something from it and avoid making the same mistakes that I did. It is something that truly did change my life and has helped form my choices and for that I am grateful. But man, I wish it wasn’t a lesson I had to learn.
Back in high school my friend Sylva befriended some guys from Sullivan, Indiana, this sweet little place with railway crossings through town, a diner, an old bridge we could walk over, and I absolutely fell in love with all of it and all the people, it just felt like this little town I had always been missing but never knew it until I was dropped in the middle of it. And through our friendships with some of these guys we met more people from this whisper of a place. And eventually I met Bryan.
Bryan and I formed such a close and special friendship. It’s hard to put into words everything that Bryan was. He was wise beyond his years, truly. It sometimes felt like he lived in my heart and head because he really just got me. I told him everything, easily, because he just understood everything. And a lot of the time, we didn’t need words. Our friendship was lyrics and adventure and quiet moments. It was a John Green novel. We would spend hours on the phone, just listening to music together (like literally, turning the same song on at the same time), we wrote letters (his hand writing was atrocious, sorry Bry), we went to the top of the world. We went on walks everywhere because it was simple and beautiful.
As we each left for college our friendship while still there, had some distance naturally, but we remained in contact and he visited me when I moved to the Indy area. We took a nap together in my apartment, we just laid there next to one another and floated off, waking later to set off on another adventure (we tried to get alcoholic beverages at Applebees, but they carded us). I think of that nap a lot, because our friendship was just like that, an oasis, to float quietly off to. Our friendship was whimsical and pure, as if we were holding on to childhood, just for a little bit longer because we weren’t done with that grand adventure.
And then, Bryan got cancer. He called and told me, and really at the time it sounded like no big deal. He said would be up in Indy for his procedure. I lived in Speedway at the time and told him I could drive up to where he would be to see him. That day came, his mom called and I didn’t answer, I didn’t call back and I didn’t show up. I didn’t show up for the rest of his life, except for small chats here and there, on the phone or via email. His health declined and on June 15, 2010 at the age of 21, Bryan Anthony Hagerman died and I wasn’t there. I didn’t’ show up.
Why? Well, I’ve got a pocket full of excuses I can give you . I was busy, I was in a new, exciting relationship, I had school, a job, friends, we weren’t AS close as we had been, I was young and stupid etc. And none of that BS matters. None of that matters because the only thing that really mattered that day and for the rest of his life is that he had people he needed and loved, to show up. I wasn’t there, I failed him. And I will forever be sorry. When I think of my biggest life regrets, this is always the first thing I think of. Because I loved Bryan so fiercely but I Ioved myself more.
I have stopped beating myself up about it, because I know Bry. He wouldn’t want me to hold on to that hurt and disappointment. But he would be damned disappointed in me if I didn’t take this hurt, this regret and this hard lesson and truly learn from it. And Bry, I did and I have and I think of it often. I never want that kind of regret again. But most importantly I want to show up for people. I want to show up for people when they’re sick, in the hospital, when they’re dying or dead, despairing, sad, when they need someone to be quiet with, when they’re happy or rejoicing.
Show up. Show up. Show up. Show up when it’s hard, when it’s uncomfortable, when you’re too busy, when you’re mad at them. Show up if it’s been years. Show up even if they don’t deserve it.
Show up because you don’t get a million chances in life to show up. Sometimes you only get one chance. And if you say you’ll be there, be there. Just be there. Just show up.
Bry, I love you and I miss you. I’m showing up.
You can listen to “our”song by Relient K here: Those Words Are Not Enough
Feelings, inside of my head
I don’t know, but I’m thinking about you
Understand that it’s so hard to tell you, cause you already know
You already know
When it’s twice as hard to realize
That I’m still trying twice as hard to satisfy myself on my ownAnd I’m still waiting for things to change
I lay my life before you, and I’m not getting up
Father, how I adore you
Those words are not enough