My friend Ryan Rogers, @UnlicensedBrony, was killed in an accident on the 5th January in Stonehouse on his way to see us. He was a regular gamer (aka. every week) with my housemate Sam and I, and he’d often stayed with us over the past year – helping with DIY and gardening, learning to cook and drive, watching films, playing board games, talking about writing and occasionally actually doing some writing. He was someone I considered a very close friend, and someone I spoke to nearly every day.
And now he’s not here.
It still hasn’t sunk in.
I still go to text or email him – I think of something he’d find amusing or interesting, or that I want to get his opinion on. I’m waiting for the text to say he’ll be at Stroud station, or the email from him with a new story or plotline idea. I’ve got notes for the next Dresden RPG game, now abandoned; plans and snippets of ideas that would have been so much fun to play. I’m still expecting him to walk in the door and give me a quick hug before getting sat on by the cat and handed the remote so that he can choose the cheesy 80’s film for the evening.
Everything just ends so abruptly.
I’ve lost my alpha reader, my inspiration, my friend.
I’ve lost the man with an infectious smile, bright eyes, unexpected hugs, thoughtful words. I’ve lost the athlete who beat me easily in a race across Coaley Peak in the sunshine and bright frost with the view stretching out ahead of us, the world at our feet. I’ve lost the adorable idiot who let the cat sit on him until 1am and his legs had gone numb, just so that he didn’t wake the furball. I’ve lost the gamer who sighed in relief when he got his character out of danger and then promptly plunged back into it just for the fun of the game. I’ve lost the reader who loved my stories and somehow got into my character’s heads almost as well as I did. I’ve lost the caffeine addict who was always up for another cup of tea but would always offer me one too, despite knowing I don’t have tea for blood like he did. I’ve lost the opponent who regularly matched three potions before I could, and the colleague who drowned in sand with me as we failed at Forbidden Desert. I’ve lost the quiet company during our walks down the canal and our seat on the lock gate, just watching the leaves and not having to talk. I’ve lost the roleplayer who would chime in with an unexpected grin, a sharp retort, a sneaky plot. I’ve lost the insecure, broken soul who was learning how to speak out about the hurt, and say what he needed to be able to heal. I’ve lost the teenager who laughed with excitement at catching a Pokemon and always knew what they were called. I’ve lost the sleepyhead who curled up in my arms on the sofa and nodded off halfway through Poco Rosso. I’ve lost the derp who drilled through a mains water pipe and panicked at the resulting water fountain, and then learned how to solder to fix the mistake. I’ve lost the singer who corrupted me with Taylor Swift and whose unexpected voice brightened the moments when he relaxed enough to bring it out. I’ve lost the child who sprinted across the park to get the kite into the air and the adult who sprinted back, laughing as it flew. I’ve lost the writer who loved my world so much that he wrote his own stories, delved into parts I never could have created and brought so much life and imagination to a fantasy of a city. I’ve lost the student who would have a go at anything, from making lasagne to using an impact driver for the first time to taking a corner at 40mph. I’ve lost the friend who knew exactly what I was talking about when I talked about depression, about inspiration, about feeling lost, about finding your path.
I’ve lost someone who meant so much to me. I’m still crying every time I think of him; I’ve got a lump in my chest, a cold fog across my thoughts. I can’t focus for long, can’t concentrate. Every thing I see reminds me, somehow, of the person that I can no longer contact, the friend that I desperately miss.
But. The last time I saw him I got that beaming Ryan smile, and my final words to him were, “You’re awesome too. I’ll see you Wednesday.”
He knew he was loved, and that means that every memory I have makes me smile even as it makes me cry. He knew that he was cherished, valued, accepted – I told my friend that I loved him so many times and he believed me, and that’s everything I could ever want for anyone. I’m so glad that I knew him and that I took the time to listen and relax and just be in his company. He was my friend, and I cherish all the time that he chose to spend with me.
Ryan, you’re an absolute derp, and I miss you like hell. I might even finally get round to watching My Little Pony in your honour.