I won't soon forget the pain in your face, that day when you told me. You fiddled with your paper cup steaming with tea, your eyes gazing out to the water. Your voice faltered a little as you recounted how they made you feel small. The bullies, you had described, and the bystanders who should've known better than to see you swallowed whole. Those who professed to be your friends didn't even lift a finger to stop it. Others who said that they didn't see the point in defending you, because there was nowhere to go with that.
You told me how they made you feel like you were crazy-all because one person didn't like how you dressed.
I had wished then, as you recounted the story, that we had been friends back then. I'm not sure if I would have had the strength myself to rise against such poison by myself, but I know that I would have been there standing with you, making you feel less alone. Yet I didn't know you then.
What I do know is that experience scarred you and when you were vulnerable again, sick with cancer, I hated those people. I hated what they did to you, and the pain they caused-their never ending need for gossip and power infiltrating even then. People always act weird when someone they know is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Some who professed to be your friend promptly ran-others became sickeningly sweet, acting like you were already dead. Gossipers and ambulance chasers suddenly came out of the woodwork and began asking me the most inappropriate questions about you, and your family.
Many people were kind and hopeful, but never knew what to say. Those were easy to spot and immediately forgiven for their faux pas, but others, not so much. I still remember our shared joke that we needed cards with snappy comebacks on them, saying things such as, "Did you REALLY just ask THAT?"
I never minded fielding the inquiries and disposing of the gifts, as you asked me to. You never wanted to be pitied, and hated the thought of being "that kind of person." All you wanted was people to treat you as they always had, and if they couldn't do even that, give you a hug.
"A hug is really all I need," you'd tell me. I held my tongue when you told me the anguish someone once close to you was causing-the shocking behavior that appalled me to the point where I couldn't understand how sick people can be. I'm not sure you ever knew how hard it was to see someone hurt you and abuse your friendship but out of respect for your wishes and worried that it could make things worse, I was silent.
They had no idea what they were missing-what a beautiful and kind soul you were, and how their sick and abusive behavior tortured you right to your deathbed when you asked me, heartbroken, if you really were expected to be the bigger person and forgive them. Even then, they couldn't leave you alone. Like vultures they circled, and once you were gone acted as though nothing was ever amiss.
I may not have been able to protect you then, but I did today. The gloves came off while my anger and disgust poured through my fingers. No more will I stand for this. No longer will I put up with someone hurting people I love, or manipulating my family to acquire a juicy piece of gossip.
No longer. Today I'm standing up for you. For us. For all of us who painfully watched you die.
IP addresses will be found and blocked. This space, and these posts which are sacred to me, are not meant for their consumption. They do not deserve to have one more piece of you, no matter how tiny, especially through me.
As I write these words, the sun has just broken through the window, casting shadows in the afternoon light and warming my fingers as they type. I can hear your voice in my head, just like the last time you spoke to me.
"You make me feel safe," your frail hand gave mine a gentle squeeze, your eyes were full of love.
"My knight has shiny, shiny armour."