I was thinking about my old friend, Ted, today. I was thinking about how sometimes people come in to our lives and changes it so drastically and never even know it. My only regret is that Ted will never see the person I have become.
When I met Ted I was 22. He was at least 30 years older than me. Our friendship began when I told him of my dream to one day travel Europe. He must have seen something in me that day that I didn’t see in myself. I was a foolish young girl chasing a boy across the country. I was small and intimidated. He was older and sophisticated. He was a published poet who had traveled all over the world. He had chased his dreams. He had knowledge of things I had only read about in books.
Ted was the type of person I wanted to be, so I distanced myself from him so he wouldn’t find out the person I was; a small ignorant person. I felt like a child around him. He tried so hard to offer friendship to me. He even offered to be a mentor and financially sponsor me to go to Europe so I could chase my dreams. He had made the offer with no strings attached. I believed him, but it wasn’t something I was able to accept. Somebody wanted something for nothing. He said that someone had once extended the favor to him and he wanted to pass the favor along. I did want to travel with him, but I told him I would have to raise the money on my own.
After I moved away, we stayed in touch through email and continued to be friends. we continued to talk about our dream to Europe. He announced one day his plan to retire. He had been saving money for years and had just announced to his work that he would be retiring early and moving to Salzburg to write a book. He had sent me a birthday card that said “I can’t wait until we travel together”. I felt the same, but didn’t know how I was going to make it happen in the foreseeable future financially.
One winter after I went through a breakup I had no direction of what to do. Ted offered his home, a place to create, save money, a warm place, a place for coffee and conversation and friendship. I resisted once again. I truly do believe he wanted nothing more than friendship from me. But it wasn’t like me to accept so freely. Then one day, I got a phone call. Ted had passed very suddenly of a heart attack in his home. He was getting ready to leave for Europe and write his book. I was devastated. I wondered since if Ted had any diea what his friendship did mean to me. I never told him.
From that day forward my life changed. The ripples from his life force and his death began to ripple my own life. I realized reading back in the birthday card that he couldn’t wait to go now, and I kept putting it off. I realized that I need to learn to leap. I realized since then that not everything comes with some sort of attachment. That there are good people in the world; that there is true friendship. I learned not to be so closed off and distant. I learned to open myself up, that’s it’s ok not to know everything, And it’s ok to be small.
I think Ted saw in me then a gigantic sponge. Someone who thirsted to know more and take it in, but was to afraid to let it happen. I wish that he could see me now. I wish he could see the person I have become. So much of it has to do with him. Learning to leap, to accept, to open up.
If I could give advice to that 22 year old girl, I would tell her to relax, to leap, and to trust. I will miss you Ted. I still miss you. Thank you for those lessons. And thank you for the ripples that you have caused in my life.