I woke up at 5 am, turned over in bed to see Patrick facing me with his mouth wide open and a piece of dip sitting under his tongue, and on the roof of the spit bottle still half-fallen over in his hand. The most unattractive time in Pat’s life is his slumbers. I wish I could’ve told you I felt Ryan move from this life to the unknown, but I didn’t. I woke up hoping for the best and expecting the worse. Sure enough after rolling over and falling back to sleep with a small prayer on behalf of Ryan’s improvement, I woke back up to a message from his kids mother saying he had passed. I didn’t expect him to die, but I didn’t expect him to live. I felt incredibly defeated, surrounded by an abusive boyfriend for moral support and the inability to see his face one last time regardless of anything I said or did. The marshalls had obviously found him, in Buffalo General hospital hooked up to a ventilator after 6 episodes of pneumothorax, an aortic infection in his heart, an unneeded colon surgery to find out he had yet another infection there, and a casually emphasized case of the withdrawals from heroin and meth. The doctors had put him on a hefty dose of antibiotics and put him into an induced coma so his heart could possibly survive the trauma. Once the Marshalls realized he wasn’t waking up, they left matters into his mothers hands. The mother, whom had disowned Ryan on and off over the last five years or so- managed to become the advanced directive and proxy; and decide NO ONE aside from his brother and father were visiting. She also decided pulling the plug and enforcing hospice efforts seem relatively humane, I guess it was her one last effort to her son, I felt she destroyed his only chance at survival so she wouldn’t have to suffer herself.
Ryan was 36 years old, born on March 4th, of 1982. I wish I could tell you what kind of baby he was, or all the quirks his mother admired growing up, or even the sports he played in middle & highschool, but I can’t, I did not know THAT Ryan, and a very large part of me wishes I did. How did he end up dying in a bed? Well, just as simply as most of us addicts do, obviously somewhere using drugs created complications in our lives. He had gotten bail after being in prison for two years; he was awaiting trial for an extremely complex federal case regarding gun robberies in a federal gun reserve. I can’t say more than that, because I do not know. I know I got the phone call about it, I know I wanted nothing to do with it. I still question how he was originally looking at over 20 years in prison and managed to get bail on a signature bond. I knew in my heart it was a bad idea, and all the letters that seemed so promising of his ever successful future and ideals would fall to pieces when reality set its way in. He fell short once he realized he HAD to go back. Who the fuck wants to go back to prison? I do not blame that man at all for feeling scared and resentful, but he also made his own mistakes. Suddenly there we were, sitting in my car by the lake… watching the sun go down and talking about his pain. His emotions. His future. His lack of freedom being free. I had never promoted the idea of running, or even thought it was a rational idea. From the person not looking at years in prison, six years seemed attractive verses a minimum of 12, but in his mind time was time. He told me of many things my delinquent ass knew NOTHING of, about racist groups in prison promising protection if you show loyalty, guards committing crimes for certain groups, an extensive look at ones paperwork to avoid looking like a snitch and saving yourself a bed with a group of people. He also said he had to hurt people. Ryan had some severely racist looking tattoos, and let me tell you that man was NOT racist. He said he had too, for protection, and I have to believe him. Ryan was so fucking love of people, I can only imagine him doing these things to look “apart of”. He made me take a picture with him, and kissed my cheek, the only picture we have together through 8 years that was deleted by his girlfriend. That chat made us think up everything to show the federal judge he was willing to go above and beyond for freedom, I’m pretty sure we even covered donating a kidney as an option, but that was more or less a no-go. He looked so damn good, weight on him, fit, cutest crooked smile you ever seen and he smiled with sheer confidence despite his sadness. His eyes told a story of so much pain, but he wore a shit eating grin like no other. I drove him home, and watched him walk back to the halfway house. The same man that made me give him a ride years prior when I was pregnant, and threatened my life against me if I told his girlfriend where he went, had become my best friend, and had thoroughly never let me down.
A few months later the US marshalls appear at my house. I’m sleeping after working overnight at the nursing home. My mother wakes me up, “Brianna?? Someone is here for you??” She was defensive, they wouldn’t tell her who they were. I pull a robe on and quickly look at my messed up hair and makeup in the mirror.. “jesus christ” I say to myself. I see two men, one young and strikingly handsome and inviting looking, the other older, bigger, with a beard and no smile for miles.
“Are you Brianna ******?”
“Yes…? Who are you?”
“My name is *****, and I am a marshall looking for this man. *Shows me attractive mugshot of ryan from two years ago* I know you are very close with him, I was wondering if I could ask you some questions regarding his where-abouts. He is extremely wanted right now, as you may know, and we fear he is a danger to himself or others.”
“Yes we are fairly close, but I haven’t seen much of him in months and he hasn’t contacted me recently.”
“Do you know where he may be? Or who we should contact? It seems he is closest to you for support, you are listed as a close contact at a house he had left. Would he be with the mother of his children? His parents? We just need some information so we can get out of your hair.” (This man smiled so brightly.)
“No, I have an old phone number of his, but it might not even be his, I usually delete his messages out of my phone, because my boyfriend doesn’t like him all that much.”
The conversation went no where, but when I said I was worried about him I felt myself feel what I was saying. I was worried. I decided I couldn’t be involved anymore and if he tried to contact me I wouldn’t respond.
Three weeks later I get a snap chat message from Ryan asking me to visit him. I don’t respond. I get another, and then more asking why I won’t talk to him. So I finally tell him that I love him so very much, but I cannot be involved. He is lonely he says, so very lonely. The next week he says he is getting arrested and they found him, please tell the kids I love them he says.”
“Marshals r here, plz tell my girls i love them and come vusit me please.”
He write this three times that night, but the marshals never showed. This is when I decided maybe he was using meth and getting paranoid. Truthfully he had an infection that was spreading and was becoming delusional. I got so many messages I was actually annoyed. He finally said he was in immense pain, So, I told him to have his aunt take him to the ER. I figured it was a ploy for attention, the last time I saw him he tried to shoot heroin around me (I’m a recovering addict and I previously wrote about this day in a blog post) and refused to come near him in that state. 100 messages later he said,
“I love you, im truly going to die its life or death and I’m going to the hospital plz see me”
I didn’t read it until the morning, he was in fact in the hospital. I got messages from his aunt. I eventually found the number and called. I got him on the phone one last time. I said,
“Ryan, hunny, are you okay? Ha, well I know you’re not, but I’m here… ”
“Bri it hurts so bad, please come see me.”
“I will, i got lillie, but I’ll try. ”
“I love you.”
“I love you too ryan”
His father hung up for him and this was the last conversation we had. I never made it there. His mother didn’t let me in. But in my heart he knows I wanted to be there. I feel horrible I didn’t tell anyone about his pain earlier… I just didn’t believe him. I was too distraught. Sadly enough after he passed away, no one was allowed to say goodbye to him. His family cremated him. I got a message from my little sister asking if I would be okay, and I was not sure. I stared at the light bulb in my room and watched it glow and go dim for hours hoping I could talk to him through the light.
Three days later when I thought the universe couldn’t be cruel enough, I received a call I never thought I would get, “We found Whitney. She overdosed.” “Is she alive?!!”
And that’s when a pressure so heavy came down on me that the world began spinning and it felt like someone ripped a hole in the fabric of my reality and spilled a dark poison into my life and down my throat where a clump of sadness would sit in a knot in my stomach for the rest of my life. If you want to see in black and white for a while, find out your 20 year old sister and best friend died.
to be continued..