Losing My Best Friend

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I am so excited to feature this kind soul, Ryan. I met Ryan when I was a Community Director at California State University Monterey Bay when he was a Resident Advisor. Although I did not supervise Ryan, we bonded over loving San Francisco and once he graduated, developed a friendship where we are able to talk about life. Ryan's writing is a reflection of his personality - warm, eloquent, and energetic. Read about his relationship with loss and with his Grandma here:

Hi! My name is Ryan Haynes and I am so glad you took the time to read my post! Bios are always super hard, but I'll try my best to keep it brief and interesting. I currently reside in the Bay Area and spend almost all of my free time with my dog, Boo Boo! Boo Boo and I go on walks, hikes, to the beach, dog parks. When I'm not being an overly-obsessed dog parent I like to read, write, cook, spend time with loved ones, do anything drag related, and express myself creatively. I work as an Academy Assistant at the Academy of Art University. 

When I was younger I would look forward to summers because that’s when Grandma Eva would come to visit. When Grandma Eva was staying with us everything seemed better; I had my other half.

In the mornings we would sit at the kitchen table together. She would read the newspaper as I work on my newest creation; a drawing, painting, statue, play script. I would always ask her for help. I was in awe of her creativity; her ability to add exactly what my art was missing, to make it seem complete to me. In the afternoons I would perform for her. I would make use of my karaoke machine to put on a show; act out all the parts of my play, sing, dance. Then, we would watch a movie, The Wizard of Oz, more specifically. I would be sure to cover her eyes during all the scary parts and tell her every single thing that was about to happen, even though we had both watched it together the day prior. At nights, we would lay in separate beds, in the same room, and talk until it was far past my bedtime. I would tell her about my dreams, all my secrets. I remember specifically telling her once that I wished I could try on wigs, makeup, dresses, and that I would love to dress up for Halloween, but I knew my parents would never let me. To fall asleep I would have her tell me a story. Her stories were always so creative. It’s still hard to understand how she came up with the stories she did.

When I reached High School, Grandma Eva moved in with my family and our synchrony continued. As I made the decision to leave home for college, the idea of no longer sharing a bedroom with my great grandmother and no longer talking with her every day, terrified me. Although, she was always my biggest fan, and of course, told me I have to move out so that I can  discover myself and begin my journey, and so I did.When I was in college I would call Grandma Eva every few weeks and we would catch up. She would talk about the current state of the world, how her doctors visits were going, how my family was, how proud she was of me, and much more, and I would talk about school, work, my friends, and adventures. We would exchange books or readings that we thought each other would enjoy. I could feel her love for me through the phone.


In December I graduated college and moved to Oakland. I had no idea (and continue to have no idea) what I was doing with my life, but my grandma was so proud of me. She was so proud of all that I had accomplished in college and all that I had ahead of me. She was proud of who I had grown into; a strong, determined, loving, kind individual; someone she always knew me to be. She saw that I finally loved myself. I always knew my Grandma Eva was the one person that I would never have to come out to, because she knew all of me, parts of me that I don’t even know, so when I casually mentioned my queerness in an email I already knew how she would respond.

In early January my parents called me and told me that Grandma Eva was diagnosed with liver cancer. I called my grandma; I cried and told her that everything would be ok. She assured me that she would fight it, and I told her that if things don’t work out that way, that would be ok too, and she agreed. I told her about a new project I had started. I had started to create a podcast, a sort of “New Years resolution” idea I had to produce something creative. She was really proud of me and all the ideas I talked about, and I told her I would love to talk with her when I got home and record her for the podcast; she was really excited about this. I headed home to see her a couple days later and her state had deteriorated drastically. I recorded some of our conversations, but a majority of her days and nights were spent sleeping; she couldn’t talk long without losing her breath.

On January 18th, 2018 my great grandmother, Eva Harper passed away. I held her hand and laid my head on her chest, crying hysterically, as I felt her breathing become more and more delayed and more and more shallow, until finally she smiled once more before her pain subsided.

As I slowly move forward in figuring out my next steps in life, a life without my other half, I have been navigating in a different way. I think of my great grandma and what she would do, what she would say, how she would support me in these turbulent times. The adjustment to losing a best friend is not easy. Even as I finish writing this, I wish my grandma was here to read over it, like she did many of my college essays. As I toy with the decision of going back to continue my education or find a job I wish she was here. As I have been struggling with my mental health and have finally decided to begin medication I wish she were here.

My podcast, entitled Things We’ve Learned focuses on reflection as a place of growth and liberation. Each episode will feature the narratives of myself and others, as we discuss how we’ve grown and continue to grow in different topic areas. In each episode I will also talk about my great grandmother; what I believe she would have to say on the topic if she were here to still talk with me.


Ryan with close friends at Brunch


Email: thingswevelearned@gmail.com

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful story to share. Thank you for your ability to be so real and open about this.

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