It's been close to half a year since we last spoke.
Though this is not out of the ordinary when I look back to recent years of our friendship. We met up once or twice per year, if lucky, and contacted each other when we felt like it.
Sometimes there was even less than an email in a month.
And this was fine.
Our friendship was strong - we knew each other more than half of our lifetimes.
There was never any pressure or urgency. The knowledge that you had a friend on your side, even if you did not see this friend too often, was enough. You could reach out, sure, but often the knowledge that you could was good enough.
Maybe because you had been there so many times before, during times that I'm rather surprised that I survived - just listening, without any judgement, and guiding with your kind words.
I felt that I got more than I gave and that I was a burden. Not that you ever said anything like it, you never would have, even if you felt this way (though I hope you didn't) ...
You know this inner voice. You had it too.
Asking for help was and is hard.
It took me 13 years before I understood that I needed help and could collect myself enough to go see a therapist, but before that, you were my main source of help. I kid you not when I say that I would not be here without you.
But you did not see that. What you saw was me being strong and handling my depression and PTSD.
But you just cannot be strong alone... it does not work that way.
It's been eight years since I had my first therapy session and it was obviously not the last. Things have changed. I do not have regular visits anymore, but I try to check in when I'm not sure about something in my soul and need an honest reflection.
I live and am still sometimes surprised how well it all has turned out. I have a family, loving wife, a steady job, a flat, two cats and deep connections with people. Next to that, I even have a hobby that people pay me for... really, how amazing is that?
True, there is a voice in my head, that will most likely stay there for the rest of my life, saying that I do not deserve it. The same voice that tries to stop me from doing anything, saying that I will fail. The voice that says that I will disappoint people and that at some point I will be arrested for "trying to behave like a normal human". I have learned to live with it now.
The fact is that I'm not normal, if there ever was such a thing, and that is fine. It's just been a bloody painful journey to get to this point and understanding... and the journey goes on. I consider myself extremely lucky to have met so many amazing people on the way and I even have a proper safety net for times when things get tough.
But there was a time when you were the only one I had. The only one who made it safe for me to open up and also the one whom I knew could handle it.
Nothing or no-one can replace that.
I remember how we once talked about love. You had just read the book "Veronika decides to die" and liked the idea of love healing people. Knowing the story, I understand why it popped into my mind now.
I remember being sceptical about this concept at the time. Maybe because I had no idea of love back then, all I knew was the ooey-gooey stuff from books and movies. Now, I would define it differently: Love is the attention and time we give to something or someone - the shared moments of connection.
And this does heal.
Even if the connection is no longer there, there have been plenty of shared moments.
I will be forever grateful for the ones we had.
I miss you, my dear friend.
I miss you, my dear friend.