Greg* (Name changed) was my best friend.
We had bonded over a shared loss. My boyfriend of three years had slept with the girl he had a crush on. It was rough for both of us, but misery makes for strange company sometimes and because of our mutual pain, we became friends. The best of friends.
At the end of a long work day, we would often sit in his office and talk about anything; work, home, our love lives or lack thereof. We had known each other for over a decade and there wasn’t much we couldn’t say to each other.
However, we were never romantically involved. Plenty of people thought so and we often bickered like an old, married couple but we never felt that attraction for each other. Instead I often tried to set him up on dates or to meet new people but he always declined and would instead encourage me to find that special someone in my life. He was a brother to me and I felt very protective of him.
Then something changed for the both of us.
I started taking classes and developed a friendship with a girl in my class. At the same time, Greg withdrew into himself and I honestly didn’t notice at first. I started having lunches with my new friend and other people.
In the beginning, I would invite him to join us but he always seemed to have an excuse. One of my last memories of Greg is seeing him walking away from me, down the street to get lunch, while I went the other way with a group of friends. A part of me wishes I had insisted he join us that day. Maybe it would have made a difference. Probably not.
A couple of months later, he didn’t show up for work on a Monday and everyone started asking me about him. I had no idea what was going on but I went out looking for him with another friend and that’s when things started to unravel.
I found out he had been arrested that previous weekend after being accused of inappropriately touching a young child. He made bail and assured everyone it was just a misunderstanding. Everything would be cleared up soon.
We looked everywhere we could think of that day but we never found him. I found out on Wednesday that he was dead. He had hiked into a wooded area not too far from his home and had taken his own life that previous Monday.
My world was rocked. I was in some serious denial. I didn’t want to believe the accusations and charges that were brought against him. And I learned later that week that the parents of the child that made the accusation dropped their complaint before they could have learned of my friend’s death.
I thought that just proved that it was a misunderstanding. Everything would have turned out OK in the end and my friend’s suicide could have been avoided if everyone had just understood that it was a mistake. Nothing bad happened. Everyone just over-reacted.
I mourned my friend for a long time and learned to deal with his disappearance from my life. I switched jobs, met a wonderful man who would become my husband and I moved on. Always thinking about and missing my friend though. Always wishing he could have been there to share those many milestones with me.
Then one day, 10 years later, I got a phone call that blew my world apart.
A young man who had been close to my friend when he was much younger was coming forward and saying my friend had molested him. Greg had befriended this young boy and had talked about him often to me.
They often played computer games and he took the young boy under his tutelage. I thought he was being a kind of “big brother” to him. I never thought it was anything but innocent.
Apparently this young man had grown up and was now dealing with what happened to him in the past. He blamed the people that were closest to Greg for allowing this to happen, though none of us knew.
None of us were aware this side of our friend could even have existed. I never found out what happened to the young man. I know he never formally made any accusations against Greg and since Greg was dead, we would never hear his side of the story.
However, as much as it pains me to do so, I believe those accusations. This time, over a decade later, I believe this young man and I also believe the young child that accused my friend so many years ago.
It all started to add up: the accuracy, the timing and the things I had learned about my friend in the years prior to this recent accusation. Things that I had previously written off at not important or misunderstood. Now those memories were surfacing and they made sense. I didn’t want to believe it but I knew in my heart… it was the truth.
On the one hand, I have my best friend. The man I had loved like a brother, who I had shared my secrets and desires with. The person I had been mourning for the last decade.
And then there was the man who was accused of molesting children. One of the sickest crimes I could imagine and something I just can’t find in me to forgive. I’ve been right there with other people saying “jail is too good for them” and “they should be made to suffer like their victims.”
How do I reconcile that with the man who was my best friend?
How can I miss him and wish he was still here and also be glad that he decided to take his life and not inflict any more pain on anyone else?
How can that be the same person I loved and mourned?
It’s been several years since that young man came forward and I still find myself thinking about Greg sometimes and then I think about what he has been accused of and it makes me angry. Angry at him. Angry at his accuser for making me confront this and even angrier at myself.
When I hear about someone on TV that has done horrible things I stop and think about that person’s family and friends. Did they know? Were they aware? This was someone they may have loved or trusted. Someone they never had a clue would turn out to be this horrible person. How do they deal with that? How do they cope?
My friend was a accused of being a child molester. He was accused of taken advantage of at least one boy that we are aware of and possibly ruining that young man’s life.
Am I glad he’s dead?
I really don’t know.