A Short Tribute to Ryan Douglas McDanel

Hanging. I can picture your body, broken from the neck up, hanging from the trusses in your metal shop. There’s a ladder lying on the floor that you kicked over before the rope was quickly made taut by the weight of your body.

It must’ve been tricky work, tying the rope to the rafters that hold up the roof of the place where you created your art while standing on a plank no wider than 3”.

I can see the cross hanging from your neck, on a chain that floats on your naked collar bones and down into your chest, which you kissed before you outstretched your arms, placed your legs together and pushed away your foothold. How quickly you must have gone from standing to hanging, dangling lifelessly.

That was your final precipice; you climbed the last rungs.

How many times did you practice tying a hangman’s knot before you felt confident enough in it to hold all of the weight that you were carrying?

How many times did you think about the death of your daughter, no older than four months, while you knotted the rope around itself, looking through the gap, large enough to fit your head through, that it left?

How widely did you smile when you saw her face, two years after she was conceived?

What did you write in your journal in the days, weeks, and months of planning?

When you found God, your life changed. When we met, we were wanderers, smoking cigarettes on frozen beaches in small Finnish towns. We shared our immature perspectives on life, giving credence to Dashboard Confessionals. Brick by Ben Folds Five. We visited each other in our small towns, taking shits in the forests that separated the city centers from where we slept.

We stayed friends when we came back to North America. You visited me. I visited you. This year would’ve been our 15th anniversary of leaving Finland, a place we both hated while there and appreciated after leaving.

I hope the same is true for you now.

Our grasp on life was always tenuous. We were always looking for ways to hang on, finding temporary solace in women, drugs, alcohol, and/or cigarettes. We sought out any temporary distraction. We were never the type to commit.

There’s no coming back for you, now.

This time, you left yourself hanging.

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