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My Dearest Hero

My dearest hero,

I once tried to tell you that the laughter you have given me is my miracle cure for depression.

I’d been saving up the speech for years, ever since the first joke I’d heard you tell, when I was a hopelessly miserable little girl whose laugh was broken until you came along and fixed it. It was a sentimental speech, and sappy, and dripping with gratitude, and when it was over I imagined you would have tears in your eyes and you’d say You’re right, Zoe, thank you. Thank you for baring your soul to me and letting me know that I’m a hero for helping you laugh your way out of the dark shadows of sadness. I’m glad I could be there for you when you needed my comedy.

Maybe that’s a little unrealistic, and more of a daydream than an expectation. We were – and still are – hardly more than strangers, after all, so you probably weren’t going to start bawling with appreciation when I told you about the sizeable role you played in saving my life. But regardless of how you might have responded when I showed you my gratitude, I knew you would feel affirmed and appreciated, and in the end that’s all I wanted. To make you feel nice. To say thank you.   

And so, after years of waiting for the chance, I delivered my vulnerable little speech to you. When it was over I desperately held my breath and searched your face for a response as you said,

“Well, if it hadn’t have been me, it would’ve been somebody else.”

My dearest hero,

We have always agreed, except on this.

In hindsight, I may have overwhelmed you with sentiment. I understand that now. You didn’t know me well, and I have a bad habit of forgetting that, because I know who you are – or at least, I know what you choose to present about yourself to the world. I showed you vulnerability, treated you like a diary, then expected you to respond in kind, which was a mistake. I broke social convention because I was so passionate about showing you what you’ve done for me, and you weren’t sure how to respond, which I understand.

For all of those missteps, I’ll take full responsibility. I see now that my speech pushed you across a line, so you met my overwhelming gratitude with underwhelming modesty.

That being said:

I disagree with your modesty.

It couldn’t have been just anyone who saved my life. I love your work uniquely. The feelings I have about your comedy come from you and no one else.

I suppose I could write all of this down for you in a private message. It’s been on the tip of my tongue for a long time, and sometimes, at 3:00 AM, the impulse to gush again is overwhelming. But I’ve learned my lesson about little speeches, and it’s not in my interest to continue to make you uncomfortable. As hard as that is for me, it’s the best way things can be.

However, I just couldn’t hold this in:

My dearest hero,

My heart aches to think you don’t know how special you are.

Yours,

Zoe

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