Monday, March 4, 2013

Interview: Ryan and Beth from The Final Piece by Maggi Myers

"This place is beautiful," Kristie says, while looking around taking it all in. Jennifer looks over and says, "We’re setting up under the cherry tree?" Kristie nods yes. Lisa grabs the picnic blanket and the food and starts setting up. Kristie states, "It was Ryan's idea to do a picnic under the cherry tree, it’s a special place for them and he thought Beth would be more comfortable here." Both Jennifer and Lisa say in unison, "Awww" and Lisa continues, "He is so sweet and really romantic." In the distance we hear a car door close and turn to see Ryan and Beth walking over to us hand in hand. "I’m Kristie and this is Lisa and Jennifer, we’re the Three Chicks. Thank you so much for inviting us here and also for doing the interview." We all shake hands. "We set up a little picnic, have a seat and get comfortable," Jennifer says to them while getting settled. "Okay, are we ready to do this?" Everyone nods in agreement.

Three Chicks:  How are the wedding plans coming along?

Beth: Wonderful! We're getting married on July 6th at Lake Panorama.

Ryan: Melissa, Casey and Gran have been fussing over the details. We're wisely staying out of it.

Beth: *laughing* All we have to do is show up and say "I do." Honestly, it's been nice to have the time to settle into our new home in Charlotte, without the pressure of planning a wedding.

Three Chicks:  Beth, how was your relationship with your parents prior to their drug use? Did you feel loved by them?

Beth:  I was very young when they started using. I don't have many memories of them before that time but I do have memories of days they weren't using. I don't know if I felt loved at the time. My memories are through a child's eyes, and are limited by what I understood about what was going on at the time. I know I felt alone and scared most of the time, so I equated attention and security as love. Those things I craved the most.

Three Chicks:  Beth, do you think if your parents were sober, the abuse wouldn't have happened? Do you think they would have caught on sooner?

Beth: I know it would've never happened, because they would've never met Drew. He came into their lives through their mutual taste for cocaine.

Ryan:   *Ryan laces his fingers through Beth's and kisses her hand*   She could've been spared so much pain and she should've been.

Three Chicks:  Ryan, your dad left you and your mother when you were only four years old. You went 4 years without a father before Tommy came into your life. Do you think that had a great influence on you?

Ryan: Something Beth said, strikes a chord with me. I was alone and scared, too. My mom worked ridiculous hours to support us, so I didn't have her to lean on as much as I needed. I do think that time between influenced me; I think it makes me a better school counselor. Empathy is the most powerful thing you can give a child in situations like that. I'm glad that I can do that for the kids at my school.

Three Chicks:  This question is for both of you.  It was apparent to everyone how much you two loved each other when you were younger. Why didn't either of you try getting in contact with each other?

Beth: My parents were adamant about me not seeing Ryan. They thought I was too serious, too young, and I get that. Part of it was jealousy, too. Ryan meant more to me at that time than they did, and that didn't go over well. There was a lot of hostility directed at Ryan after I went home that summer. I shut down, it was all I knew how to do. I couldn't talk about him without starting World War III, and all I wanted to do was talk about the way he made me feel "normal." I was fifteen, so I was bound by their rules and the "no Ryan" rule was more strict than my curfew. The only person I could confide in was Charlie and he was a great listener, but he had no way of helping me get in touch with Ryan. Keep in mind that Gran and Pops were doing their best to respect my mom's wishes. Tommy, too. Aunt Melissa could've cared less and always gave me updates on how Ry was doing. I love her for that.

Ryan: Dear God, Casey and Jon despised me for awhile. I sent Beth letters, called her, but it was always intercepted by them. The last time I called, Jon told me that my presence in her life was making her ability to heal more complicated. The last thing I ever wanted was to make her life harder, so I stopped. I thought that if I kept my distance, it would prove to the Bradshaws that I was sincere, and I loved Beth enough to do what they felt was best for her. All it did was make it easier for them to cut me completely out. Things are better now, but I don't think Casey and Jon ever really "got it" until Tommy's wake. No one could deny the depth of our feelings or how much we needed each other, at that point. In fact, I think it's fair to say they felt a little guilty.

Three Chicks : Ryan, did you know going into your relationship with Liz that it was never really going to work out because of your feelings for Beth?

Beth snickers.

Ryan: What?

Beth: I can't believe you called her 'Beth.'

Ryan: It was always you, Beth. Even when you weren't in my life anymore, it was always you.  *Ryan kisses the tip of Beth's nose*

Three Chicks:  Beth, Tommy was able to read you like a book, he knew something was up and thankfully was the one to put a stop to the abuse. Why didn't you reach out to him sooner?

*Ryan wraps an arm around Beth, hugging her closely to his side*

Beth: Drew was a monster. He started abusing me at a very young age and at first, I didn't understand that what he was doing was wrong. He made me feel like what he was doing was just a way to show me affection. When I got a little older and started to realize that it was wrong, I was ashamed that I ever thought it was okay. Drew used my shame to convince me that no one would believe me and if they did, they would blame me. I was terrified that Tommy would blame me.

Three Chicks:  Beth, it absolutely broke our hearts when you were going through the photo album with your Pop. He mentioned that you had this sparkle in your eyes and when the abuse started your eyes were lifeless. How did it make you feel when he told you that they noticed the change in you? How was it for you to see that change in the pictures?

Beth:  I was heartbroken that they had to go through any pain because of what was done to me. I can't imagine what it must of been like for them to live so far away and know that something bad was happening, but not understanding what.  Seeing the change in the pictures was validating for me. There are no physical scars of my past, thank God. The photos serve as my scars, tangible evidence that something was happening. 

Three Chicks:  Tommy was like a father to both of you. What do each of you think you learned from him?

Beth: That's easy - unconditional love. I wasn't his daughter, but he never treated me less than that. He didn't have to be a part of my life at all and he ended up being the most profound part. He gave so much of himself to me and never asked for a thing in return. His capacity to love is what taught me that there was as much goodness in the world as there is evil. His heart showed me that love was stronger than hate.

Ryan: He taught me what it was to be a real man, and that being a part of a family was more important than anything else. He showed me how to be strong, through the way he loved people.

Three Chicks:  Ryan, did taking care of the funeral arrangements help you mourn or was it a distraction that kept you busy and postponed the reality?

Ryan:  I wanted it to be a distraction. I kept telling myself, if I just kept "doing," it, it would be easier. Nothing makes that kind of loss easier. I'm glad that I could be there for my family, in the capacity that I was. Taking care of the arrangements helped ease their burden, but it didn't help me. I don't know what I would've done without Beth. She gave me a place to let down my guard and deal with Tommy's death.

Three Chicks:  Beth, why did you feel the need to protect everyone's feelings in regards to what had happened to you?

Beth: It's so ugly. So painful. I love my family more than anything in the world, and if I could've found a reasonable way to spare them, I would have. That is not the way of love, though. Those who truly love me, would not allow me to go through it alone. No one deserves to feel that kind of pain. I still hate that they were affected by what Drew did.

Ryan: *squeezes Beth's hand* No one who loves you feels that way, Beth. You know that.

Beth: I know that, but I still wish I could've spared you.

Ryan: We all wish that we could've saved you.

Beth: *leans into Ryan's chest* You did.

Three Chicks:  Ryan, do you regret not going after Beth?

Ryan:  I do and I don't. If things could be just as they are now, minus the hiatus, then yes. I missed her every single day for 10 years. It sucked. I don't regret the time between that allowed us to grow up and find out who we are. We can build a lifetime on that, and that is more valuable than the time we lost.

Three Chicks:  Beth, how are you dealing with your past? Do you still see a therapist?

Beth:  I don't see a therapist anymore. There came a point when I had to take all of the time invested in counseling and stand on my own. I'm not "cured," there is nothing that can erase what was done, but I've learned to cope, to trust and move on. It helps knowing that whenever I need to, I can talk to Ryan. I trust him implicitly and that has been the most healing experience for me. 

Three Chicks:  Ryan, what went through your mind when you realized you (pardon our French but) fucked up when you read the letter Beth had written to Tommy and you brought up Drew?

Ryan:   *shifts uncomfortably in his seat* You had to go there, didn't you? Of all the things I've done in my life, I am the least proud of that. Reading the letter was truly an accident, how I handled the letter was a travesty. I'm not making excuses for myself, because there are none. However, the days surrounding that time and the nature of where I found the letter were hugely distracting. I skimmed the letter the first time and when I realized it was from Beth I read it again. I don't know what I was thinking. I don't know if maybe part of me was looking for a reason to pick a fight because I was scared. I just don't know. I only know that what happened afterward, when Beth told what Drew had done, I've never felt more ashamed. It was awful. Part of me can't believe that I was ever lucky enough to earn her trust back. I'm still in awe of her resilience.

Three Chicks:  Beth, how is your relationship with your parents?

Beth:  *laughs* It's all right. It's not conventional but it's okay. There came a point where I just didn't want to be mad anymore. It was too draining. I love them and I know they love me. We try our best and muddle through the rest.

Three Chicks:  Ryan, do you get along with Beth's parents?

Ryan:  I do now! They hated me for a long time. Well, obviously they hated me, because they kept me from contacting Beth. After Tommy died, and they saw how much we loved each other, they came around. They always wanted Beth's happiness and they started to trust me with that after the funeral.

Three Chicks:  Beth, when you saw Ryan waiting for you at the airport, what was your first thought?

Beth: I was in such a fog. Everything about that day is such a blur, except when I saw Ryan. When I saw him, my heart broke all over again. The love I have for Tommy can only be rivaled by the love Ryan has for him. I knew what Ryan lost and felt it deep; knowing I couldn't spare him that pain, broke my heart. At the same time, I have never been so ecstatic to see anyone in my life. Ever.

Three Chicks:  Ryan, what does "pretty" mean to you?

Ryan: Simple- Beth. It has always been a word I have associated with her so when I hear it, even out of context, she's what I see.

Three Chicks:  Beth, what does "safe" mean to you?

Beth: Freedom from my past. I'm not afraid anymore and the absence of that fear makes me feel safe.

Three Chicks:  Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

Beth and Ryan give each other a knowing smile

Beth: Starting a family.

Ryan: Definitely. We're not in any rush. We want to enjoy being married first, but in five years I want a little girl with Beth's smile.

Beth: She should have your eyes.

Three Chicks:  What do you like to do for fun?

In unison: TUBING!

Ryan: Lake Jordan is right outside Charlotte and we spend a lot of time there. We go out on the boat with Cyn, Les, and their boyfriends. Andrea and her man Steve have talked about joining us one weekend. It's a good time all around.

Three Chicks:  Will you still carry on the tradition of staying at Tommy's lake house for the Fourth of July?

Beth: Always. Celebrating the 4th on the lake keeps him close at heart. I mean, he always feels close, but never more so than at the lake house.

Ryan: He left it to me in his will, so we'll have it to share with our kids someday.

"Can we just say what a wonderfully emotional day this has been! You two are both amazing. Ryan and Beth, again, thank you so much for meeting with us," Kristie says, as she hugs them. Lisa and Jennifer follow. "We really hope to get together again in the future," Lisa says while gathering the picnic blanket. Beth says, "I almost forgot, here’s a cherry pie that my Gram made for you ladies, we hope you enjoy it." Even though we have just eaten, Jennifer, Lisa and I stare at the pie ready to devour it. Jennifer quickly grabs it and says, "This looks delicious, thank you so much and please thank your Gran for us. Ryan and Beth hold hands and start walking back towards the house. With the car packed up, Lisa turns and looks at us and says, "How about we head over to the park and eat that pie?" Kristie and Jennifer laugh and nod in agreement.

Our 5 star review

What a freaking phenomenal story! From beginning to end- I was wowed. Maggi Myers debut novel was the perfect blend of romance and drama. The story of love, spanning a decade. We open on Beth, a normal little ten year old girl dancing in her room on Christmas. Her "Uncle," Drew comes to her room, and instantly I get a bad vibe. Then we fade into Beth at 14, Drew and his wife Kristy are coming for dinner and Beth is not excited- she hasn't had to deal with him in a year and life is grand. I found out she had been abused by Drew for NINE years. I almost threw up. Pedophilia makes me all kinds of sick, and I wanted to throttle him. Her mother never believed her- and accused her of lying. But my favorite character, family friend Tommy, comes to the rescue and literally saves Beth. He takes her from Miami to Iowa and lets her have a summer of healing. Then we meet my current book boyfriend, Ryan. He is Tommy's nephew and Beth feels differently about him, even though she is having a hard time trusting anyone. They spend quite a magical summer together- but after Beth's parents return from rehab for cocaine use, they bring her back to Miami to reconnect. The book goes back and forth between the view points of Ryan and Beth over the next ten years, making Beth 25 and Ryan 27, by the time they see each other again- even if their reunion is because of a tragic accident. This book was poignant and touched me so much. Beth was such a strong character and instead of letting the abuse drag her down, she turned it into a strength of the likes I've never seen. I want to crawl inside of this book and live there. To feel and have an unconditional love like that of Ryan and Beth is amazing. 

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