I didn’t like you.
For 4 seasons of The Flash I have wondered why it seemed like the criminal underworld got the mega-share of metahuman gifts, seriously, didn’t any nice, normal people get hit with the dark matter and decide to help out like Barry Allen? Sure, we had a few nice ones get hit. But they appear and are usually dead in the same episode, so, they didn’t count.
And then we got Ralph Dibney. Gross, self-piteous, self-focused, dirty-minded Ralph Dibney. Really? THIS is the one we get to keep? Why in the heck couldn’t Julian have stuck around for another season?!? You actually made Joe puke, and I agreed with his assessment.
Ralph, sir, you made yourself so hard to like. You were a mess. I hated it when you made off-color comments about women. I hated it when you ate gross food. I hated your extraneous banter. I hated the establishments you loved to frequent. I hated your self-absorbed attitude about how your life had turned out. I was delighted when we had an episode where you were mysterious “out of town” or otherwise occupied. I hated it all, and I still do.
I. Did. Not. Like. You.
Dear Ralph Dibney, I’m going to miss you.
I know, I never, EVER expected those words to come out of my mouth. You had managed to take me beyond indifference for an unlikable “good guy” character and make me actually wish you were gone! But now that you are, all I want is for you to come back.
‘Cause here’s the truth, Ralphie-boy, even when I still didn’t like you, you started to make me proud of you.
I was proud of you when you saved someone even if it meant letting the bad guy “get away”.
I was proud of you when you decorated for Christmas, even if your taste in decorations is atrocious.
I was proud of you when you encouraged Joe to stay true to his moral standards and not plant false evidence at the DeVoe’s house to save Barry.
I was even prouder of you when you choose to step up and protect Caitlin and Cisco from the Prankster’s acid, even if it meant you died a horribly painful death.
I ached for you and was proud of you when tried to help Izzy, when you didn’t turn away from her pain but rather embraced it. I saw the heroic, protective, kind heart you had hidden under the slime, and I was proud.
But Ralph, when you sat and told Barry what you were afraid of, that you didn’t fear losing your own life, you feared losing the people you loved. When you looked him in the eye and said with passion,
I would walk into a furnace for them….they’re mine! DeVoe can’t have them!
Ralph, at that moment, I wasn’t just proud, I didn’t just ache, Ralph, at that moment I LOVED you. You did it, you won me over. I loved you so much I couldn’t even believe I was there, but I was.
And now you are gone. Just when I loved you, you are gone. You died looking at Barry and thanked him for the gift he had given you, and my heart broke.
How did you do it, Ralph? I’ll tell you how.
We are all broken people. So many of us are unlikable, smarmy, gross, self-absorbed, jerks. Without help, many of us stay there. But someone saw you, Ralph, for who you could be, and your story took a different turn.
Love empowers. But I’m not talking about just any old brand of “love” that gets sold as lust and chocolate. No, I’m talking about real love. Real love sees someone, no matter where they are at, and sees who they can be, and that kind of love never lets go. That kind of love can happen to anyone, it’s not confined to romantic relationships. That kind of love crosses colors, nations, boundaries, personalities, and any other obstacles that get put up. That kind of love changes people.
It changed you, Ralph. You couldn’t even believe it, not for the longest time. Someone actually cared about you? About slimy, worthless, failure-ridden-old you? They cared more about you than you cared about yourself. When you fell down, they picked you up. When you made a mistake, they forgave you. When you hurt, they hurt with you. When you didn’t feel like a hero, they told you that you were one and gave you the strength to become that person.
It changed me too, Ralph. I believe in the power of Love to change, this kind of love anyways. Love came down and saved me at the Cross regardless of how unworthy or unlikable I was.
But it was nice to be reminded, I needed to be reminded.
You died a hero, Ralph; you died a changed person. You died knowing you were loved, and you died giving your life for the people you loved. Someone offered you something that no, you didn’t “deserve”. But that’s not how true love works, love keeps giving even when we don’t deserve it. And choosing to accept that love changes us.
It changed you, Ralph. And it touched me.
Dear Ralph Dibney, I wish I had seen you sooner. I wish we had more time. I don’t know if you will be brought back or not, that episode seemed pretty final. But I had to thank you, I had to thank you for reminding me of something so precious.
You reminded me to look beyond the book cover. To see beyond the unlikable. And to love first.
Goodbye, Ralph. You made a difference and watching how your story progressed encouraged me to keep making a difference as well.
Dear Ralph Dibney, you will be missed.