The Pieces You Left Behind

I guess you left me a piece of you the first time you called me babe. I liked it so much that I’m still addressing myself as that in my head, in your same tone, years after you stopped doing so.

I guess you left me a piece of you when we went to the beach. We saw otters frolicking and seals sunbathing. The same otters remain and the seals haven’t tanned much, but something feels incomplete as I sink my feet into the sand, counting the waves as they come and go.

I guess you left me a piece of you now that getting up at 7 a.m. is natural. 10 a.m. was my norm, but after drilling each other for months to build a better sleep schedule, even after you’re gone, the habit stayed.

I guess you left me a piece of you when we went for little walks at the park. Now when I go to the park, I’m ready to hear someone tell me a silly joke, share their past adventures, and ponder about life.

I guess you left me a piece of you when you held me tight. It was the first time someone had held me so close I thought time had stopped.

I guess you left me a piece of you in the forests we ventured to and surveyed. The mountain ridges etched in my head like a cartographer’s drawing, documenting untravelled paths we once deemed our own.

I guess you left me a piece of you when you tested a pen by signing the back of my notebook. The blue ink is still sapphire, yet the words begin to blur.

I guess you left me a piece of you when you showed up with a Costco pack of Altoids simply because I mentioned I couldn’t find them. I’m still not sure how to handle this lifetime supply of mints so I don’t smile tearfully every time I see them in the pantry.

I guess you left me a piece of you the same time you said I left you a piece of me. Our fates intertwined, yet the bond was not strong enough to hold.

I guess the little pieces you left me cannot make one whole you. As I try to arrange these fragments, piece by piece, into some shape or form, I’m slowly accepting that you are really gone. I can piece together the memories, but I can’t piece us back together. These parts you left me live happily in nostalgia like sepia-colored photographs—sometimes blurry, sometimes painfully lucid. But like the amber toned photos from the past lived their fullest moments once upon a time. As I pick up these beautiful pieces you left me, I gather myself and put you away for good.

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