When I lost my dad, a very wise friend told me, “You will miss him in waves that you cannot predict.”
There is a hole that never quite goes away and I’ve made peace with it. I accept that part of me will always be mourning that specific extreme loss. I find it comforting, in the most morbid way. The loss of my father isn’t something that gets better in time. Is it manageable? Some days, yes. Others, not so much.
And just like my friend warned, the pain comes in unexpected waves. The tide will wash in one night and I’ll be crippled with an ache I’m sure will never, ever pass. I’ll swallow salt water, positive this is the moment I finally drown. But then, morning comes and it passes enough that I can wake up. I can get out of bed and continue my day.
But I know it’s still there.
I feel like it’s the same with you.
I’m never sure when I’ll get caught in your riptide. You appear on nights I didn’t invite you inside, and I have to remember how I’m supposed to breathe all over again. I wonder if this is what I get for balking at the paranormal. For such a non-believer, I am always surrounded by our ghosts.
You exist in the smallest spaces. Even when I think I’ve scrubbed on my hands and knees, Clorox’d everything that smells like the past, you’ll still pop up in a place I overlooked. You are in other faces I pass by, or people with those kind of laughs that explode after a warning giggle. You’re in artwork, comic books, reunions with old friends.
I used to fantasize about throwing out everything I owned. Anything you had touched. Anything we had touched together. But nothing about me is minimalist. I keep movie theater ticket stubs and birthday cards from 2005. I couldn’t stand seeing our love on the back of a garbage truck.
I do not love you anymore. And how could I? I do not even know you. And you, me. But missing does not discriminate in such a logical way. Memories do not take the time to stop and say, “This is a stranger to you now.”
I still miss you, even when I’m okay. Even when I’m growing and learning and taking on this world. You still exist in my heart. Or who you were, then. Once.