You met him on vacation. It was in your first conversation that you knew he was special. It was in one week that you knew he would change you, and that you would hate yourself for getting so close to someone you would likely never see again. And it is in the moments, months later, before you finally decide to let him go that you will know how you’ll be missed. You will hear it in his rebuttal. You will feel it in his fight.
“What am I to you?”
The question threatens to leap off your tongue, but you’re certain you already know and you’d rather not hear it spoken aloud, see it spelled out, especially from him. You’ve been nothing more than his friend for months. You assured him that you knew this, while you quietly clung to the hope that you held a little more weight in his heart.
But, after weeks and weeks of mental anguish, here you are.
Having finally gathered the courage to do the one thing that you know will ultimately heal you, you are courteous enough to inform him that you can’t go on like this. You’ve weighed every option, and you’re certain this is the only way to recover even a semblance of your formerly intact sanity. You explain it to him thoroughly, gently, careful not to insult his “efforts.” He is resistant at best. This is comforting, but it’s not enough, as you expected. He insists that he values your friendship (“very, very, very much”). This part stings because you know it’s not true. And you know he isn’t lying, but rather he fails to grasp that if what he has said is true, you wouldn’t be begging him to understand that you need to distance yourself from him because, without realizing it, he has hurt you. By always beating around the bush, he has hurt you. By never giving a clear answer, he has hurt you. By consistently allowing you that single shred of hope and possibility at the end of every strained conversation, he has hurt you. You have been set up for failure from the very beginning, and you are finally able to see it. He is not. But he graciously accepts your farewell.
So now, yes, even now, the question remains. “What am I to you?” You must answer this yourself.
At the very least, you are a lost sock. He will look for you in various nooks and crannies for an indeterminate amount of time. He will wrack his brain, struggling to think of the last place he left you.
It will be a mild annoyance.
At the very best, and conducive to the desire to believe that you are as valuable as he claims, you are a missing piece. He will spend a lifetime wondering where on Earth you could have gone without him.
You will always be there, always in the back of his mind, occasionally brought to the forefront when a Childish Gambino song plays in his car. Or a terrible joke is made. Or possibly anytime anyone says the word, “cruise,” regardless of the context. The list goes on. This is what you hope, anyway.
You never knew just how much of you he desired, but the ease in his small “Goodbye?” lets you know that someday soon, he will stop searching.
Perhaps, by then, you’ll no longer wish to be found.