I wonder if I should tell you this story again. I know I’ve told it so many times before, but you always liked my stories, I hope that hasn’t changed. I play those days over and over in my head at night. I usually lay awake as my thoughts race to you. But, I’m sure you know all of this; I miss our long talks though, and I would like you to hear. I hope you’re listening.
The life that you and I had built was wonderful. The story in my mind makes my heart race whenever I think back through the years making up its pages. It reminds me of the stolen glances. It reminds me how thankful I was that you could not see how badly my legs trembled the first time we met. If you did, you thankfully blamed it on the cold. I wonder if you knew how terrified I was that I would ruin what we had before it was ever ours.
In the days leading up to our first date, I would walk around my apartment for hours thinking of funny things to say; words to sound charming and bright, words that would make you smile and laugh, things that would let me sweep you off your feet. I tried on every nice shirt I owned, every pair of jeans, every piece of clothing, trying to find the perfect outfit. I got a haircut, I lost sleep, and more than anything, I hoped.
And after all of that, with my eyes cemented to you in those opening moments, I could think of no clever line, no charming quip, just a shaky hello. I was terrified you heard the fear in my voice, the doubt seeping into every syllable. I know you did, but you smiled nevertheless. “No, no, no!” my mind shouted. In those opening scenes you were so far above me and what you deserved was so far beyond me.
But you told me I was cute, which only made it worse, but in the best of ways.
Do you remember the night we sat on my awful, sagging couch and talked about our dreams? That is one of my fondest memories of you. You dreamt of Italy, of beautiful countryside, and good wine. You dreamt of seeing the bright lights of a far off city and the sun setting over a distant beach. You had dreams of finding love and purpose in life. I opened up my soul that night and let you in. Something I have never done easily or often. It had been years since these doors opened; years since the light of day illuminated these broken halls. But you were always different. It was as if you knew. Instead of running on these broken stones, you walked steady and you gave life to the shattered walls; cared for the scars that the years had left. Never was there a sprint to an arbitrary finish line or some selfish goal, just the time you and I spent together. You knew that I was fragile, no matter how solid I held myself out to be, the cracks beneath the surface ran deep. The only thing you wanted was me, in whatever condition I was in, you simply wanted me. No matter how slow you and I had to walk, you were glad to simply walk with me. I’ve never known that love before, but I know that it is rare and I know it is something people search till the end of their days for and the light fades on their empty hands.
I still wonder if you knew that my heart would constantly jump to my throat around you, even when our newness had faded. In the early morning you would gently stir, your hair disheveled and messy, but so beautiful to me. Then again, everything about you always was. I was embarrassed by how loudly my heart would race. It was hearing your laugh drift through the rooms, the smell of your favorite shampoo, a hand on my shoulder and it would sprint. People have told me that feeling fades with time. Luckily, it never did for me.
I know that those days we can’t get back. There are memories of you that I treasure, but I fear will fade with time. I desperately pray that if you look back at your time with me, you’ll see it as worthwhile. I was never one for words, but I tried to tell you how much I loved you, or when words failed me, tried to show you.
I know that you made me better; made me whole. I know that I can’t possibly thank you for that, and it seems my chance has passed. It’s hard to say goodbye to someone like you. You held a place in my heart and your love reached even deeper, going somewhere beyond it. There is such a profound emptiness where your warmth used to be; serving as a reminder of how special our story was.
I often find myself in your favorite spot; the window seat overlooking the street. I like to imagine you are just in the kitchen getting tea, or sitting silent next to me reading. I know it’s foolish, to live like this and give credence to these thoughts. You loved to sit and sing, or read a book, or just watch the day trickle by you. I always found comfort seeing you in your favorite sweater, slowly drinking in the world. I’m drawn to many of the things we used to do. I feel drawn to walk your favorite paths, see the movies you loved, and hear the songs that moved you so. I’m desperate for ways to feel close to you once more. I hear your voice echoing through the days, the songs I know well, but your voice has begun to fade.
The day you left. I don’t know how to put that to words, or if there are words enough to tell you. But, I think the suddenness of it all kept me numb. The shock, the helplessness of having no choice in the matter; knowing this is the way life would now be. It was only recently that I began to ache, to feel the loneliness place its icy fingers around me. Every morning, I find myself looking to see your disheveled hair and your smile after you tell me to shut up for saying you’re beautiful. It’s just me now.
I remember the lines of grey and black; the tear streaked eyes, and crumpled hands. The apologies and condolences and the question of where will you go from here? Where else, but forward? Eventually, the room empties and the world turns over. I can no longer linger. The world outside waits and I have no desire to face it alone. Life has never come naturally to me. But it was your love of it that provided me hope. I look for anyway to fix this, of something I can do but there are things you can’t fix, stories you can never experience again. The sound of our end being written deafens me and rips at me. In the silence I realize that it is just you and I, but not the way it once was. The way it can never be again. I reach the gates, only to turn back and look upon the grassy hill, knowing it is a door through which we all go.
I hope wherever you are or whatever waits for us after all of this, is treating you well. I hold to that; that there is something once the lights finally fade to black. Not because I believe in something bigger, but because I can’t stand the thought of never seeing you again. Never hearing you laugh, or sing, or watch you just be. I refuse to believe that this is all there is and that the greatest happiness I ever knew could end at the foot of a grey stone.
It’s difficult to speak to an unfeeling stone, to weep in front of its blank face. I constantly imagine footsteps, as if you are running to comfort me. I know it’s just my mind, but my heart gives way to hope. If I’m honest, I’m utterly lost. If only I had known that dinner was the curtain call. That as I kissed you goodnight, that was the goodbye, the finale.
I can hear you now, “don’t do that to yourself, it’s not fair.” And you’re right, it isn’t. But what am I to do? The ghosts of that day are shackled to me; I feel their weight across my back. I feel their presence in the shortness of my breathing and the unrelenting sadness when I think back to you.
You reignited my life. Yet all I can do is tell our story to a stone; to lay my words upon it with the hope that you can hear them. And whether you soar high above me, or patiently wait somewhere further, please know that my thoughts are of you; that my love is for you and you alone. You were the one to whom my heart belonged, and always will.