I was crying, literally bawling my eyes out on the street, holding on to your legs and trying to stop them from making another step away from home, away from me. I was seven, a fairytale believer, and I swear I saw my fairytale castle crumbling down to dust.
You were my best friend. My favorite playmate. My TV buddy. Your lap was my favorite couch, and your scent was my favorite perfume. You used to sneak in chocolates at night underneath my sheets despite my mom’s protest. You were my hero.
And then everything changed.
You’d be gone for days, and I’d be left alone. You’d come home with presents and stories, on how you’d fought dragons and monsters, and I thought everything would go back to normal.
And then suddenly you didn’t stay at home anymore. You said there was some place you needed to be, and I was still too young to understand. We’d still see each other every weekend, you promised. And you kept that for the first few months or so. Until the weekends became just Saturday. Then Saturdays became every other Saturday. Then the week stretched longer and longer, and Saturdays didn’t come anymore.
I know you had reasons for leaving. We all do. And I thank you for leaving the way you did. I thank you for taking away a big piece of myself because I learned to walk with just one foot on the ground. I thank you for giving me up because I learned how to fight for myself.
And I am sorry.
I’m sorry I’m not the same kid you left a long time ago. I’m sorry I can’t compete with the memories you have left of me. I’m sorry I didn’t turn out the way you expected me to be. I’m sorry because I changed.
And I’m sorry I can’t pretend anymore that I’m happy you’re back. I have lived the last fifteen years of my life walking around with a hole in my gut. I’ve become so used to not hearing your name or calling you that you appearing years later was just like me inviting a stranger home. I’ve been hearing different versions of the same story all my life and I just can’t take one more of it.
I want to tell you that I grew up. I have matured. I learned from my mistakes. I picked myself up from those times I thought I was never going to make it. I fought my battles. I discovered myself. I learned to fill up the holes your absence burned in me. I lived. All without you. But still, thank you.
Our bridge has been burned a long time ago. There’s no sense in trying to save the remains when it’s all charred beyond recognition. I’m too afraid to tread the thin rope that still binds me to you. So I’m choosing to face the other side of the bridge – the steady ground, the familiar terrain – where I can calmly plant my feet on the ground, without the risk of my self getting shattered all over again. Sure, it’s the coward’s way out, pretending like nothing happened. Thank you for teaching me that.
You are my first heartbreak, my first slap from reality. The broken mirror I see my reflection on. The empty bottles of alcohol from every night before. But you will always be one of the heroes of my childhood. And I thank you for your existence.