For The Loves You’ve Lost

Gavin Schaefer
Gavin Schaefer

They are the loves that we don’t remember existed until one day we’re shocked with their presence. The loves who have been gone for too long and we’ve put on a shelf for some time. They collect dust and get hidden behind the shiny, new romances that glow from the honeymoon phase. But then a new, glow-y relationship cracks and shatters and all of sudden *poof* the dust settles and you’re reminded of what was once yours.

But somehow, since they have been tucked away for so long, they don’t belong to you anymore. The writing on their pages is dimmed and you can’t seem to read it no matter how hard you squint. They don’t fit like your favorite sweater anymore; they’re too short in the arms or hug you in the wrong places. And the voice that at one time you could have picked out in a stadium is now faint, distant, and unrecognizable.

They aren’t your person, your love, anything remotely yours. And it’s awful.

But simply acknowledging that you know they aren’t a part of your life doesn’t make them go away. They hang out in the corners of your apartment like ghosts, ready to scare you when you least expect it. You know they aren’t real, you know they aren’t there, but if you close your eyes tight enough you’d swear they were. You can feel their lips grazing the backs of your shoulders and remember how big their hands were as they cupped your cheeks and got lost in your tangled, 3 AM hair.

You loved them, and you lost them.

That’s the reality of the situation. You were once hand in hand, side by side. And now you’re not. They were once snuggled up next to your chest and spilled their soul at 3 AM, and now you’re in bed alone. They used to sing along to your favorite songs and now all there is is silence.

Again: it’s awful. So you try to wrap it up and conceal it. You bury it so deep you’ll never have to deal with it again. If you deny, deny, deny: it never was. You never loved them because, simply, they never existed.

But try as you might to put them on the highest shelf where you’ll never have to face them, they will come back.

It might be days, it might be months, it might take years. They won’t have crossed your mind in seemingly forever but then there they are, standing in front of you looking exactly as you left. You swear if you reached out you’d be able to touch them, be able to breath in that oh-too-familiar scent of knock off detergent and cigarettes. But then you snap out of it and recognize that you’re just hoping, just wishing. That as much as you tried to get rid of them, they’re there. You can feel them, and as much as you SWEAR they’re within arm’s length, realistically they’re still gone.

They’re the ones whose names sit on the back of our tongues and we taste unexpectedly. The names that try to break free from our chests and declare to the world, “Once I was theirs!” no matter how hard we have tried to keep them under wraps. They’re the loves we tip toe around just certain that if we step too hard they’ll wake with vengeance and we’ll be forced to break all over again.

Breaking is scary; remembering something that is now forever unobtainable is even scarier. But that’s not what should be taken away from lost loves.

As scary as it is to face them, to confront them, running and tip toeing from them for the rest of your life is even scarier.

So.

Look at your scattered loves, the ones you’ve tried to avoid, and scoop them up. Hold them, soak them in again, and remember why you loved them in the first place.

And if nothing else:

Just remember that you loved them.

What we should take away from lost loves is just that: the love. We need to hold it close and tender and promise to do our best to treasure it. We’ll take the memories and put them away in a special place just for us. We will acknowledge the pain that comes with knowing we may never see them again but appreciate the fact that we got to see them in the first place. And we look at their ghost we’ll reach out to nothing but still promise to keep reaching.

Always keep loving, always keep trying, always keep reaching. TC mark

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