If you ask me about the worst day of my entire life I can point out three days. 2 funerals and the day I left you.
Everything leading up to that moment it was like I was living a life that wasn’t mine so far away from home. Almost like a movie that wasn’t real.
You entered my life so unexpectedly. And as quickly as you came that’s how fast I left. Holding on only to a few months of memories that still seem so clear in my mind.
But that last day together was one that would haunt me.
I remember waking up in your bed after staying up for hours just sitting in your kitchen. Staring at a blank paper struggling to articulate how much you’ve come to mean to me. Are there any clear words in the English dictionary that can really convey I love you more than anyone and I can’t imagine my life without you? But in the next 48 hours, that’s what would become my reality.
I woke up and you kissed my forehead like you had every day.
There was an eerie silence as we walked. What we weren’t saying was it’s over. Instead, we clung to the last hours we could fit in as many I love yous and kisses that were even possible. You reached for my hand across the table and just squeezed it.
I began to pack and we just laid there on my bed in an empty apartment the day we both dreaded was here.
“Can you write me a letter before I leave,” I said.
And we handed it to each other reading it in separate rooms.
What you didn’t know was I was standing on the other end of the door, listening to weep in a scream and watching as you came out with hot tears down your face just hugging me. I looked at the clock it was time.
I left an apartment that felt more like home than the little town I grew up in. It was in that moment I realized home would never be defined by a place again but rather a person.
You took my suitcase and we walked a little more slowly than we usually did. We walked past the movie theatre we had our first date. The one you didn’t cancel, even though you were sick. We walked past our favorite bar and club and place we used to go at 3 AM to eat.
Then we got to the bus station and we just sat there holding one another in tears.
“Why did it have to go so fast,” I can still hear your voice repeating those words. “I love you,” and I knew you meant it.
I boarded the bus last not wanting to let go of your hand then sat by the window so I could see you.
As we pulled away and turned the corner I looked back watching you fall to your knees in the same blue sweatshirt I used to wear around the house.
Your best friend called hours after I left, “I’ve never seen him in such a state. He really does love you, you know. We all do.”
I held back tears in the airport. And just kept looking back. If my life up to this point with some foreigner had resembled every movie, you would have been there. And I kept looking back thinking just maybe.
I landed in New York and I didn’t want to get off. I wasn’t ready to return to my life again.
But I did. And every day I woke up, I turned over to my left envious of the time you were laying right there next to me.
Despite the love we might have felt and found while we were living in the same little town full of cobbled streets, I guess it wasn’t strong enough.
And with tears in my eyes, I knew it was coming as I heard your voice over the phone, “this isn’t logical Kirsten. I’m doing what’s best for both of us. I love you.”
For the first time, I didn’t say it back because if there was one thing I knew about love and relationships it was you don’t give up on the people you love and you don’t stop fighting.
I never knew heartbreak to that extent. I never knew someone’s absence in your life could leave you with a hole in your heart that physically hurt.
I didn’t know what to channel this much pain into. My friends watched as I self-destructed that summer I turned 21. Picking me up off of every bathroom floor as slurred words became a common dialogue. As straight vodka with no chaser hurt less than the pain within me.
Everyone watched knowing very well there was nothing anyone could say to make this better.
Because when the one person who can fix this all is the one who caused all this pain there is no way to go back. There is no way to unbreak a heart that’s been shattered. You just learn to function.
I boarded a plane a few months later. I needed to go back for reasons I couldn’t even explain. I needed to see you. I needed to feel that the distance between us wasn’t just because of an ocean. And when I stood in front of you and felt worlds away that’s when I knew.
When you told me you never loved me at all, that’s when I knew.
When you asked me how I could still love you after everything you put me through, the truth was I knew it was real because I didn’t hate you. I kissed you goodbye and you felt like a stranger. I boarded my flight wondering if I wasted everything in my checking account just to hear in person this thing I was still clinging to was over.
But that trip the second time around wasn’t just about the closure. That trip was about putting everything I had left in me, into a person I truly believed in and loved.
But I learned. I knew very well if I loved someone enough to get on a plane and fly across an ocean, maybe some day someone would do that for me.
And in a box of letters I wrote in the time we were apart the last one said, “if you let me go a second time, I won’t ever come back.”