He gave the greatest hugs. He could put my life back together in just a few seconds by holding me close. He was so strong, so lean. We had our own language, our own way of communicating. He played bass in our church’s Praise and Worship band, and we would make faces at each other across the room. I felt special because of him. It is because of him that I learned to stand on my own two feet and that I didn’t need a boyfriend. Every time we talked, he told me “no boys,” and I listened. I spent three years alone partially because he told me to, but mostly because I knew deep down I needed to.
He was two years older, ruggedly handsome and extremely protective. I loved having him on my side. He was the one that stayed up until 3 a.m. when I was suicidal to make sure I was safe. He called me every afternoon and we would text until we fell asleep. He would pick me up in his car and we would drive around town and talk for hours, just so I wouldn’t feel alone. He held me while I cried over my breakup with my first love, and I was there for him during his tumultuous romance. He was my big brother, and I loved him for it.
Then he left. Literally left. Not that he had much of a choice; he had boot camp. After months of talking every day, I asked what I would do while he was gone. He responded: “Write. Write me letters.” So I did. Almost every day. From what I was feeling, to how I was recovering, to random things I saw in my school cafeteria. Everything. The day I finally got a letter back from him was indescribable. He didn’t have time to write many letters, but I got one of the few. When I finally saw him when he returned home, I almost cried. He hugged me tight for what felt like forever and exclaimed that I had written him more letters than his girlfriend or his mom. He was ecstatic to see me and everything felt right in my world again. He wasn’t my boyfriend, but I loved him.
He left again a few weeks later, this time for his actual assignment, a base in Hawaii. We stayed in touch, mostly through Facebook and email, but it was still communication. We both had lives, both were busy, but needed each other. I could feel something changing between us, but I just assumed it was him adjusting to life away from home. He could be kind of dramatic, but I knew it was extremely difficult for him.
I didn’t see him again for 11 months.
The moment he walked into my work on a Saturday night in November, wearing jeans, a black fitted t-shirt, and his dog tags, my heart stopped. I calmly walked up to him and threw my arms around his neck as he pulled me close and picked me up. “Hi, love,” he said. I melted at the sound of his voice and my familiar nickname.I loved this boy with all my heart, but not in the romantic sense. I owed my life to him.
I saw him the next few times he came home after that, over the course of about six months, but only briefly. Then, around the Fourth of July while he was home, we met for lunch. I remember the conversation being awkward and he was playing on his phone the entire time. He did come to life when I told him a mutual friend (one he had been feuding with for years) had asked me out. He suddenly was angry, and was listening carefully as I told him that yes, I had accepted his offer. He repeatedly said “I don’t like that guy. You know I don’t like that guy.” I said I know, but this is my life, I’m eighteen, and I can make my own decisions. After he had calmed enough, he gave me another bear hug and told me to be careful.
I didn’t hear from him for six months.
When we did speak again, he claimed he had just been ridiculously busy and wasn’t able to respond to the Facebook messages I sent once a month to make sure he was alright. We spoke for ten minutes, made (very) tentative plans for Thanksgiving break, and said goodbye. Thanksgiving passes without a word. After that conversation, we hadn’t spoken. I tried one last time to contact him, and sent him the following message on Facebook:
I’m not sure if you’ll even read this, but thats okay. I know we’ve kind of drifted apart, but we were really close for awhile and I don’t really know what happened. Everything seemed alright last summer when we hung out but then I guess life just got in the way. I know you’re super busy and I am too, but I miss our friendship. You really were like a brother to me and I miss that. So if you miss it too, just let me know.
He had seen the message a few minutes after I sent it and never responded. He shattered my heart into a thousand pieces because he stopped caring. He knew everything I went through, all of my secrets, and then just vanished from my life. Having him walk out of my life was the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced. He was everything to me. He was my world. I wouldn’t be writing this if it wasn’t for him. I miss the person he used to be, and I missed the relationship we used to have. It breaks my heart that I most likely lost him because of a “relationship” that lasted less than three weeks. I should have trusted him; should have known I’d only get hurt. He seemed to always have my best interest in mind. It’s now been a year since I’ve last seen or had a real conversation with him. It hurts, but I’ve accepted that he’s out of life.
He wasn’t my boyfriend, but I loved him.