As I sit here in the grass where his body lies six feet under, I like to think he knows I’m here. I like to think he heard me sing to him on what would have been his 22nd birthday. I like to think he gets the letters I send to him via balloons. I like to think he took a few drags off my cigarette. That would explain why just one didn’t feel like nearly enough. It kills me to be here. It kills me to be in love with him.
Out of every one who has ever existed in my life, he is only one that I have thought about every single day since the first day I met him.
I remember the first few times I came here. The dirt was still freshly turned over and there was no sign of grass. Everything else had been covered in snow, but where he was stuck out like it didn’t belong. And it truly didn’t. After making the drive through the twisted paths that led me to him, it used to take me a long time to get out of my car. Sometimes I wouldn’t. Couldn’t.
It’s been 12 months. It’s been 54 weeks. It’s been 377 days. A few dozen drinks. Three packs of cigarettes.
As I sit here, I play through all the memories of him. And as I sit here, it doesn’t feel real. I still don’t want to believe it. Even sitting here isn’t facing it. I’m still in love with him as if he’s still here. As if I hadn’t seen his lifeless body — that that whole thing was just a dream, it had to be, because it sure as hell didn’t feel real and I can hardly remember it, though I have vodka to blame for that one. In my mind, it’s as if it was possible he was still out there and I could run into him at any second. As if I’m waiting for him to come back. As if I haven’t accepted the fact that he can’t. He really can’t. And I’ve tried telling myself that, but it feels like torture and I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to grasp it. I don’t want to understand it. No.
When I go home, I’m going home to a different man. Yes, it’s sick, but somehow I’ve dragged another person into a life that I don’t even want. Granted, I did warn him of all of this before we became committed, but I doubt he could have understood the true complexity of the situation. He promised to take care of me and said he understood what I was dealing with and that he would never hold it against me. But we found ourselves curled up in bed one night talking about past lovers and he brought it up. It made me nauseous when he uttered words I begged God to never let me hear: “I’m glad he’s not around anymore.” And forgive me for only hearing that part of the sentence when it had, in fact, been between the words “not to be insensitive” and “I never would have had you.” I know what he means, and I tried not to hate him for saying it. I guess I stood face to face with a lot of unresolved feelings when he allowed those awful words to form. I found myself wanting to be with each man just as much as the other. Feeling as if I had to choose between the two of them. Growing sick when I realized I was choosing between life and death. Sick because I couldn’t make up my mind.
I firmly believe that the man I’m with right now is who I’m going to be with until I, myself, am six feet in the ground. He’s patient enough to deal with my antics, and stubborn enough to keep me in my place. He’s the Yin to my Yang, as cliché as that sounds. But it’s because of how wonderful he is that I feel guilty for having him. Here I am stuck in a world where nothing is real, telling a beautiful man that I love him when I can’t stop thinking about leaving not only him, but the world as well, because I can’t get a grip on myself and am still in love with a man who had chosen to die and left me behind.
Yin comes home to me and picks me up off my feet for a playful embrace. He spins me around and I can watch myself kiss him between echoes of laughter. He doesn’t understand that while I’m physically with him, I’m not mentally in the same world. He doesn’t know I just came home from seeing another man, which somehow feels unfaithful even though he’s 6 feet in the ground. He doesn’t know I just smoked half a pack of cigarettes and spent the last twenty minutes trying to mask the smell before he got home.
“I love you, angel,” he says.
And he couldn’t see it, but there I was. Stuck in a world where nothing felt real. Where nothing lasted but the numbness of my being. At first, it was terrifying. Like I didn’t exist anymore outside of my physical being. I thought about how life used to feel. I thought about just staying in bed all day, because what was the point? And I thought about dying. And now? I can’t remember life. Sometimes getting out of bed for another lifeless day feels like death itself. And I think about dying. I couldn’t tell you how long it’s been. This sickness was in my bones long before I realized it. It has consumed me. I know it exists inside me when I wake up next to Yin and he doesn’t feel real. It’s like watching a movie, or reading a book. You want it to be real because it’s so tragically beautiful, but it isn’t. It can’t be. Yet it is.
There is nothing I want more in this world than to wake up next to him and feel it. Feel it like I have a life, feel it like it is my life. Not a movie. Not a dream. Not a nightmare. I want to feel him. And if I’m never able to, I still try to love him. Because I know he’s the kind of man I’d love if I could feel — If I could just live. It feels like a lie sometimes. Like I’m trying so hard to love him because I’m dying to feel it — that’s all I want –but I haven’t gotten there yet.
“I love you too,” I say as I feel my feet return to the cold floor.
But it’s not the way he thinks. It’s not the way he loves.
Trying to love him kills me.