I believe in ghosts. There’s one that lives in my apartment with me now. She likes listening to old Cher records and hates when the toaster is on. I like to think she spent the better part of her life chasing an acting career up and down Broadway, spending her nights off sipping tea from chipped mugs and bumming cigarettes off decent lovers. We like each other.
The thing is, you can’t really know a ghost. It is their spirit that appears to us, and even if we knew them alive we’d have to know the inner workings of their soul for them to be familiar. That’s why they can feel ominous and scary — because they are undead strangers.
And that’s what I turned you into. A ghost. You were dead to me in every way someone can be dead to a living person. You hadn’t crossed my mind, really. Maybe once or twice, when I bit into undercooked rice or watched a young girl cry on the subway. I had made peace with your passing. There was no way you were still walking the same earth as me, paying cash for coffee in the morning and laughing with friends on the floor.
But then I heard your voice.
And just like that, your lungs filled with oxygen and your cold, blue veins started pumping blood into your chest again. You’re still here. You still feel, and laugh, and flirt, and play, and live. Without me. We are living without each other. I don’t know you anymore. We are undead strangers.
Erasing your existence didn’t change what you did to me or how much I loved you. It didn’t heal these broken parts in me or fix my trust issues. I can’t run from my experiences or try and alter the past. You are alive, but you can’t hurt me anymore. I know that now. You have no power over how I move forward in my life, and I am so grateful for that. But I do hope whoever fills up your space now, whoever gets to feel the profound impact of who you are, is getting the best parts of you. That the ugly, sad, volatile parts of you did die with me.
And I’ll shed one more tear for that person. Then we can both go on.
We can both live.