"It gets easier with time," you assured me. And maybe it does. Only thing is what is this 'it'? The way you look at it is a completely different way I see it. More and more, every day that passes, I am overwhelmed with so many lessons. They say it's dangerous to keep looking back, and I see the logic in that. Only thing is, the more I look back, the more I am apart from it yet the same. I see the tiniest little moments where all that emotion hid. Where your heart was breaking and you kept quiet. When we were so in that particular moment, that we couldn't possibly comprehend the many ways that our souls were becoming latched together and how the strength of that attachment could somehow render it apart.
The more I step forward, each day, the more I embrace the many million moments with the world, the more I am overcome with the absolute realization that no one could ever be you. The infinite ways that each individual interaction would have been different if it had been you. The ways that home was and could only be completely and utterly you.
My moments are interspersed simultaneously with the infinite boundless joy of this knowledge and the abyss of destruction in its loss. A certain green will remind me of your eyes, a certain line in the clouds the snug curve of your rare smile. An abstracted feeling of exhaustion reminds me, like a phantom limb, of the strength of your arms. It is in this way that I am constantly reminded of the splinters, planks, bricks, the scaffolding and shelter that make up home.
Isn't love a bit like parenting? Especially a love like ours; a relationship that came into the world without really knowing of its own existence. That could not tell, not in words for the longest time, what exactly was its place and function—it simply was. And it was in that newborn joy of exploration and discovery that it shone ever more. The way it was nurtured, the many falls and skinned shins, the many tears, the yearning for something that wasn't explicable in any language, and the quick appeasement in putting our heads down, holding each other, in peace, together.
These days, I wonder about you. Every little thing makes me pause. I've cooked this meal; maybe he would like it. Maybe he would remember, for example, the way he learnt to cook alongside me. The encouragement and sidelong support that went both ways, not only one. I'm not sure if it is too late to say this now.
But there were things that were thought impossible, but I believed and then so did he. Maybe, like his greatest relished dish, this belief would also come to be. I don't know how to mourn this loss—is there even a proper way?
I have no appetite these days. Yet I am almost perpetually hungry. But I can't eat. I pause at each morsel, wondering what you're eating, if you're eating, what you're cooking, if you are. Instead, I reward myself with something more than my usual ration on the rare days I hear your voice. It's not what you want to hear. It's not what you want to know. But this is how it is, and I can't help it—maybe not more than you can.
But even as it's a child, love, it too is a parent. This love held me up when I wasn't too steady on my feet. It drove me to places that I didn't think I had the effort to go. It stood on the sidelines and cheered me on, motivating me to keep running even when I was hurting so much inside.
The way I am hurting now—angrily, anguished, forlorn, hopeful. And starved.
Yesterday I finally looked at the sky, and realized there was a moon up there. As obvious as it may sound, the fact that I had to notice at all told me a lot about myself; mostly that I have forgotten to recognize the things that have always mattered to me when I was most alone.
The very long treks I have made this winter had been accompanied with a deeply internalized grief, so internalized that I failed to look outward, at my immediate surroundings. The cold, the uniform white and gray which melded so seamlessly with the uniform gray sky surrounded me like a cocoon. I was suffocating and choking, and my breathe froze almost before it had even left me. Sometimes I was frozen dry, brittle and ready to shatter, and sometimes I discovered rivulets of tears joining the falling fat snowflakes that fell, the way I had fallen.
Nevertheless, the moon had remained aloft, the way it had always been, and the way it always will be, high above, it, too, was alone. Maybe it took the rays of a setting sun, or the blowing gales of snow from roofs, or even the glint of shards of moon to adorn a cloudy, starless sky, but I remembered.
Even from the cocoon, the butterfly eventually emerges.