My First Sunday Without You

What would we normally be doing at this time of night? We’d probably be lounging on the couch, watching some kind of documentary on Netflix, or I’d be lazily scrolling though my Facebook news-feed with our legs entangled, intermittently glancing up to see your handsome face lost in whatever it is you were thinking about. We would share tea, or I’d mix us a drink with magnesium in it to help us sleep. Our things would be all around us: the big comfy sectional couch that we found online, the beautiful table that you built with your own hands, the plants we re-potted and nurtured together, the books we used to read each other before bed forgotten on the bookshelf.

And although you are only an arm’s length from me, I can’t reach you. Routines, misunderstandings, and neglected intimacies pile up like dust, and we forget what color our love is underneath. It’s not bright, or immediate, or attractive. And as I looked up at you, your strong arms folded across your chest, every detail so well remembered to the last hair on your face and freckle on your skin, I’d remember what it felt like when we were falling in love. That sweet, thrilling, optimistic, endless feeling time. I’d long to climb into bed with you, to feel you hold me, to comfort me, to tell me everything is going to be alright. What exactly? What’s wrong? Nothing, something. I don’t know, I don’t know.

What else can we do besides let go? Sometimes love is ripped from us so violently, so suddenly, and other times it tiptoes out like a shadow, like a sunset. And we can do nothing but watch it go, powerless to bring back its light. I can’t plead, or beg, or bargain, or manipulate, or seduce you back. I saw our separation like a ship on the horizon. At first I wondered if it were real at all – perhaps just a flicker of the imagination. A cloud. A mirage. Then it drew nearer, and I could make out the shape of the sails, the mast, the bow. It was coming, this was certain. But when? And how? And why? What cargo was it bringing? Was it here to pirate our happiness? To pillage us of our promises? I turned the ring you gave me on my finger over and over again with my thumb before taking it off, a pale band of skin left behind from wearing it for so long. I still search for it with my thumb, and its absence is like a phantom limb. Like when I reach for you in the night and you are gone. Sometimes, when I’m not quite awake, I think I’m home, and for a sweet moment I anticipate your touch, your lips, your scent. I’m happy; I’m comfortable. Then consciousness flows in like a cold wind and I’m alone in a strange bed, in a strange world, where promises aren’t kept and ships come to shore to take you away.

The pain is acute. It’s real and stabbing and it catches me in waves. I wonder if you think about me, too. Do you look at the paintings I did for you and wonder, “who is she, really?” Do you loathe seeing my clothes still hanging in our closet, the love notes I wrote you still tacked to the fridge? Do you miss that I always filled the ice cube trays and tidied up your dishes? Or are you glad I’m gone? Are you relishing your freedom? Have you wanted this all along? Are you hurting at all? It’s like you were a dream, an actor playing a character. And now the film is over and I’m no longer your leading lady, your love, your life. I’m as much a stranger to you as you are to me.

My first Sunday without you. I miss you, my love. To my deepest heart of hearts, I do. But in these quiet moments alone, I also realize how much I’ve missed myself more.

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