“If you gave someone your heart and they died, did they take it with them? Did you spend the rest of forever with a hole inside you that couldn’t be filled?”—Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes (via feellng)
I grew up thinking that I’d never have a place in the world. I knew I was right when “home” stopped being a place that I’d go after school and started being a person’s arms, which felt like a combination of ecstasy and agony all in the same sweet grasp.
You thought I’d left you around midnight, but I didn’t. I lifted your pure white sheets off of me and let my legs dangle off of the edge of the bed we had called home for a week. I watched you sleep, your chest rising in the same motion as a tidal wave, and I wanted to pour the contents of my heart into your dreams. I had been begging you to feel me, to love me. You always said “too soon”, but around the fourth year of giving my all to you, I stopped believing that was why.
So yes, around midnight, I put my clothes on and walked out of your back door. I headed to the woods where you told me you first made love, and I wandered until I found the tree that you had carved her initials into. You told me she passed away a year after you had told her you loved her for the first time. I cried every time you spoke of her. My fingers felt around the indent of the “L.H.” on the tree, and I thought I had felt her there. I thought I had felt her everywhere. No feeling of selfishness compares to the one in which you take the rightful spot of someone who has been loved, especially when you aren’t loved.
I stumbled down to the beach. I knew that water was contaminated, polluted by glass bottles, cigarettes, and toxic waste, but I didn’t care. I let my feet be covered in it. I wasn’t scared. You had shown me one picture of her in the four years I had known you. She stood exactly where I did, her brown hair blown back by the wind and her feet stuck in the sand. Her eyes were the kind of green that you don’t forget about. She had a smile on her face that told me she loved you. I knew you were smiling right back at her.
When the sun started to rise, I started to drag myself back to your home. It was a long, bitter journey. I had come to understand that my love for you was unrequited for reasons beyond your own explanation. It made me angry. It made me cry. And then I saw you, holding yourself up on your knees as you buried a sheet of paper underneath the branch I cut my leg on the first time we had been in the woods together. I tried my hardest to go unnoticed, but when my foot crushed the dead leaves beneath it, your tear-filled eyes darted upward and looked right through me. I saw you for the first time that day.
As I headed in your direction, you started to walk away. I asked for you to stop, to stay with me, and you shook your head and pointed where your fingers had been digging. When the door shut behind you, I pulled out what you had been burying, along with her obituary and several notes to accompany it. Most of the notes were scribbled with “I miss you” and “please come back to me”. They had been dated with the same date each month: the 14th. She had passed away on that day. When I opened the letter, it was covered in what I imagined to be tears. Even though the ink was smeared through the entire page, I was able to read bits and pieces of it. The part that stuck with me most was: “I think it’s time. I love her, too, and you have spoken to me every day in my dreams to love her back. So this ends here.” And I knew it did.
I looked up at the sun that was blazing through the trees. Its heat penetrated my eyes, but I couldn’t look away. A single sparkle and I knew she was there. When I walked into your house, you had been crying for what seemed like forever. Your eyes were swollen, your lips cracked, and I could feel the crack when I placed my hand over your heart. But then you looked up at me, and your eyes had cleared. And you said you loved me. And I knew.