By Kirsten Corley, author of But Before You Leave
I always wondered when and if I’d ever hear your name again. Days turned to months that quickly turned to years and people in my life began to forget you. Your name that used to fill a lot of conversations between my girlfriends got replaced with other people who also came and went. The difference was their absence didn’t affect me the way yours did.
The difference was with every person that came into my life and my heart, there was no denying that you were still there taking up a bit of it too. Maybe not physically there but emotionally you never left me.
And without saying it, I couldn’t deny what my heart wanted. There was always that silent hope that you’d find your way back to me after all this time.
And in crowds, it was you I looked for, both wanting and fearing that moment our eyes met. Wondering if you’d remember everything. Wondering if you still cared. Or wondering if you moved on with your life like I was supposed to.
I’d see someone with a backward hat that looked like you and my heart would flip for a moment or two until he turned and it was some stranger. And in everyone I crossed paths with I thought of you. I looked for the qualities they lacked that you had and I knew it wasn’t fair to compare but you set this template for what I expected of people.
My heart sank when my mom asked, “Do you know what he’s up to these days?” I tried to hide the pain in a frown that said it all. “No,” I replied. Looking down at my plate playing with my food hoping the conversation would change soon.
The truth was the only proof that you existed in my life came in the form of old pictures I hadn’t let go of. It came in old clothes I never threw away. But more than that everything about you resided hidden in a broken heart that hadn’t given up hope.
I’d be awoken in the night as you met me in my dreams for that was the closest I’d ever get to seeing you. I’d wake up in a cold sweat wondering about you. Wondering about how it ended. And for some reason, I couldn’t forgive myself for any of it.
Of all the skeletons in my closet, you were one that haunted me the most.
I know things end. But what if an ending comes you know in your heart wasn’t supposed to? What do you do when you just know their part in your story isn’t over yet?
“Do you think you’ll ever hear from him again?” My friend asked.
“I know I will.”
She looked at me with some puzzled look. How was I still holding on after all this time? And the truth was I didn’t know.
What I did know was love is strong enough to overcome every odd that could be stacked against you and you could come out winning. That’s all I knew about love and that was enough for me.
They say things come back to you when you least expect it. I had moved on with my life all but entirely. I moved to a new city. I had new friends. But no matter where you go or what you do there’s something about the past that stays with you. And there’s something about the people you love you take with you in your heart along the way.
The days of crying over someone’s absence were a thing in the past that I couldn’t even remember anymore.
I looked at my reflection and occasionally I’d think of you. The best parts of me had a lot to do with you. And there were moments I had wished you knew the person I became in the end.
Then one day it happened.
Hey. One word. And everything came back to me all at once.
We were cautious but comfortable. There was a sense of things not having changed at all. And while we looked a little older I still looked at you the same way I had every day in the past.
The truth was I didn’t just love you again. I don’t think I ever stopped.
You can check out Kirsten Corley’s book, But Before You Leave, here.