I have no idea what to say. I can’t imagine the world without you in it. But do I get to grieve your loss? I left you 15 years ago and I barely looked back. I’m afraid. I’m afraid I had been holding you up all those years and when I left you broke. Like it’s my fault.
Anyone that knew me then, that knew us, can attest I wasn’t my best self when I was with you. We were kids. We had no idea how things were supposed to be. We just lived with all of the passion and anger and love and hate right there on our sleeves.
The thing is, part of why I can’t write this goodbye is because our bad times far outweighed the good. It’s easy to remember the girls you cheated on me with, the broken furniture because you were angry, the gun you held to my head not once or twice, but multiple times. It’s easy to focus on those and countless other black spots on our relationship. The violence, the drugs… They are black clouds blocking the light on the good times.
But there were good times…
There were trips to the park and walking around downtown Knoxville. There was watching MXC late at night and sharing laughter because we both enjoyed physical comedy. There were Halloweens taking Zoe to every single house in Broadacres and coming home with bags and bags of candy, then staying up late to raid her candy stash- you got the fruity and I got the chocolate. There were cuddles on the couch and a lot of things in the bed. There were trips to Atlanta and New York and the beach. There was every single New Years for 10 years.
These little moments over 10 years add up. They can never outweigh the bad, but they are worth mourning your loss. Those little moments are what kept us connected. Other people would never look at the whole of our relationship and understand how those little moments made us “US,” how those moments are why I believed it would be better, you would be better, we would be forever.
We grew up. We became adults. We built a life.
More than “US” there was Zoe. The one thing above all else that we got right. The proof that together we were great.
I will never forget the night after she was born. You came to the hospital. You held her. She was the first baby you ever held. I suspect she’s the only baby you have ever held. You sat on the edge of the hospital bed holding her and you cried. You held her and you held me and you cried. That night you slept in that tiny hospital bed with me, holding me as tight as you could as if you would melt into me. You whispered promised to always love me and her. That was the moment we became a family. You, me, and Zoe.
First words, preschool graduation, soccer practice and soccer games, swim team meets and school holiday performances, parent-teacher conferences and birthday parties… you, me, and Zoe.
The last time we “talked” you apologized to me for treating me the way you did. I dismissed it. It was 15 years ago. I’m older, fatter, grayer, wiser and I know you didn’t owe me an apology. We were young and stupid. We both made mistakes. We were young and stupid and in love.
I can honestly say I’ve never loved anyone as passionately as I loved you. I couldn’t tell you that. I wouldn’t tell you. You will always have a place in my heart. I will always love you.
But I guess for me, this isn’t goodbye to you. I still have Zoe. She is more like you than I care to admit. Your smile. Your humor. Your hand gestures. She is all of the best parts of you. She’s smart and critical, sensitive and caring. She loves animals and history. She’s competitive and strong.
Even though you are gone, your best lives on in her. All of your potential is living up to success in her. I wish you could be here to see what amazing things she will accomplish. To hold new babies that will be your grandchildren. To witness the life you could have led.
I hope you found peace finally. I hope you are filled with love and light. I hope you can look back on your life and see all of the small moments that may not clear the darkness but are still lights worth appreciating. I hope you get to watch over her and protect her always as you promised me you would do. I don’t know what led you to where you are now, but I hope that you no longer hurt and only have happiness.