‘We press pause. Over and over. When things get tough, when we get scared, when we are separated. Going so far just to- Stop. And each time one of us reaches out, fumbling in the mud that constitutes us these days. Playing out in my mind, we never resembled the screen no meet cute, odd couple, picture perfect, dramatic reconciliation. We were slow burn, falling despite, not because of it. You press pause, scared by the velocity of the fall.
You love the poems I write, Finding solace in the soft tone of my voice, basking in the words I write about you. And in the nights you claim me ‘mine’. But how can I be yours when I am slowly wearing, like my dad’s VHS tapes? As you pause, play, rewind-
I have never tried to fast forward through the clumsy beginnings.You press pause. I push back. You press pause. I reach out. You press pause. Because I pressed pause, believing you could never be mine, thinking I was pressing stop. I saw myself as a second in a montage, as a face in the crowd, an extra in the part of your life, just before you find her.
I pressed stop, but we found out way back. In the comfort of your voice I found my own. But you press pause and I have never felt more alone, than in the absence of you.’
You were my heart
you still are
Your well-being filled
my chest with so much joy
5 that I could barely handle
the amount of branches
growing from the stems of
my blooming bronchi;
And all I see is
10 that you have outgrown me.
And all you leave behind
are my perforated heart
and lungs, both bleeding
dry from the pores
15 that you needed to breathe
I’m overthinking the situation once more—but has anyone ever lingered on the idea of you so. I want to say no, but that’s selfish as ever. I guess even loving you couldn’t break that nasty habit.
I feel like falling apart. All edges, all shattering pieces, all broken. You left me with too many questions; too many fantasies. I don’t know how to be whole, but I don’t think I ever did so I presume I’m still teetering on the line of pure insanity.
Having conversations with the dead, drifting towards uncertainty.
There’s this concept of hope nestled deep in my bones—that you weren’t it, that I will make it through this, that one day I will have a beautiful family. It’s all there, underneath wry smiles and declarations and the pseudo-sad lyrics that burn my throat. It’s the thick jagged line in all my art. Hope.
In the morning light, it’s all I have left.
Thanks everyone for your messages of support. This is such a strange time and nothing was as it should have been. But I got to see my mum before she died, and I don’t have anything that I feel was unsaid between us. I sat by her side and read to her for three days before she left us. She was unconscious but I’m fairly sure she could hear me at least some of the time.
Due to restrictions there were only four of us at her cremation. There was no service, but I read this piece that I wrote the evening before.
Every poem is wrong. None of them pertain to you; although this loss is something that everyone on this earth goes through. But I’ve looked. I’ve read every poem I can think of about death. Poems with sunsets and flowers and picturesque tears. Poems of grasping darkness and bitterness.
None of them are right.
Because how can it be put into words, this sudden echoing hollow in our world? We sat at your side after you drifted into stillness, and I kept on waiting for that pink blanket to rise with your breath. None of us knew what to say; all words were facile or inappropriate. The only truth is that you were once on this earth. And now you are gone.
The ache comes and goes. I am numb and then crushed with your absence. We are aimless; drifting from room to room. We pick up memories and turn them over; we examine them before putting them down again, fingers burnt with our loss. What can we say about an empty kitchen chair; about an unworn turquoise jumper? About the shape of your face and hands when we see a flash of them in our own children?
Our love for you pools around our feet, having nowhere to go.
I think all we can do is to embrace this ache. To acknowledge that our still-beating hearts feel like tight-clenched fists.
And trust that gradually this bitterness will sweeten, and you will live on through stories our children will remember and repeat. We will display photographs of you in your pink dungarees, or holding us in your arms in the cathedral carpark. We will tell stories of how we hauled bags of seaweed back from the beach for your bath. Of Farola pudding; of chicken-crisps-and-ketchup. Of child labour at Christmas time. How you mulled dad’s expensive wine and the way you prodded us with your fork over lapses in table manners. How the words ‘Lovely weather we are having’ immediately make us laugh.
I suspect the ache will always lurk in a corner of our hearts. We can only let you go and remember all the times we sat around the table you built, listening to the sound of your laugh.
We had far more laughter than tears during our time with you.*
*Except when you took out the wooden spoon.
I’m selfish enough to admit that if I could go back in time to the moment I met you, I would just walk away. This hurts. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to keep moving forward; it’s getting terribly exhausting lying in this bed with a thousand memories and no way to make more. Really, I’m too young for this experience—losing you, burying you. I would take it all back regardless of the consequences. I don’t care if that makes me a horrible person. My jury didn’t love you like I did.
There is not a reality where I would willing love you, just to lose you at 23. Not one.
an informal goodbye to my sunflower eyes
I miss you.
Not in the bleeding heart, hole-in-the-chest type of way that I expected. It’s just hard to catch my breath in rapid-fire moments when I want to reach for you and you’re not there. Of course, I’ve wondered if there’s quite possibly something defective about me that I haven’t quite fixed after years of self-discovery. Something in me that just shuts off in the face of emotional trauma because I can’t bear it. This hasn’t been any easy lifetime so maybe I’ve met my quota of relentless reactions to bad, unfortunate luck.
Loving and losing you just came at a rotten time when the world is already so goddamn confusing. I don’t even know how to do taxes properly, but here I am, mourning the loss of a lover in my early twenties. It seems like some cosmic joke that I haven’t unraveled yet enough to laugh at…although, if I’m being frank, I did laugh when the news broke because, of course, it’s funny in a tragic way that no one around me understands.
The only man I’ve ever loved—ever wanted to love—is dead. You’re dead.
I’m a writer, but I don’t know how I’m supposed to react to this tragic ending. It reads like a modern-day rendition of a Shakespearian manuscript and I can’t help but marvel at how well-executed (excuse the pun) it was considering how atypical I used to be in the face of love. I don’t know how to accurately miss you, I guess.
Maybe I’ll feel your absence later in my thirties, or perhaps in the next lifetime if it was real enough.
I used to think that meeting you was beyond happenstance. Fate had to play a part in our introduction, didn’t it? But with age, I’m starting to think it was completely by coincidence that you captured my attention so randomly despite my better judgment. Truthfully, I don’t know if I want to believe in a world where people are dangled in front of each other as lessons.
What lesson was I supposed to grasp by falling in love with you? Yes, I’m aware that our answers differ for this part of my existential crisis. You’ve always been cruelly cold when it comes to romantic gestures, and as I’ve established over the last four years, I’m wholly sentimental. I think I learned a great deal loving you.
Forgiveness was one, although I’m not sure if I have the strength to do that right now. You did leave me here all alone. Despite our rollercoaster romance, it’s the first time you’ve ever left me. I don’t like it. Not one bit. I’m not ready to come to terms with what you did.
You once taught me how to dance, at least in a passable manner, in my small, empty apartment. I’ll remember that fondly for the rest of my life although I was so embarrassed that my cheeks were red as I stumbled over your complex instructions. I’d never slow danced with a lover before. In the same breath that I write this, I’m not sure that I want to dance with another. It seems like a cheap concept. A knock-off.
You sort of taught me patience. I’m stubborn, so I don’t think that lesson will ever land. Still, you made an effort. I spent most of our small lifetime together waiting on you; waiting for you to love me, waiting for you to understand me, waiting for you to come home to me. And now I’ll wait over ten times the amount of time we were together to see your face again and ask if any of it was real, or if I’m wasting my limited energy on hopeless love letters again.
Oddly enough, even after you broke me so many times, you taught me how to stand on my own two feet. I don’t know if it’s because I wanted to impress you with my persistent resilience, or because you fostered my growth. I have trouble understanding the concept but it’s tangible enough to mention. When I met you, I was a naive girl searching for something worth writing about. A great love. Now, just days after losing you, I’m a woman with a future ahead of me (at least that’s what they say) and a story I can’t quite tell yet. Our story. Your story.
There were other lessons. Harder ones that I can’t talk about. Softer ones that I want to keep just between you and me for now.
But, what lesson was I supposed to grasp by losing you? I don’t know how to sit here and believe God put you in my life to rip you away so suddenly because I needed to understand some secret message. If I did believe it, you would laugh at me. Religion really wasn’t your thing. You lived a life full of dots, moments, without a desire to find the line that connects them. In some pipe dream, I wanted to be your line.
I guess things don’t work out the way you hope. Maybe that’s the lesson.
I know I need to bury you. Say my respects and go through the whole closure dance. All the articles I’ve been mind-numbingly reading say it’s one of the fundamental steps.
The first night I saw you after we agreed to become a thing, I snagged your beer bottle top from the kitchen counter like a little fool. I held onto it all this time in the bottom of a box of momentos. Even when my friends begged me to, in the worst of us, I couldn’t part with it because it had some meaning although it was just trash. You would have thrown it away. Again, I’m sentimental.
I thought about driving to the beach, lying to the gatekeepers and burying it right in the sand in front of those beach condos. A small funeral, just me and you like old times. I was happiest there with you. I was also saddest, but I don’t like to think about that so much.
More than anything, I want to ask you if that’s okay. Can I say goodbye to you in that way?
The circumstances of our love didn’t permit me to attend a formal goodbye. Even if it did, I don’t think I would have gone. It’s not really what I believe in and I don’t like the spectacle it creates. It seems ingenuine, which is unusually cynical for me. It’s fake, though. You faked everything so often just to feel happy that it seems like a slap in the face that you have to endure the lies of others even in death.
You weren’t a good man per the textbook definition. You lied and cheated and broke people’s hearts because you weren’t sure how to use your own. But you were good enough for me when you weren’t being tormented by your worst demons. I can’t comprehend the things other people say about you because they didn’t really know you, did they? Then again, I could be the one that’s wrong.
I’m stroking my ego when I say you’ll live on beyond this terrible moment. It’s true. There should be an asterisk on your tombstone by your death date. You’re immortal in the pages of my unsuccessful books. I scribbled everything there. Every raw emotion. The happiness, the pain, the desire, the need, the despair. All those words were always about you, my poor dead muse, even when I didn’t want them to be.
Maybe people will crack open the pages and learn the depths of my love and the fragments of my loss generation after generation. I don’t think I can live in a world where you’ve been forgotten.
We can hope for a positive outcome, can’t we?
I think this is where I have to end, although I know it’s not the last time I write about you. I’ll make sure it’s just as crude and unpolished moving forward. I know you like that kind of shit. It’ll keep me humble.
Goodbye, my sunflower eyes.
May we meet again.
How we treat things
that are important to us.
A priority is what some people are,
the first place on our agenda
(overcrowded with empty things),
when we find a way,
cancelling something to schedule with you.
There are people who are a priority for themselves.
Choose yours well,
they can not choose you back.
I was never a priority for you.
Prefix used to emphasise something
that was in the past.
It’s not necessarily something bad.
Those who already were part of us.
It can be a synonym of learning.
We don’t always choose our “ex”.
A drawer full of memories that some resolve to close forever
(and with reason),
a past chapter
(good or bad)
that is part of our history,
the “forever” that ended,
the photos that I erased
(and some that I am never going to have the courage to erase).