I don’t know why they say it’s better to have loved and lost. The losing part is horrible. For all the beautiful memories, the loss stays with you forever.
I was in love once. Really, deeply, madly in love. We made promises about forever. I think we believed them. We would always be together. Then he decided to save my life, and so he let me go. I remember weeping in the toilet at my first job, in another country, wondering why he didn’t write. Every time I prayed, I asked God to just let him come to me in a dream, if nothing else.
I didn’t know that he read every letter, even the ones I wrote to my other friends.
Five years later, we met again. He looked at me and saw that he had saved my life, after all. The thing about saving other people’s lives, though, is that there’s always a price. And when I looked at him I saw that he hadn’t saved his own life in the process.
Was it supposed to be my turn? Could I have saved his life in some way, by letting him back into mine? I don’t suppose I’ll ever know.
I like to think that I did the right thing. Five years is not enough time to be able to stare the dragons in the face and be able to resist them. I looked into his heavy-lidded eyes, into the pinpricks that his pupils were, and I knew that I would drown in them, and not in a good way.
I didn’t let his five years of silence go to waste. He’d saved my life for five years. I said goodbye and made sure I kept that going.
I’ve been clean now for 25 years, 5 months, 5 days.
I dream about him now, sometimes. The dragons are always with him, even in the dreams. I tell myself I had a narrow escape. When he died, I told myself I had stopped loving him a long time ago, and I didn’t cry. I told myself I was lucky not to be the widow.
These days I tell myself that I don’t believe in love any more. And I'm sure I want nothing more to do with it. So I’m not sure why I keep a scrap of paper from 1986 with three little words scrawled in his handwriting. I’m not sure why I’ll hear an old song and feel betrayed by words we used to sing to each other, lying on a rock in Cubbon Park, stoned out of our heads, crazy in love. And I'm not sure why these things can still make me cry.
B 1965 - 1997
I will always love you, I would never leave you alone ...
We’ll live forever, knowing together that we did it all for the glory of love.
(from the song The Glory of Love, by Peter Cetera)