I don’t know whether to feel relieved, sad, or guilty. Right now, I feel a little of all three. But mostly guilty. I was dreading the day, watching the calendar as it crept up. But then I got so caught up that it came and went and I hardly noticed. I didn’t even realize until just now that I had missed it. And now I battle this gang of emotions and the only thing I knew to do was this: to write it out. To write it to you.
The fact that you will never receive this letter does not hinder my writing it. It doesn’t make me feel liberated, as I wish more than anything that you could. I thought of writing to you often and just putting all the notes into a jar and saving them up until it was full and I could bring it to you, but I know I can’t. The road to you has been all but demolished, so much so that I am afraid to even try it. And besides, I know even if I did, it would not be you that I’d be finding there.
There were two things I never got to do. One you knew: to keep open communication via instant messaging that you had set up and talked with me about. I got so busy with school and friends that I forgot to search your email. I forgot to find you. One you did not know. It was a cheap painting that I had been working on of wolves. It was an advanced paint by number, if you will, and honestly it looked like shit. I felt compelled to finish it and worked fervently for several days, but then I broke. The paint had dried up, the colors weren’t matching anymore, and my shaking hands couldn’t catch the details.
For a while, I couldn’t watch a Kay Jewelers‘ commercial without crying. For a month I went to class in a fog and otherwise slept. I couldn’t talk about it. I couldn’t talk about you. It took years to get through a story about you without my voice breaking. And now here I sit, grieving the fact that I went through the anniversary without shedding one tear, without even realizing it was that day.
Maybe it’s a good thing. I did finally get to a point in which I could talk about you and not have to excuse myself afterward so I could dab my eyes in private. Maybe this is another step towards acceptance and a healthy moving on. But that creates another emotion: fear. I fear this process. I don’t want that to go away. I want that hurt, just a little, because it reminds me of how important you were.
I know that the pain easing does not mean I don’t care as much as I used to. I know it’s supposed to get easier with more time. But I also know that I don’t want to forget those little things that make it so painful in the first place. I don’t want to cry, but I do. Not yesterday. Not on the anniversary anymore. Not on your birthday anymore. Not on holidays anymore. And that’s when I realize that I will never forget the little things, no matter what, because all those little things were what made you so important. There are certain songs that will always remind me of you and your guitar on the front porch. There are certain movies that will always make me think of Christmas Eve and you opening your gifts and knowing exactly what they were before the paper was even off. There are certain symbols and pictures and objects that will remind me of your connections to our heritage and your tattoo. There are still those times that I can hear your voice as clear as if you were sitting next to me – and even still those times that I expect to hear that voice answer the phone. And those are the things that will never go away. And I will cry, always, because no matter how long it is, I will miss you.