Losing someone you love is never an easy thing. It changes your life and leaves a void that can never be filled. We will all experience this pain at some point in our lives. It’s how we learn from this pain and how we grow as a person because of it that truly matters. Here is a short story that tells of a love lost, lessons learned, and life after death.
LIFE AFTER DEATH
I had become all too familiar with the many headstones that now surrounded me. This was my family’s grave yard, after all. Alongside a few other local families, this century old cemetery held the remains of my mother’s kin and would someday be my final resting place. Normally, being here, shrouded in the voices of the past brought me calmness and peace. Sitting here now, staring at his headstone, I was clouded with endless questions and unwavering sorrow. The only thing I was certain of was that seeing his name carved on the stone in front of me had eternally changed my life. I was never going to be the same person. I just wasn’t sure if this change was a blessing or a curse.
I ran my fingers gently over the indented letters on the headstone while trying to mentally relive every moment of the past five years. The night we met. The fun we had. The mistakes we made. The love we shared. Even the pain that we caused each other. All of these thoughts invaded my mind like the rigid winds of a hurricane. We both felt joy or pain at the hand of the other several times throughout those years. With us it was always a tug-of-war. He would move forward and I would take a step back and vice versa. We two-stepped around each other until we agreed that being just friends was the best option for both of us. We had survived too much together to completely walk away. So friends it was. We continued to talk on a daily basis. Confiding in each other about things that we could not share with others, supporting each other when no one else would, trusting each other for advice because we were always honest, even about other relationships. We became each others “go to” person.
It wasn’t long before we realized that underneath the “friendship,” all of the previous feelings and emotions were still as strong as ever. We viewed this as an opportunity to start fresh with a stronger, more supportive structure to our relationship. Only days later, he received the news that would change everything. His leukemia was back, no longer in remission. The cold reality of such news has a way of bringing every emotion to the forefront. In that moment, I felt the love that I had for him more intensely than ever before. I would take this journey with him, no matter where it took us. He was the sole possessor of my heart and together we would get through the rain just like we always had in the past. For three years he had fought and conquered numerous battles and he always came out on top. This time would be no different. We would stand in the rain until the clouds parted way for sunnier days.
As a teen I had watched my older sister as she buried and grieved her husband. That was something that I hoped I would never have to experience myself. Although he was not my husband, I loved him as much as if he were. I was ready to stand beside him and help him through this fight, but he was not willing to let me. I can still hear his voice in my ear. “ I can make it through this and when I do, we will have a future together. I can’t ask you to go through this with me.” I reluctantly submitted and we returned to just being friends, but only because I thought he would have more of a fighting chance if he was focused on survival without having to worry about me.
I was never far from the front line and I spoke to him or visited him whenever I had the opportunity. I cherished our late night hospital conversations, playful jokes about flirty nurses, and listening to his voice for hours, no matter the topic of discussion. Night after night, I looked forward to our calls. It wasn’t long before our talks became shorter and the calls took place less often. His health continually descended. After what seemed like endless months, he was finally able to come home. He wasn’t coming home to a hopeful future though. He came home to spend his last days with the ones who loved him. The day after he returned home, I stayed with him all day. I let him know that I was there by his side, always, and that I would love him until I inhaled my last breath of air. I informed him that he was never just my friend. He was always so much more. As I stood to leave, I knew that this would be the last time I would ever see him. I leaned over and gently placed a soft, lingering kiss on his cheek and told him that we would have our change someday, it would just have to be in another place. I had to force each step out of the door while leaving his house that day. Two days later he was gone.
I placed my hand upon the soft soil that now covered his casket. A soul ripping scream escaped my mouth as I clenched the earth between my fingers. Every human emotion flooded through my veins and into my now broken soul. His death took me to a dark, empty abyss that I was sure I would never recover from. I could never give my heart to another because he took it to his grave with him. I thought of all the time we spent dancing around each other instead of dancing with each other. My faith was tested and my heart lay shattered at my feet. Never again will I feel the warmth of his smile or the touch of his arm around me. Through the good times and the bad, he often told me that no matter what happened, he wanted me to be happy. He wanted me to have the love that I deserved and to be with someone who made me smile and laugh, even if it wasn’t with him. For me, he was that love and I would never be blessed enough to find that twice.
It’s been three years since I have heard his voice or seen his smile. Not a day passed that he doesn’t stroll into my thoughts. I no longer think of the missed life that we could have had together or all of the misused time we shared apart. Instead, I think of all of the lessons I’ve learned from his life and his death. He taught me what being a true fighter looks like. Never let life pull you under and always push through until you reach the top. He taught me that every day is a chance to live and never to take advantage of the opportunities you are given because you may never get them again. He helped me to see that you can love and live after death. He waded through the rain to see the clouds part way for sunnier days and gave me hope that one day the clouds would part for me.