My Dearest Friend,
I know so intimately what you feel at this exact moment. The difference is perhaps that I am a bottle of wine in, and you have likely opted instead for deep fried and paper thin….dealer’s choice.
That not withstanding, I know what you’re going through.
The emotional ache that you never quite believe is physical until you feel it crack your chest. The pain you know you’ve felt but can never for the life of you remember. The I’m Sorry for every little thing you think back on that may have altered our course and now seems just so insignificant. The self-loathing for the times you doubted us or let your mind wander to something else. The What If’s and Maybe’s that repeat like a Top 40 Carly Rae Jepson song. The panic that sets in when you mentally un-circle the dates on a calendar. When you start to un-build a life that only physically lacked the ring.
More than anything, I want to talk to you about that last part. Because, for some reason, I still think it’s what you need to hear. Or maybe I’m projecting, and it’s what I need to hear.
In our three decades (you give some, and I’ll take a little), we’ve both been here enough to know that the sun moves us on, willing or not. But that the times in between the sun, our skin stays marked (mine permanently and in ink considering your handwriting is tattooed on my arm)—it aches and flakes and tans and scars.
I just wanted to remind you, in the moment between the sun, that your focus can be your aloe. That you should let it soothe you. And let that brief respite be okay. Let grateful replace the guilt I…you feel.
Tonight, a half bottle in, I think it’s pretty remarkable what us humans can do. The ones who make a decision, conscious or seemingly unconscious (though we know—if not at first then always at some point—love is a choice), to give our heart to someone who could break it. To stand in the arena and wave a red flag at love. And the resilient ones, to do it again. And again even.
The lovers don’t get enough credit I think.
So I want to tell you how strong I think you are. For having done this before, legally even, and choosing to do it again. With me.
There is nothing in me but the deepest and most sincerest of gratitudes, for seeing in me, something that needed to be seen. And admiration, for choosing to enter.
I’m getting sidetracked.
I used to have this yoga teacher, who I wish I could tell how profoundly she changed my life. Anyway, in my Bikram class one day, she said, “When the climb gets harder, make your world smaller.” It’s advice I’ve gone back to again and again. And I return to it now, because it saved my life before.
Because my world without you seems vast.
I assume yours does as well. And I want to remind you, as you have so often done with me, to breathe. To focus on the next breath instead of the next day. And the next minute instead of the next week. And the next hour instead of the next month.
It’s okay to make your world small.
And when you let a painful minute just be a painful minute, it’s easier to let the next minute be one of pure love. And the next of pure gratitude. And the next of pure pain.
Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. It’s all good. (Thank you, Alia Khan).
And I think, in that third minute, that these three-minute cycles of grief are, truly, a pretty remarkable gift we’ve given to each other. So please, and I hope you will, be grateful. Know that I am. Grateful. In more ways and more words than I would ever pen here.
Above all else, I want you to remember, that you are what I started this letter with: My Dearest Friend. And that no matter what becomes of our story in your mind, in mine, and in the end, you will always be at least and at most (which is the highest regard with which Abigail Adams addressed her correspondence to her most beloved): My Dearest Friend.
And for now this is all the salve that I can give you. And for that I hate myself, but, for my own good, I let it be enough.
Because, you know me and you know, words have always been the thing I was best at.
I need to go drink another glass of wine for tonight, because I’m reaching the end of a three-minute cycle, and it just hurts.
But remember to focus on breathing. And that it’s okay, when you don’t have to anymore.
With the Heart I Hope You Would Still Love,
P.S. This week, we
And I make plans to head to the sea (and meet salt water with salt water) with Mermaid Jar funds (more to come).