Smile Even Though it’s Breaking…

I often think about the moment I let you go.

It wasn’t the moment we said goodbye. It was before that, a long, cold month before. We were talking, which we didn’t do much of anymore, but we’d fallen into the volley that was natural for us. We were laughing, and I was ignoring how hollow it sounded to my ears, how far away you felt from me though barely a handful of miles separated us.

I set it up perfectly; a joke we always shared. I waited in expectant silence after I lobbed your cue to join in, to fall in lockstep in our joint choreography as we had done a thousand time before.

“Yeah,” you answered, noncommittal and absent, “Oh my God, La…” you started as you changed the subject.

And where once my name was honeysuckle on your tongue, stirring orchestration, it was just disjointed and loud, pots falling down cement stairs.

I knew you were gone then.

I felt it, the ache of your absence, the grief of losing you settling around my shoulders like a shawl. I could hardly finish the farce of our conversation; you soldiering on as if nothing had changed, and me choking on my loss.

“Goodnight, bae,” you said, the usual closing script to our conversations.
“Night,” I replied, distracted, missing my line, already retreating and drawing back into myself.

You didn’t notice.

It was then, in my retreat, in my heartbreak when you couldn’t see me, when I knew you were gone, long before I made you go through the motions, long before the conversation.

I’d stripped so bare for you, taking off the masks I lived within, and there you’d left me, blind to the intimacy in my nakedness, missing or ignoring the moment you shattered the safe place we built.

I let you go long before we said goodbye, yes. But only because you’d left long before we arrived at the words.