Color me stupid. I fell for it again. A girl walks into your life. She’s dazzling: intelligent, funny, and beautiful. You become fast friends (perhaps against your every instinct), and you never regret it. You come to realize that you love her. Not this kissy-kissy love, but a deeper, more intimate love that physical affection could never match so you don’t even bother. Plus, she’s married, so she’s physically out of bounds.
Everyone thinks that you two are dating, but you fight more like brother and sister, making a dating relationship sound sick and depraved, which actually would make sense for you two. You always end up alone. Not because you duck out the back, but because when you sit down in the middle of everyone, everyone finds a new middle. Perpetually alone, all you have are each other and that’s enough.
You make friends with her family. You fall in love with her three daughters. You make friends with her husband. You picture having your own family and having get-togethers at some unnamed, insect-infested park in Madison. You buy into all this.
Then she leaves. No word or warning. Just gone. The word “devastated” comes to mind. When you ponder the situation, it’s comparable to a death. It’s not that she’s on holiday. She’s gone and perhaps not coming back. It’s not an uncalled for reaction. This is a bold-faced rejection, a slap and a half, a kick to the throat.
Cryptic words come to mind. The music she played. All the songs seemed to be about leaving. You’d watch her mouth only part of the words, like you do when you only know the chorus, except she knows the whole album front and back. It seems eerie and fitting that on your way to work you heard a song by “All-American Rejects” which happen to be her band of the moment. When you think about it, it’s possible that you saw this coming.
You get word of the news at work, when your roommate comes to tell you that her husband borrowed his car, to get his kids, because she wasn’t at work, she was much further than that. You feel your stomach flatten and your neck close off. You sit to write, to get it out, way before you talk to anyone besides yourself. You use your words to heal you before you start hurting for real.
You worry for her children. What will they think? How will this affect them? One will remember this. Another might remember this. The last will probably not remember this, but it will still be as real for her, if not worse. You have to say something. They won’t understand. He probably won’t be able to tell them what needs to be told. You have made yourself the band-aid.
You think back to those tears she shed. You remember how she’d come over to your house, crying or angry, and talk to you until early. You two would sit on the couch, and you came to realize just how badly her life was going. The word “harboring” comes to mind. If not for your understanding of her pain, you’d hate her for this. If not for your understanding of his pain, you’d hate him, too. If you weren’t so damn understanding you wouldn’t be in this mess.
You have to be very understanding now. You have to be there for them, as they wait. What can you do? It seems so pointless, the part you play. You don’t feel up to it – keeping it up for how long? A month? Six months? This may be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done, and that gives you no comfort. You’ve failed before.
You think about how she hugged you tighter last night than usual. You think about how she stayed longer, and how she insisted on watching her favorite movie. You think about how she didn’t look you in the eye when she told you she was going to be at work. The word “foreshadow” comes to mind.
“I guess this is best for her,” you think, but you don’t entirely think that. You know that if she had told you, you would have stopped her. You don’t necessarily find the answer to be “run away” when you think of the problem. You think “stay and fight” as the answer. On the other hand, you think about what other options did she have?
She said she was suffocating in her house. You weren’t going to help hold the pillow. Her happiness means too much to you. You have to trust her, now. You hope this works, whatever plan she has. If it doesn’t, things will be so much more painful. You wonder if things will ever go back to normal, and you hope that they do.
For now, you mourn, but for a second. Then you put on your brave face and look normal for the world. Chin up, as they say. You glance across the street, and you say to yourself, “She’ll be back, and when she is, you’re going to chew her out for not telling you.”