someone showed me a picture of you recently and you looked.         so happy.

and the gorgeous and lithe and so-obviously-cool woman next to you looked.              so happy.

and together, the two of you, looked well and good and right.
the way her head turned in to your shoulder. the way your arm snaked round her waist.

it was a sad sort of thing. me seeing this picture. me knowing that i never got that--you could never give me that. because whatever it was we shared was broken and fractured and kept hidden away from the very start.

i had a dream several months back, about jared, who we've been without for six impossible years now. and even as it was happening i knew it was more than a dream. because i got to see him and laugh with him and touch his smiling face. and the two of us had a grand time in this half-dream of mine. he seemed so exactly like himself and we spoke and laughed and talked on the last six years and then we went to a party. and you were there. and this woman was there. and she made you smile. and i turned to jared and i said, it's time to leave now. i'm gonna go. i'm not the one who makes him happy. 

and do you know what happened? he told me i couldn't go. because ours was the story that needed to be told.

it all seems so ridiculous now. it seemed ridiculous then, too.
but also very real.

and i woke up from the half-dream filled with peace because jared was always just love and so i messaged his mother to tell her that i'd felt i'd seen him and he was so very good and she responded saying that that very day would have been his twenty-seventh birthday.

thing is, days later, i was so angry. because i was walking away from you. because i was leaving. i was leaving the party in some large and cosmic and tremendously important way and he stopped me.

in looking at the photo of the two of you i think, my God--i'm not in love with this man anymore, i'll never again be in love with this man. i did leave the party. i just didn't know it.

i thought i'd carry my love for you forever. i thought it was a forever sort of thing. i'd resolved myself to that. i didn't think it'd stop me from loving others, i just thought it would live in me, mostly silent, mostly private. and so the loss of that love--well, there is a death in that. and a sadness to that death. but a birth, too.

the opposite of love is not hate. it's just the absence of it. the vacuum where it once was.

a few years ago when my adult and on-the-mend self lay next to your adult and deeply-wounded self i thought it was just that the nineteen-year-old in me was in love with the twenty-five-year-old in you. i convinced myself that it wasn't love then, it was a refraction of it. but it was. i was in love with you then as i had been all the years before.

i once told tom i had no doubt i'd one day tell you. it was just a matter of time and courage and those two things meeting and we'd not gotten there yet. and he said that just as important as the three words was to tell you that i'd been so afraid--that the fear was such a huge and vital part of the story and that you probably didn't know that. but how could you not know? and for one glimmering moment i understood--the subtraction between what i knew and what you experienced--the space between what the female mind knows and the male mind can't fathom.

but here i am, smiling from the shores of having-moved-on and it's so good. getting over you was the second hardest thing i ever did. the second best thing, too.

i won't tell you now. i won't ever tell you. because it was for me. if those three words needed to be said it was for me and i just don't need them anymore.

maybe jared was right though, maybe it is the story of you i need to tell--or the story of the last several years. maybe that's my second-beating-heart (as sugar would put it)--not you, but the story of you.

there's no love for you left. just the knowledge of those deep, unfathomable well-springs of which i am made. and for that i won't give you three words, but two:

thank you.