I awoke in the darkness of night, still covered in the glimmering dust of a dream.
My mind lingered in illusions it had cast while I slept. Time had yet to awaken.
I snuggled deeper into the nurturing comfort of my blankets, my eyes closed, thinking of the warmth of you next to me. A smile played on my lips as the scent of you floated by.
My fingertips stirred and a desire to run them through your hair and trace the curves of your skin snuck into my repose. My want for you was a feeling and a habit, not yet a thought.
And I reached for you.
But only a cold, empty pillow met the touch of my hand, and the whetted edge of loss sliced through my fog and landed with a stab beneath my ribs. Reality struck like a cold splash of water, waking me fully from the comfort of sleep.
Here I am, I thought. Half of a whole.
I closed my eyes once again and begged sleep to grant me mercy.
The sun rose and set, but I stood in the shadow of anger and sadness, welcoming them into the gaping hole in my chest where my heart used to be. I fed them well and allowed them to grow, eating me alive from the inside and leaving a hollow shell that looked like me and sounded like me, but lacked the joy and passion for life that those who love me knew so well.
And in my mind, I reached for you, wanting you to save me from my pain and fill me up again with all that you are.
But you were not there.
The days passed by and the moon grew and shrank in the sky above me. Seasons began to change, and flowers began to bloom from dormant branches. So, too, blooms began inside of me.
Inside the black hole where resentment and melancholy had made themselves comfortable, little buds of kindness and compassion began to unfold and multiply. I nourished and protected them, sheltering them with self-compassion and gentleness.
They absorbed the salt of my tears and reminded me of the beauty in those who love me, of the many opportunities around me, and of the purpose-filled life I knew before I took your hand and forged a path alongside of you.
Each smile and moment of laughter that rose within me filled the voids, and sparks of joy became blazing amber fires.
Until I awakened once again, only this time in the gentle glow of the morning light, and reached within my mind for memories you.
Only this time, it was so that I could release you.
I discarded the pain. I chose to release my grip on the hope that you’d return. I had already replaced them, and I acknowledged that they were never based on what was real; only what I wanted them to be.
I chose to love the time we had together, knowing it was only a part of my journey.
With wounds healed and scars embraced, I let it go. I let you go. And I was healed.
Author: Amanda Christmann
Editor: Erin Lawson