It was unexpected how the ending of an almost love felt more painful to me than the ending of a long-term relationship.
I think it was so different, so difficult, because it stopped suddenly—mid-page, mid-sentence—leaving me to write and rewrite the rest of the story in my mind, over and over again.
Our time together was enough for me to get a glimpse into his kind soul, but there was still so much I couldn’t know. Love takes time, and we weren’t given that.
My deepest regret is for all of the connection I missed with him by imagining that we did have time—some of those missed moments even, dare I admit, deliberate. It’s apparent to me now how deeply afraid of being seen I was, and how deeply afraid I was of losing something I never had to begin with. I was more wounded than I knew.
Despite my shortcomings in this experience, I continue to remind myself that it’s okay. It’s okay to be excited by someone. It’s okay to have hope. It’s okay to want to hold onto something that lights my soul on fire. And it’s okay to not be ready. It is so natural and human to run toward what makes us feel deeply, or makes us smile, or makes us believe in the beauty and goodness of others. And that, my friends, is more than just okay.
When relationships in our lives end, it’s common for us to say things like, “It didn’t work out…” But I can’t help but wonder how true that really is. What if our current definition of success in relationships is wrong? What if it actually did work out—exactly as it was meant to? Usually, when we push ourselves to look through the dense fog of pain, we can find lessons in hardship and heartbreak, and if we allow them, those lessons can mold us into kinder, sweeter, smarter, more engaged, and loving humans.
Perhaps this experience was meant to be, just not in the way I imagined or longed for. Perhaps it was meant to serve as a catalyst for my necessary growth. An awakening. Another lesson in letting go, until I can do so more gracefully. A reminder that everything is temporary and that, eventually, everything ends.
I keep coming back to the Ram Dass quote, “We are all just walking each other home.” I know that when I pay attention and let go of my ego, I can more easily recognize and accept the lessons meant for me. I hear the reminders. I feel the reassurance. I know that more profound love is already present in the stories of my future, in part, due to this story. I see again what strange magic this “being human” is.
Below is a poem I wrote to remember some of the beauty I found in this almost love. Despite the unavoidable and lingering grief, in the end, I’ve managed to find myself in unending gratitude. I feel grateful that our paths converged, that our souls collided, that he exists in this world, and that we walked together, even if for too short a time.
Warm, sun-kissed adventure,
Bicycles spattered with earth.
Wildlife and starry skies,
Souls dancing in admiration.
Hammocks and painted heavens,
Sun-soaked leaves rustling in the wind.
Kind eyes and gentle holds,
Butterflies with every breath.
Excited evenings, peaceful mornings.
Hours that ticked like minutes.
My fall, imminent.
His intention, blindsiding.
A tender, yet painful parting.
The universe has other plans.