Six weeks ago today, I got up ridiculously early in the wee hours of the morning, just to snuck kisses between his nape and shoulder.
Then I curled up beside him and cuddle his familiar frame the rest of the night.
When I woke up the next day as I turned, I tripped over a used shirt he discarded on the floor. Muttering under my breath, I picked them up and threw them in the laundry basket on my way back to bed. Just as I had a thousand times before.
Later that morning, I followed the trail he’d left behind him.
A few used cottton balls and tissues used for his skin toner. Lots of stubbles he plucked. The weary gym clothes he used. The splatter of baby powder on the counters and furnitures.
As I made my way around the house tidying up after him, I wondered if he would ever learn how to clean up after himself. He was a make-work project in so many ways. Never deliberately. He was just forgetful, and scattered, and was sometimes clumsy.
I had absolutely no idea that was the last morning I would ever clean up after him.
Or that he will want to leave me.
When love dies, they leave a vast void in their stead. Where a life once existed, now only memories.
Those memories suddenly become our most precious possessions. We gather them close to our hearts and replay them over and over on a loop; like a movie reel of a life. We cling to them desperately, hoard them even, for they are all we have left of the person we lost.
We can’t help but think of all the memories that will never be made; all the should-have-beens and momentous occasions they will no longer be celebrating with us— graduations, weddings, christmases, birthdays.
We think of all the unfulfilled hopes and dreams; the aspirations and plans for the future that are now all gone.
But gone isn’t just those big momentous events or the things they’ll never do.
Gone is so very much more than that.
Gone is a thousand tiny seemingly insignificant, ordinary things that we took for granted every single day. Things we may have even once complained about.
Gone is no more dirty clothes: no half-eaten bowl of whatever he stuck in the fridge, no more messy closets.
Gone is no more white shirts abandoned in a pile in the most random spot.
Gone is no more shopping for his favorite noodles.
Gone is no more dinner and lunch and breakfast together.
Gone is no more jogging around the park in the morning.
Gone is no more waiting outside the fitting room as he shops for the best shirt or pants or shoes.
Gone is no more weekend rendezvous.
Gone is no more tiny kisses and cuddles in the middle of the night.
As I was leaving for my run this morning, I paused in the entryway by the door. I stopped and I listened to an echo of a memory.
I looked around the house that holds a million of our memories.
There was nothing there.
Just an empty space.
Sometimes you don’t fully comprehend the significance of something so simple in your life until it is no longer there.
All too often we don’t appreciate how fortunate we are until what we have is gone.
Not that we are purposely ungrateful. We just get so caught up in the chaos of life, so busy hurrying from one day to the next, we forget to stop and be grateful for all that we have.
And sometimes in all of the stress, all of the rushing to and from, we don’t even see how much we have to be grateful for.
We very rarely stop to think about what gone actually is because, well, we never really think it will happen to us.
Gone isn’t just some throwaway term or trite cliché used to define the absence of someone. Gone is real, and it’s enduring.
And gone, it does happen to us. Randomly; unexpectedly. On a humid April morning.
Six weeks ago today I didn’t know the true meaning of gone.
I didn’t know just how hard it would be to start over.
I didn’t know about the challenges of living with a broken heart while you lost your job and you have to leave your home.
I didn’t know about the long lonely days and hours and minutes and seconds ahead of me.
And I certainly didn’t know how profoundly sad an empty apartment can be.
I locked the door behind me and as I turned, I caught one brief, final glance of the empty cabinet that used to house his clothes and the counter that holds his trinkets and beauty regimens. I brushed away a tear. Just as I have a thousand times before over the last six weeks.
What’s gone is gone, forever.
It’s so easy to be annoyed by those things; to roll our eyes and shake our heads.
The inconvenience, the cost, the clutter. And why do you always leave things lying around? Why can’t you put them away properly?
It is only after they are gone that we realize their true value.
In one heartbreaking instant.
This morning stop for a moment and look around you. Take it all in— the messy discarded gym clothes, the discarded piece of cotton balls used for his toner, the splatter of baby powder in the furniture.
Stop and think about what it all represents.
Now, while you still can, before it becomes but a memory.
And as you do, know just how fortunate you are to have it. Every annoying, ordinary, lovely bit of it.
You truly will miss them when they are gone.
More than you could possibly ever imagine.