As I crossed the narrow road at a roundabout in Covent Garden I saw a man that looked like him. Maybe a version 20 years older than him – disheveled and street-wise. He’d lived life, maybe not dissimilar to the man I loved. I was on my way to see Matilda on the West End. This man startled me as I marvelled, yet again, that I was in fact in London.
I don’t recognise people very well. I worry that I’ll forget what he looked like, if it wasn’t for that pesky photo of us on my phone, that all the synching of the Apple can’t seem to remove. This man in Covent Garden, he was a dead ringer. The same features – nose, bright blue eyes, wide smile and thinning hair. And I felt sick (so much so that I sat down and wrote these paragraphs into my phone, I knew there’d be a story down the track).
He said hello, offered me his arm to guide me across the road. He spoke to me, friendly and tripping over his words and curious from the drink. He asked me what was wrong with my face. Concerned and curious. Frustrated that I couldn’t change things.
And so was I. Though I was frustrated I couldn’t change a different set of things.
It’s been a long time since things changed between us. I am all the better for it, and I know he is too. I’ve had just over six months to get used to this milestone in his life. Last September, I wrote him a letter, farewelling him from my life. I signed off:
So I’ll leave you be, remembering you with fondness, sadness and love. I am glad that I played a part in saving your life.
And just like that, he was gone. Sort of. Of course, he’s still here in my heart. I think about him sometimes. This week especially. One of his dreams has come true. He’s happy.
I imagined this week would come at me like with a thud, that I’d be worn out by emotions and over thinking, and that my tears would make my face hurt. But none of that happened. Is this it? There was no emotional catastrophe. But there was something. Something less than I expected and something bigger than I thought I was capable of. I felt a mixture of something.
While I no longer feel like I love him, it’s hard not to feel something. Reflection. Happiness for him. Wondering and a little sadness at what might have been. Sick of carrying the cumbersome yet beautiful memory of him with me – though the load’s becoming lighter. It’s as though I’ve made progress.
All of the relevant song lyrics are floating through my space. For a little while, all I could do was play this song over and over.
And I’m relieved I feel something. It reminds me I have loved. I’ve given myself permission to feel something, rather than beating myself up over feelings I cant control, even though I constantly worry that it’s not right to feel so much over someone I had very little time with – to miss somebody that I never really had. Because when others are suggesting I haven’t moved on, I know my heart is full (for me and for him), and my skies are no longer grey.