5:02a: “I wish you were here with me right now.”
The whistle of the text woke her from 6 solid, sound hours of sleep found only after the consumption of the glasses of wine she’d had while celebrating a dear friend’s birthday. She quickly sifted through the tangled, blue and white striped sheets in the dark, although she knew instantly who sent the message. She knew this because she knew exactly who was traveling at this hour and exactly who was sitting alone, in an airport, without her. She knew she should have turned the phone to silent before tucking it in with her the night before, and she knew without looking and without reading a word that the message was sent by KJ.
She was supposed to be on this trip, too. Headed east to meet KJ’s family; KJ, who had become such a part of her life over the six previous months. She was supposed to be there too. To take those two long flights before landing in North Carolina and being consumed with days spent meeting sisters and brothers and parents and step-parents and nieces and nephews and turkey and grace and being thankful…but she didn’t go. She could not do it.
When she thought of KJ taking those two flights alone, next to an empty seat suffering the hangover she encouraged the night before while trying to forget, she felt …. Sad? Sorry? An inexplicable empathy only the broken-hearted can feel.
And she thought of the eight weeks leading up to this point. The days and nights and omelets and text messages spent trying with such great hope that something would again click, that their voracious partnership, that passion or love or whatever it might have been, would re-emerge and exist as it had in the weeks before it’s premature demise a couple of months earlier.
But it never did click. It never made sense. The walls, built up and reinforced, proved indestructible despite the chisels and the hammers and bottles of wine and conversations and shared nights they’d taken up against them.
With a guilty heart and an apologetic stare two weeks before she should have been boarding that flight, she allowed five painful words to escape her lips, “I cannot go with you.” And nothing was ever the same.
5:19a : “Maybe it will be like the movies and you’ll come to me. You know, where you rush to the gate, suitcase in hand, right before we take off…”
She teetered over the precipice on which she stood, tumbling into the depths of a crumbling heart and the reality of the end. The finality. Over.
Because, you see, it’s not like the movies. She didn’t rush to the gate with frazzled hair and eyes filled with tears, apologies streaming her lips. Instead she lay there, in her warm bed, blanketed with her favorite paisley green comforter and a paralyzing avalanche of emotion while she softly, solidly whispered, “goodbye.”