I am thankful that some memories we never got to have. I am thankful that my favorite amusement parks, cafes, and streets are void of the noise echoing from synchronized footsteps, yours and mine. I am thankful that I didn’t become one of your many, although I’m sure you know that at one point, I prayed you’d be my only. I no longer think of my younger self as being stupid for thinking that way. No. I was hopeful. I was courageous. Doe-eyed, short in stature, and absolutely fearless. You just didn’t appreciate that. I was the girl who believed she could love people into their own healing. She was wrong, but I am not ashamed to have been her.
I’m thankful you weren’t my big love, but rather only my first love. I take pride in saying that my big love will be someone else. My last love will also not be you. I am relieved you weren’t my first everything. My first surfing attempt came without you. I held my first nephew beside the arms of my lovely sister. I walked the mountains of Glacier with a handful of my most trusted friends. You’re not even a friend anymore. Just someone I thought I once knew. I will be going to medical school without you. The difficult days to get here came and went without the safety of your gaze. It took a while, but it’s so freeing now to admit that you weren’t holding my hand when I took those radical steps towards building a better tomorrow. I am happy I came to trust that I could remain naive and hopeful, all the while still acknowledging the pain radiating from my bruised and shattered ribs as they tried to screw together a bleeding heart.
Healing didn’t come with time. It came with effort. Like when I tied the shoelaces of my worn converse, sprinting away from another snoozed 5 a.m. alarm. Or when I forced myself to eat breakfast, although all I wanted to do was starve your memory away. Warm porridge feels more familiar to my senses than the color of your hair. Attending college classes and work amidst a waning resolve showed me the breadth of people still out there open to love. All of them glistening oil pastels ready to saturate my life anew.
I am thankful that losing you was the unbecoming I needed to see cotton fields outside the two-inch circle I let surround me. Perhaps it would have come with age, but I don’t live in unrequited waiting anymore. I let your ghost finally leave. I don’t exhaust “what ifs” anymore. I share my biggest hopes with strangers. They hold them tighter. I’m thankful I’ve learned how to listen well. I no longer tell people that they will recover from their heartbreak. Not because I don’t believe they will. I just know that you can only move past life-altering moments by focusing on only one step ahead of you. One breath. One confession. One tear. One prayer. One will always build momentum.
And I am thankful you won’t get to see my genuine smiles. Espresso-stained incisors on full display as if it’s the most wistful Picasso piece you’ve ever seen. You won’t ever see how my eyes widen as I speak of the future of healthcare. You won’t ever feel the comfort of my fingertips chasing away the goosebumps resting upon your shoulder blades. You won’t witness how I love people openly both on street corners and in the living room. I am thankful that you became a speck in time and that I finally see you only as ink that dripped alongside my veins as I wrote you away.