"I will miss you more on some days than others, but I could never love you any less"
--Brendan Irving, aged 17, writes to Olivia Lloyd, aged 16, while she is away at summer camp.
It is still difficult to look through pictures from what is now my childhood--you are a prominent fixture in them, oscillating from brown curls to a mane of black-and-white hair, depending on the month and year. It is so odd, finding a photograph of you that I haven't seen before, your jawline well-defined. A trait that I found handsome, even as a girl. Although my life is not really so different now as it was when we were together, I sometimes think that we lived a different life in a separate universe. If only I could pull the curtain between those two worlds, I might see you again. Lying in the grass of some public park, driving too fast on back roads, and covering the car floor with doughnut crumbs and coffee stains.
I am 24, an age that sounds distinctly adult, and you would be 25. But in my memory, you barely reach 19. Is it so strange, to hold a lingering affection for someone so young?
It took me a very long time to be happy again after you left, and sometimes feeling so happy and in love now feels like a betrayal to the rarity that was us. How often does one find real love before 30? How did I find it twice, and in the same town? Do I just love too easily?
Perhaps the last is true, and definitively your fault. You taught me that love is really the only remedy for this nameless panic and dread that not-so-occasionally erupts in my chest.
The anger is finally gone, five-point-five years later, and the panic at losing our love has eased. But I will never shake the feeling that you were my big failure. I couldn't have possibly--but there is a lingering nag that I should have found a way to keep you alive. I cannot shake the feeling that this was on my great cosmic "to-do" list--and I missed it.
This feeling does not permeate every waking hour,
but hits me in moments, like when I see a photograph of you that had gone unnoticed before.. It is almost like discovering a new memory, as I try to decipher your mental state, your facial expression, what you are trying to tell the camera.
I am reminded that eventually, this re-discovery of living moments will end. profound failure settles in for a prolonged stay. But as the years pass, the moment becomes rarer, and today--your birthday--is the first time in a very long time that I have felt the sting of defeat at your preemptive departure.
"who the hell can see forever?"