On Christmas eve, just before I sat down to a lovely meal prepared by my father, I received a text from Mr. Possibility.
I was expecting a message of some form from him around the holidays — maybe even a call. I didn’t know what style it’d come in or if it’d be bittersweet or heartfelt. Since much of my 2011 was spent with him, it was difficult not to think of him in my memories of this year – so naturally – he would contact me at the holidays. But standing in my childhood bathroom, curling my hair and sipping on cheap wine from a Southern grocery store, seeing his number (no name, it’s not saved anymore) light up my iPhone wasn’t a screen I wished to view.
Knowing my friend L would soon arrive, I took a deep breath in, decided my hair was pretty enough and went to my bedroom to read what he wrote. I sat down on my bed next to bags of clothes and the four shoeboxes from my shopping spree and looked over at the blooming rose my father left my bedside for me to see when I returned to North Carolina. I smiled at the sentiment and cursed myself for being even semi-taunted by a man who would never measure up to my thoughtful, loving dad. Trying not to remember how Mr. Possibility laid on this very bed, on these same sheets, with the room radiating with the intoxicating smell of summer just a few months earlier, I read what he had to say.
A won’t stop talking about you. Or how she wishes you were here for Christmas. She wants to come to your house. It’s so cute.
Well, that wasn’t quite what I expected – but somehow, it hurt more. It wasn’t a message about Christmas or the magical feelings this season brings, but about his niece. His adorable niece who I fell in love with. As much trouble as its been to let go of Mr. P, it’s been just as much work to separate from his family – especially the two little girls I grew to feel like an aunt to. They even called me that when we’d visit a few times a month: Aunt Lindsay! You’re here!!
Before I had a chance to respond to his text, I noticed a voicemail from his sister, that really was a Christmas wish and a sweet “I love you” from four-year-old A. I played her sweet voice a few times before typing “She misses me!” to which Mr. P responded, “She’s not the only one.” It was then that L’s car pulled up and I left my phone far out of reach, far away from where I could be tempted to say things only wine and twinkling lights could make me silly enough to believe.
The eve came and passed, and I managed to refrain from mentioning my tension or how my heart felt frozen when I heard A’s voice or thought about the family I had grown to love along with the man I loved, was moving on from me too. The closest of relationships share those dear to our hearts and when the affair ends, so do those family ties. As much as I had enjoyed and cherished becoming part of his clan, I know that with the passing of time, phone calls lessen and memories of a temporary Aunt will fade when a permanent Aunt is in the picture. But those – those – are the thoughts I simply can’t entertain. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.
On Christmas Day, my mom and I felt a little antsy being stuck in the house with non-stop musical tunes and my grandmother’s sweet (and sorta irritating) ramblings, so we went for a drive. I wanted to see the mountains I never get to gaze at and she wanted to see me – so we drove around winding roads, catching up, laughing and doing our very best to avoid the topic of my departure – it’s a subject that isn’t friendly after spending a week together. As we’re going along the old highway I used to speed down, she asked me how I felt about Mr. P and the phone call from the previous night. I told her my grievances, how I feared my ability to really let go and love so unconditionally again and how though I knew I made the right choice, I felt like I was giving up a part of the me I created in New York so I could discover the life I really wanted.
She then asked bluntly, Do you miss him, honey?
Without much consideration and with little hesitation, I said: Yes, but I missed me more when I was with him. She smiled the grin that says: I-know-I’ve-been-there-too and reached for my hand. I was as honest as I could be and the truth laid flat in the winter air – as much as you can love someone, if the relationship just isn’t right or the person is selfishly motivated, you end up losing more by staying with them. And while I miss the companionship, the talks, his family that started to feel like my own, the shared dreams and intimate connections that I’d never share with this blog – if I would have not stood for what I needed, I would have ended up needing to really find myself again.
The best kind of love is the kind that brings out the best in you. It’s the kind that soothes your soul while it startles it. It entices you to be a better person and to believe in yourself more, while still being selfless with the person you’re committed to. Love is patient and it’s kind, but to find that perfect rhyme – you can’t sacrifice your happiness. And that person who cares, that person who is right, would never allow you to do so. Just like they would never let you miss out – or start to miss yourself – by being with them.
Less than a mile away from home I said, Maybe he showed me he loved me by letting me go Mom. Yeah, he misses me. His family does too. I miss all of them. But if we continued, we would have ruined whatever we ever had or any chance at friendship. So maybe he loved me enough to let me go. Right?
Without skipping a beat or missing the right turn into our street, she said, Or maybe, sweetie, you finally just stood up for what you deserved and he knew he couldn’t give it to you. It’s time to stop missing him, stop missing yourself and go out there and find someone who you’ll never have to miss.
Amen, Mama. Amen.