Good things come in three—but so do bad things.
One: My grandmother passed away this summer while I was out in the Scottish wilderness—nine days after I turned 28.
Two: My grandfather passed away while I was watching a musical beneath the Soho streets—45 days after I turned 28.
Three: I told you goodbye on the same day I paid my grandparents my final respects—47 days after I turned 28.
Having to say three goodbyes in one day shouldn’t be something that happens but, “It does, it does; baby, it does.” It was, undoubtedly and irrevocably, the most devastating day of my life.
Sometimes the word ‘almost’ melts in my mouth, burning my tongue.
I almost flew back in time, we almost made it, I almost saw them again, you almost came back to me, we almost had our happy ending: if there’s a word I despise most, it’s almost. A word that’s filled with failed potential, that’s been created to remind us of our most beautiful failures, to remind us of what will never be.
I’ve replayed the last words we exchanged in my head many times since that day, when your saliva sketched the world you did not want to have with me. Plump, bruised clouds swirled around me, as the sun blinded my eyes, making them feel like crushed glass.
It burned, and it scarred, and it haunted, but now there’s a stillness in the caverns of my mind that hushes the voices in my head, taking me back to this past summer when we were in the Scottish wilderness together. When you held me without having to ask what was wrong; like we’ve been doing this all our lives, across all of our timelines, universes, and lifetimes—and, “It’s okay, it’s okay; baby, it’s okay.”
I’ve told you about the multiverse theory many, many times, and you know how close I keep it to my heart. There are millions and millions of universes out there for every day that has gone unlived in this one. So that must mean there are universes and universes out there where we never fell apart, where we’re still together.
There must also be a universe where I had the chance to tell my grandparents goodbye one last time.
There’s a universe out there where we—you and I—tried, where I did something more to reassure you, where I never treated you wrong, where my love never turned into the insidious monster you ended up loathing, where I never hurt you. So statistically speaking, there should be a universe where we only almost made it—and I guess this is it.
Sometimes I hear trains in my head when you speak, and all I want to do is jump on and leave everything behind.
I don’t know why I keep writing about you, but I wish I could give you beautiful words that’ll make you smile. Yet all I have is notebooks and notebooks filled with thoughts of you, of the what-could’ve-been, and while there are 26 letters in the alphabet, I can’t find a phrase that sounds like, “Forgive me, forgive me; baby, forgive me,” and every one I’ve tried has scratched my throat, surging through my veins with pain. And I remember you’re not mine to make you smile any more; that you’re out of my life.
Equinox, I told you one late summer night in New York, was my favourite word. I loved the quiet, symmetry, and balance it suggested; loved the juxtaposition of the harshness, as it cut through my tongue before falling into the world. Glory, was your answer. You love the way it fits in your mouth, the way it tastes, the way it rolls around in your saliva before falling into the world.
So I imagine there’s a universe out there where my favourite word is still equinox—because I never had to lose you. Because in this world, equinox has morphed into indelible: because you are. I cannot erase you, my heart cannot forget, and my soul surely still smiles when I think of how you couldn’t have loved me better.
And I’ve tried, I swear to God, “I tried, I did; baby, I really did try,” I’ve tried to heal the wounds left on my body that are named after you, because there’s absolutely and categorically no way I’m going to be living a life of almosts. But I have no idea how to stop your face from appearing in the dark, how to stop your name from falling off my lips when someone else is touching me, when lips that aren’t yours touch mine, when my pen refuses to write about another you.
So I’ve jumped out of planes with a parachute on my back, I’ve strapped safety gear around my body and leaped off the London O2. I’ve gotten on planes to find myself, visited places we haven’t scarred together—but somehow I’m still putting on my running shoes to try and outrun the memory of you.
I keep leaving in the middle of dates mumbling, “I’m sorry, I can’t do this,” leaving behind bodies with blonde hair and blue eyes sitting in bars, in restaurants, on benches. Blondes I carefully choose that won’t remind me of your brown hair, blue eyes that can’t hold sunsets in hazel eyes, unmarked cheeks without the temptation of kissing any dimples, tan skin I refuse to worship.
Sometimes my intestines turn into snakes, poisoning my thoughts and urges.
Maybe in another life, another universe, another timeline, I know how to make you fly without clipping your wings. But in this universe I’m sorry for all the claw marks I left on your heart and soul when I didn’t quite know how to let you go. But you have to understand I’m not someone who quits, who doesn’t fight, who gives up—and I hope you can forgive me.
While my grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and had her memories lifted to heaven to wait for her, I will not forget one single day of our time together; not one. I will never forget how proud I was to call you mine, how much faith I had in you—how proud I still am of you. I will always remember the person I was when I was with you.
Even if we did only almost make it.