Can we ever really fuck up? I mean, to the point of no return. When the person you once loved couldn't give two shits about where you are, how you got here, or even who you are, as you write this.
You hope that they'll stumble upon this note, “accidentally,” and that they will wish they could have done more.
But we both know the truth; they left because there was no fixing us.
We’re broken people, with broken hearts, and we’ve tried every which way to be better.
I guess we could have tried a little bit harder, to stay in each other’s lives.
I hate you.
I miss you.
I really fucked up.
Slowly, I sit up in bed. The arthritis in my hand ignites as I reach for my day-old cup of tea.
How will I get through today?
It’s been three years and still, it stings fresh, as if it happened just a day ago.
I miss him so much.
I’m starting to think you, yes you dear reader, don’t really get me. Maybe you feel sorry for me, or you want me to just quit crying. But here’s the hard truth: I loved him and I still love him.
Why did I have to do that? Why did I throw all of our years away? Our family, our two kids, our cat?
Why can’t I get out of bed and make a new cup of tea?
Today is April 2 and today is our wedding anniversary.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize I was the one who changed. I think the part that hurts the most though, is that we didn’t fight to stay in each other’s lives, we chose to separate. I’m paying for it now and if I could take it all back, I would.
I know what I should do today; get up, take a shower, and take my dog for a walk. I should put on a bra and a splash of makeup.
But instead, I choose to let the pain wash all over me again, and again, and again.
Pulling the covers off, I head over to my desk and pry open the top drawer. I fumble through old bills, paperclips and postcards before I find what I am looking for.
My hand hits rough parchment and I smooth open the decade-old envelope.
My wedding vows.
I let out a shaky laugh and tears sting my eyes. I couldn’t stop now even if I wanted to.
Like a trained bot designed for repetition, I peel back the flap and open the letter, reciting the vows out loud, to only myself:
“On March 27, 2020, our lives changed forever. It was the morning the pandemic hit our town, and from that day on, we were set on a different course.
Because of the initial quarantine, we didn’t see each other for a couple months, and on a particularly difficult morning, you wrote me this note: This is going to be one of the hardest times of our lives, Jaclyn, it’s so scary and sad. But we will be ok. Our fate is up to us. I love you so much. And I really want to have a FaceTime date tonight.
I wrote back: No matter what, we have to stay a team. I can’t grow to hate you, to sigh at the sight of you, or wish you’d stay at work for just an hour longer. No. I want to always be this close. And I want to like and love each other, for better or for worse. I want us to always try for each other, even when it feels like the world is ending. Promise me these things, and I’ll promise to always be yours.
You wrote, I promise.
We were just kids when we made this pact, but this has been our truth, our story, and in everything we’ve been through, this promise has only grown stronger. Today, it grows stronger still.
Then, and now, love is all we have. So we must fight for it, and have faith in it.
The rest is ours to make.
I love you, James.”
What’s done is done.
I know we can never go back to how we used to be. It was a series of small, explosive fights that over time eroded trust, eroded us. And so finally, I just really fucked up one day, in the worst way possible. It left me with nothing.
I hate him for giving up on us. But I hate myself more for what I did.
I set the letter down on my desk and stare at a smudge on the floor. I let myself feel everything, even though it’s only 10 AM and the day has just begun.
But eventually, I walk over to shower and run the hot water. I wash my hair, slip on a robe, and pour my cup of day-old tea down the drain.
My German Shepherd, Kono, wiggles out of bed and nudges my leg. Yes, it’s time for a walk.
I’m walking down Centennial Park when my phone rings.
Could it be him? Could it be the kids?
With shaking hands, I dig into my back pocket and pull out my phone.
No, it’s only Meg.
“Hey, I’m at the park with Kono right now, can I call you back?”
“Sure, but Jac, are you ok? It’s just, you know, today is–”
I cut her off short. “Yeah, I’m fine! Trust me, I’m fully functioning today and even took a shower.” I stop at a nearby bench and sit down. I let a few moments of silence pass and then start crying. “I’m still a mess, Meg. You must think, fuck, I don't even know...”
I brace myself for the cruelest of words, words my own family has said to me over the years. But not Meg. She says something different, and it gives me the energy to keep walking:
“I think you found a way to get out of bed this morning. And that makes you the strongest person I know.”
We fell in love.
We were married.
And the rest was ours to make.