How long has it been since I last saw you? Oh… my dear friend. My love. Where have you gone? Do you sit in the clouds, spin a gust of wind around your finger as you watch us from above? Do you long for those sweet-smelling grass plains, for the places we used to sit, your arm around me? My heart aches when I think of your laugh, the sweetest melody, the way it rang like bells in the vast fields…
I remember you told me that when you first saw me, you knew you had to be with me. I never told you what had happened when I first saw you. Well, truth be told, it was your eyelashes that I noticed first. Long, thick eyelashes over pale, pale eyes. The contrast surprised me, but when I sat back, my heart jumped right out of my chest. I saw the way your eyes smiled at me, the way your short, chestnut-colored hair spiked up… funnily enough, me, being someone who never believed in any kind of true love, had found it in the rarest way: love at first sight.
Of course I accepted when you asked to walk me home. How could I not? I could barely keep my eyes off you. And your smell… you smelled slightly of tobacco, which went perfectly with your woody, fresh scent. You weren’t obviously muscular, but when you held me, you were capable of making me feel beautiful, even with my olive-colored skin and choppy dark-brown hair braided back from my face.
Why did you ever notice me in the first place? Oh, Philippe, there are so many things I would’ve loved to ask you. But there just wasn’t the time. Life never leaves us the time to do everything we need, everything we want. I was so happy, we were so happy together, especially when we would lie in the grass. I was always tangled up in your arms, but no matter how close we were, it was never enough. It will never be enough.
I remember what we decided to do together. We were going to find a little boat and sail away from this place. And we found that boat. Do you remember all of those little trips we took? My favorite was the one to Saint-Raphaël, the one where we went late at night, when no one was on the beach, and the waves gently rocked the boat back and forth as we murmured and laughed quietly. That was the same night you promised to be with me forever, and I promised along with you. It’s not your fault that you broke it.
A few months after that lovely trip, I noticed your face grew paler. You ate less, you talked less. You became more distant, and I worried constantly about you. I didn’t believe you when you said you were fine, because I knew you weren’t. I was right, wasn’t I? But that doesn’t matter anymore. I began to spend even more time with you than before. It may not have comforted you, Philippe, but it definitely comforted me. I regret not spending every waking moment with you, though. I simply hadn’t realized it would be over so quickly.
When the verdict fell, I cried. I didn’t want to be alone, I didn’t want you to go. I didn’t want to let some illness take my one love away from me. You didn’t cry. Because you understood there was nothing you could do about it. It was life, after all.
In those last few months together, I know you were trying not to make me sad. I know I was, too. But even with your spontaneous serenading and dream-filled poetry, it was never the same as before. I still loved you as much, possibly even more, than before. But the mood had changed, like a dark cloud coming over the sky of our lives. We cling to each other for safety and say that all is well, that there’s nothing wrong.
When we went back to the hospital for the first time, I couldn’t believe a machine would be controlling your life, your survival. I was horrified at this. You said, “It’s all right,” but you squeezed my hand tight, like you always did when you were anxious. I tried my best to smile but resigned when it simply wouldn’t come. You hated fake smiles. So did I. And I still do.
I watched helplessly as the line of your heartbeat went flat, as the hand gripping mine went limp. If I had had the chance, I would’ve asked you what death felt like. But I already knew the answer anyhow. You would’ve said that it was quiet, peaceful… like eternal relief from all pain as your vision slowly went black. Is that how it’s going to be for me?
The pain after the shock was heart-wrenching. I had tried to prepare myself for it, but what came literally threw me off of my feet. The sympathy hurt, too. All of the people that stopped talking and gave me a sympathetic look made me want to retch. You know, I ate a small, sweet caramel before our last moments together, but left your room with a more sour taste in my mouth than the tartest and tangiest winter berries.
It got better. The pain lessened, but in its place was a gaping hole in my heart. I felt empty, with no purpose. In a way, that pain completed me. Love is about pain. Life is about pain. So as I went numb, many other things escaped me.
How am I doing? If you really want to know, I’m doing better. Yes, I’ve been writing some more of these slightly mushy pages. I’ve also begun to spend more time with my parents, and I opened a shop. A mechanics shop, but mostly for boats rather than cars or bicycles. Our dream is graved deep within my heart, and I’m doing everything I can to help others do what we couldn’t: sail off into the deep blue seas, the white-capped waves, the world beyond….
One day, I’ll take our boat, and I’ll sail away. Maybe I’ll bring belongings, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll bring my feelings, maybe I won’t. Most likely, though, I’ll go alone, and I’ll simply enjoy the exhilarating feeling of the salty wind blowing in my face. I look forward to us meeting again, embracing, sailing away, but in a whole different way. One day, it’ll happen.
With love, Olive.
P.S. When do you think we will meet again?