Alone on Christmas

January 8, 2008
By Jessica Harris, Westland, MI

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or does it? Eleven months of absence, and I don’t think my heart is getting any fonder. If anything I feel it getting weaker, but things weren’t always this way. Last winter I thought I had run into a string of good luck, but I guess not.

I thought I was living a fairy tale just by being asked to dinner. All through out high school I had a crush on this guy, Ian Michaels. He was every girl’s dream, and I was just the friend. The night of our graduation I finally accepted that “a crush from back in high school” was all he would ever be. Little did I know that on a cold January night my life was going to change. I got a phone call from Ian saying he wanted to go out and catch up on things. I accepted obviously, but I was shocked.

When I saw him sitting there that night everything felt so surreal. He was waiting for me, and only me. We got to talking, and one thing led to another. He admitted to realizing he wanted to be with me, and I admitted to always wanting to be with him. And from that point on we became Ian and Brianna.

All my dreams came true; “a crush from back in high school” was now my boyfriend. I thought things were going to stay this way for a long time, until May 19th 2007, a day I’ll never forget.
We heard a knock on the door so Ian went to answer it.
“Captain, what are you doing here?” Ian asked as he speculated the worst.
“Ian, it’s your time. We need to send you to Iraq.” The Captain regretfully replied.

That’s when the worst became reality. Ian was going to Iraq.

It’s almost Christmas now. It’s been seven months since Ian left, and I still can’t handle it. When I’m walking down the streets I see so many couples together, and happy. Of course I’m happy they’re happy but, I just wish I could have what they have. Times Square is lit up now, and there’s people shopping for gifts. This is my favorite time of the year and I’m spending it alone.

Waking up in the morning without Ian next to me is hard, but I do it. Leaving for work without Ian saying “goodbye sweetheart”, or “I’ll be here when you get home” is hard, but I do it. I woke up alone this morning, and I wish I could just go back to sleep and not face today, but I’ve got a job to get to.

I walked into the salon and saw my best friend Rachel waiting for her first appointment. I was so glad to see she was working today; I needed someone to talk to.

“Rachel, I can’t take this. I love him to death, I swear I do. But I don’t think I’m cut out for this.”

“It’s all going to be okay, he’ll be coming home soon I’m sure.”
“I know, I’ve been counting down the days, but even a week would feel too long. I need something real Rachel. I can’t keep living through these letters.”

“Then maybe it’s time to let go? If you think you can.”
“I don’t want to, but I feel like it’s my only option. It’s too hard being alone like this”
“Bri, I know you think its hard being alone, and its okay to feel that way but, I guess you’ve just got to ask yourself if it’s going to be any easier to let go, and then see him when he’s back, but know he’s let go of you?”

Those words stuck in my head all afternoon. I never thought of it like that. Maybe it’s just this time of year that’s making it so hard. Maybe the snow, and the idea of being cuddled up by a fireplace drinking hot cocoa together makes me miss him more. Maybe it’s all of the decorations, and the idea of togetherness that makes me feel more alone. These Christmas lights are shinning brighter than they ever have before.

I feel like letting go sometimes, but now everything Rachel said to me makes me second guess myself. Can I let go of him? Can I deal with knowing that he let go of me? And worse yet, that he let go of me because that was the choice I made for him. And what about when he comes back home, can I do that? I can’t. I have to.

Christmas Eve is finally here. I’m getting ready to go out with Rachel and Kimberly. They’re both bringing their boyfriends, and I feel like I’m going to be the fifth wheel. How selfish of me. Ian’s in Iraq, alone, and his life could be gone in a second and I’m worried about being alone at a Christmas Eve party.
All night I was trading glances with a guy across the room. Finally he got the nerve to come over and start up a conversation. I don’t know where my head was at. I liked that he was giving me this attention. I liked that I caught his eye. I like that we kissed at the end of the night. I like that I didn’t go home alone. I don’t know where my head was at; I know exactly where my heart was at.
The next morning after he left I ran back into my room and started crying. What have I done? I couldn’t even stand to think about it anymore. So I went back to sleep. I called Kimberly the second I woke up again.

“Kimmie, I can’t believe what happened last night!” I said, regretting every word of it.

“Calm down Bri, everything’s going to be fine.”

“I have to tell him, I feel terrible.”

“Bri he doesn’t even have to know.”

“I can’t not tell him Kim, I’ve gotta do it, even though I really don’t want to.”

“Well do whatever you want; I’m here for you either way girl.”

“Thanks Kim, I needed to hear that…”

“It’s the truth; you’re one of my best friends. Besides you’re a great girl and Ian loves you, everything is going to work out.”

I heard her and I knew she meant that, but I didn’t believe her, nothing’s going to work out. I’m going to end up alone again, I know it, and that’s what I was afraid of in the first place.

Right after I hung up with Kimberly I called Ian. I prayed the call wouldn’t go through; I was going to ruin his Christmas. It seems that a ruined Christmas is the only thing I won’t be going through alone this year. Nobody ought to be alone on Christmas.

“Merry Christmas baby!”
“Thanks… Merry Christmas to you too, but I’ve got something I need to tell you.”

“Are you alright, what is it?”

“I met someone last night, and we got to talking and things just kind of happened.”

“Things just kind of happened? Bri tell me I’m wrong in thinking…”

“Ian, I’m so sorry,” I started to cry; “I don’t know how it happened. I guess I wasn’t thinking clearly. I’m so sorry, you mean everything to me.”

“Obviously I didn’t last night.”

“Ian---” I began before he cut me off.

“Being away is hard for me too, but I’ve stayed true, why couldn’t you?” He said as he hung up not looking for a reply.

I couldn’t even bare to call him back, I just sat there and replayed the night before in my mind. I made the worst mistake I could have made. I couldn’t believe it; my biggest fear came true I hurt him more than he ever deserved. Isn’t it funny how we hurt the ones we love the most?
I’ve been writing Ian for two months now, every single day. As expected I’ve gotten nothing in reply. All of my letters speak of how sorry I am, and how I wish he could just forgive me and we could move past this. But the silence I’ve gotten back from him is deafening.
I started thinking maybe he was still upset, and just needed some space to get over it. You know, once he calmed down he’d think clearly and we’d go back to how we were. But that wasn’t the case at all, I got a letter from Ian today and it said:


I’ve read all your letters, and I meant to write you but I couldn’t find the words. I thought maybe some time without you would make me realize how much I want to get passed this. And it did, I forgive you for what happened that night, I really do. I wish it was that simple though, just forgive and forget and move on like this was just a bad dream, but it’s not. With every letter I get from you, it seems like you’re hurting more and more. I can’t do that to you anymore Bri. I can’t stand knowing how much you’re hurting being alone, and I don’t even know when I’m coming home. I know you’ve been telling me to just hold on, this distance won’t last forever. You keep saying that you wanted me to forgive you because it would hurt too much if I gave up on you, but you need to know I’m not “giving up on you.” I’m doing this for your own good, I’m letting you go Bri, and you need to let me go. You said it’d hurt too much if I gave up, but I think it hurts you too much to be alone. I’m sorry. I love you Brianna, but you need this and in time you’ll understand why. Goodbye and Good luck.
I went from the highest of highs to see a letter from Ian and then I crashed right back down. Crashed and burned. We’re done, over with, finished forever. I can’t believe it. Does he mean that? He’s really going to let me go? Yes, he does mean it, he’s letting go of me. He was 100% certain, so now I guess I’ve got nothing left to do but let him go too.
Letting go of Ian was hard, but I had to do it and I was doing an alright job at it until one morning when I woke up to a message from Ian’s sister. Thankfully, Ashlie was just calling to tell me that Ian comes home today. It was kind of a bittersweet message; it seems like just yesterday I was waving an airplane goodbye, but it wasn’t because just yesterday I was out with Brian and letting go of Ian one drink at a time. I still have so many questions that need an answer. Is he coming back here? Will I get a call from him when the plane lands? Will he tell me he misses me as much as I’ve missed him? My mind kept wandering all day; I could hardly focus on anything. After work I rushed home, only to sit by the phone like a pathetic love struck 15 year old girl “who just needed to hear his voice again.” I kept waiting to hear the phone ring, but it never did. I guess I knew this was going to happen; it just hurt too much to believe. I’ve only got myself to blame for that though. The day he left he told me once he was back here he’d be at my door ready to show me just how much he loved me. But he never did come back to my door.

A week has passed and I haven’t heard from Ian once. He’s probably out with a new girl. And she’s probably saying everything I wish I could. And I bet he’s happy where he’s at, with whoever he’s with. Whoever he’s with, it’s not me. He’s all that runs
through my mind. I’m sure I didn’t cross his mind once. I don’t want to let go, but I’ve got to. I only wish we could go back to the days where he left his heart in my hands, but he can’t trust it with me anymore. The very thought of that hurts me more than I ever imagined possible. I’m letting go of him. And I’m not turning back. Ian’s the past, and the past has to stay where it’s at.
I was startled by a knock at the door, and even though I didn’t want to deal with anyone, I rose to answer it.


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