Not Enough to Stay

February 16, 2017
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“Why did you have to leave me?”
I lob this question at his headstone. I wish he were still here, still alive, so that I could say it to him face-to-face. But he isn’t. He chose to end his life.
“Why would you do that to me?” My voice cracks.
In my head, he is alive again. He is healthy, skin glowing, brown hair slicked away from his bright blue eyes. His smile dominates the entirety of the face I love so much.
“I love you, even though it has been so long,” I say to him, running my fingers across the cold etchings of his name; if I try hard enough, I can imagine it is his skin instead. “Do you still love me?”
I have been asking this question for a year now, always thinking that somehow, someway, he will respond to me. Radio silence every time.
The silence forces my brain to remember the last time I didn’t hear back from him, when all I could smell was car exhaust; when he didn’t respond to slaps, pleas, sobs.
I collapse on the grass in front of his grave, sadness rolling over me in unrelenting waves. All that escapes my mouth is: “I - need you - to come - back.” Over and over again, until the tears make it impossible to speak any longer.
Eventually I calm down, tears drying on my cheeks. I flip over to my side, staring at the numbers that encapsulate his life. My fingers thread through the blades of grass, like they are the only things that can keep me focused, keep me grounded.
“You’re one selfish bastard, you know that?” I mutter. “Only a selfish bastard would do to me what you did.”
My words are like whips, and I know he can hear me now. Good. Let him hear it.
“Sometimes I can’t see past the anger I feel toward you. You said you loved me, that you would marry me, but you didn’t love me enough to live. You did what you thought was right, but it was so wrong.” A cruel, harsh chuckle escapes me. “You were so, so wrong.”
In the deepening twilight, it is difficult to read his headstone. I have the inscription memorized from spending so many days here, but seeing his name, his carved-in picture, make him a little bit more real.
I rise to my knees, folding my hands in my lap and lifting my face to the sky, speaking directly to him now. “Yet despite all that, I still love you too much for my own good.” I drop my gaze to his resting place. “It’s been a year without you, and every day it hurts as much as it did that first night. I wish you hadn’t said goodbye.”
With that, I stand to my feet. My legs are numb from sitting for so long, but it is easy to ignore on my trek back home.
The wind blows through my hair, and with it, I can almost hear his voice in my ear.
I love you too. Just not enough to stay.

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