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That morning I finally did what I needed to do. For weeks I'd lived like a mortal zombie, quietly oozing pain so loudly that strangers stopped me to ask what was wrong. And I couldn't tell them. I couldn't admit to my loss. But that morning I cried. Oh, I've cried before, I know that. And I've "loved" before. But this was different. This was the kind of loving that most people only dream of. This was the kind of crying that was premeditated, forced, wallowed-in, howling, screaming, whimpering, sobbing. I had to. I still had hope, you know? I still believed. I was in shock. I was still bargaining and pleading. I hadn't accepted reality. And I knew I needed to.

I'd slept. Each day I would go to bed in pain, stir in the early morning, remember what was, and wake up crying. Unfocused and unproductive, was what I was doing. I couldn't think. I couldn't remember. If I thought for a moment about the truth, the pain would be so deep that I'd push it away. I was afraid if I felt it, I'd curl up into a little ball and never come out of it.

That morning I woke up the same way, but it was so much worse... I didn't want to wake up at all. I wanted to sleep forever (I didn't want to die... I just didn't want to wake up or live!). Sleep where my dreams were real, where I was still loved and I was allowed to feel love without being scorned or rejected. Sleep where there was hope. I stayed there curled under my covers, for hours, refusing to come out or get up.

I knew what I had to do.

I HAD to remember. I had to play back in my mind's eye, all that I had seen and heard and felt. And I had to cry. "At least one of us has to feel," I thought. And I knew it was going to have to be me.

    I had to force myself to go back to that day on the bus, that trip to Manhattan, and see him getting on that bus. Remember looking at him and him looking at me, in wonder, studying each other. The tingly electric buzz that ran through me, and between us. I had to remember that feeling, feel it again. Remember the first incredible conversation. Remember the crazy exhilirated feelings afterwards, when I babbled to my friends about this experience I had only imagined could happen. Remember the weeks that followed... the talking, the fun, the laughter. Remember the trip to Boston, singing out loud to the sound track of Pulp Fiction as we hit the open road, driving like fools. Wondering silently what would happen when he had to go back to Germany. Remember the moment he looked at me with so much love and said he hadn't wanted a relationship, but didn't want to let such a wonderful woman go. Remember the romantic last trip to Montreal, the little sun dappled cafe we ate in, when he told me he loved me, and wanted to commit to me and come back. Remember that full moon Saturday night when I shed a tear and he taught me the words "schnuff schnuff." Remembered Easter morning, taking him to the plane, and how he asked if I had my passport. The tears, the joy, the hope, the fear I felt, every time I saw a plane go overhead for the next few months. Remember the frenetic struggling with computers on either side of the ocean til we found a way to talk, and the hours and hours and hours we spent for months and months, learning about each other inside out, talking, laughing, sharing, drawing pictures on the white board of a skinny little guy in black and a turtle. How he drew hearts coming out of the two of us. How I drew an airplane under him to fly him back. Remember every full moon for months, how I would look up at it and suddenly want to break out singing "Somewhere Out There" like that little cartoon mouse. Remember the huge bouquet of red roses he surprised me with on my birthday, and how he sat there on Net Meeting, through my video camera, chatting with my friends here at my b'day party, from thousands of miles away. Remembered all the running around and struggling we both did to orchestrate his moving here, getting him into a college. Remembered the feeling of knowing he really was coming back, just as much for me, as to attend school. To be with ME. Wow! I remembered that call he made right before he flew... telling me he was scared to be coming back here, leaving everything he knew. Scared to be in a relationship so serious. How I comforted him and promised not to crowd him, only to love him. I remembered the night he arrived, the late night trip to the airport, the joy of being able to look at him again, and hold him again, now knowing him so much better than I did before. The happiness that bubbled from each of us. I remembered all the months since, most of it blissful, comfortable and mutual. The little travels, the laughter, the partying, helping him with his English for months after he arrived, helping him find a car, an apartment, build a web site together, get into school, help him to study and write papers, and adjust to a new life. The warmth, and cuddling and happiness of knowing he was really here, and he wasn't leaving. I remembered how he wanted me to learn his language, should I go there with him some day. How quickly I learned and how proud he was of me. How blissful it was to have kept my own life and friends and independence, and still have a man like that in my life to share it with! And most of all, I remembered, full on and with all the pain it brought, how it felt to be loved THAT much, by one person. To have someone think you are so wonderful, so special, such a treasure... to seek me out, want to be with me, want to do things with me... to be connected online 24/7, even when we weren't together so we could share whatever little thoughts passed through our mind, share work, share stories, or just icq a simple "love you". To just BE connected mentally, physically, emotionally with another human being like that.

I remembered it all. I left nothing untouched or unfelt. And through it all, I cried and cried and cried and cried and cried and cried. For hours, I took this on, or I forced it on myself, I don't know... the most brutal beating I've ever had. My god, the pain.

Then I remembered how it all ended. How he one day he just stopped. Suddenly. Not a days notice. It was over. He needed space, needed freedom, needed to date other women to be sure what he wanted, needed to have a social life that didn't include a committed relationship, scared to of our relationship because if it ended it would hurt too much. Oh, the sadness of that.. of course, it would... I knew that from the first moment! So, lets kill this gift quick, before someone gets hurt? Oh god. All I could think was "Does he realize how precious this really is?" He told me that he had let himself be too vulnerable, that who I knew was always his true self...  but he didn't WANT to be that person any more. It was too scary and risky. And so he has put on a mask, built a wall, and left me, abandoned us. Small solace to finally know someone like that, love them freely and be loved so well in return, and be left because it WAS so right. He said he wasn't breaking up with me because he didn't love me, but because he loved me too much. Truly the damndest thing I've ever heard. And then I remembered how he told me he didn't love me any more, when he realized those words gave me hope. We talked and talked and talked... struggled and tried to stay connected. So many stupid things we both said in our confusion. But I slowly realized the futility of it. I knew he was pushing me as far away as he could, to convince himself it wasn't real. I realized how much courage we had had to love so much. I realized he had lost his courage.

It was pure, complete torture to remember all this. But, he was gone. And it is over. He has decided that we will have no more sunny day road trips, no more laughter and conversation, no more "schnoogling", no more sharing. It was a wonderful experience, thank you, have a good life. And I have to accept that, don't I? All I am sure of is that I lost the most profound love, and the best friend I've ever had in my life, all in one morning.

So, I cried, and finally accepted that I won't be waking... I am awake, and this is for real. Just like the last year was real. I can't reconcile my brain to understand how BOTH could be real, how both could be the same man. I ask myself if it was so wrong to love someone whom you have such a connection with? Isn't that what every human being seeks? Must I actually be one of the lucky ones who gets it, knows it, and then lose it? Shouldn't something so good, built with such care, live?

I don't know. But I needed to remember so that I could move on, and I needed that cry to wash away all the pain. I kick myself sometimes that I would do it all again, love someone that much or more, let them love me... but, I think I finally realized that love is as perennial as the grass. I don't know how to do anything else but create and love. Maybe next time, my love will not have the heart of a coward.

Ahhh... and so it goes.

ep 3/99


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