She broke up with me.
I detest that phrase – it's callous and codependent. As if the two of us had become so intertwined that to end it she had to physically break me, leaving a part of me with her and I am left incomplete and in need of fixing. Perhaps, that’s why I hate it; the truth is often ugly.
She broke up with me. She broke me.
From what I was told, it must have been around an hour and forty minutes after she ended us that she ended up colliding with a car and painting the motorway in a shade of burnt red. She was driving home. Her new home. Away from me.
It had been short, fragmented and brutal. No answer was provided to my favourite question: why?
It was later that same evening that I got the news. Diane, her mother, called to let me know. Amid constant and violent crying, she asked me to come over soon to help plan the funeral as I knew Lily better than anyone; and she was right, I did.
I don’t know why I didn’t say no. Told them the truth: that she’d got rid of me before any of this and probably wouldn’t want me there. I like to think it was to spare them the further pain, to protect them from the knowledge that their daughter died in tears. Of course, it may have been that I was afraid to let go. That somehow, being there made it all disappear like it had never happened. I don’t know.
From what I can remember, the funeral was the same as any funeral when someone you love is dead... someone you’ve loved is dead. I blanked that awful day and the following weeks from my mind. I can barely recall anything now. I was lost, hurt and alone. Everything else was insignificant.
I had lost her. Twice.
The same thoughts stalked my mind; demon’s tongues whispering in my ear refusing to grant me peace: why did she leave me? What had I done? Was it my fault?
It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I was dragged back to reality. I had received a small brown package sent from Diane. An envelope had been tied to the top and included a handwritten note that read:
The tears haven’t stopped and my hands won’t let me write anything for long. There was a bag in the car when... Well, you know. I’ve looked through it. I don’t know why. I guess I was looking for something to make sense of it all. But it doesn’t. Does it? No sense in it.
Anyway, that’s not why I’m writing. There was a journal in the bag. I didn’t even know she kept one – but there it was. It was for this year. I’ve kept it with me since the funeral. Begging myself to open it and read through. To reach out to her once more. But I can’t do it. I just can’t.
I don’t believe in closure anymore, but I thought maybe this would be of some comfort to you. I understand if you don’t want to read it just promise me that you won’t throw it away.
My hands were dead-still as I read the letter. The violent shakes only began to return when I put the letter down and took up the package. I know it’s a cliché, but it felt heavy, impossibly so. And I knew it was me adding the weight. It wasn’t just a journal, it was understanding, an explanation; it was closure.
As I opened the package, my heart was drumming against my chest like some unholy snare and I could taste the anxiety on my tongue; a steel kiss. I would finally know why she left. I knew I would never understand why she had been taken away but at least I could know why she had taken herself away from me. If I could just know why we ended then maybe, just maybe, I might be able to move on.
The journal was nothing extraordinary; hard-back, about A5 size and a plain black. There was a note on the front that read:
For my innermost thoughts
It had been handwritten. I recognised the hand immediately - it was her’s.
The tears were pouring down my face as I made to open the journal. I tried to control my hands, but anxiety refused, and it was hell trying to open the pages. I finally managed to get the first page open...
It was empty.
I tried the second.
I tried the third and the fourth and the fifth and the sixth. All empty.
My hands made their way through the pages in methodical frenzy. My heart crying out in pain. Not one of the pages were filled in. No scribbles or notes. Nothing.
The journal fell from my grip and came to rest on the floor.
Her second goodbye had been more awful than the first.
Image Credit: K. Mitch Hodge