Over two years, I have piled up thousands of words, mostly loud and incoherent, about what it has felt like to lose a relationship. What I’ve finally untangled from them is this:
‘Kindness,’ I said to Mother, ‘is not worth the pain.’
‘Kindness,’ she said, ‘is part of you, and you will give it again.’
The thing is, I loved him.
With rare and dizzying profundity I loved him, and his bereaved children. Together, we trawled the bluest depths of his grief. Everything that was mine was on hold, while I tried to hold him.
The times we came up for air were light-headed. This love was a pearl. The feeling, he told me, was mutual.
Almost two years passed. Then – he had to focus on himself, he said, himself and his kids; this was how it had to be. A future together he could see, but he didn’t know how far off it was, or what it would take to reach it.
Don’t do it, we’ll each be so lonely without the other!
The shell closed over the pearl, unyielding.
I would wait.
Too soon after, I heard he’d moved on with someone else; the barnacles of that early, raw grief nicely sanded down.
‘Love,’ I said to Mother, ‘is not worth the pain.’
‘Love,’ she said, ‘is part of you, and you will learn to trust in it again.’