I always knew that you would be the death of me.
I knew because of how you laughed. You laughed so wholeheartedly, as if laughing was second-nature to you. You were a generally happy person, which is rare right now because we live in a world that glorifies sadness and tragedy, where being happy seems to be overrated. When you saw me looking at you, you stopped laughing and looked at me curiously. And then you smiled – a genuine, happy smile that actually made my heart ache.
I knew because when you walked up to me to say hello, it felt like every nerve in my body went on alert. How can one word do that to me? There wasn’t even anything special about how you said it, but somehow those two syllables placed me on cloud nine. I’m not the type to get easily rattled, but I got tongue-tied and that should’ve warned me already.
I knew because when you asked me out for the first time. I felt something that I hadn’t felt in a long time. Something that I’ve tried not to feel for a long time. Something that led to more feelings that I pretended not to have.
I knew when you asked about my family. How you seemed so genuinely interested about their lives back home and how you scolded me that I wasn’t making an effort to see them. You offered to go see them with me, even if it meant that you had to drive 200 kilometers away from the city.
I knew when you held my hand for the first time, how you shyly and slowly started to link your hand with mine while walking. It seemed so natural and for once in my life, I felt safe.
I knew when you kissed me. A nice, sweet kiss that said nothing and everything at the same time. A kiss that left me wishing the night was longer.
I knew when you said you liked me. Three words that ring in my ears until now. I would normally run away at this point, but the way you looked at me while you said it seemed to say “I really do like you, please don’t run away this time.” So I didn’t. I trusted you.
I knew when you mentioned that you can imagine a future with me. We’ve only been dating for a six months then but I found it sweet and not creepy at all. This made me start fantasizing about a future with you – the quiet girl and the charming boy ending up together – it was beautiful.
I knew when I waited for you in our favorite restaurant and you didn’t arrive. You were never late to our dates but tonight you didn’t even show up. I automatically hated you for it because I became the girl that got stood up for the whole restaurant to see.
I knew when you didn’t contact me for the next two days. I hated myself for opening up to you and being vulnerable. My friends said it was okay, at least I hadn’t slept with you yet. But isn’t emotional vulnerability worse than physical vulnerability?
I knew when your sister (who I never met) called me up to say you had passed away. You were rushing to the restaurant where I was waiting for you when a truck hit you. You died on the spot. I felt like the wind got knocked out of me. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that you were gone. I didn’t even realize that I was already slumped on the floor and crying. Your sister said you mentioned me a lot. “I think he really loved you.” she said.
I knew when I went to your wake. Your casket was open and your face was unusually somber. I wasn’t used to seeing you that way. To me, you were always happy, charming, and filled with energy. I was never officially your girlfriend, but a part me died too when you did. If a piece of you dies whenever someone close to you dies, will there still be any part of you left when every one you know passes away?
I knew when I saw someone on the street that looked liked you. It felt like my heart was breaking all over again. How does one recover from the loss of a loved one? Or is that why it’s called a loss? Because it’s something that we can never really regain?
I knew when I started writing this piece. It’s been years but when I started thinking of you again, it felt like only yesterday and the enormity of the pain is still the same. That’s the thing about time. It can heal all wounds, but it can also wound all heals.