There’s a boy here in town who says he’ll love me forever,
who would have thought forever could be severed…
Gather up your tears, keep ’em in your pocket
save them for a time when you’re really gonna need them.
– The Band Perry, “If I Die Young”
He wrote me recently, a brief, quick note saying that his grandmother had found a picture of us from high-school prom, a memory that made him write three words that tore right into me: “I miss you.”
It’s at a time when I’m facing my own nostalgia — missing not my ex-boyfriend, and not us, but those moments, those feelings, those memories that have made me grow up with fond ideas of love, making me believe that, in its strength, anything is possible, that you’re never alone, making me feel lucky that I found it once and certain I’ll find it again.
When now I wonder if I will find it again…
It’s a time when my armor is down, my heart open for the wounding, a time when I wonder if I’ll ever be able to make those memories with another or if I’ll have to settle for this contentment, when happiness feels just out of reach and maybe never truly within my grasp, though there are moments, though there are smiles.
My neighbor recently went through his own breakup, and as I sit on the porch and he leans on his fence, he talks and I listen. Because that’s what I do…that’s why I’m here, right? And my heart breaks, because I know that pain of trying to fix things and realizing how all can fall apart so easily, questioning if you deserve even a small taste of what love is, not understanding how you can feel so much and how that can’t be returned. And that’s who I am, isn’t it?
He misses her, my neighbor says, and my heart goes out to him and I nod. I know. And as he goes back inside, I pull out my phone and read over the message again, a message I can’t bring myself to delete.
And I think, yes, I miss being missed.
I miss having someone there to comfort me during thunderstorms…or even during my own internal storms. I miss having someone to laugh with across the dinner table, someone to cook dinner for. I miss the spontaneity that comes from being a part of something.
I miss being a part of something.
And while I can take care of myself — while I’ve proven that to myself time and again — I can’t help but miss being taken care of, can’t help thinking, “I don’t want to have to take care of myself anymore.” But no, it’s not only that…I miss having someone want to take care of me. Someone to listen in earnest to all of these emotions shooting through my heart; someone to wordlessly wrap their arms around me and pull me against them, so I can hear their heartbeat, so that it calms my own; someone to brush my hair away from my face, to cup my cheek in their hand as the tears threaten to fall as they tell me that it will all be alright.
It will all be alright, they’ll say. They’re not going anywhere.
And for the first time in a long time, I’ll let myself believe that it’s real, that it’s true.
I can’t help wanting to feel safe, when everything feels so uncertain. I can’t help wanting to feel needed, wanted, when I feel so helplessly forgotten. I can’t help thinking that I’ve just started loving myself again, so when will it be possible to believe that someone can love me, too?
And I can’t help thinking that of everything in this life, the one thing that eludes me — the one thing I long for the most — is something I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready for, something that I’m a little bit afraid of because I’ve spent so much time convincing myself that, while I may want love, I don’t need it.
Maybe it’s a weakness to want to feel like I’m someone special to someone special, when it takes just a visit or a phone call — or a simple, three-line message that says someone was thinking of you…
Someone was missing you.
Maybe it’s wrong to think I don’t have love in my life when love surrounds me every single day, a love that I’m so grateful for, a love I would never wish to replace.
And maybe I’m so selfish to want something more.
But I want something more.
I was something more. And tonight, I’m reminded that I had someone who loved me once; I had someone I loved.
Tonight, I’m reminded that I meant something once; I meant enough to be missed.
Tonight…I miss what’s missing.