There were rules, babe.
You said it yourself. Time and time again… Whenever someone at work was acting up, or whenever someone in their personal life was doing something idiotic, you’d shake your head and talk about “the rules” in life: The things people are allowed to do, and the things they aren’t.
We didn’t agree on everything, and that was part of the beauty of what we were, but we always agreed on “the rules.” We lived by the same ones both in our lives, and in our relationship. Simply put: we knew what we were allowed to do and what neither of us were allowed to do. The rules were very clear.
And as the years went on, I’d like to think I got more liberal in my allowances. I think we both know I started off pretty…rigid. But I think towards the end there, we were really getting it right. By the end, after loving you for so long, there were a lot of things that I would have happily allowed you to do:
You were allowed to forget to call.
All those times you would fall asleep, phone in hand, and wake up to 17 angry missed calls from me…were totally allowed. Though I said otherwise at the time, all that anger…all that irritation… would disappear the second I saw your name appear on my screen the next morning.
I’d listen to you frantically explain what happened: how tired you were from work, how you fell asleep watching a movie with your roommate, how sorry you were for not calling.
And I’d tell you to never do it again because it worried me…because your job is dangerous and whenever you didn’t call, the worst case scenario would explode in my head… and you’d swear it’d never happen again. But it always did, because it was allowed.
You were allowed to fight with me.
And man, did we fight.
Those knock-down drag-out brawls where we’d be set on nothing short of complete and utter annihilation of the other person’s point (or feelings)…those fights were allowed. The fights were allowed to be ugly. They were allowed to be ruthless. They were allowed to hurt.
Truth be told, I loved fighting with you; honestly I did. Because, no matter how bad they got, every single fight we had would lead us to the same realization time and time again: The realization that the bottom was never going to fall out on us. That we were never going to give up on one another. Never not have each other’s backs. Even if we needed days, weeks, months to get over something.
To give up on one another…that…simply was not allowed. Ever.
You were even allowed to leave me.
You were allowed to decide that you needed something else in a partner. You were allowed to meet someone else and be happy with them. I would have allowed it. Because I’d still have been able to have your back, though someone else would have your heart.
You were allowed to find someone your family liked, someone who loved themselves more, who didn’t press you so hard on every…single…stupid…thing. You were allowed to do that, babe, if it made you happy, because at times, I certainly didn’t feel like I made you happy. And you deserved nothing short of that.
You weren’t allowed to die.
Not even a little bit. It wasn’t even something to be discussed.
You weren’t allowed to leave me here and not take me with you. We had adventures planned…together. I wanted to go everywhere with you, and you went to the one place I can’t get to, and to say that that completely breaks my heart is the understatement of a lifetime.
And I can’t talk to you again, and I can’t call you again, and I can’t see you again, and I can’t figure out what exactly you expect me to do because you’re not here for me to ask you, and that wasn’t ever allowed.
You’re gone. You stopped living. You broke the rules.
But I didn’t, so I still have to follow the rules we set for one another: I have to be tenacious. I have to be honest. To be a better version of myself every day. I have to walk outside everyday in a world you’re not in anymore and continue to try to be a good person. And I have to do it without my best friend, my wing man; I have to do it without my heart. And I have to pretend that it isn’t utterly exhausting just to keep breathing sometimes.
And sometimes, it’s too much, and I just miss you.
And I know…I’m not allowed to fall completely apart. Or to give up on myself. Or give up on people. I know that because you made those rules very clear over and over again when you were right here next to me. You believed in me. Always.
I know I’m not allowed to turn into a person you wouldn’t be proud to know. I’m not allowed to turn into a person you wouldn’t recognize. I’m not allowed to turn into a person who stops showing up for her friends or family. And I won’t .
I’m not allowed to let the space in my heart that held all of the joy and happiness you brought me turn into a sanctuary for bitterness and anger and resentment. That place is only allowed to be filled with goodness. With you.
And even though you were way better at following the rules than I was…I’ll finally say what I never said during any fight we had, and that is: Ok, babe…you win. I’ll follow the rules…some days more so than others though, but I’ll do it.
But one rule I need to make absolutely clear to you is that I am allowed to keep loving you…forever. And I will, babe. Every day. Without fail.
Side note: If you go through any of the other articles on this blog, they’re from years ago. None of them were about the partner this post is based on. This man, my best friend, John, was never the cause of any of the painful and angsty posts that I had written years and years and years ago.