In Memory and in Heart

I cannot believe that I am standing here, but I am pretty sure that you can't either. Life has taken us such different directions and yet we still work for the same goal. I am surprised at how much has changed and how much has remained the same.

You stand in front of me, an expectant look on your face. I have followed you as far as I can and now I can no longer shadow your steps. This is not where I want to be and yet I do not want to leave. I am aware that you go to help others, to make a difference in another country, a goal that is well worth the effort that I know you will put into it, but I am hesitant to let you go. I do not know when you will return.

You pull me into a hug and I relish the feel of comfort that your embrace brings. I feel a tug at my heart, one that speaks of shattered dreams and lonely nights and I cannot stop the tears that well up. I hug you tighter and try my best to shove down my feelings. You are leaving for something grand and for the best, I cannot hold you back with my sudden show of emotion.

My efforts are for nothing, my tears come and they run down my face. You are my sanctuary. You are the one that has understood my pain and shared in my happiness. I cannot let you go. What will I do without you there at my side?

I pull away from the hug and again try to reel in my emotions, but you have spotted my tears. You can see the struggle that is happening within and I now can see that the same is happening in you.

You want to go where you are needed. A cry for help has been heard and you long to answer, but doing so means leaving; and leaving means leaving me behind. We both have an inner conflict to resolve.

You turn out to be the strongest. You wipe away my tears and you tell me something that I will never forget.

"It is not goodbye," you say. "Never is it goodbye. I will only say 'see you later' because that is what this is."

My tears renew, how can you say that? How can this be 'see you later'? I do not know if you are even to come back at all. You notice my fear and confusion and you point to my winter coat and my fur hat.

"Do you remember when we went hiking through the park in the middle of a blizzard?"

I stare down at the hat that rests in my hand, the rabbit fur fluttering in the breeze from the people passing along both sides of us. I nod silently.

"Or the time that we stayed up all night and went rollerblading the next morning?"

Again I nod. "I still have some of the pictures that you took that morning," I say.

"Do not forget those times," you say. "Or any of the other times that we had together; because we are always together in memory and in heart. Even if we do not see each other for a long time, it can be as if we were never apart at all."

I am still somewhat lost, unable to truly understand what you are saying, but I still try my best to remember your words.

We embrace tightly once more, each of us holding on for dear life and never wanting to let go, but time is not on our side and we are forced apart by the hands of a clock.

I watch as you walk down the aisle, heading to the gate where you will board your plane, and I force myself to turn away as you disappear around the corner. I walk through the airport in a daze and somehow get myself safely back home.

One week later I am standing outside. It is cold, it is windy, and I cannot feel my fingers or my toes, but I am blissfully happy.

It is snowing; giant fluffy flakes that glitter and sparkle as they drift and spiral with the wind.

Though it is cold and miserable outside, I cannot bring myself to go inside. I am finally able to understand your words and I do not want my happiness to end. You are again at my side, even if it is just in memory. This is what you meant. I would remember you with every snowfall, every sleepless night. And that is not all.

I would remember you whenever I went bike riding. Whenever it rained, torrential downpour rained, I would think of you. The sight of purple lightning and feel of rainwater in my shoes would bring you into my thoughts. Sitting on dew-drenched grass and staring up at the stars would make me remember. Drinking tea, listening to music, listening to the sound of the waves, walking along the river, all of it. That is where you are and where you will always remain.

I stare at the snowflakes and I smile because I have seen you again and it means that we never said goodbye.


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