The beach has always been my calm, my safe haven. Every year my family and I would go on vacation there, and like many, we would spend lazy days soaking up the sunshine and swimming in the ocean. As much as I loved those days, it was the nights that I felt most at peace.
Each night, after everyone had fallen asleep, I’d sneak back to the beach, now engulfed in the sheath of midnight blues and blacks. Silent but for the crashing of the salty waves to shore, I’d close my eyes, drinking in the scents and sounds, appreciating the feel of the cool sand as it slid between my toes. I’d walk along the water’s edge, watching the waves rush up eagerly to lap at my ankles and kiss my feet, then turn towards the horizon, where the soft glow of the moon met the neverending stretch of sea.
The beach was always my favorite place to think and reflect… and to just feel. I had always loved it, but then it suddenly became my respite.
The summer that I lost you was excruciatingly painful. You didn’t slip away gradually; one day you were just gone, and the jolts of pain unforgivingly told me that you had actually disappeared – forever.
The worst part is that it was true. I knew it, even then.
My best friend, my constant. You kept me steady, and I don’t think you ever realized how important you were to me. Lost in emotion, I don’t know if I was ever as important as you promised I was, despite how easily the word love was tossed around between us. No matter, my heart believed the words you spoke, and it shattered when you retracted them without warning. You were a safe place that was suddenly foreign and unknown.
Torn from my side, like my heart was torn from my chest, I tried to act normal; I bottled my emotions and locked them away. I walked through each day with a smile on my face and held my head high. But on that beach, I was free to feel the pain, to indulge it. I allowed my shoulders to slump, my breath to hitch, and the sobs to wrack my body until I was too exhausted to continue. In my anguish, I would ask the moonlight why, but it never offered the clarity I sought. Instead, my tears would flow down my cheeks, dripping from my chin and colliding into the depths of the salty water beneath my feet.
The ocean and the sand were my refuge. They listened to my cries, to my pleas. I begged the stars, the universe, to have mercy and relieve the throbbing in my chest. The wind would wrap around me lovingly, supportively whispering “move on, you’re worth so much more than this” and I fell into its’ embrace, wishing I could. I tried with all my might, but logic doesn’t heal broken hearts.
I prayed for time to slip by unnoticed – please God, let it go faster – as I knew my heart and the depths of my love and how far it truly reached. I reasoned “if only I could be at this point two years from now, surely the pain would have subsided and it would not pulse through my veins like it does right now every time my heart beats. One day I will wake, and he will not be the first thing I think of. By then, I will be okay.”
Time is unforgiving, and it slid by at a snail’s pace as expected. However, two years have now passed.
Recently I returned to the beach and traced the steps I’ve surely walked a thousand times. I thought about you, and how strange life can be, that someone I once thought to be so important can now be a complete stranger, and so cold, so different.
Just as I had retraced my steps, I did so with your memory, your name on the tip of my tongue.
I closed my eyes and recalled the way the moonlight stubbornly ignored my earlier requests. But then, I opened my eyes, and I realized I had been looking for the answers in the wrong places. The universe responded to my question instead.
The stars, the moon, and the ocean exhaled, and I suddenly understood the magic of it all. There is something beautiful about the way the ocean continually kisses the shore, and the persistence of the lapping salty sea. No matter how many times the land pushes it away, it returns, sure that one day it will be asked to remain.
If that isn’t a metaphor for life and love, I am not sure what is.
The journey of getting over you was not an easy one, but just like others before it, I realized you have given me a great gift, one that I could not have possibly discovered if I had not cried those tears and felt my sorrow drown out everything in the background of my life.
Because of your friendship, your love, and your pain, you have taught me to be a kinder, gentler woman, all while relentlessly pursuing that which I want the most in my life. The box full of darkness that bears your name has become one of my greatest possessions; I have conquered it and added it to the trophy case that is my strength.
You forced my hand to take the piece of the puzzle that you had to offer me. My time with you wasn’t wasted – it wasn’t for nothing. I was meant to meet you, my once-best friend, and I will always cherish your memory.
I am over you, but I will never forget you.
You once said I have helped you become the man you wanted to be, but it is you that has done so for me. You set me on the path I am today and helped me to discover who I want to be – who I am meant to be – and for that, I will be forever grateful.