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Wearing a mask.
I hide my face, so that I can let my voice be heard. Who hears? You, for whose sake I hide my face? And if you hear, do you guess at the face behind the mask?
I would unmask for you, if you asked. I would bare my face, my body, my soul. But you will never, I fear, ask again, ask that or anything else of me.
You, stranger in your mask, dance with me. The faces don't matter while the music plays. And when the music stops - perhaps we may, after all, unmask together.
I heard you speak my name today. Twice, quite quietly, in a rueful, reproaching tone. You, whose voice I have seldom heard and never saying my name - where did that come from?
It made me a little afraid, to be honest. I have grown very superstitious of late, and it is hard to shake the notion that something bad might have happened to you. And if it did, if it has, I may never know, or only learn of it late, at third or fourth hand.
Let it be illusion only, not omen. Be safe and well, dear heart.
The Tarot cards show Fool in the Future position.
Should I step off the cliff, head held high?
(Isn't that how I got here in the first place? But then, the Fool is the beginning and the end, the naive innocent and the one who has learnt that all learning is, in the end, folly.)
And this is to talk round and about the thing itself.
Should I try to reach out to you where I see the chance? It may be an opening you have left for me, or it may lead to nothing but more disappointment and grief.
Well, I tried. And failed.
The fall hurts less than I expected, but maybe I just haven't hit the bottom yet.
It was foolish to let hope in even for a moment.
Were you purposely toying with me, or did you just not think that I would take your words as holding some hope of reconciliation, or at least cessation of hostilities? I hope the latter. I'd hate to think I knew you so little that I was unaware of a capacity for deliberate cruelty.
(And yes, I have proved these last months how little I know you. But
There are threads that can't be untangled, patterns woven into the heart and the soul.
You have changed me, and, even if we never say another word to each other, so much of what I am or do or think is touched by you that in some sense you will always be present in my life.
I hope that is true for you too. The material things may be gone, but I hope that some part of me stays with you - the good part, the part that shared magic and laughter, the part that loves you unconditionally and forever.
"Of all my demon spirits I am haunted by you most..."
like a haunting. Sometimes I feel your loss sweep over me with no visible cause - I can't even work out afterwards what sound or sight or smell brought you to mind, just that you are there and not there, insubstantial and tearing at my heart.
Today has been better though; maybe tomorrow will be better still. It's not so much a matter of the pain getting less as of breaking it down into manageable pieces. A bit at a time, and not letting it overwhelm me.
You said today, in response to someone else, that you prefer your birthday to be ignored. That's not how I remember it. You were delighted that I remembered your birthdays, or at least that's what you told me. (And I of course believed you, as I believed everything you told me.)
Did I get that wrong too? Were you lying because you knew how I delighted in having an excuse to buy you gifts, to make you cards? If so, it was a kindly lie, at least.
Or has our parting soured your outlook on birthdays? I hope not that.
I think much of my sadness at losing you is knowing that it was probably my last chance at loving someone and being loved like that.
It took me a long time to accept that you really did love me. I got paranoid about silences, and worried that I might do something to drive you away, until you made me see that it made you sad when I didn't feel confident of your love. And so I learned to trust you, to feel secure and warm that you truly loved me.
Just when I lost the paranoia, it proved true.
We were going to get tattoos together when I visited you next spring.
That's not going to happen now, but I still want to get one. Whether or not I have the courage to do it without you to egg me on is quite a different matter. You were always good at encouraging me to move outside my comfort zone.
The design is another question.
My heart wants the stylised fox I would have opted for if things were different, but my head tells me it would be a folly hard and painful to erase. Iíve had enough of those.
Our mutual friends seem to think (those who give it any thought at all) that I'm getting over you. I choose to let them think that, even though it isnít so. It makes them feel better.
I don't talk to them as much as I used to, anyway, even those I am (was?) quite close to. It's too difficult: either we avoid talking about you, which is hard when you are so much on my mind, or we talk about you and they feel inhibited by divided loyalties.
Better just to touch their lives lightly, for a while at least.
Maybe it is not healthy for me to keep writing these words to you as if you would ever read them. But it is my way of mourning for you.
The tears have had to be mostly hidden from those who would not understand; who never even knew how much I loved you. These words, at least, can be public, even though I wear a mask to write them.
I will give you this month.
I have already mourned you through the spring, and summer is passing quickly. Perhaps autumn will bring me peace and fruitfulness.
May it be so.
I miss being able to let my guard down with you.
When I worried about how people would react if they realised that I am not as nice as they think I am, you reassured me. You told me that it was all right not to be nice all the time.
Thank you for that.
You showed me that you could know my flawed, angry, stubborn, clumsy self and still love me, and by that you helped me to love myself when I have felt most unlovable.
That gift will remain with me always, though your love has been lost.
It's the little things that hurt most.
I miss being able to tell you the trivia of my day, the inconsequential happenings and the fleeting thoughts. I could talk to you about the smallest things and not feel that I was boring you. Each day, I would store up the dayís happenings to share with you.
And I miss hearing the details of your life - what you had for dinner, the latest art project, what strangeness your neighbours are getting up to.
I wonder how long it will be before I stop having conversations with you in my head.
I was reading a discussion on a forum lately about whether it would be possible to change the past if you travelled back in time.
That seems to be all I've been doing lately - revisiting the stupid, impulsive actions which took you away from me and seeing the ways in which I could have done things differently, the ways you could still be with me and loving me.
It is so easy now to see how it could have been: one thing not done, a few words not spoken, and my world saved.
But there is no time machine.
I don't know why I fell for you so hard.
If I look at it objectively, as an outsider would, it seems a little absurd to have given my heart completely to someone I never met, never spoke to on the telephone, whose face I only knew in fragments and old photographs.
But then again, maybe that was part of it. We didn't need the superficial, external things. We shared words, ideas, thoughts Ė an intimacy deeper than skin to skin and a common bed.
I wish, though, that we could have had that too, if only for a little while.
Do you remember how we grieved together for her, your sister, friend, other self, loved and lost? Or have you let yourself forget that along with everything else we shared?
I sometimes think we were the only ones who mourned her, truly.
That grief brought us closer.
So how could you think even for a moment that I would steal that which she left us (yes, us, you
me)? How could you not understand that what I did, however clumsily, was done to protect her legacy of love and keep it safe?
Did you never know me at all?
I am tired of missing you. I am tired of grieving for you. I am tired of being reminded of you constantly by everything I see and hear. I wish there were a switch I could flick to turn off the pain and to forget how it felt to love you and be loved by you.
And you know I'm lying.
If that switch existed, I could never use it, because the price of removing the pain would be losing the memory of the joy and the laughter and the tenderness. It's a higher price than I'm prepared to pay.
I spoke to the sea today, and sent wishes for your happiness. It was a hard thing to do - not the wishing you happy, but wishing you happy without me.
It is not easy to accept that you have rewritten your life to exclude me from it, after what we have been to each other.
I was good for you, I truly believe, as you were good for me.
But if I love you (and I do, I do always) then I have to want your happiness even though I cannot share it any more.
Be happy, be blessed.
I am not sure I have much more to say to you. It's not as if you are ever likely to read this.
Even if by chance you should come across it, and if you should manage to see behind my admittedly flimsy mask, you have made it all too clear that you will not listen to a word I say.
And for that, no matter how I love you, I do blame you and feel angry.
Whatever you had done to me, however angry I was, I would never have refused to listen.
You owed me that, at least.
Since it seems I do not have much more to say to you (or perhaps 'too much ever to say' as someone once said) I thought maybe I'd use the rest of this month to write about other things, just to complete the batch.
There is, however, a fundamental flaw in this idea.
If I manage to write anything interesting - witty, thoughtful or beautiful - I will not be able to claim it or repeat it elsewhere under my own name. It will remain forever the property of my other self, unless I should choose to drop my mask.
Writing this is becoming a task, a chore no more exciting than doing the dishes. And it is good that it should be so.
Perhaps by the end of the month I will be over the desire to talk to you. That would, I guess, be a step forward, though it feels more like a loss.
Until August turns to September, I will persist in writing here. I'm stubborn that way.
But then, you already know that about me.
You know so many things about me, yet in the end you acted like someone who didnít know me at all.
I have almost managed to stop hoping, now. The part of me where hope still lives will give you a year and a day - an appropriate length of time to mourn a loss or to wait for a change of heart.
That tiny flame of hope is fed by the memory that you abandoned me once before, and returned. I know: circumstances were different, you were different. But I think some of the reasons for our parting were the same. Even if I had not acted so foolishly, I think you would have found a justification for rejecting me.
I said yesterday that I suspect you intended to push me away anyway.
Iím basing that partly on what happened before: you said later that you had pushed me away in such a painful manner because you did not want anyone to get that close.
But I'm also thinking of what you said to me just a day or two before it all blew up, that you were sorry for what was to come.
I don't think (and how carefully I pick my words, even here in the safety of my mask) that you were altogether whole-hearted in this matter.
Sometimes I have to laugh or else I'd cry. Sometimes I have to cry anyway.
I was all prepared to write a cheery little post about how I had hardly thought of you at all today, and that it was an indication that I was learning to live without you.
Then - you slipped up, you let something slip. Words I wasn't intended to read, though you are usually so careful.
And at once I am drawn back in.
I am devastated by your changes, even in this glimpse.
And I ache for you. I wish you were happy, love.
I suppose I was holding on to a tiny shred of hope that given enough time you might be able to forgive, if not forget, and that we might be able to get back something of what has been lost.
I know now that things have changed so much for you that we could never have that back, and I mourn the might-have-beens, the unfulfilled promises.
So many things we promised each other Ďone dayí, believing as we said them that the day would surely come.
One thing I can still promise you: you will always be in my prayers.
These are the lyrics which are running through my head tonight:
Through the days of shame that are coming
Through the nights of wild distress
Though your promise count for nothing
You must keep it nonetheless
That speaks to my heart.
Even though it seems you no longer know or care what I do or say or feel, the promises that I have made to you cannot be broken. Not even the ones which were never spoken aloud or written down, but only whispered in my soul in the middle of the night.
Perhaps those least of all, dear heart.
I am jealous, at moments desperately so, of those who still have your friendship, and maybe your love.
In part I am jealous because they have what I no longer have, which was mine recently enough for me still to forget momentarily that it is no longer there. I reach out for your love like stretching out a phantom limb.
But I am also jealous that they can give you what I no longer can, and that jealousy is, I think, deeper.
And beyond all jealousy, I am glad that you are held in love. I am glad of that.
When you shut me out, I stopped wanting to live for a while.
Oh, I was never actively suicidal - I am too much the coward for more than tiny self-harms, little bursts of pain to keep back the tears.
It was more that I lost that carefulness, that sense of self-preservation, which stops us from walking into the path of a tram or takes us on the route which avoids the slightly menacing huddle of youths. I would not have run towards Death, but I would not have run from her if she came.
Life without you seemed absurd.
I am losing that carelessness with my life now.
It is not that I have become afraid of death again. She taught me not to fear it before she left us, and that lesson, at least, I learned well. I believe that I will continue to be, life after life, and meet again those I have loved. (Including you. We have unfinished business.)
It is, rather, that there are people I love who would be hurt if I left too soon. I may never love anyone again in the same way as I loved you, but there is still love.
How long will it be before I stop stumbling across things which remind me of you?
Today, rummaging in my craft materials, I happened on an ATC you sent me; it was bitter-sweet to find it.
I could, and eventually will I suppose, put everything you've sent me into a box to be kept unopened. (Unlike you, I can't fling memories into the bin. Foolish, I know.) The books and the little gifts I meant to send on to you will find new homes eventually.
But there will still be images and songs and words which bring you to mind.
And here we are at the month's end.
It feels like saying goodbye all over again. (Did you ever read my goodbyes? Or did you delete my email as soon as you had picked from it the information you wanted?)
Even though it is unlikely that you will ever read this, it has been some comfort to me to write it, and to feel for a little while as if you might be listening to me.
It seems beyond foolish, though, to stretch it to another month.
So, just this: I miss you, I love you, and I always will.
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