Two years is no time at all. Two years is forever. Time can slip like water through your fingers or freeze like ice in your veins.
The mind plays tricks on you, whether you are awake or asleep. In my dreams, without my walls of logic and rationale to protect it, my mind slips backwards in time, lulls me into a world where none of this happened. I still wake up, reach across an empty bed, and feel you die all over again. Though I still do not see you outright in my dreams, I can sense you there, just out of reach. I wake up sweating, panicked, terrified that something terrible is about to happen. Then I remember: it already has. Even in the light of day, I am fooled. Little things, slips of focus. For a brief second, I am eager to tell you something. Then I remember. I drive a road we drove a thousand times and it is like dipping into our past and for that one small second I forget that you are not there with me.
I don’t just think of you from time to time. People assume that the passing of hours, months, and years means that you will slip from conscious thought. But you don’t. You are always there. I talk to you a hundred times a day. Whispered words, sad smiles, bits of my day I want to store up and save for you in a story like I used to. You never answer back. At most, I hear your little sigh, “Oh Sal.” It is not enough. It will never be enough.
Time trudges on without you. I have recovered from the initial shock of this. That time itself did not collapse when you left. It should have. Instead, the world carried on as though nothing had happened. As though the most important part of it didn’t suddenly disappear. Politicians bicker, babies are born, bills must be paid. Many times it is like watching through a frosted pane of glass. I see it all happening as though it is happening to someone else. Why does this part of my life often feel like it is the dream and before was actually real? Other times you are so far away I think perhaps I imagined you altogether.
It has been so long for everyone else that I mostly keep you to myself now. To bring you up, to speak of you, to relive our life garners strange looks, tilts of the head, and awkward escapes from my presence. I am the only one who remembers. I have no choice. You haunt me. Just as you said you would. It is like we have our own secret life that nobody knows. This secret is the heaviest burden I have ever had to bear. It is like scrambling up a mountainside with a boulder strapped to you, dragging it slowly, painfully through the mud. While everyone else takes an escalator.
I should hate you. Resent you. Wish you had never been. That I could undo that entire part of my life and keep it from happening. Save myself. But I cannot bring myself to it. The truth is, those memories are all mine. They are precious. I take them out, turn them over, look at them from every angle, over and over. I was loved. It was real. We were real.
Two years is just a number. An arbitrarily assigned date. It means nothing, really. Each day hurts as much as the one before. Each day I miss you regardless. But these dates, these numbers, still carry weight. Even to me. They mark something. Years with, years without. They are like the beads on a rosary, I count them over and over and over, whispering prayers as they slip through my fingers.
There is little else to say that I have not said a thousand times already. I miss you. I love you. Don’t forget me. You know the words by now.
Come back to me. One day. Promise me.
Just as I remember you.