in the shadows…

I’ve seen you there, lurking in the shadows.

You watch, detached yet eternally connected, and I’ll be honest- I don’t know how I feel about that.

I don’t recall ever saying that you had to hide, though to be fair, boundaries were crossed and I can see how you might interpret you should.

Life is hard, it gets complicated. You’ve seen your share, and God knows I’ve seen mine. In the early days, and for a hot minute, decades later, our circles intertwined. For the most part though, our gravities have existed in different atmospheres.

To be clear, when I dove into hell, to help pull you out, I professed a love to you that I did not understand. That love, carved in childhood, had been clothed in a lifetime of guilted layers. I bore responsibility for all things you, stepping daily in the boots of belief that I’d failed you. Those shoes were heavy and hard to walk in.

It took that hell-dive to finally come face to face with the truth that I was a kid. We were kids. We were each kids dealt bad, bad hands, and we did the best we could. Sometimes that looked amazing, and other times pretty damn terrible. All the same, I had not failed you. You had not been mine to fail.

We will always share this tether. We’ve seen first hand how incredibly beautiful and equally terrible this truth is.

I gave you so much more than I should have, in the end. I gave you too much of me, and far more than I was free to give.

I am changed, forever, from that choice.

Eventually it led to us changing too. Our tether.

And that’s ok.

I meant it, I will always love you. I don’t know how to put into words this bonded connection. I don’t know how to define something born out of tragedies and fragmented childhoods. Can it even be defined? Because every definition I understand, never quite fit.

When you resurfaced, after so much time, my naive imagination saw family barbecues and picture perfect adulthood friendship fit for evening tv viewing. Maybe that could have happened, but it didn’t.

We both saw the darkness that followed, instead.

When you resurfaced the last time, I pledged to save you. That vow came days after I’d sat in a bathtub, botching an attempt at taking my own life. I couldn’t save you, I didn’t even know how to save me, and I was about to learn that taking action born of deep-seeded loyalty could destroy me.

You will always be more family than family has been.

I get sad, for a minute or two, when I realize there can never be another resurface.

Do I miss you? yes.

Do I wonder how you are? If you’re safe? If you’re being smart? yes.

Do I grieve for the life you could have had, that you SHOULD have had, that I hope you’ll chase after, one day? yes.

Do I love you? of course. I have never hidden that. The very first deep conversation I had with my husband, when I was still a young girl, told him of you. Of this package deal, should you ever show up again. It was strange to anyone outside of our world, but to you and I this bond just made sense. It has always been so much a part of who we were. I saw that I was capable of being my best self when we were in each other’s lives. I also saw that the accompanying guilt was going to make me the worst version of myself too, and you were the person who knew how to strum those strings just so.

This tether, this tie- it’s there always. No matter what has happened, what has been done, or what has been said- it’s a forever sort of thing.

I wish you well, every day.

I just wanted you to know, in case you find your way here again one day, that I see you there, in the shadows. I wanted you to know that sometimes, at night, as I pray words of love and peace for those I care about- your name is a part of that too.

I forgive you.

I’m thankful for you.