It Gets the Worst at Night

I was parked in my mom’s emerald-green minivan when he grabbed my face and pulled me in for a kiss.

Urgent. Unexpected. Our first kiss. Our only kiss.

Maybe I would have reacted differently had I known what was to come.

I was 16, awkward as ever. He loved me fully, and he made sure I knew it. After he was gone, years later, I regretted pushing him away, making him stop. Not because I want to kiss him romantically, but because I want to remember him. To savor his presence. He was my best friend. I loved him deeply, just not like that.

Looking back, it makes perfect sense. It was his first time to kiss a girl and he wanted it to be me, so he made it happen. He was always like that. Determined, stubborn, and persistent. He leaned his head through the open window and went straight for my lips. I cut it off before it had barely even begun, nervously fumbling over my words before I drove off in a hurry.

I didn’t change anything between us, fortunately. We carried on with our comfortable friendship with ease. We had a special connection that doesn’t come around all that often. It was sincere, authentic. He protected me ferociously, unabashedly proclaiming his feelings for me while respecting my boundaries at the same time.

I thought he would always be around. I guess you naturally have that mentality until you experience loss. But life doesn’t always unfold according to our plans. Rarely does it, in fact.

I miss him so much it hurts. I continuously fight feeling his absence, but tonight I openly weep. It has been nearly six years since he left. My heart is so heavy, it literally fastens me to the bed; I can barely lift my head to wipe away the tears.

His mom held me tight after the funeral and told me that I was one of three women he had ever loved. Tonight, it aches. Allowing myself to feel the pain is a nightmare, except I’m awake and it is real. It hurts. But I think I’m supposed to be here. I have to expose this burdened heart in order to heal.

Josh, not a day goes by that I don’t think of you. I’ll see someone who resembles you, or run by your house, or just pause for a moment to honor your memory. I love you truly, and I hope you knew that.

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