Someday I want to be the woman whose letting go hurts. The one whose name on a tongue conjures up summer evenings and a half smile, brown hair brushing shoulders and brilliant teeth. That soft peal of laughter and a softness few see. The one you say to yourself you screwed up, the shape of her in memories, not this slide into the forgettable that I will be for you, and the last one, and the one before. At most I’ll be a scar on a knee you won’t recall the origins of, some still summer day, the sky blue, the clouds unremarkable.
You aren’t like the cancer, there’s no clean margins to cut towards, only pieces to throw away again and again. And anyway, it’s been ages since your body was near me in the dark, me counting your breaths and the stories told, saving them all up, years of me wanting you to want me enough. But I wasn’t wrong when I called it not love, and you didn’t lie to me and I was grateful for it, that whatever there was between us there at least wasn’t lies. Still, there’s a hurt of sorts in endings, even the clear ones, even if not the bright burning line of my husband but something quieter.
When they cut the cancer out of me, I live. All this time later though, I still feel it, the shape of me that was, the ache in my breast upon waking, dreams shuttling away uneasily, lost orphans of things I can’t reclaim. I live, and today the clouds don’t move overhead on the patio, the sky, clean and bright, everything still. I live, but these days I sleep alone, and those dreams that chase me around wear faces I can’t forget.
People that I might have loved.