I didn’t miss him. I was busy, he was busy. Life rolled on. I didn’t miss him in my heart or my throat or my gut or in my head the way I missed him before. Everything was normal. Time passed as expected. Not missing him made me wonder; do I even need him anymore? Did I ever? When I thought of him, which was often, but out of habit, I pondered this lack of missing, this lack of sadness. Maybe he will quietly slip away and I will not notice. Things change. People grow apart. Maybe that is what this is.
I thought of all the people I once loved who I do not miss with any aching. There are even some I can’t think of or remember that I once missed in a way that stole my breath and weighed heavy on my chest. And I can not even remember their names or faces but I know that I loved them, in moments or in months we belonged to each other.
The days rolled on. The typical things happened. I made meals and I ate them. I made messes and cleaned up. Friends called and I went out with them. They all asked how I was and I was fine, of course. I didn’t miss him.
Then, on a Tuesday, he came to my house. He came upstairs and looked at me without any urgency of missing. His eyes were fixed on me, but he said nothing, just blinked and breathed. Maybe he didn’t miss me either. I was tracing his face in my mind, touching every millimeter of him with my eyes. He was tanner. He’d had a haircut by someone new. There was a spot on his lip that had split from a sunburn. I heard him breathe and remembered that I should breathe too.
He didn’t look like he missed me. Maybe he didn’t need me. Maybe he never did.
As these thoughts took root in my mind, I started to feel something rising within me. It was twisting my stomach and welling up. My neck and shoulders started to tingle. My body had frozen stiff and yet every part of me was trembling with agitation.
My eyes started to burn and I choked when I tried to breathe. I choked and coughed and started to cry. My body was in pain. I felt the ache of moving and the need to move at the same time. My bones hurt.
I coughed out a breath like a drowning swimmer with water-filled lungs. I was disoriented. Who am I? Who is he? What has happened to me? I coughed once more and found air. I fell into him and he caught me. He looked at me with trembling lips and a red ring around his steady eyes. “Why are you so upset?” he asked with a shaky voice.
“I missed you. I missed everything about you. I was barely alive with you gone.”