“Closed eyes, heart not beating, but a living love.”
― Avis Corea

It was the way he said my name. The softest and sweetest sound I had ever heard. He said it like a prayer, it was the first thing he would whisper in my ear in the morning. The way he said it was like a soft caress that sent shivers down my spine and gave me goosebumps all over my body. The way he said it made my heartbeat just a little faster and made the butterflies in my tummy flutter a little more excitedly. Every time he said it, he would hold my hand or pull me against his chest. He would sometimes look into my eyes and sing it like a song, or recite it like a poem.

It was the way he never forgot to remind me how beautiful I was. He would stare at me for hours and tell me what a marvel my dark skin was to him. He loved braiding my hair, saying it felt good against his fingers. He would run his thumb over my lip, his forefinger down my arm, and his hand up my back. I loved the way my body fitted perfectly against his, almost like two complementary halves or an incredible whole. When his heart would beat against my cheek there was nowhere else I would rather be than in his arms. Nowhere else I would rather be than with him, blanketed by his warmth.

It was the way he smiled at me. The way his smile would light up my world and lift my mood. Watching him smile was what I imagined touching a rainbow would be like. Soft, warm, and colorful. His smile would envelop me in this bubble of assurance and safety. There was assurance that he was mine to keep and that I was his. I had safety from the negativities of the world, from myself, my thoughts, and my doubts.

It was the way he loved me. The little things he did to show me how much he cared. The random text or call to remind me that his love for me was bigger than a dinosaur. The moments he would pick a flower off of a nearby bush and I would hold it until it wilted. The fire in his eyes every time he asked me to never leave his side. The tears that would threaten to roll from his eyes when he told me he had never felt love like this before, that he wanted to keep it forever.

It was the way he touched me. The way his hands were a firm reminder of the solidarity his presence offered. The way his arms would wrap around me whenever I was sad or anxious. The way the strength in his shoulders held me up when I couldn’t stand on my own. He shared his strength with me every time my faith was shaken, he would kneel with me and we would call the Lord’s name.

That is why I loved him. That is why when his life was ended abruptly my world turned upside down. That is the reason I wear a broken smile during the day and cry myself to sleep at night. People tell me I will find love again, that this will get better. That eventually I would get over this hurt. But no one is telling me what to do with this hurt right now. It’s right now that I can’t sleep, right now that I can’t eat. I know all about time and wounds healing, but what am I supposed to do with this pain right now?

Grief, I’ve learned is just love. It’s all the love that I am unable to share with him, all the love I want to give to him but can’t. All of that love gathers at the corners of my eyes and threatens to well over and spill down my face. That love grows at the back of my throat forming a lump, not letting me speak. That love forms a hollow space in my chest. All of that grief is just love with no place to go.
I held him so high on a pedestal that if I do fall in love again it would be because something in that new man reminded me of him. Something in that man would have reminded me of the love that I’ve lost. I have held him so high that every man after him will be doomed to walk in his shadow.

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