You remember him because he is always there, distant but never completely gone. You keep him in the creases of your sheets, between the pages of your books. You sometimes like to open the pages and find him again, like a vivid memory that’s aged like a fine wine, you see him. You close your eyes and breathe him in. You move your head back, tilt it to the side and recall how it felt when his head rested there, when his lips kissed that spot.
You read old notes, proof that same love lived within you both at one time. You did not imagine that night he chased you around in the rain. You smile at the memory of the way he would blink at you across the room, in order to make you feel better for not being able to wink. Saved in the folds of your mind is the image of your favorite freckle, the one that sits in the corner of his eye. You jump, and remember the feeling of his arms locking tightly around you ensuring you’d never fall.
You see the visions of a life with him, of travels and triumphs. You can taste the happiness, just as you can taste the cigarettes he smoked. You laugh at the inside jokes, the funny faces, the games, the dance moves, and the effortlessness of it all. You cry when you relive his graduation, how proud you were, and still are, of all he has done and will do.
You are thankful for how strong he’s made you, how vulnerable he convinced you to become. You look in the mirror and notice just how lovely he’s made you, the confident woman you’ve grown to be. You can stand on your own two feet; you are unafraid to publish words that before riddled the insides of notebooks and journals. You have courage because he’s made you brave, his voice echoes in your ears the encouragement you always needed.
He’s freed you. He is the boy you’ve built up for so long. He is the one who taught you to love, the boy who cooked dinners for you, carried you home when you were tired, and put a blanket over you as you slept. He is the one who you’d cross rivers for, the one who had you convinced you could settle down — even if in the far future. He is the boy you loved, in the most beautiful form of the word.
He is the boy you walked away from, because between “forever” and “for always” you sprouted wings that yearned to fly. He is the one you’ll never forgive yourself for hurting, the one you save in your heart. He crosses your mind each day, and it simultaneously brings you joy and a little pain.
He is the boy your own heart will never get over.