how do I say goodbye to a lover I never met?

On March 8th, I lost a friend. An on-again, off-again love of 10 years that I’m now forced to say goodbye to without ever really having met.

How do I know he wasn’t a figment of my imagination? He’s been little more than a ghost in my life despite a shared passion and love for one another. 

I don’t have the luxury of time and space to contain a memory of him. No facial expressions or hand movements to accompany the vocals and imparted emotion. 

The only evidence of him is an inactive email address and an unanswered cell phone number. Soon it will be disconnected and that one shred of proof will disappear.

The last time we spoke we were in the off-again phase of our relationship, striving to maintain a friendship while I worked through a new romance. I think I hurt him when I reminded him I wasn’t currently available for his love. Just like he’d done to me 7 months earlier.

We could never come together. There was always a hesitation, interference, or obstacle in our path to each other. We recklessly thought there would be more time and neither pushed to make us happen absolutely.

And now I’m required to say goodbye, to turn this page, close this book, wrestle my regret and, eventually, erase his number from my cell.

How do you mourn someone who’s meant so much but been so little?

How do you grieve when conversations run into each other leaving a few general themes to 10 years of knowing and no context within which to recall each individual nuance? 

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