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First published November 15, 2022
“I will love you until I die. We said till death do us apart.”
“Death is tearing us apart.” Her laugh is bitter and short. “We assumed it would have to be our deaths that ended this. Turns out it was theirs.”
“We said vows.”
“Those are words, not walls. They don’t defend. They don’t enforce. They don’t protect us from life. From pain. From how things change. And I don’t want to stay in this just because we said we would. I need to stop hurting, and being with you? It hurts now.”
“You have to decide if being afraid of losing Yasmen again is worth never having her again.”
There is only one letter of difference between love and lose, and somewhere along the way, for me they became synonymous. I understand now that something broke in me after my parents died that somehow healed wrong, and I started measuring how much I loved people in terms of how much it would hurt to lose them.
Our life, our love, didn’t follow the path we thought it would, but that makes it no less true.
“What’s so funny?” I venture after a few seconds of him laughing and shaking his head in seeming disbelief. The humor in his eyes, if it was ever genuine, dissipates, leaving his gaze cool, flat. “The irony of you saying you don’t want to see someone hurt me.” “I-I don’t.” “No one in my whole life has ever hurt me like you did.”
“Why wouldn’t we be?” She sucks her teeth. “You deserve some happiness after what she put you through.”
She? “Um … Do you mean your mother?”
“Of course. Who could blame you for moving on? Mom went crazy and ruined your life and—”
“You were so strong when they died. You held everything together,” she says, her young features, so like her mother’s, hardening. “And Mom just fell apart. Blew everything up.”
“She doesn’t deserve you! It’s all her fault! Everything is her fault.”