She was still alive in this photo. Obviously she was still alive, this isn’t taxidermy.
I mean that she was still alive and still talking to me; we were still together. Technically only just together, I suppose… we always counted our anniversary from that first drunken night that we kissed, but that happened a few times before we were really a couple.
Actually, the night I took this photo was probably the first night that we started off together, rather than ending up together, if that makes sense. Most of the time, being together was easy and we slipped into being the best of ourselves, whether that was a Friday night having one more drink watching a band, a Sunday afternoon under the covers watching just one more DVD, or a Thursday morning wrapped in each other one more time before leaving for work.
I miss her still, some days, but it’s not a constant thing. It was years ago after all, and there’s been so much water under so many bridges since then. Now that I think about it, I don’t see people that remind me of her, not in the way that happens with other people from my past. I don’t see anyone stride the way she did in those flat shoes that made her walk like a seven year old not-running for the swings. I’ve not seen anyone drop their head on one side and give that kooky grin that made you feel stupid and sexy at the same time. I haven’t felt anyone fit against my chest in the same tousle-headed way and make me feel like a simple, sturdy man. Nobody’s ever soaked my shirtfront with their tears and looked up at me with that same unburdened love.
Still, nobody’s made me physically sick with nerves at the thought of seeing them, weeks after our last conversation. No one’s looked at me with quite so much disappointment as she did at the end. I’ve never felt so small again.
When she died, our lives had been separate for so long, and even the connections that had brought us together were stretched farther apart than they had been. Our minds were consumed with completely different pains and priorities. I was sad still, though, when she died. And in the year and a few days since then, I wonder if I would have recognised the person she’d become. Whether the surface changes were purely practical compromises and whether she was the same girl still.
This piece inspired by an Elephant Words image originally posted at http://elephantwords.co.uk/2015/03/01/march-01st-image-2015/.