Today I stood at that same doorway that we walked through in August… the one you entered to officially start your new life. I turned that same door handle that your key got stuck in, breaking in half… forcing us to be late to dinner because we had to grab a new one. Holding my breath I walked in, like it was a place that I was used to, like I’d been there hundreds of times instead of just a handful. I flicked the light on in your bedroom- what used to be your bedroom. I stood in the empty space, bulldozed over by that “new apartment smell”, the same one I’d grown accustomed to on my couple of visits to see you. The room was smaller than I remembered, cold and empty, but I could picture the bed. The humidifier on the floor by the door. The dresser we worked for hours building, the last night I ever spent with you there. I walked into the bathroom and caught my reflection in the mirror. The same mirror I had belted “The Little Mermaid” into while blow-drying my hair one of our first nights there. A mirror I pictured you looking into daily as you got ready for work. I still remember your “mirror face” that you never saw me catching you make when you fixed yourself up. I opened the tiny drawers where I’d carefully unpacked your toiletries… empty now but also emitting their own specific smell that seemed so familiar, in spite of how long it had been since I’d been there. I made my way slowly down the hall, dreading the short walk. Knowing what was coming. First, that big empty space, the space that was a beautiful and jam-packed living room the last time I was there, but the trip before had been the same empty, cold, concrete space I was in now. The floor where I’d laid with you the first night, watching movies on your computer, one of the only possessions we had when we moved you there in August. The floor where I’d collapsed when I’d gotten the call that my cat had died. Where you held me as I screamed and sobbed. That same, cold, empty room.
And then there it was… the spot. The place of my nightmares. Thank God I hadn’t seen it myself, but I knew where it was. Slowly, tears flowing freely I made my way to that spot and sat down on the floor. I sat in that spot and immediately and ironically felt as if my heart had stopped. … There I lay in the place where I know you took your last breath. I looked up at the ceiling to see whatever it was that you may or may not have seen before closing your eyes one final time. Concrete ceiling, all that damned concrete. There I lay in the same spot as you, and I wept. I wept for all I lost the day I lost you. A love. A support system. A best friend. A listening ear, a shoulder to cry on. My voice of reason. The man that made me laugh, made me smile, made me feel like everything was going to be okay. It’s not okay, none of this is okay. I wept for all that could have been but now will never be. I wept for the brand new start that you were making, for all of the excitement you had for this new life. I wept for whatever potential our relationship might have had if circumstances had been different. I wept for the students who will never get to know you. The friends who never got to say goodbye. For your family, who are the most lovely people I’ve met in a long time, who lost their precious baby. I wept for you, because you deserved better than this for an ending. Because you were alone, and that breaks my heart. I wept for myself, because I always knew my life would never be the same after meeting you, but I didn’t expect that this would be the reason why. I wept because I am sorry. Because so much went unsaid. Because I hardly kissed you goodbye the last time I saw you. Because I never ever expected to come back to this apartment for this purpose. I wept because we will never be there together again. Because we will never be anywhere together again. I wept because this apartment was only about an hour from where I’m currently performing, and you should’ve been at opening. You would’ve been at opening. I wept because you’ll miss the rest of the openings from here on out. I wept because it’s just not the same without you. I wept because I miss you, so terribly. I wept for the massive hole left on this planet without you in it, and for the even bigger hole that lies permanently in my heart. I laid there, and I wept, and I wished in vain that I could bring you back. That this was all just a terrible, horrible dream. But it’s not. I live in a nightmare wherein one of the most important people in my life is gone forever… as evidenced by the spotless, empty, cold concrete apartment that just months earlier had been occupied by the vibrancy of his new life. I lay quietly crying in that spot for a few minutes, trying not to picture too closely, willing myself to come to some sort of acceptance or understanding that this is real…an impossible task. And then finally… I pulled myself up from that spot. Forced myself to put one foot in front of the other, the way you would tell me to. I stood facing that corner, talking out loud to nothing, saying the 800,000th “I love you”, and slowly turned off the lights and walked to the door. I closed my eyes tightly, willing myself to lock in every single memory we had in this space, took in one final deep breath of that specific apartment smell, and said goodbye to the place where you went away from me.