She said goodbye over the phone, over the internet, in the mail, in a hug. She knew she wasn't coming back. She didn't want to go. She wanted to stay wrapped safe in the love that she knew was there for her. But she knew she had to go. And she knew that after all was said and done, things would never be the same. Her self-assurance would disappear. Her confidence would vanish. Her ready happy smile would become a thing seen only in old pictures. She knew there was no return.
He tried to hang on to her for all of them. He held her hand and kissed her forehead. He hugged her when she sobbed uncontrollably. He said all the right words. He knew he wasn't strong enough to keep her there with him. He knew she would go and there was nothing he could do to stop it. He cried and let a part of him go with her.
She knew she couldn't help. She wanted so desperately to say the right things...to do something to make it better. Her whole life she had been the one to lend support, to make everyone feel better, to offer a smile whenever she could. But this time, she didn't have any smiles in her heart. The muscles of her face wouldn't cooperate anymore. Her heart didn't feel like smiling or helping. Now her heart is only doing its job, pumping her blood and keeping her alive.
He watches her intently every day. He sees that she's not the same and he dies a little bit every time she cries. He tries to entice her over the bridge. Not to the happy side of the canyon, but somewhere in the middle, where they can once again feel hope. He points to their pride and joy and reminds her that there are still things worth caring about, things that deserve smiles. But she holds out her empty arms and reminds him there are also things to cry about.
She finds someone inside herself now that she doesn't recognize. She doesn't know who to be anymore, how to behave. She no longer knows what is supposed to be and what is just randomness. She doesn't know what to trust, what to believe in, where to go, or how to feel.
They look back together...down the road they have travelled. Ten years and nine months of happiness...three months of despair. They celebrate eleven years together and the good times outweigh the bad in number. But the bad times outweigh the good in heartache.
They both see her standing there with him. They are holding hands and smiling. They can't reach them...they can't speak to them to warn them. They just shed a tear for what they know lies only a few steps ahead on the path.
They turn and look ahead together...and they hold on to each others hand, hoping and praying that the road ahead won't be so painful. They know they will suffer some along the way...that pain is part of the journey. As they strain to see what is waiting at the end of that road, they wonder...Will their dreams be fulfilled, or will they have to let them go forever? They have no doubts that they will make it together. They just wonder if that necessarily means happiness will rejoin them somewhere along the journey.