Few things are harder than that last goodbye. The one you give with an awkward smile, faked reassurance, and faulty promises about the future. You know it and they know it the minute your eyes meet: this is the last time.
With enough forced denial, you start to edge towards the door, but you look back again just to get an extra glimpse. And as you walk down the hallway, you do your best to fight the urge to stay, even though something inside of you is turning, and it's telling you it all won't be okay.
But you try your best to go back to your routine. You wash the dishes, vacuum your car, listen to all your favorite songs, but then you get that dreaded phone call: the one that breaks down all your emotional armor, as you sit there sobbing, pleading for another day or two.
And as you cry yourself to sleep the first few nights, you sit in the dark and see more clearly than you ever have before. Because life is full of distractions like bills, traffic, and petty workplace drama. We wakeup, brush our teeth, drink coffee, lose our shit in morning traffic, and then it all seems to rewind and repeat.
You struggle clinging onto anything that isn't real. People try their best to comfort you, but in the end, only silence and walks in nature really will. Because with death comes stark realizations you can't ignore. You start to view every relationship and life decision differently. You find it easier to create distance from anything that does't feel quite right.
You pay closer attention to your own breathing, and after so much crying, you start to focus on what makes your heart sing. Because when you start to do whatever it is that sparks that happiness again, you feel all the love you had for your loved one flow right through you.
As you pay close attention to every heartbeat, every breeze, you begin to understand the hardest lesson: that nothing is permanent, even if we kick, bite, and scream, one day, everyone will lose someone he or she loves.
But instead of wallowing in pain forever, your heart grows bolder, your list of friends sometimes becomes smaller, and your life becomes richer. But even at this stage, the sadness never truly goes away. You still catch yourself wanting to call them, eyeing their old chair, until you find yourself wishing that they would appear anywhere, even if only in your dreams.