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8:08 p.m. - 2012-11-12
I can't imagine what it is like to have your only parent go out for dinner one night and never come home.

I can't imagine, but I'm learning that seven or 10 or 12 years later it feels something like this: your roommate goes out at night, and you can't sleep until you hear her come back in.

Your girlfriend leaves, and you think she's not going to come back.

You know it's irrational, you don't call her over and over like some sort of crazy stalker because you know it's something in you that's broken, that you have to hide. Normal people don't do that. Normal people don't believe that everyone who walks out of their sight might never come back.

This is how A describes it to me and it breaks my heart, and it makes me kick myself for not realizing without her spelling it out to me. I didn't realize because she's not a stalker and she doesn't behave in a way that's the least bit abnormal with phone and e-mail, as far as I can tell. But I can tell when I don't call her back for a while, or I get to her house later than I expect, that she seems subdued -- not angry, but subdued. Like she doesn't feel well. I ask her if she is ok, and she says she's fine.

She told me last night that she always thinks people aren't coming back -- her old roommates, her friends, me.

She is very tough. She doesn't cry in front of people. She just holds on to me, very tightly. And I hold onto her. You don't have to cry in front of me for me to know you're crying inside.

I said I would do better about having my phone with me and answering it. And that I am going to keep coming back.

This morning we had breakfast and watched "The L Word" (to which I have become totally addicted) and around 11 I said I had to go home and study (as I usually do on Sunday afternoons). "Will you lie down with me first?" she said. So I did. And put my arms around her. She was holding on to me so tight it hurt. "Are you OK?" She shook her head "no," so I tried to match her.

She started sobbing into my neck, and the harder I held her, the harder she cried.

So I told her, "I'm not going anywhere. I'm not going home to study. I'm not letting go of you until you want me to and I'm not leaving until you're ready for me to go, OK?" She nodded yes, so I stayed. And I didn't let go.

I realized I have never really given her a choice about when I leave; I say I have to go and I go. This might seem perfectly healthy and normal to me and to anyone who hasn't experienced the sudden, horrific death of a loved one, but I think to A. it probably feels like I'm walking out her door and may never come back and she's powerless to do anything but watch.

So we held onto her for hours, maybe till 3 pm, and the world didn't end I think she finally realized that I still love her even if she isn't always tough, and even if she is a little bit broken, and that I am going to come back. And come back. And come back.

And eventually we ate warmed-up curry together (A makes awesome curry) and she kicked me out. "Are you sure?" "Yes, I'm sure." "Are you sure you're really truly OK?" "Yes. I wasn't before, but I am now. Promise. Go!"

So I left. I love her. I'm going back. Again and again. Someday I'm going to go back, and I'm not going to leave to go to "my house" any more.



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