The love that never was has its own compartment in the closet inside my brain. This mystery drawer holds everything we never were, everything I hoped we could be.
Inside, you can find our first vacation to The Keys to visit your grandmother. We walked along the beach, my hand in yours, as stars twinkled to life, a patchwork of constellations on the southern sky. For the first time, you whispered “forever” in my ear, and we watched the sun rise while palm trees stood sentry on our love.
This tiny box hides all my pictures of who we should have been if I had only stayed and you had just believed.
You can find our wedding day, in the mountains instead of the beach like I wanted. You always did have that craving for pine trees and clean rivers, so we convinced your parents to trek back to Oregon to watch us wed under the evergreens of the Rogue, jet boats and laughter filling the day. You wrote your own vows and I cried at how much you loved me.
But this didn’t happen. They are only imaginings held together with unrequited desires and bits of tattered memories.
I can see our children, a boy and a girl, and your hands guiding them through their first ocean swimming lessons on the beach near our house. His blonde curls and her serious face. Neither looks completely you or completely me, but together, they are us.
I open the closet, the drawer of a love that never was, carefully because the flood of imaginary memories overwhelms my present and builds empires of longing in my chest.