The soldier I dated briefly in February for one glorious month, who deployed mere days ago, said to me that he thought we should just be friends. I never asked if he wanted to break it off, or if he felt obligated to because he knew (the same as I did) that our odds of staying together were slim after he left. The hole in my heart misses him and wonders if there’s a chance in heaven that we’ll be able to be together again when he returns. If he returns. I’m torn between keeping that hope alive and squashing it flat–because what if he decides to forget me? What if he comes home and looks at me as a complete and total stranger? Or worse–what if I hold on to hope and he shows up with a lady soldier on his arm? It’s foolish to hope. We knew each other barely three months before he left–and he’ll be gone for six.
I’m lonely. I have been for a while. It’s a familiar ache, one I’ve felt since high school, as I, the wallflower, watched the high school sweethearts fall in love. I’ll be twenty-seven in August, and people tell me I have plenty of time. They say this as they kiss their husbands and bounce their babies on their knees, and they gloss over my suffering as if it is trivial. They say this as my baby cousins get married and start families of their own. They say this as my younger brother plans his proposal to his girlfriend of three years. They say “you have plenty of time” as I attend wedding after wedding alone.
As I struggle to make peace with the aches of my heart, I’ve realized that I can’t talk about how lonely and lost I am. No one seems to understand, or want to understand. I’ve been told that I’ll look back on my time of singleness and wish I’d had more of it. I’ve been told to wait, that “it’ll happen someday, when you least expect it.”
I went to a baby shower on Sunday for one of my dear friends. At one point, I left out to be alone with my grief. I’m going to be twenty-seven in three months. I thought I would be happily married by now, with a family of my own. And even though I’m trying to celebrate the lives of others, the growing pain of loss and longing is starting to tear rents in my very soul. The only peace I’ve been able to make is accepting the damage and understanding that it will continue.