It was the start of the year, rainfall after rainfall, a catastrophic start to 2020. Each day, from when my father was hospitalised with pneumonia, heart failure and pancreatitis to the weeks after he was discharged, slid through me like a sharp, sleek silver sword, slicing me in half so I couldn’t find myself. I was grasping onto sharp nails, bleeding and unsure, two halves of me trying to reconnect, holding onto the fear and doubt of the future, and the pain of years past and finally feeling everything from those weeks I’d had to spend, day in and day out, in those hospital rooms, in the ICU, trying to keep myself afloat instead of sinking, drowning, giving into a siren’s call of sleep. Endless sleep. Just to escape the pain.
It was weird, feeling like this again because I hadn’t in so long, and really, it was more fear than pain, more pain than fear, toss a coin and, here’s the secret, it lands on its side and doesn’t stop turning, turning, turning so fast it blurs and it’s hard to see. Those weeks were like that, blurring into one another so quickly, everything was just slipping away because my hands were slick with blood and sweat and the looming knowledge of how, probably four or five years from now, I won’t have my dad anymore. You see, right now I still have that fear and it tears me apart, like two invisible hands playing tug-of-war with my body, my life, but you make it easier. The thing is, I want to walk through it all with you. When I go through the worst moment of my life, I want to be able to look up and see you, have your arms to fall into when I quake and break, letting everything, the past twenty-something years of having my dad with me and suddenly not, out. The thing is, I want him to be able to see the children we have, and I am praying and hoping and wishing he will.
You are everything good to me: my first good morning and my last goodnight, the simplest, purest, best part of me, my favourite part of, and about, me.
Weeks later, after the rain slowed and the sun slowly began to creep back into the grey sky, shyly hidden behind clouds of fog and mist, clouds pregnant with rain, my mind clouded with fear, and the anxiety about having so many things to catch up on, I reached for something new and you became everything. You brought with you peace, growth, the feeling of home and acceptance. Trepidation curled its way into my stomach, salt water gurgling in my throat, trying to drink more and never being able to satiate my thirst, but I still kept on waiting, hoping this, us, would be more. Because here we are: two different worlds. Let me put it this way: agnostic and Muslim-ish, white and Brown.
I’m switching tenses, I know, but it’s the only way I can explain. I kept, in those early days, holding onto those nails digging into my hands, bleeding red and climbing, trying to get to the other half of me, because if I were going to do this, if we were going to do this, I’d need to pull myself back together and journey back to the parts of me that had healed and fallen in love with myself. The fear and pain from nearly losing my dad made me fall down a rabbit hole of blackness, into some dark hole or cave, looking up at the light, searching for more, more, more. I needed to find the half of me I lost, so I kept holding on, even when it hurt, and the fear of what we were nearly choked me because I was scared. I’d been there before and I’d been burned and I didn’t want to go through it again.
I needed to believe though, that good still existed, so I kept climbing, kept holding on, and when I was able to piece myself back together, finding the worth of being enough and more in love with myself again, and shedding the pain threatening to drown me again, I knew you were real, we were real. This is the realest thing I’ve ever had. I could breathe and it would be okay, because I wouldn’t feel anything crashing down on my shoulders, a boulder of rocks on my chest, constricting my airways and taking away the twinkling lights of the twilight sky and your green-blue eyes I so love looking at. It came with unease, but then swirled around me quickly and carefully, a fairy dust of calm and peace, of giving into the realisation that when the pain does come again and when the rain does fall again, I can have you to turn to, holding up the baggage with me.
I can breathe you in, knowing you’re there, feel completely whole and loved because I’m not alone in this or anything anymore, and whilst the rain has been and has left, and will return, the glittering sun has bestowed its gold on us and I am something more than two halves of a woman, more than the fear and pain and destruction from months or years ago. You give me the comfort to be me, unreserved, unrestricted, uncensored, living in the moment and taking it in completely, savouring everything, every little minute, feeling it all. You’re there when I need you, and you’re waiting when I need space, and you’re there when I stumble and you’re there when I rise back again. Your support gives me the wings, and the courage and belief, I need to fly, and when I do soar into the sky, amidst the fluffy clouds and the birds, it’s you I thank, and it will always be you I come back to.
Our first kiss was in the rain. It was romantic (and cold.) And I will always remember that moment beforehand, the look between us, me knowing I’m falling for you and being terrified of what it would lead to. I’m not religious at all, we know this, but that kiss was heavenly, and with your touch that winter night, I swear I found god and love everlasting, an ablution of adoration. You saw the glitter and the shine, and saw beneath the surface, saw the person I am beneath the glossy lips and the contoured cheekbones, the blush I dust on my cheeks to feel a little more alive and a little less unpretty. You make me feel pretty and you make me feel seen. You saw past the walls, the barriers, the façade, helped to build a better, stronger me, to withstand thunder and lightning, like that time we ran, hand in hand, when the world was watery and sludgy, a distorted version of reality, sheets of rain covering our eyes. We ran to your front door, shivering and soaked, and I felt like I was dying that whole time, but you kept me upright, kept me from falling.
Singing loudly, and off-key, around you and with you is one of my favourite things to do because I love the way you look at me, that smile you get on your face, and the way you laugh because I can’t dance, the dreams and plans we have together are things I want us to do forever. This world is a better, beautiful place with you in it, and though the people are cruel and bitter and unjust, you make some of it fade, for a moment, into the background and you make me feel loved and bright and more. The harshness of the people in this world won’t disappear, but you make it bearable and easier to cope with. Forever is a long time, but a lifetime isn’t enough with you, to listen to you, to hold you, to be with you, to love you.
We burst into a kaleidoscope of colours, sparkling and tinged with rose petals and poetic lullabies, everything lovely and wonder-some, more than just a serpent’s seductive-secret-whisper in Biblical and Quranic stories. You set me alight with fire, wanting you more, pulling me out of the dark hole or cave or from drowning, and into the light, more out of my comfort zone because it’s the only way I’ll grow, flourish, become.
Every first we experienced together is the beginning of firsts yet to come.
Hope can be a scary thing, but with you I don’t feel scared, or anxious, or uneasy anymore. I look at you and smile, knowing I want to make you, and hear you laugh for the rest of eternity. When I listen to your heart beat, letting it soothe me to sleep, be my lullaby, I breathe you in and dream of a future together. The inside jokes, the belly-deep laughter where I feel my non-existent abs are the moments that I know I’ll remember forever. We’re travelling through life together now, boundless with endless opportunities to reach out to, becoming more of ourselves with every waking and passing moment.
With being in love and being loved, comes the sad happy too, because everything becomes a memory and I want to live in it and bury myself in it, to taste it again, cherish it harder. Hold onto you longer, kiss you longer, breathe you in.
You allow me to be me, help me see I shouldn’t worry about the scales and the mirrors and the past and the fears and the choosing myself, and how to be a better me beyond what I am, past being afraid and putting myself out there, despite whatever rejection there is or will be. I was freefalling when you crash landed into my life, a shooting star, a prayer answered in human form; you are everything, giving me everything I never thought I’d deserved. The fears and pain and anxiety used to be things I’d succumb to, letting it pull me under, but you have taught me to claw my way out, use my dreams of a better future and everything that I have overcome as a tool to yield against the past trying to tear me back down. I choose you in everything, despite everything, and I know you choose me, and thank you for choosing me.
We love and our love is patient, compassionate, understanding, forgiving and comes naturally like the very air we breathe. I love you even in the moments I don’t entirely love myself, and I love you without barriers, without holding back, hoping you know that in my life and in my love, you are safe and secure and incomparable. You make me so proud to be yours, to be loved by you, to be held by you because you’re everything to me—my lover, my partner, my best friend. Relationships don’t come easy and require compromise and careful consideration, I’m glad we’re able to communicate and explain our feelings to each other, understanding where we’re coming from, not just closing off and pulling back. I don’t have to ask you to love me because I know you do and in those moments I need reassurance, you give that to me, our love blossoms because we water it and give and receive. It’s not going to be 50/50 all the time, we know that, we’ve seen that. I love you when dusk stretches across our home and I can’t sleep, but you’re there next to me and I can feel how much I love you, how much more I have to give you because it’ll never be enough. When morning comes and you pull me in closer and I throw a leg over you to try bury myself deeper into you, I know you love me and I love you. Every second of every day. You’re my home. Sometimes I can’t contain it all inside of me so it breaks like a dam and I cry, because loving you and you loving me is something so surreal, so pure and wholesome that I need to cry, and you’re right there to hold me, to laugh a little and understand. Having ice cream with you, half naked and me talking about how much I dislike Robin, is love and friendship, making the hard days better and the better days brighter. I can bare my soul to you and know, and believe, you understand me and we’re in this together, not taking what we have or each other for granted. I miss you when I’m not with you, because with you I feel like I am home and I am at peace. It’s so hard to leave, so every kiss and every hug is burned into my memory and my body. I still feel shy and flustered when I catch you looking at me, when you smile at me because sometimes I still can’t believe that you’re mine. And I can’t wait to keep on loving you forever.
Love is a choice, just as much as it is an emotion and a physical sensation. I can feel it in my bones and in my chest, beneath my ribcage, with the drumming of my heart, and in my stomach. There are times with you that feel as if they had happened before, even when we know it hadn’t, and so I feel like you’re my soulmate, we were together in a life before this, and we have found each other again. We will always find each other. You’re the manifestation of love, love, love and loving. I love you always.
All my love and prayers,
Disclaimer: this letter was inspired by Vanessa Montalbano