Drifting Missives

Dear Adam,

You’ll never get this letter because I will never hand it to you or mail it to you. Then why am I writing to you? This is my way of loving you for now and learning to let you go. It’s only fair to you. I promise it’s not my lack of resolve for trying to make you fall in love with me again, but rather the understanding that you don’t know me anymore, and if you had to do it again, I don’t know that you’d pick me. The brain is a funny thing, and I’m quoting your doctor here, “such that you may remember everything one day or your reset button was activated,” and all data, up to a certain point, wiped…of me anyway. You thought I was a hospital nurse, and I didn’t correct you.

I am giving you the chance to figure out what the rest of your life looks like, on your own. I feel like that’s the best way I can love you. These letters (as there will be more) are professions of my love to you, and my way of saying goodbye.

Until the next one
All my love,
Janet


Dear Adam,

The smell of my coffee this morning reminded me about how we met. It does every morning, but this morning I allowed myself to remember the whole thing. I was late for work, and I hate Starbucks, but it’s on the way, while my usual Dunkin’ Donuts is out-of-the-way. I did consider being late for the better coffee, but I decided against it. I ordered something I didn’t half understand and was joking with the barista about how she spelled and said my name correctly (something that Facebook memes taught me was a rare event).

That’s when you spilled your iced coffee down my back as a result of texting and walking (I think they’re making a law about that now). I was pissed. Seriously pissed. You had the nerve to burst out laughing. There was no, “are you okay?” or “I’m so sorry,” just a series of infuriating guffaws.

I screamed at you for what seemed like an hour to me, but in reality, was only about seven minutes. You just kept on laughing. I stormed out of the Starbucks with your frigid latte dripping down the back of my scrubs, not realizing I was leaving my phone behind. That night, you called my landline (good thing I still had one) apologizing and offering to replace the outfit and pay for the dry cleaning so I would “always have a spare.”

You tried to impress me by telling me you’re a freelance photographer and fancy yourself an investigative journalist and that’s how you were able to track me down. I called your bullshit by saying you kidnapped my phone. You then ransomed my phone, in true kidnapper fashion: a date for its safe return. I agreed, but only because I thought it would be a disaster with the bonus of a free meal.

It was one of the most romantic nights of my life. I fell in love with you all at once that day.

Until the next one
All my love,
Janet


Dear Adam,

It’s 2:00 am. I’m angry. Why did you always insist on putting yourself in danger? Why did you care more about photographing the tension in Syria than you did about me? You didn’t even ask how I felt about it. You told me you “had to” and that things would be okay. They’re not okay. You were in that explosion, you had that debris almost crush your skull, and you forgot all about me. You forgot all about us. You forgot all of our friends, our time together. I hate you. I fucking hate you.


Dear Adam,

I don’t hate you, just grieving. I know the work that you did was important to you and important to your field. I know that you wanted a better world and did your best to contribute to it. I can’t imagine how hard it has been for you, knowing that parts of you are missing, and helpless in figuring them out. I hope you remember photography. Your pictures were always amazing.

I want to be angry and yell at you or punch you. I want to scream and cry at you until you pull me close and tell me that it will be okay. That won’t happen because I don’t want to watch you hurt the way I’m hurting. I’m doing my best. I’m sorry.

Until the next one
All my love,
Janet


Dear Adam,

Although I packed up most of the things you left lying around my apartment right after it happened, there is always something I’ll forget. Your toothbrush, for example, is still exactly where it was. I keep telling myself to take it away when I have the chance. I have chances; I just don’t do it. I found that wacky tie you put on for that striptease you did for me on my 28th birthday. I found the Game Boy that you refused to throw out promising me a retro video game day. You always wanted one, we just never had the time.

We did have the time; we just never did it.

I found the work shirt you wore the day before you left. We spent the night together watching our favorite bad movies and tossing microwave popcorn at each other. You said that when you got back, we could start looking for a house. I teased you and said I wanted more than a courthouse wedding to make up for the lack of engagement ring. You kissed my ring finger and told me to make it last until you got back.

The shirt still smells like you. I could go to you. I could tell you who I am and try to make you remember us, but if you don’t, I don’t want to spend a lifetime resenting you for it. So, I’ll sit here, in your old shirt, sipping your favorite red wine while trying not to cry on the pages.

Until next time
All my love,
Janet


Dear Adam,

I saw you today. For the first time in a year and a half, I saw you in the same Starbucks where we met. I was late to work today too. My heart was pounding so hard I was sure you could hear it from down the line. The intensity with which I needed to feel you in that moment almost sprung me into action, even if it was just to “accidentally” touch your hand with mine. That would have led to me wanting to kiss you and see you smile, the smile you only smiled when I kissed you. I wanted to smell you, to breathe you in for the first time in too long. I didn’t. I ordered my coffee, paid, got it, and made my way out of the door.

Then I heard it. I heard you call my name.

Everything after that happened in slow motion. Time slowed down. It was the happiest I felt since we met. I turned with tears in my eyes to look at you. You were holding my phone out to me saying I left it on the counter and you heard my name from the barista when she called for me to pick up my order. You looked right through me and at that moment time stopped. For that moment we stood there with me loving, and yearning for you and you were just helping out a stranger.

All that hope slowly turned into anger. Why would it happen that I’m late to work, I decided randomly to allow myself to go to the Starbucks after avoiding it for so long and there you are. The universe dangled you in front of my face and made a mockery of my decision to try to let you go. Then it broke my heart by having you not even recognize me a little. I would have settled for a “you look familiar” or “have we met before,” but no. Nothing. Nothing but your stupid hand holding out my stupid phone.

You noticed I looked upset, so I blamed it on allergies. You said goodbye, and with each step I watched you take away from me, you obliterated my heart. I can’t do this anymore. I have to say goodbye. I’m sorry we couldn’t have our chance. Enough is enough.

I’m sorry we couldn’t be together. I guess we were not meant to be after all. Maybe this love was just meant to prepare us for something, or maybe there was no purpose at all. I don’t pretend to know. What I do know is that I have to move past you to be able to make it on my own. These letters just delayed that or screwed me up, or maybe they helped, but I have yet to see proof of that. I’m hurting Adam. I don’t want to anymore.

Thank you. Thank you for the time we did have together. Thank you for spilling your coffee on me and taking me on a wonderful adventure of love and happiness. I hope I find that again someday. I hope you find it too. I love you, Adam. Goodbye.

Sincerely,
Janet


Adam,

I was cleaning out my apartment, getting ready to move, and I found letters in a box. I read all of them. Five hundred letters written to you in total. They made me laugh, cry, smile, sigh…we had a great love story. Someone should know about it. I’m going to put the best ones in an empty bottle of your favorite wine and throw it into the ocean. Maybe it will entertain someone, or help someone, or maybe it will drift forever. I can’t hold on to them anymore, the same way I couldn’t hold on to you. Wherever you are, I hope you’re happy.

Sincerely,
Janet


Dear Janet,

My name is Cynthia and what you are about to read is impossible, but very true. Your mother may or may not have told you this, but a long time ago, she was engaged to my father. They were deeply in love. I know this because one day he and I, along with my husband and two kids, were at the beach. This was about a month ago. The kids pulled an old, corked wine bottle out of the water with tons of paper shoved in it. My father recognized part of the faded label as his favorite wine, but he stopped drinking after his brain injury. He teased the kids, making them think there were treasure maps or bank bonds inside. When he opened it and started reading one of the browned pages, he fell to the sand and started sobbing.

I rushed the kids to their father because I didn’t want them to see him like that. When I came back, I sat beside him and asked him what was wrong, and he said nothing. He just kept sobbing and reading, then laughing and reading. I started reading with him and then I understood. Your mom wrote to him after he was injured. Five hundred letters to be exact, though I think there were only one hundred in the bottle (she mentioned this in a letter). When they were together, he was not on good terms with his parents, and neither was she, so hardly anyone in the family knew. With each letter he read, pieces of his memory came back to him as his eyes filled with more and more light. I could see he was remembering all of it and remembering her.

We spent the rest of the day reading the letters on the beach. I was keeping count. He was on the last one, tears streaming down his face. He finally looked up at me. He said nothing, but somehow, I understood his silence. Then he closed his eyes and laid back on the sand. He breathed her name, “Janet.” I laid back with him and after a few moments sat up and told him we should try to find her. He wasn’t moving. He wasn’t breathing. I got my husband to call 911, and when they arrived, they pronounced him dead.

I was angry. I wanted to burn the letters, thinking that the shock is what killed him. It wasn’t until today when I saw an old newspaper at the bottom of my son’s guinea pig crate that I understood what happened. Printed the day after my father’s, was your mother’s obituary. They died on the same day, and if I had to guess, probably around the same time. I was smiling and crying all at once.

Your mom’s selflessness is the only reason I’m here today. I think she would have loved to know that Dad was happy, and maybe, the piece of him that he shared with her was there all along, dormant and waiting to be activated. Enclosed in this package are your mom’s letters. Read them. I know my Dad loved my mom, and I’m sure your mom loved your dad. The way they loved each other though…was something really special. I like to think they got their happy ending. They flew away together.

To our parents, and, to true love,
Cynthia

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