I remember the day you ran into class, out of breath and obviously hung over.
You had a book, but no pen, no paper, and two mismatched socks in your “swimmer sandals”.
You were wearing the signature Yellow shirt with the school logo that brought out the blue in your eyes.
It was 8am and this was obviously not your first choice for a Friday morning.
You borrowed a pen, which you promised to return, and made a joke about the paper I would never get back. We ended up bantering during a partner portion where you figured out just how not great at calculus I was.
We joked later that morning as we waited for the elevator before giving up and walking down the 8 stories of stairs talking to one another. We departed ways as I headed to the “cement block”, but then I heard your “swimmer sandals” slapping the pavement as you chased me down to return my pen. You also programmed yourself into my phone that morning, and things went uphill from there.
We had a fun semester filled with sunshine, stolen kisses and acceptance of the fact that I needed desperate help in math. My favorite moments on the glade spent running my fingers through your hair as you attempted to understand my obsession with Twelfth Night.
I remember counting the trees lined up behind you the night you confessed your love. I remember the way you accepted that I wasn’t ready to love you back. There were 6 trees, and it was just over 6 months later that I fell in love with someone else.
You received a broken girl that day you ran after me to return a pen. Sometimes I wished that you had just taken it with you and never looked back.
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t the “one that got away”.
You walked into my life after I was betrayed, heartbroken, and living in a minefield of self-doubt. You were fun, but you were supposed to be the cute boy that was UN-achievable. I would have never thought myself good enough for you, but you apparently had different ideas.
I remember the weekend your family came to visit and it felt like they embraced me into the fold. I remember wishing that night that I could love you the way you loved me. It broke my heart every night from that day forward that I couldn’t find a love for you the way you seemed to love me.
As things got more serious for you, my inner demons of self-doubt and guilt over my lack of feelings ate away at me until eventually we parted ways. As I look back at all the ways you fought for me, reassured me, and loved me, I can’t help but appreciate the patience you took, as this girl, stood before you, not ready to accept your love. You fought and you tried, but my heart was just not ready to love myself and let love from someone else in.
Even when we parted ways, your compassion and love was felt as I broke your heart, in the same place where we started our journey. Your sweetness, your acceptance, the way you offered to hold me as I sobbed out the words that I didn’t want to say.
You never stopped caring, and it felt like you never stopped loving me. You were still there as a friend, as a confident, and care taker. You were a support even when less than a year later I was engaged to someone else, loving someone else, the way you had wished I loved you.
We remained friends all these years later, and you have watched from afar as I made one mistake after another. You allowed me to have one good breakup in my pocket, and a good friend for eternity.
I remember running into you in the city that day, it was random, but a time where it felt fated. You told me that day you were sick, and I remember crying. I remember my heart sinking when I left you, guilty that you were going through this. Wondering if this would have happened if I had loved you.
You’ve fought hard these last two years, and I only wish that I had come to visit you more. I only wish I could have been there to say goodbye to you, and tell you, that I do in fact love you, even if it isn’t the way you loved me.
I always wonder why God takes away good people. I am always angry when they are taken young. Standing at your funeral, looking around, it felt unfair that a life that touched so many, could end, a loving spirit stripped from this earth.
As I reflect today, I do it, hoping that you are reading this over my shoulder I as write it. I hope you know, just how much of a presence you have been in my life. And I hope you know, that I truly feel like you were destined to be part of my life, my journey.
I may not have been ready to love you back then, the way you loved me. And we will never know if that would have changed over time and surviving life’s trials. But I know that you came into my life during that time, to be part of my healing and learning.
Those months were not wasted, your love did not go without notice. For you taught me the lessons I really needed to learn, even if they didn’t benefit you.
You taught me to love myself, and take time for myself, and be passionate about living the best life independently for myself. Our breakup might have broken your heart, but it helped me start to heal mine.
You taught me that I was worth chasing after, that I was worth fighting for. The way you cared for me, giving me space to sort my feelings, but never letting me drift too far to loose touch with you. The way you fought for me, for us, showed me that someone wanted me, even if I wasn’t ready to accept it. The way you held me that last day, promising that you wouldn’t let go until I was ready, gave me the courage to let go, knowing that I was worth someone’s time, even if I didn’t quite grasp it back then.
Most importantly, you taught me that I was worth loving. My broken spirit, my self doubt, my feelings of worthlessness were slowly peeled away during your tenure. You did that, you taught me that. You loved me even when I wasn’t ready to love you back, you loved me even when I didn’t love myself, and you fought to tell me every day for months and months that you loved me and were willing to wait for me, which set a seed that grew over time until I was ready to be loved and love someone in return.
You helped piece together a broken girl who’s doubt came from a disheartening relationship the year before, who ended up being ready to love again to a different boy. While our journey was unfortunate in its timing, I felt like it probably happened for all the right reasons, at all the right times. Maybe we were meant to be together then because you were meant to change another life, make another impact, heal a broken soul. Maybe your purpose was to always fill the lives of others with love, kindness and compassion.
As I say goodbye to you on earth, I hope we see each other again in another life, just so I can hug you and tell you, just how much I love you for loving me.
R.I.P. Matty, you will always be my knight in Rainbow flip flops.