Leap Day: an extra day in the year to love you.
And this is how I did it –
When you came to bed I didn’t yell at you. I didn’t kick and scream. I accepted your presence with peace, knowing that it was active choice, the best choice under the circumstances.
In the middle of the night, I reached out to hold you close, I spooned you – as I’m wont to do. I held you tenderly, knowing that it would be my last time. And to myself I told you goodbye, and fell back asleep.
In the morning, I woke you up, really without meaning to – I spoke to you gently. I prepared you for a departure without making a fuss.
You were in pain, and I tended to you by rubbing your back with oils. I did it with care, working to find a balance between firm, but not so heavy-handed that I caused you more discomfort. It was good for you, and I was happy. I enjoyed the way my palm and the heel of my hand followed the groove of your spine from the top of your neck to the small of your back. Up and down, gliding smoothly on your skin. My eyes took in every freckle, and I realized how much I would miss them, miss you. And again to myself, I told you goodbye.
I did what I could to make your departure free of drama or concern – as if everything was fine, normal.
Hot tea with extra sugar and honey.
Reaching out to touch you as made your way through the house.
Keeping my voice light and deferential, engaging in conversation.
I engaged with you so sincerely and so thoroughly, knowing that it would be my last time under the roof of my house, and I wanted to look back knowing that I had – in those moments – loved you the best I could.
Finally, it was time for you to leave, and I escorted you out the front door and to the patio, were we said goodbye for the day, and to myself I told goodbye for good.
Free from judgement, I held onto you and kissed you. I looked at you with genuine fondness as I focused on all the great memories we had made together. And to myself I told them, and you, goodbye for good.
And then you were gone, and as I walked back inside, I felt the reason for goodbye crashing down around me like shards of glass cutting my flesh and tearing my heart.
I took a deep breath and moved forward to remove you from my life.
On this extra day of the year, the day that I said goodbye to you, I loved you not because you deserved it, but because I owed it to myself to disconnect my path from yours in a peaceful way, a way that honored the positive things our relationship brought to life.