You wake up in the morning and ignore the fact that the taste of his name still lingers on your tongue. You brush your teeth to remove the bitterness that lingers even after you try to shove him from your thoughts. You avoid your eyes in the mirror because you do not want to be reminded of the fact that sometimes it felt as if he could see directly into your very soul. You do not want to see who you are without him. You do not always like who you have become.
You go over your day in your head in lists to keep his face from appearing behind your eyes as you get dressed. You take notice of the sky and the clouds and the trees as you drive where you need to go, and you do not think of the fact that you once planned on traveling the world with him holding your hand. You think about the fact that you are alive and you are here in the car and you have a life to live. You do not think of the fact that you ache for him to still be a part of it.
You smile and laugh with the people you encounter. You make up stories of how your day is going because, if you were to think of how you really are doing, you would not be able to stop your body in time from unstringing itself and falling all over the floor in a puddle of tears. You smile until it feels natural again. You talk until the conversation is the only thing on your mind. You learn to lose yourself in moments that do not necessarily matter after they are gone, because you must learn how to live despite the fact that the sound of him murmuring he loves you is slowly fading from your mind.
You force yourself to eat even though you are not hungry; or you make yourself slow down even though you are desperately famished and your body tells you to eat until you no longer feel empty at the fact he is gone. You will eat because it keeps you alive, and despite the fact that life without him does not feel right – feels more like a sweater that is shrunken after a tumble in the dryer – you need to learn how to trim the edges until somehow this new life fits.
At night, when nothing but your own mind can convince you that everything is okay, you will look to the notepad beside your bed and tally in a single line to add this day to the grand total of days since you last cried over him. You will go to sleep thinking of sunsets or the ocean or school or anything but him in hopes that he will not appear in your dreams.
But if today you cannot do this, cannot accept the fact that he is gone, you will cry over every shared and unshared memory that you wish you could lose.
You will feel your heart crumble beneath the weight of the fact that the feeling of his arms wrapped around you no longer burns in your skin.
You will feel as if you are suffocating over every dream he threw out the window the day he decided you were not good enough or did not fit into this perfect little box of his life.
You will want to scream but you will remain silent as tears just continue to flow in uneven currents down your weathered cheeks.
You will take that notepad and rip off the sheet that tallies the number of days since you last cried over him, and you will crumple the piece of paper, listen to the sound of ripping that is so similar to the absolute tearing of your heart, and you will throw all your progress in the trash along with all the hopes and dreams and memories that you thought you two were supposed to share.
But tomorrow you will wake up, and you will take in a deep breath of this world of yours that exists without him, and you will go about your day as if he does not matter.
At night, you will make a single uneven line with a sharpened pencil on a new sheet of paper. And you will think, Today I lived without him. I know this is possible.
And you will continue this every day until you no longer need a notepad, no longer need to remind yourself how to live.
You will continue this every day until the memory of him and the picture of his face is stuffed in a closet in the back of your mind, no longer prevalent or important, a mere screenshot in the film of life.
And you will be okay.