It wasn't just James that I lost when we broke up almost a year ago. There are entire pieces of my life that no longer exist. Yoga. Everyone I knew through him. His friends, his roommates, their girlfriends. I never saw any of them again.
I talked to his sister online the other day, for the first time in a long time. I asked how the kids were, her parents. And finally, the question we both knew was in no way an afterthought, "How's your brother?"
Good, she guessed. Trying to settle back into real life after his three month trip backpacking through southeast Asia. They were coming to Boston with the kids to visit him the next day.
And I thought back to the first time he met his niece, when she was five months old. I was there when we walked in the door and his brother-in-law thrust a chubby, squirming bundle at him, saying, "Here, take your niece." I was there as he held her at arms length, and I saw them inspect each other with the same family eyes, quizzical and suspicious, each trying to figure the other one out from opposite ends of that precarious embrace. This until someone said, "Don't hold her like that, Jimmy, hold her like a baby," and he quickly passed her off to me, saying, "Here, take it." I was there a couple years later when he met his nephew for the first time, at about the same age. I watched as he held his new nephew confidently, like a baby, not wanting to pass him off, even when he started crying. I watched him push his niece on the swings and toss her frighteningly high in the air as she squealed, delighted, and begged for more. And I was there for nearly every visit after that, fourth of Julys and Thanksgivings and everything inbetween. I watched them grow. And though I'm not related by blood, I loved those kids. I still love those kids, though I haven't seen them in well over a year. They must be gigantic now. Like tiny, tottering, benevolent giants. The sweetest, happiest damn kids.
Entire pieces of my life, gone in an instant. And it gets easier, I guess, (does it get easier?) but it never stops feeling like a loss.