Spoiler alert: This post does not include the phrase "Valentine's Day Sucks" or "Thank you for only making me stronger."
This is about my "ex" -- a guy who taught me the meaning of dedication. How individuals can overcome real hardships and persevere. How a person uses merely a hug to transcend a message that the world can be a warm and inviting place.
He wasn't a cheater. He didn't break my heart. He never left me. He was a gentleman, could captivate the attention of a room, and above all, was respectful and encouraging. He could make you feel like you were the only person in the room. He loved his friends. He put his family first. And he was an incredibly handsome, Irish, kick-boxer who graduated from one of the top universities as a scientist.
Yes, on a lot of levels, he was perfect.
We just weren't that perfect together. Namely in part because once I moved home, there would be an ocean in-between us. Even more importantly, we each had feelings for other people.
So why date someone when you see an expiration date? You could gain an incredible friend when all is said and done.
I'm sure the majority of American women who are reading this are currently having a panic attack.
"What? Stay friends with my ex? Are you insane?" A little bit.
At the end of the day, you need to take chances on people. Maybe they are meant to be the one that you "end up with" -- the one you walk down the aisle to. But maybe, just maybe, you're meant to date people for other reasons -- to gain strength, confidence -- or even just a friend.
Mike was the friend that would stay up late at night and listen to my dreams of traveling the world as some famous writer (and somehow not laugh). He was the adventurous friend who had dreams of living abroad -- moving from the UK to America, Australia, and maybe even Indonesia. He was the friend who was indescribably excited about his research in his physics lab. And to be honest, he was the friend who would make you feel like Penny in The Big Bang Theory because when science came up, you had no idea what he was talking about.
He was the friend that would bike to your apartment when it was below zero outside in Scotland and bring you your favorite dessert "just because."
He was the kind of man that made you utterly grateful for his presence in the world -- for it was uplifting and almost angelic.
I would learn on January 13th of this year that my friend stopped responding to my text messages because he had entered hospice with his stage four, inoperable brain tumor -- a tumor that he kept silent to his friends in hopes of simply "making the best of the time he had." In the end, he was indescribably strong, optimistic, and above all, inspirational. He remained like this even when he lost his power of speech and movement. He remained like this even when he took his last breath and transitioned from an angel on earth to an angel above.
I struggle remembering the late nights when he would tell me his dreams and his future. I grieve not only over the man that he was, but the man that he could have been -- the husband, father, grandfather, friend. He was a hero at 25. It hurts to think of who he could have become -- and how truly the world lost out.
In the end, no one is invincible. Dare to dream, but do not live in fear that those pages will remain unturned. Think of my friend who could have asked "Why me?" but instead exited this earth with the same modesty that he entered with. Dedicate yourself entirely to every interaction you make -- because you never know when you can truly impact another. Treat your "failed" romances with gratitude, knowing that you deserve to commit yourself to an incredible person. Pour yourself into your friends and encourage their dreams and aspirations. Remain true to your family, because although every family has it's issues, you were meant to love past them. And finally? Do not fear death. Fear not allowing yourself to live the life that you deserve.