The Heartbreak of Saying Goodbye

I am officially back on American soil. The plane has landed, my bags have cleared, and my passport was stamped. The hardest part of leaving is over—saying goodbye. In the past year, we’ve said goodbye to each other three times, twice from London and once from Los Angeles. Each time, we’ve walked through the airport side by side and it never fails to feel as if I’m walking to my own funeral; there’s something indescribably horrible and vaguely sadistic about forcing myself to leave Alex. Each step closer to security is excruciating and when I walk through the barrier that renders me unable to see my other half (after many kisses, tears, and hugs) I feel empty. In fact, I’m not even sure there are strong enough words to explain how miserable I feel without Alex by my side.

We go from spending every day together — cuddling in the morning, sipping coffee across from each other at the dining room table, helping to pick outfits, walking through the streets hand in hand, and constantly being by each others’ side, to nothing. In a matter of seconds, there is no hand to hold, no forehead to kiss, and no body to cuddle. The difference is jarring and if I’m being honest, it typically takes me about a week to recover. For the first few days, I feel like nothing more than a zombie. I shuffle around and go through the motions of each day while attempting to ignore the ache in my heart. It’s painful to be around other couples and I feel like a watered down version of myself. There was the time I had a full blown meltdown in front of my best friend and her new partner because seeing their adorable (and heart-meltingly cute!) love was simply too painful after having been forced to wave goodbye to Alex a mere seven days earlier. There was also the time I was reunited with my mom and sister after a four-month trip to England and within minutes of seeing them, I promptly began to hyperventilate while bawling because the wound from not having Alex was too painful. It truly is that painful to be separated from my partner. However, I can’t help but notice that this time feels slightly different.

I still feel the urge to cry and it still feels like there is a raw wound in my chest, but I also feel blessed. In the words of Winnie the Pooh, I can’t help but think “how lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” The love I share with Alex is something I have only ever dreamed about (and the real thing is even better than my I could have ever imagined!). Meeting Alex later in life, after we had finished school, held stable jobs, and possessed more financial independence might have made our relationship less painful, but I wouldn’t change anything about our love story.
Each day spent with Alex—whether in person or apart—is infinitely better than any day was before.
I’m twenty years old and truly believe I have found the love of my life. I’m fully aware that very few people are able to say the same, and for that, I feel blessed. I can’t wait until the day I never have to say goodbye to Alex again—when we can travel across the ocean together and always wake up side by side. (*cough* 360 days). However, until that day comes I will treasure every moment with my better half. As I settle into ten days in Oklahoma with my wonderful family and perfect pets, I know I will look back on my summer in London and just maybe, the hole in chest will slowly begin to heal. After all, our long-distance long affair and international pining will one day become a silly story our kids have heard one too many times and can’t help but roll their eyes at. Until then, I’m going to treasure my journey with Alex and remember what a blessing true love is—even if it’s across an ocean.

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