I was not expecting to see those words in my email this morning. I don’t think you can every really be prepared for something like that. Because honestly, I probably never would have known that my ex-boyfriend was dead unless someone reached out like that and told me somehow. Why would I know what’s going on in his life? We stopped talking several years ago, and we stopped dating even before that. I don’t follow his work anymore, we don’t talk anymore, hell, we don’t even live in the same state anymore. Or didn’t. I still can’t get used to talking about him in the past tense. He wasn’t anyone I ever wanted in my life again, or ever wanted to be able to talk to again, but now that I know I never can, ever again, I don’t know how to feel.
It’s weird to lose someone like this. Someone who had no part of your life anymore but who, at one point in time, meant everything to you. Because even though I can’t imagine my life without Kevin, my favorite person, the man I want to marry someday and be old farts with, there was a time when I didn’t even know Kevin. All I knew was Dan. We spent a year and a half of our lives together, and at that moment in my life, that blip on my timeline, I loved and cared about him. I know I had to go through Dan to get to Kevin and my happily ever after (as ridiculous and sappy as that sounds), but it doesn’t make this any easier. I still feel shocked and confused and sad.
And I feel guilty. Guilty for feeling sad. I know I shouldn’t, because it’s a normal thing to grieve someone you’ve lost, even if it’s someone you parted ways with negatively and never cared to hear from again. You know you don’t want that person in your life anymore, but you know they will continue on with their own lives and you still wish them a good life. I guess the guilt comes from feeling sad over someone you used to love, even though you shouldn’t feel guilty over what’s done because you can’t change what’s in the past. Although I wish I could change this.
I keep looking at the news articles (and there are many; he was a renowned college media journalist and professor, after all) and seeing his picture everywhere. He looks exactly like he did the last time I saw him almost 3 years ago. In fact, he looks exactly the same as he did when I walked into his Journalism I class 4 1/2 years ago. I remember thinking he was too young to have the title Ph.D. I remember thinking a few months in that it didn’t make sense that he’d be chasing such a snarky, disconnected student like me. I remember thinking a few months into our relationship that, even if it was wrong, it was just so surreal that we had even wound up together. Kind of like this is so surreal. That I keep looking at his picture and thinking there’s no way he’s just lying in a box somewhere, getting ready to be put into the ground. He should be at home, up all night furiously carrying on his work, the clacking of his computer keyboard the only sound in an otherwise quiet night. I remember falling asleep to that sound.
I wish I could talk to him one last time. If I had known the last time I heard from him would be the very last time we would speak, I might have said things differently. Of all the tears I shed over that man, these are the tears that sting the most. Because I will never see him again. I will never have the chance to ignore his calls again, or to delete his texts and let them go unanswered. When we broke up and I was at my weakest, I could still call out to him, even if it meant I was hurting myself. I could still find a way to get to him if I needed or wanted to. Now I can’t even remember what he sounded like when he said my name.
I had to dig, but somehow I managed to find old pictures of him hiding on my junk laptop. I’m not even sure how these survived, because I practically deleted every trace of him when we broke up. I’m glad now that a few managed to slip through the cracks, because these are the only memories of him that remain. We weren’t meant to stay together, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have some good memories that I look back on fondly.
I’m not sure if I should share this with anyone other than my mom, but writing has always been therapeutic for me, and my passion for it was what Dan loved about me the most, so it would almost feel wrong keeping my thoughts and feelings to myself. I only hope that wherever he is now, he still has a laptop or iPad in hand and is reading this and all the others and knows he will be missed.
R.I.P. Dan Reimold, 1981-2015