I guess in a mostly unconscious but very real way, I’ve spent the last fifteen years on a strange sort of invisible, immobile, even static pilgrimage of penance with you at the center even in your absence, maybe especially in your absence. The problem is that there’s no jerusalem, no mecca, no holy land, no end, no absolution, not even an appropriate formula for an act of contrition.

Who would I confess to? Who could absolve me? How could I even ask for this burden of regret to be lifted? It’s all I have left of you and I don’t know what I’d do without it. In fact, I think it may have seeped into my bones. We’re inseparable, symbiotic, a new self-consuming life form with a skeleton made of barbed wire and sorrow. Without it I’d have no shape, no structure, no coherence.

You are still so beautiful that my breath catches in my throat when I see you. Your touch feels like home. We were so alive, the both of us together, and to be fair, part of what I mourn may be as much that time of hope for myself, when I thought I could be a better person than I was ultimately capable of being, as it is you. You raised my hopes for myself; I thought I could learn to be equal to our best moments, to our youth and optimism, to your creativity and beauty and often wordless but always present love. I shattered them, though, those hopes, and left splinters stuck deep, deep beneath the skin – the kind that never work their way out on their own, I’m now sure.

When I was cruel or callous to you, I was punishing myself. I can see that so clearly now. I might have even realized it on some level then. I didn’t know what to do. I did it wrong. And I never got a chance to fix it. And I never had a right to hope I’d get that chance, and certainly never had a right to anything but a sense of poetic justice when it was denied.

There’s no movement so I guess by definition it can’t be a pilgrimage. I’d call it purgatory except I’m not sure there’s any way out. I don’t think anybody is keeping score, or even paying attention.

What am I supposed to do? You can’t forgive me; you won’t even blame me. I can’t forgive myself. Because on some level my sins include not only what I did to you but also what I did to myself – murdered my own deep, true love, destroyed my own happiness (and, it seems, all avenues to any other happiness) through my own ignorance, selfishness, and cruelty. How can I forgive myself for that? If you were happy and well now, I could take some comfort in that and vow to stay away, keep my distance, let you have your happiness. But you are nt happy and well and even though I know its not all my fault, it still feels like my responsibility. I still have to remind myself that I can’t just beg you to come home, to please give me another chance, or at least a chance to make it up to you in some small way when you need something, anything. I cant give you anything but more trouble and pain.

There’s nothing I can do. I can’t do even the smallest thing to make amends (which, selfishly, might make me feel better too). I can’t fix anything for you, though I want to. I want to swoop in and stomp all those people and things and events and institutions that frustrate you or make you unhappy, that thwart you or are unfair or unkind to you, that hurt you instead of helping you. I can’t do that though – whatever steps or efforts I could ideally make by virtue of sheer righteous anger on your behalf, I long ago forfeited the right to take. I can’t fix anything. I can’t even really help. I can’t make you a warm, clean bed to rest in, I can’t hold you when you’re tired or sad, I can’t hug you or reach out to brush your hair out of your face like I used to. I can’t even touch you.

I can’t even see you. I’m not really allowed to be your friend, not really. It may be just as well, because when I do see you, my whole being floods with love, but its a love weighted always with bitter regret and a bone-crushing grief and a stinging sense of guilt, and as impossible as it ought to be, the length and breadth of this misery, it never stops.

The feeling is that I’m guilty almost of murder; it sound hyperbolic, but it has that feeling of horror, and of irrevocable things. No one rises from this gravesite, though, least of all me. I’ve had one foot in it for fifteen years and I don’t see any way to change that. I don’t know how.

Surely I’ve found the cruelest of faiths, celebrating nothing in this world and offering no hope in any other. But its one of my own making, finally – I just lack the means to change it.